Keen on getting a roof top tent (aka car top tent) to let you camp wherever your wheels take you? In this article, I review and compare the best roof top tents Australia (both soft and hard shell varieties).
I cover everything from budget through to premium options, showing you the pros and cons of each. There is also a detailed breakdown of everything you need to consider before purchasing a roof top tent.
The first question is: are you interested in a regular roof top tent, or do you want a hard shell (hard top) rooftop tent? If you are not sure click here to jump straight down to my section about the main differences between the two.
Let's get started with a comparison of the roof top tents discussed in this article. Use the tabs below to switch between the soft shell and hard shell comparisons!
Darche Panorama 1400
ARB Simpson III
23Zero Dakota 1400
5 ★ (see 5 reviews at Snowys)
143.5 (L) x 121.5 (W) x 29 (H) cm
145 (L) x 125 (W) x 35 (H) cm
143.5 (L) x 121.5 (W) x 33 (H) cm
Check price on eBay
Check price at ARB
Best Rooftop Tents Australia (Soft Shell)
Darche Panorama Roof Top Tent
The Darche Panorama 2 is a staple of the Australian rooftop tent scene. Until recently, it has always come with an attached annex; these two products are sold separately now. Purchasing the annex typically adds around $400 to the price tag.
This is a well-built rooftop tent, with thick 340 GSM canvas that will keep you dry no matter what. These tents are designed to handle wind, rain and snow.
The included 50mm high density foam mattress is comfortable to sleep on, although not as thick as some of the competitors.
Packing down to a flat aerodynamic shape with a weight of only 61.6kg means that the Darche Panorama 2 won't impact your fuel consumption too much.
It is a fairly expensive product, but it comes with a 2 year warranty to give you peace of mind. You can expect to get plenty of use out of this tent over the years to come.
Darche also offers the Intrepidor and Hi-View roof top tents, which are cheaper versions of the Panorama. They are made with a slightly thinner canvas. The 1,800 and 2,200 models can sleep 3 and 4 people respectively.
Use the buttons below to find out more about each of them.
Want more info? Check out my Darche Panorama roof top tent review!
Adventure Kings Roof Top Tent
Best Budget/Cheap Roof Top Tent
The Adventure Kings rooftop tent is an inexpensive yet still high quality option that I highly recommend. For those who are on a budget, look no further, as you won’t find better value than this.
Despite being the cheapest tent on this list, it actually has the largest sleeping area by far, being a generous 3.1 metres long.
It also comes with 320 GSM canvas, thicker than the ARB Simpson III, which is a much more expensive unit. It has a 2,000mm waterproof rating.
The 75mm mattress is thicker than the competitors, although some people have said that it is not the best quality, with the stitching coming undone prematurely.
A very light 57kg weight and a 1 year warranty means that there is very little to complain about when it comes to this tent!
If you want an inexpensive rooftop tent that has plenty of features and is well built, I highly recommend it!
Still not sure whether it's the right tent for you? Why not check out my full Adventure Kings roof top tent review?
ARB Simpson III Rooftop Tent
The ARB Simpson III is a well-built, premium rooftop tent. Users love that the bedding can be left inside the tent when you pack it away - this saves time and lets you fit more in the vehicle.
Unfortunately, this contributes to the 81kg weight and the unfortunate shape it assumes when packed. The rooftop tent is quite bulky and not aerodynamic at all, which means that you can expect to burn through quite a bit more fuel when on the highway.
Thankfully, the unit attaches very securely to the roof racks, with little swaying or sliding while the vehicle is in motion.
ARB offer an excellent 3 year warranty with this product. They also offer the Kakadu rooftop tent, which you can read more about by clicking the button above.
23Zero Dakota 1400 Rooftop Tent with LST
The 23Zero Dakota 1400 is another quality addition to this list of the best roof top tents in Australia.
This is a fantastic tent for those who are looking for more than just utility and functionality in their roof top tent. A large sky roof and side windows paired with a thick 65mm mattress make this a very comfortable tent.
The Light Suppression Technology means that rather than the sun waking you up at the crack of dawn, you can sleep in as long as you like.
Unfortunately, the canvas is a little thinner on this tent compared to the competition, and the waterproof rating is not specified by 23Zero, so it is difficult to know how it will hold up in serious rain.
However, with a 2 year warranty, you can rest easy knowing that this is a quality tent that is built to last.
Soft Shell Honourable Mentions
BCF XTM Rooftop Tent
The XTM rooftop tent is another popular option from BCF, although I’m not sure that it entirely lives up to the hype.
It’s made from ripstop polycotton canvas, has a 2,000mm waterproof rating, a decent 75mm mattress plus a 2 year warranty, so it ticks most of the boxes right off the bat.
It’s also reasonably cheap, although definitely not the cheapest RTT out there.
In terms of drawbacks, the included ladder is reportedly not the best quality. Also, the unit itself is very heavy, weighing in at 77kg all up. This makes it very difficult to move and take off your vehicle when you aren’t using it.
All in all, it’s a decent option, but it doesn’t offer anything particularly special.
Anaconda Dune 4WD Nomad Rooftop Tent
Another honourable mention for this list is the Dune 4WD Nomad, made and sold exclusively by Anaconda. It has quite a unique design - it’s made from canvas like a soft shell tent, yet it is set up via hydraulic actuators, like a hard shell tent.
These RTTs that set up with hydraulic actuators are actually referred to as automatic rooftop tents.
While automatic set up is good for speed, it does restrict the size occupied by the tent, which means that this RTT is considerably smaller than other soft shell car tents. Not only is the sleeping area smaller, but the head height is also quite low as well.
The Dune 4WD Nomad has a 3,000mm waterproof rating, which is better than the competition, and it is also quite light as well, so it will be easy to install and remove from your vehicle as necessary.
Unfortunately, these units are very expensive unless you are a member of the Anaconda club. I don’t recommend buying one unless you are a member. Also, Anaconda don’t hold any stock of these tents - they are all made to order.
This means that you can expect to wait quite a while from order to actually receiving the tent. Make sure to order well before your next trip!
Best Hard Shell Rooftop Tents Australia
Adventure Kings Kwiky Hard Shell Pop Up Roof Top Tent
Much like the Adventure Kings soft shell roof top tent, this hard shell tent is well built and outstanding value.
It boasts super easy setup that is finished in under 2 minutes, thick 320 GSM canvas that will keep you safe from the elements, and a sleek hard shell case design that minimises drag and fuel consumption.
Overall, the tent looks and feels great, plus it comes with a 1 year warranty.
In terms of downsides, I find that the sleeping area is very narrow. Combined with a thin 50mm mattress, it doesn’t offer the most comfortable night’s sleep. A couple will find it a tight but do-able squeeze. I wouldn’t recommend it for 2 adult friends, unless they don’t mind squeezing in together.
Still not sure whether it's the right hard shell RTT for you? Why not check out my full Kings Kwiky roof top tent review?
Eezi Awn Blade
The Eezi Awn Dart is a decent, yet expensive choice. It has a much larger sleeping area and thicker mattress for a more comfortable sleeping experience.
The power cable and interior lighting are also nice touches, which I really appreciate. The privacy screens mean that you can run the light during the evening without everyone seeing into your tent.
Unfortunately, these extra features aren’t enough to justify the massive increase in price, in my opinion. I think that the Adventure Kings Kwiky is a better value option.
James Baroud Roof Top Tents
Best Premium Hard Shell Roof Top Tent
The James Baroud range of hard shell roof top tents are the absolute bees knees. Designed in Europe, these are the most sophisticated and fully-featured tents of their type out there.
The 5/2 year warranty alone should tell how much faith James Baroud place in their workmanship.
I particularly like the ventilation fan which simultaneously keeps you cool and removes condensation. This is a fantastic idea, and the fact that it is solar powered (runs off batteries at night) means that you don’t need to worry about it running out of juice.
A removable LED torch is great for emergencies; or just going to the toilet at night.
If you will be doing some winter camping, consider adding the optional thermal insulation - James Baroud claim that this can keep you up to 6C warmer.
The only downside of these tents is the very high price. Check out the latest prices on the James Baroud website, or access a PDF comparison of the James Baroud range.
Hard Shell Honourable Mentions
Alu-cab Gen 3.1 Expedition Tent
Manufactured in South Africa and originally designed for overland travel there, the Alu-cab Gen 3.1 Expedition tents are serious roof top tents, made to withstand a variety of weather conditions.
You can tell these tents have been designed by people who actually use their own product, as they have a number of extra features not present on other models.
For example, there’s cargo rails fitted to the top of the tents, which lets you load up to 50kg of extra gear on top of them. An air vent located at the top of the tent allows air circulation and prevents condensation build up overnight.
The insulation is also excellent, keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter. This makes the tent suitable for use in all seasons.
Unfortunately, the tent is fairly narrow, even by hard shell standards, although the head height at the highest point is pretty good. It’s also quite heavy at 78kg, so it’s not the easiest thing to lift off your 4WD or ute.
Alu-cab sell these tents in Australia via their distributor, Ironman 4x4. Use the button above to see a list of dealers.
Soft Shell vs. Hard Shell Roof Top Tents - Which One Should I Choose?
It can be difficult to choose between a hard shell and soft shell roof top tent. I'll run through the pros and cons of each of them to help you figure out which one is right for you!
Why go with a soft shell roof top tent?
- Considerably cheaper
- Larger sleeping area, due to the folding out of tent upon opening
- Can purchase an annex for extra shade
- Packed volume is typically smaller
Why go with a hard shell roof top tent?
- They can be set up and packed down much faster
- Easier to fit into your garage due to lower profile when packed
- Lower profile is also more aerodynamic, so less fuel consumption (saving you money!) and no flapping about while driving
- Lower centre of gravity, so better handling and maneuverability of your vehicle
- Less area required for tent setup (no poles, pegs or guy ropes required)
- Can carry extra camping gear or surfboards on top of the packed tent
Essentially, hard shell tents are great for those who are on the move a lot and will be changing campsites regularly.
If you want to save money, or expect to be spending a bit of time at each campsite, go with a soft shell.
What To Consider When Buying A Rooftop Tent?
A rooftop tent is a sizable investment, so it pays to consider the important factors below before committing to a purchase.
Most roof top tents follow fairly standard dimensioning, but there are a few notable exceptions. For the soft shell tents, the Adventure Kings RTT is by far the largest, offering almost 50% more floor space.
Funnily enough, for the hard shell tents the Adventure Kings Kwiky is much smaller than the competition, and not recommended for 2 people unless they are a couple.
You might think that the packed dimensions are not important as you don’t actually have to carry it. However, as the tent will be sitting on top of your roof racks while you are driving, it will be adding considerably to your wind resistance.
Packed tents with a higher profile will add considerably to your wind resistance, resulting in higher fuel consumption. Some have estimated this can be between 10-30% additional fuel consumption.
The ARB Simpson III is an example of a tent with a high profile (40cm) that will add a lot of drag to your car.
While you won’t often be carrying the tent yourself, the weight is still important. If you plan on attaching and detaching the tent from your car often, a low weight will make it easier to do so. The weight also affects the stability of the vehicle when moving over uneven terrain.
Your roof racks are also typically only rated to a certain value, so make sure you don’t buy a tent that exceeds this rating, otherwise you’ll need to purchase accompanying roof racks to support it!
The heaviest tent in this article is the ARB Simpson III, at 81kg.
Mounting Plates & Roof Racks
Be aware that not all roof top tents are compatible with all roof racks. The Adventure Kings Kwiky for example, can only be fitted onto steel flat racks, not rooftop tent racks. Make sure that the tent you buy can marry up to your roof racks without a problem!
Some tents are more suitable for certain weather conditions than others. This is typically expressed with the ‘season rating’. 2 and 3 season tents tend to be for mild to moderate weather, whereas 4 season tents are suitable for use even in cold conditions.
Roof top tents are typically made from thick canvas and tend to be rated for 3 to 4 seasons.
Storms are unpredictable in Australia, with sudden, unexpected downpours very common. You don’t want to be woken up at night with water dripping on your face, so make sure that you choose a tent with a decent waterproof rating. Ratings range from 1,000mm (the lowest rating that is considered waterproof), all the way up to 10,000mm.
For example, the Adventure Kings RTT comes with a 2,000mm waterproof rating.
We all know how brutal and unforgiving the Australian sun can be. If your tent has been left set up all day, it will act as a greenhouse, trapping in hot air. Make sure that your tent has some vents and windows to let the hot air escape, otherwise you’ll be in for a hot and sweaty evening.
Ventilation can also prevent condensation forming on the inside of your tent.
Many rooftop tents in the James Baroud series come with an automatic ventilation fan for removing the hot air and condensation from your tent.
After a long drive, the last thing you need is a complicated and arduous tent set up process when you reach your stop. Thankfully, the tents in this list are all quite easy to set up, especially the hard top rooftop tents.
A warranty lets you sleep easy knowing that your tent is covered if it is defective in any way. It is also a good sign that the manufacturer has faith in the quality of their product, and that they stand behind this quality. The ARB Simpson III comes with a 3 year warranty.
James Baroud provide a 5 year warranty for the hull, fabric and mechanism!
Poor quality tents with leaking seams, thin walls and faulty ladder mechanisms are no fun at all. In fact, they can ruin your camping experience. You can rest assured that the tents I have recommended in this article are those with decent build quality only.
There are a ton of quality options to choose from when it comes to roof top tents. In the soft shell category, the Darche Panorama 2 is my pick for best rooftop tent in Australia.
It is extremely well built, made of thick canvas to keep you dry, and comes with a 2 year warranty.
The Adventure Kings RTT is a great alternative for the budget conscious. A massive floor space, good waterproof rating, thick mattress and low price all combine to make this a fantastic value rooftop tent.
In the hard shell category, it’s hard to beat the Adventure Kings Kwiky in terms of value. Although the sleeping space is a bit tight, you simply won’t see another hard shell roof top tent for this price at this quality.
I sincerely hope that this guide on the best roof top tent Australia has helped you choose the right one for you! If you still have questions, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out.
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