Rooftop Tent vs Sleeping in Car – What’s the Difference?

The difference between car camping and a Rooftop tent

Some campers, rather than bothering with a tent, turn their vehicle into a sleeping chamber. With a few minor adjustments, you can restfully sleep in your preferred vehicle, be it a car, a recreational vehicle, minivan, SUV, or pickup truck. On the other hand, some campers fancy napping in a ground tent or rooftop tent. The following guide notes the pros and cons of sleeping in a car vs. sleeping in a rooftop tent. To encourage you to make a decision, we will incorporate comfort, expenses, heat, setup, security, and more.

Deciding to sleep in your vehicle alone might be satisfactory for your budget, however, you may not find it that adventurous. On the flip side, opting for a rooftop tent might be an excellent option if you are a conformist, but be cautious they are not suitable for every car!

Table of Contents

Must-Have Supplies

The following pieces of equipment are a necessity based on your camping journey, whether you choose to sleep in a tent or a car:

  • Guidance tools are essential to direct you to the preferred camp spot. A plan, compass, GPS device, altimeter, individual locator beacon (PLB), or satellite messenger is certainly user-oriented and can give you the precise coordinates for the area.
  • First aid box that contains: adhering bandages of different lengths, scarce gauze pads, adhering strip, disinfecting medicine, nonprescription medications for pain, surgeon gloves, pen and paper, and bug repellent spray is a necessity for your care.
  • Take close notice to replace your bag that contains medical supplies with a new health care kit at the beginning of your adventure. It is also prudent to monitor the expiration dates of all products as you substitute them.
  • Matches, lighters, and easy-to-carry stoves are not indisputable to bring. You certainly require them to light up a campfire while camping and hiking in cold, or the night.

Let’s find out what’s the difference between a rooftop tent and sleeping in the car!

Rooftop Tent

A rooftop tent is profoundly efficient as it intends to fit the roof of practically any vehicle giving you the opportunity to set up camp just nearly everywhere. Going into nature or a campsite with a rooftop tent is certainly enjoyable, and it might even provide you with an entirely different adventure.

Whether you make a suitable choice in regards to the camping location, you might end up napping with a magnificent view.
The following guide explains whether it really is worth going for a rooftop tent and gives you an idea of what to expect from it.

Rooftop tent pros and cons


  • They are tremendously durable. Rooftop tents differ from regular tents as they have powerful compositions and don’t shift in bad weather. Therefore, camping in the rain shouldn’t frighten you!
  • Rooftop tents are effortless to manage and set up. The installation of the ladder, rising the bars inside the tent, as well as attaching additional bars for the rainfly. These steps certainly don’t seem to be complicated.
  • Safety is crucial! Whether you choose a rooftop tent, it is significantly safer, as it keeps you beyond the ground, far away from any threatening animals. There is unquestionably less of a probability of confronting a snake or a spider in your tent!
  • Consolation during cold weather. If you were to be faced with camping and hiking in cold, that should not be an issue with a rooftop tent. Rooftop tents have stormproof sidewalls and can keep you warm without a doubt.
  • They are more comfortable. No matter how comfortable you think your car is, it’s never going to be as comfortable as actual bedding.

Additionally, note that when choosing a tent, strive to consider silnylon tents as they are windproof, waterproof, and exceptionally durable.


  • Not suitable for all campsites. It is not always allowed to park just anyplace and spend the nighttime in a roof tent. The laws vary per country, and the regulations are not always clear-cut. With this in mind, car camping alone is more suitable than setting up a rooftop tent.
  • Roof tents are heavy. The additional capacity and mass of rooftop tents contribute to fuel consumption and can put pressure on the weight of your car.
  • Lack of storage space. Rooftop tents do not provide as much storage space as a camper trailer, signifying that you would need to put most of the things you require to take on the trip in the car. The reduced quantity of space inside your vehicle could make your journey a bit obnoxious.
  • Require constant folding. In order to ensure that your belongings are secured, it is necessary to fold the rooftop tent regularly.
  • Not suitable for every car. Be cautious never to utilize a rooftop tent with any vehicle whose rooftop load limitation is below 165 lbs. Generally speaking, SUVs and vans can be suitable applicants for a rooftop tent, although cars, limousines, and hatchbacks are conventionally not.

Rooftop tents certainly have their pros and cons, but it all comes down to recognizing what you want for your camping trip, as a matter of fact.

Sleeping in a Car

Whether you choose to sleep in your car while camping, you will surely experience authentic adventure. For the most part, if you are a beginner. Sleeping in your car likewise has its advantages and disadvantages. Read the following to find out more!

Sleeping in your vehicle when camping

Benefits of Sleeping in a Vehicle

  • Suitable for your budget. Sleeping in your car is unquestionably a lot cheaper than paying $1000 for a Rooftop tent, for instance. Therefore, this option is most definitely cost-efficient.
  • Easier migration. Whether you need to move to explore the surroundings or the weather suddenly changes, it is more trouble-free to manage your car only, without the need to worry about reconstructing the RTT.
  • You can effortlessly charge your devices. It is easier in this viewpoint owing to the fact that it enables you to watch movies and tv shows from small screens, charge your phone, and listen to music. A car has proper installations, and you wouldn’t require any additional equipment.
  • Toilet and hygiene. Remember that it would be much more demanding to climb up and down every time you require to go to the toilet. Having this in mind, sleeping in your car only seems like a better option.

Interestingly enough, whether you are a true adventure seeker, you might want to sleep in a car in Death Valley, the largest national park in the continental U.S.


  • Not enough sleeping space. It’s safe to say that some vehicles are not sufficiently large. Therefore, you will presumably have to consider removing or folding down the rear seats to create more space in order to sleep.
  • Illegal in some regions. Some regions might issue fines as it is against the law to sleep in your vehicle overnight. You can check out this guide for more information on this matter.
  • Not that exciting. Some nature-loving individuals do not want to even acknowledge sleeping in a car as camping. Whether you think this way, you might consider getting an RTT.
  • The vehicle is harder to clean. You will collect dirt and trash inside your vehicle when you camp and that can lead to cleaning being more complicated. However, you can clean your tent by just turning it inside out, or you might require some mild detergent to clean any spots.
  • Negative stigmatization. Some individuals will hesitantly suppose that you’re a homeless person if they notice you sleeping in your car. You could even be bothered with the police, whether someone chooses to call them on you.

What to Consider When Picking a Vehicle to Camp In

  • Form of terrain. If you intend to drive cross country or in the snow, you might want to reconsider picking a vehicle with AWD. Also, consider bringing traction pads to support your vehicle whether you become stuck.
  • Is your vehicle reliable? It’s thoroughly necessary to possess two spare tires, a jacking device, tire repairing equipment, and various tools.
  • Testing the comfort of your vehicle. Try setting up your box spring inside your vehicle to examine it. It needs to have sufficient space for you to lay flat.

It is, without a shadow of a doubt, much quicker and a lot cheaper to set up a camp when you sleep in your car owing to the fact that you can leave your accommodations entirely mobile and secure.

Nevertheless, relaxing in a Rooftop tent also has its advantages. In a tent, you can have a better view and much more space. Tents also provide higher adaptability and give you the experience of camping out in the open.

Thus, is it more satisfying to sleep in a car or a rooftop tent? We hope this article encouraged you in making a decision!

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