7 Best Soft Shell Roof Top Tents for 2024 [Review]

    Soft Shell Roof Top Tents for Sale

    If you're looking for the perfect soft shell roof top tent to take on your next adventure, you have come to the right place.

    ***Want to skip the review and just see the products? Here they are!***

    While hard shell roof top tents are the top of the line, soft shell tents offer almost all of the same benefits, and are also lighter and more affordable.

    But with so many soft shell roof top tents on the market, it can be overwhelming to pick the right one.

    So, in addition to our comprehensive guide on the best roof top tents in general, and the best hard shell roof top tents, we have put together this review of the 7 best soft shell roof top tents currently on the market.

    Plus, it also includes lots of other helpful information, so read on!

    OVS TMBK Roof Top Tent - Soft Shell Roof Top Tent

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    Best Overall Soft Shell Roof Top Tent for 2024

    OVS Nomadic 3 Extended

    Best Soft Shell Roof Top Tent - OVS Nomadic 3

    $1,399


    Strong materials, great mattress, unbeatable price.

    The number one question we get from existing Nomadic 3 owners is: Why didn't I buy this tent sooner?!?

    The number one question we get from potential Nomadic 3 owners is: Why is this tent so inexpensive - seems too good to be true?!

    Well, good news: It's not! The features and value that the Nomadic 3 extended roof top tent provide are unbeatable.

    The Nomadic 3 roof top tent is big enough to sleep 3 people comfortably, and the 3" memory foam mattress is so nice you're going to wish you had it on your bed at home.

    The 600D body construction and 420D rainfly of the Nomadic 3 RTT will help you stay warm and comfortable in even the harshest of weather conditions.

    And a skylight window is built into the roof which makes the tent even more amazing at night.

    Plus, you can add a massive annex to it for even more indoor space - perfect for having a comfortable place to change, or even to sleep additional people or pets.

    Best Soft Shell Roof Top Tent - OVS Nomadic 3 Inside

    Easy to install, easy to set up and break down, and very easy to sleep in, the Nomadic 3 extended has been our best soft shell tent recommendation two years in a row.

    OVS Nomadic 3 Review Rating

    Pros

    • Large sleeping area with the option of adding extra space with an annex.
    • 3" mattress makes you feel like you're at home.
    • Setup and takedown are straightforward.
    • Skylight is great for views and star gazing.

    Cons

    • At 165 lbs, it's on the heavier end for a 3-person soft shell.
    Includes 3-months Subscription to onX Maps

    Best 2-Person Soft Shell Roof Top Tent

    Tuff Stuff Trailhead

    Tuff Stuff Trailhead Soft Shell Roof Top Tent

    $1,299


    Lightweight, high quality 2-person tent.

    The Tuff Stuff Trailhead is perfect for the solo traveler or duo looking for a solid 2-person roof top tent.

    At 55" wide, it's one of the most spacious 2-person tents on the market.

    Two adults will have plenty of room, and it could even comfortably fit a parent and two kids.

    Despite the large size, it comes in at just 110 lbs, making it compatible with almost every car's factory cross bars.

    Plus, the Trailhead has 600D body fabric and a 420D rainfly that will keep you warm and dry no matter how crazy it's getting outside.

    Or, on those especially hot summer days, pop the windows open but leave the mesh liners up to keep the bugs out.

    You'll never want to leave your perched, breezy throne.

    The Trailhead is also super easy to set up and break down. A solo camper can do it alone in just a few minutes.

    Tuff Stuff Trailhead Soft Shell Roof Top Tent - inside
    Tuff Stuff Trailhead Review Rating

    Pros

    • Extra spacious sleeping area for 2, with the option to add an annex for even more.
    • 110 lbs. makes this compatible with pretty much every vehicle.
    • Fabrics used are tough and long-lasting.
    • Easy to set up and take down, even if solo.

    Cons

    • The 1.5" mattress is on the thinner end. You might want to add a sleeping pad.
    Includes 3-months Subscription to onX Maps

    Best 3-Person Soft Shell Roof Top Tent

    Overland Junction Labrador

    Overland Junction Labrador Soft Shell Roof Top Tent

    $1,799


    Large, lightweight, and luxurious 3-person tent.

    The Labrador is the perfect combination of lightweight, large, and luxurious.

    Lightweight: The 3-person Overland Junction Labrador weighs just 128 pounds - one of the lightest 3-person roof top tents on the market.

    That means you can put it on almost any vehicle roof rack, bed rack, or crossbars without worrying about weight capacity.

    Large: Despite the light weight, the Labrador tent is a whopping 63" wide and 94" long - a true 3-person size.

    Luxurious: The Overland Junction Labrador's foam mattress is 2.75" thick - you'll wish you had it on your bed at home!

    The body fabric and rainfly are high quality and waterproof, and the zipper pulls are non-metal so there's no clanging in the wind.

    Overland Junction Labrador Roof Top Tent Inside

    There are two massive skylights in the roof, two external shoe pouches and additional internal storage, and you can choose to add an annex or insulation if you want additional space and protection.

    Plus, the Labrador Roof Top Tent was desiged and tested at 9,000' in the Colorado Rockies, and has proven it works great in snow, rain, and hot summer sun.

    Overland Junction Labrador Roof Top Tent Review  Rating

    Pros

    • At 94" long and 63" wide, the sleeping area on this tent is massive.
    • Somehow still weighs in at just 128 pounds.
    • Mattress is super comfortable 2.75" thick.
    • Two large skylights make for a great sleeping or hanging experience.

    Cons

    • The annex is harder to put on and smaller than others on the market.
    Includes 3-months Subscription to onX Maps

    Girl sitting in a roof top tent

    Roof Top Tent Finder

    Answer three quick questions to find the perfect roof top tent for your next adventure (takes just 30 seconds)

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    Best 4-Person Soft Shell Roof Top Tent

    Tuff Stuff Elite

    Tuff Stuff Elite Roof Top Tent

    $2,499


    Perfect for families and groups of friends.

    The Tuff Stuff Elite is one of the largest soft shell tents on the market. It can sleep 4 adults, or even a family of 5.

    Plus, the Tuff Stuff Elite is one of the only tents on the market that is essentially TWO tents in one.

    With a removable privacy split wall and two ladder entrances, you can divide up this massive space into two.

    Mom and Dad on one side, kids on the other? You now have a two-bedroom house atop your car.

    Even better, the Tuff Stuff Elite soft shell roof top tent comes standard with an annex, for even more sleeping or hanging space. Make that a three bedroom!

    With 280g poly-cotton windproof tent fabric and a 420D poly-oxford rain fly, this large soft shell tent will also keep you warm and comfortable no matter where you're camping.

    The 2.75-inch mattress on the Tuff Stuff Elite is also a huge plus for easy sleeping. And the tent comes with good storage, inside and out.

    Tuff Stuff Elite Soft Shell Roof Top Tent
    Tuff Stuff Elite Review Rating

    Pros

    • Huge sleeping area with included annex, making this one of the largest tents around.
    • Two ladders and an optional privacy wall to divide the tent in half, if desired.
    • Tough materials that can hold up in any weather.
    • 2.75" mattress provides excellent comfort.

    Cons

    • Weight: You don't get this big without driving up the weight. At 194 pounds, it's heavier than a lot of hard shell tents, and will almost always need an after-market roof rack.
    Includes 3-months Subscription to onX Maps

    Best Lightweight Soft Shell Roof Top Tent

    Roofnest Meadowlark

    Roofnest Meadowlark Soft Shell Roof Top Tent

    $1,595


    All the comfort without the weight.

    The Roofnest Meadowlark weighs in at just 90 lbs, one of the only less-than-100-pound tents on the market.

    It's the perfect solution for adventurers who want a high quality tent but don't want to haul the extra weight.

    The Roofnest Meadowlark soft shell roof top tent has a high-quality, 190gsm tent fabric design and includes a 210D rainfly.

    The Meadowlark also boasts a 2.5" mattress, ensuring you're comfortable throughout the night.

    On top of all that, the simplicity of the Roofnest Meadowlark also makes it one of the fastest tents to set up and take down.

    And because it's so lightweight, it is easy to install on almost any factory-issued car or truck roof rack - as long as you have crossbars you'll be good to go.

    Whether you're on an extended adventure, or just stopping for a quick rest along the way, the Meadowlark soft shell roof top tent is sure to provide you with a comfortable, safe, and enjoyable experience.

    Roofnest Meadowlark - Lightweight soft shell roof top tent
    Roofnest Meadowlark Review Rating

    Pros

    • It's hard to overstate how light 90 lbs. is in the roof top tent world.
    • Set up and take down are lightning quick.
    • Despite the light weight, the tent delivers with a 2.5" mattress.

    Cons

    • To get to 90 lbs. you have to slim down in some places: the tent is a little smaller and uses lighter-weight materials than many other 2-person tents on the market.
    Includes 3-months Subscription to onX Maps

    Girl sitting in a roof top tent

    Roof Top Tent Finder

    Answer 3 quick questions to find the perfect roof top tent for your next adventure (takes just 30 seconds)

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    Best Hybrid Soft Shell-PLUS Roof Top Tent

    Freespirit High Country V2

    Freespirit High Country V2 King Roof Top Tent

    $3,495


    Breaking the mold for softshell tents.

    The Freespirit High Country V2 is a category breaker. And hybrid is a brand new "best of" designation for us in 2024. That's because this tent breaks all norms.

    (Note: This review is about the High Country V2 - King. Freespirit also launched the High Country V2 - Mini, which is the same tent, but a much smaller 2-person design for $600 less.)

    The Freespirit High Country V2 - King is a fusion between softshell and hardshell. It essentially has a hardshell top, with softshell sides.

    It's an innovative hybrid design that mixes some of the best features of hard shell (low profile, low MPG impact, crossbars) with some of the best features of soft shell (lighter).

    The King-size High Country V2 is massive. At 77" wide, it's one of the largest tents on the market. It can comfortably sleep 4 adults, or even a family of 5.

    And despite the large size, even by soft shell standards (and especially by hard shell standards) it's impressively lightweight at just 154 pounds.

    Freespirit High Country V2 - King Roof Top Tent

    The High Country V2 incorporates Freespirit's time-tested tri-layer insulation design. And it has a solid 2.25" mattress for comfortable sleeping.

    Finally, because of the hard top, the High Country V2 is able to take crossbars. This is groundbreaking for a (partially) soft shell tent, and ensures you can bring all the gear you need on your next adventure.

    Freespirit High Country Review Rating

    Pros

    • Innovative, hybrid design merges benefits of hard shell and soft shell tents.
    • At 77", the High Country V2 - King can fit a family of 5.
    • Despite the size, the tent weighs in at an impressively lightweight 154 pounds.
    • Because of the hard top, it can take crossbars, so you can bring additional gear.

    Cons

    • This tent may be a hybrid, but it is definitely priced as a (higher-end) hard shell.
    Includes 3-months Subscription to onX Maps

    Best Affordable Soft Shell Roof Top Tent

    OVS TMBK

    OVS TMBK - Affordable Roof Top Tent

    $999


    Great features, light on your wallet.

    The TMBK by Overland Vehicle Systems is a high-quality tent that is amazingly, shockingly, surprisingly less than $1,000.

    It's made with tough and durable fabric - 600D for the body, 420D for the rainfly, and 1000g for the cover. No matter what mother nature throws your way, you'll be comfortable in any season.

    It also has a 2.5" foam mattress that will keep you comfortable throughout the night.

    And despite the thick fabrics and mattress, the tent comes in at just 110 lbs., one of the lightest tents on the market.

    While the tent is officially a 2-person, at a generous 55" wide you can comfortably get a family of three inside.

    Plus, you have the option to add an annex for additional space for sleeping, storage, or pets.

    OVS TMBK Roof Top Tent Inside

    Did we mention it's a head-scratcher that this tent is only $999 given all these features?

    OVS TMBK Review Rating

    Pros

    • Durable body construction with all-weather protection.
    • Lightweight at only 110 lbs.
    • Solid 2.5" mattress.
    • As affordable as it gets for a high quality tent.

    Cons

    • Not the fastest set up and take down.
    Includes 3-months Subscription to onX Maps

    Best Soft Shell Roof Top Tents with Annex

    Adding an annex to your roof top tent not only provides extra storage space and privacy, it can add additional sleeping space as well. Use it for extra guests, kids, or even big/wet pets!

    That said, many roof top tents don't have compatible annexes, and they do take up additional storage space in your vehicle. So, we've written a complete guide on the best roof top tents with annexes (soft shell AND hard shell).



    Soft Shell Roof Top Tent Comparison

    Softshell Tent Price Weight
    (lbs)
    Sleeping Capacity Mattress Thickness Mattress Width
    Annex Warranty
    OVS Nomadic 3 $1,399 165
    3 people 3" 62" Optional 4 years

    Tuff Stuff Trailhead

    $1,299 110 2 people 1.5" 55" Optional 1 year
    Overland Junction Labrador $1,799 128 3 people 2.75" 63" Optional 2 years
    Tuff Stuff Elite $2,499 194 4+ people 2.75" 77" Included
    1 year
    Roofnest Meaowlark $1,595 90
    2 people 2.5" 43"
    No 2 years
    Freespirit High Country - King $3,495 154 4+
    2.25" 77" No 2 years
    OVS TMBK $999 110
    2-3 people 2.5" 55" Optional 4 years



    Why Buy A Soft Shell Roof Top Tent?

    As this review article shows, there are so many reasons to buy a soft shell tent.

    For a relatively affordable price, soft shell tents let you have a home away from home on your adventures that is comfortable, durable, and fun for the whole family.

    Rooftop tents use much thicker fabrics than ground tents, making them warmer, more weather-resistant, and longer lasting.

    They're easier to set up and take down than ground tents, and require barely any additional space than what your car takes up.

    They're raised off the ground, which is a positive for avoiding rain buildup, critters, and even wildlife.

    And, perhaps most importantly, they are so. much. more. comfortable. With thick mattresses, you'll feel like you're sleeping on your bed at home.

    While these benefits apply to all rooftop tents, soft shell tents are the lighter weight, more affordable entrance into what is, for many, a new type of shelter.

    Without giving up much in terms of quality and comfort, soft shell tents are easier on the car and roof rack, and easier on the wallet. That's why we think it's worth it to buy a soft shell roof top tent!

    OVS Nomadic 3 - Maximum Comfort

    Maximum Comfort

    Compared to ground tents, soft shell roof top tents are night and day. Rather than feeling every root or stick or pebble beneath you all night long, you're spread out on a thick foam mattress, feeling like you're in a comfy bed. The tent doesn't rock or shake with every breeze, and a rainstorm doesn't mean inevitable wet sides and floor. You get all of the benefits of being out in nature without any of the drawbacks.

    Freespirit High Country - Height and Views

    Height = Views

    Being perched up high doesn't just mean protection from the hard ground and bad weather, it also means better views! Imagine waking up on your thick mattress after a great night's sleep. You hear the birds chirping and the breeze blowing just like you love on a camping trip. And out your windows, 6 feet off the ground, you see the sun rising over the mountains, clear as day.

    Roofnest Meadowlark - Lightweight

    Lightweight

    Unlike hard shell tents, soft shell tents are lighter weight, meaning they can go on almost any car. You don't need a truck or SUV to enjoy the benefits of rooftop camping. Soft shell tents can be mounted on almost any car's factory rack, no matter how small the vehicle.



    What Do You Need To Install A Soft Shell Rooftop Tent On Your Vehicle?

    You need two things to install a soft shell rooftop tent on your vehicle: A rack (1) that has cross bars (running from one side of the car to the other) and (2) that can handle the weight.

    Almost any car that already has #1 (crossbars) on it is good to go. You need to worry about weight with hard shell tents, but most factory racks can handle 150+ pounds, and most small softshell tents are under 150 pounds.

    If you don't have crossbars or any roof rack at all, or you want to go with a larger and heavier soft shell tent, or you think you might want to mount other gear on top besides just the tent, here are three options to consider to enhance your roof rack. 

    Crossbars for hard shell roof top tent

    Crossbars

    You see them every day. In addition to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, Yakima, Thule, and Rhino-Rack are a few of the biggest brands that make crossbars. We also carry a great pair from OVS. They range anywhere from $150-$600, and you can find them for almost any vehicle. **If your vehicle came with OEM crossbars, please check the manual for weight limits before mounting a soft shell roof top tent.

    Roof Rack for hard shell roof top tent

    Roof Racks

    Roof racks are bulkier and are generally more expensive than standard crossbars. They typically range anywhere from $700-$1400, have a weight capacity of 300+ lbs, and allow you to mount other heavy gear when you are not using your soft shell rooftop tent. Check out our roof rack finder quiz to see the perfect roof rack for your vehicle.

    Bed Rack for hard shell roof top tent

    Bed Racks

    If you own a pickup truck, you'll probably consider using a bed rack to install your soft shell tent. Bed racks, as the name suggests, go on the bed of your truck and typically have a weight capacity of 400+ lbs. These allow you to mount your soft shell roof top tent just like you would on a vehicle with crossbars, and since it's over the bed rather than on the roof, you won't see any impact to your MPG. Check out our best bed racks guide to find the perfect one for your vehicle.



    Can I mount a soft shell rooftop tent on the factory roof rack my vehicle came with?
    It depends on the rack and the tent, but very often yes.

    If you only have side rails (that run from the front of the car to the back along either side) you will need to add crossbars.

    If you have factory crossbars, then check the weight capacity of that rack in your owner's manual and compare it to the weight of the tent you are interested in.

    In almost all cases, you only need to pay attention to the dynamic weight capacity and the weight of the tent (not the static weight capacity, which is when people are inside the tent).



    Soft Shell vs. Hard Shell Roof Top Tents

    We think all roof top tents are great, and if you're just looking for the best roof top tent, soft shell or hard shell, check out our guide to the best roof top tents on the market.

    The major advantages of hard shell roof top tents are durability and reduced MPG impact (both due to the hard shell case itself), as well as easier opening and closing.

    But those advantages are minor in comparison to soft shell roof top tents. And soft shell tents have many of the same benefits of hard shell tents, as well as some unique ones. 

    The benefits of soft shell roof top tents include:

    • Setup and Takedown – There's no question that hard shell roof top tents are the easiest to set up and take down, but when compared to ground tents, soft shell tents are night and day. In only a few minutes, you can go from an enclosed case to a fully established bedroom with thick mattress, open or closed windows, and LED lights shining away.
    • Durability – Again, most people think hard shell roof top tents when they talk durability, but all soft shell tents these days come with a THICK cover that lasts years and encloses the tent from all of the elements. That gives soft shell tents increased durability, and is also simpler. With no gas struts meant to help lift a heavier plastic or aluminum cover, there's simply less that can go wrong - fewer parts that might break with time.
    • Comfort – There are virtually no differences in comfort between hard shell and soft shell tents at this point. Both use the same thick mattresses, the same high quality tent and rainfly fabrics, and the same designs. And in comparison to ground tents, it's a different ballpark. A rooftop tent is closer to sleeping at the Ritz than it is to sleeping on the ground. 
    • Weight  Enough hemming and hawing, let's get into the true advantages. You replace a plastic or metal cover with a canvas one, and you drop significant pounds. Unlike hard shell tents, soft shell tents are light enough to mount on almost any factory roof rack, as long as it has crossbars. They're also easier to install because of the weight.
    • Dollars  There's no nuance here: soft shell tents are simply less expensive. It's easy to make the case that you're paying a premium for certain benefits with hard shell roof top tents. And that's true. But if you don't care about the bells and whistles, and just want a solid tent for almost any situation without breaking the bank, soft shell tents are an excellent option.

    Have Other Questions About Soft Shell Roof Top Tents?

    We at Overland Junction can help you make an informed decision on the best soft shell roof top tent (or hard shell!) for your vehicle.

    If you have any questions or concerns before making a purchase, please browse our website, or contact us by text or phone at 833-205-7703 or email at support@overlandjunction.com.

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