Soft Shell Rooftop Tents
Soft-shell rooftop tents are the most versatile rooftop tents (RTTs) on the market and a popular choice among families for their immense size.
But, not all soft shell RTTs are the same. They vary in quality, durability, price, size, and design.
Therefore, choosing the best soft-shell rooftop tent can be challenging, especially if you’re a first-time buyer.
If you’re looking to invest in the highest quality soft shell rooftop tent but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered.
In this guide, you’ll learn all the basics of a soft shell rooftop tent as well as:
- The 2 main types of soft shell RTTs
- Why you need a soft shell RTT for your outdoor adventures
- Four of the best soft shell RTTs on the market
- The price range for the best soft shell RTTs
Rooftop Tents USA offers the highest-quality soft shell rooftop tents in the industry, and at the lowest prices, ensuring you get the best deals without compromising on quality.
Let’s check out a few of our favorite soft shell RTTs.
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⭐ Score 9.3/10
Best for Family Adventures
- Sleeps up to 4 people
- Thick mattress for maximum comfort
- Easy to set up and take down
- Waterproof construction
Take your entire family for an outdoor adventure with the Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 4 Extended Roof Top Tent, which has all the room you’ll need.
Alternatively, take it for a solo trip and utilize the space for other activities.
Top Features of the OVS Nomadic 4 Extended Roof Top Tent
- 3” high-density foam mattress - Offers maximum comfort compared to most soft shell RTTs, which are 2” thick
- 6 interior storage compartments - Provides ample space to store essential items for quick access
- Built in 96” tubular adjustable ladder - Levels the tent when the vehicle is on uneven terrain
- Waterproof rainfly - Keeps the tent dry when bad weather hits
How the OVS Nomadic 4 Extended RTT Compares With Other Soft Shell Rooftop Tents
- Maximum comfort - From the built-in thick mattress to the built-in skylight for skygazing, the OVS Nomadic 4 Extended RTT provides maximum comfort and convenience compared to other models.
- Extra storage - It has a storage bag attached to its base where you can place your muddy shoes, so that the tent’s interior remains clean and dry.
⭐ Score 9.4/10
Best for Smooth Camping
- Sleeps 3 people comfortably
- Tent fabric is waterproof and UV protected
- Includes an optional annex for extra space
The Hutch Tents Apex 3 Roof Top Tent is robust and solid but lightweight enough for easy installation and portability.
Important Features of Hutch Tents Apex 3 Roof Top Tent
- Solid construction - Stitching is solid, and the canvas is waterproof, UV protected, and mold/mildew-resistant
- Telescopic ladder - Extends up to 7’6″ tall, providing safe and easy access to the tent
- Skylight - Perfect for skygazing
How Hutch Tents Apex 3 RTT Compares With Other Soft Shell Rooftop Tents
- Extra dryness - Contrary to most soft shell rooftop tents, the Hutch Tents Apex 3 RTT comes with an anti-condensation mat. This mat lowers the temperature difference on the tent’s base, ensuring your mattress stays dry and safe from molds and mildews.
- Extra storage space - It features an optional annex that provides extra sheltered ground space.
⭐ Score 9.6/10
Best for Quick Installation
- Swift installation
- Provides a panoramic view
- Incredibly lightweight
- Ample storage capacity
The FSR High Country 80” rooftop tent is an extremely lightweight, well-built, and durable option for 4–5 campers, with the most comfortable mattresses for rooftop tents.
Important Features of the FSR High Country 80" Premium RTT
- Oversized windows all around - For open sky viewing
- Premium tri-layer fabric system - Provides maximum protection in all seasons, from extreme rains to extreme heat
- Lightweight - Weighs only 120 lbs, which makes it highly portable and easy to install
How the FSR High Country 80" Premium RTT Compares With Other Soft Shell Rooftop Tents
- Extra storage - A unique feature of this model, rarely discussed, is the extra storage at the tent’s top, which provides ample space to conveniently store essential travel gear, like duffle bags and camp chairs.
- Fastest set-up time - The RTT has a gas strut quick deployment feature that allows an instant deployment, letting you set it up within seconds.
⭐ Score 9.2/10
Best for a Tight Budget
- Sturdy construction
- Large interior capacity
- Heavy-duty PVC cover
The Smittybilt Overlander XL Rooftop Tent is one of the best budget-friendly options with most of the features (e.g., telescoping ladder, thick mattress, screened windows) that higher-priced soft shell RTTs offer.
Important Features of the Smittybilt Overlander XL
- A corresponding annex (Sold separately) - Provides more living space
- Interior LED light strip - Lights up the tent to help you see better at night
- Heavy-duty PVC cover - Protects the tent from damage caused by the sun or rain
- External shoe storage bag - Stores muddy or dirty shoes outside the tent
How the Smittybilt Overlander XL Compares With Other Soft Shell Rooftop Tents
- Best budget RTT - The Smittybilt Overlander XL RTT is the most budget-friendly in our list but with unique features like a built-in mosquito net and interior LED light strips, giving you value for your money.
- Extra illumination - The built-in LED light strips light the tent at night, keeping it safe while driving insects away.
What Is a Soft Shell Rooftop Tent?
A soft shell rooftop tent resembles a regular ground tent, but perched on top of your car.
It’s the most popular option for a number of reasons:
- It’s cheaper than a hard shell rooftop tent, allowing campers to have adventures without breaking the bank.
- Most soft shell rooftop tents are foldable. When unfolded, they occupy a larger surface area, spacious enough to fit up to 6 campers. This makes the soft shell RTT a first choice option for most campers who love overlanding as a group.
- Its body is made of durable but lightweight fabrics, like nylon and polyester, making it easy to transport and install.
The soft shell rooftop tent comes in 2 designs:
The Bi-Fold Design
This is the most common design.
The tent has 2 equal-sized floor sections, with a hinge on one side.
Once stored away, its mattress, body, and support structures get sandwiched between the two floor sections. Therefore, when unfolded, the tent covers double the area.
The Pull-Up Design
The pull-up tent does not fold in half when closed. Instead, its body and support structures collapse down on the tent’s base.
To open it, pull the support structure up, and the tent’s body will rise with it.
The pull-up tent's floor and usable area will remain the same, whether stored away or opened.
Advantages and Benefits of a Soft Shell Rooftop Tent
More Living Space
Most soft shell rooftop tents fold out, so half of the tent hangs over the vehicle’s edge, providing more living space inside.
The bigger models offer up to 60 sq. feet of living space, large enough to comfortably host up to 5 or 6 people.
Most soft shell rooftop tent models include an optional annex—a smaller tent attached to the main unit that sits beside the vehicle at the ground level. It provides privacy and extra space to lounge, cook, and clean.
Cheaper and Require Less Storage Space
Soft shell rooftop tents generally cost less and need less storage space than their hard shell counterparts.
You can find a quality soft shell RTT at Rooftop Tents USA for as little as $1,100—less than half the price of a hard shell rooftop tent.
And when folded, most models measure 48” length x 42” width x 12” height, smaller than hard shell rooftop tents whose dimensions are roughly 84” length x 55” width x 10” height when closed.
This small size lets you mount the tent even on a small car like a Mini Cooper, and it won’t hang over the roof’s edge when you drive.
Common Features of a Soft Shell Rooftop Tent
A fascinating feature of the soft shell rooftop tent is its in-built awning. When unfolded, half of the tent hangs over the vehicle’s side, forming a small awning that adds extra space and shields you against sun and rain.
When folded, the tent is covered with a waterproof canvas that protects it from water damage, giving you long-lasting service.
Here are a few more features that make the soft shell RTTs the best on the market:
1 - Lightweight
Soft shell rooftop tents weigh 20–50 lbs less than hard shell RTTS.
Most models weigh between 120 lbs and 150 lbs, making them portable and easy to lift onto the vehicle’s roof.
A lighter rooftop tent also means better gas mileage, which saves more fuel for your car.
2 - Waterproof Fabric
A soft shell rooftop has a breathable, UV-treated, waterproof canvas or polyester body fabric that keeps you dry during heavy rains and shields you from the scorching sun in hot weather.
It also features a heavier, full waterproof rainfly that prevents water leaking into the tent.
Our models use these materials for their soft shell RTTs:
- The tent’s body: A fabric made of polycotton—a blend of polyester and cotton. It offers a great balance between breathability and watertightness.
- The rainfly: A thick 100% polyester, nylon, or canvas that’s waterproof and/or removable to cater to different weather conditions.
- The transport cover: A waterproof and durable PVC cover with weatherproof zippers.
3 - A Sky View
Some models have a zip-up window on their roof, allowing you to view the sky or gaze at the stars at night. Others have a removable rainfly for a full view of the beautiful skies on a warm night.
Price Range for Soft Shell Rooftop Tents
Generally, the average soft shell rooftop tent ranges anywhere between $1,000 and $4,000. The prices will vary depending on the tent’s design, sleeping capacity, quality, and many other factors.
The table below shows Rooftop Tents USA’s price range for different soft shell rooftop sizes.
|Soft Shell RTT Size||Lowest Price||Highest Price|
What People Are Saying About Soft Shell Roof Top Tents
Many campers have made the switch to soft shell RTTs from the regular ground tents.
Here’s what they love about the switch:
- Soft shell RTTs are safer and more convenient
- They provide ample space and can comfortably fit up to 5 campers
- They’re super easy to set up and take down
How Long Does It Take to Open a Soft Shell Rooftop Tent?
Soft shell rooftop tents will be up and ready for use in about 3–4 minutes, unlike regular tents which can take hours to stake to the ground.
Ready for a New Soft Shell Rooftop Tent?
Besides its versatility and affordability, a soft shell rooftop tent is a great investment that will give you and your family decades of unforgettable adventures.
At Rooftop Tents USA, we delight in seeing you have the best outdoor experiences. Our tents are designed for durability, maximum comfort, and convenience.
Whether you’re a camping enthusiast or just starting your outdoor adventure journey, we’ve got you covered. From small RTTs for solo travelers to spacious, family-sized tents, there’s something for you in our vast collection of Soft Shell Rooftop Tents.
For any inquiries, reach out to us, and we’ll get back to you in no time.
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