We're an affiliate. We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!
If your an avid camper or someone wants to get into camping, you might be concerned that your rooftop tent won’t be suitable for your compact car.
Fortunately, some compact cars can handle the added weight of rooftop tents. This, however, will largely depend on what precisely your car’s dynamic and static weight ratings are as well as many other factors.
After spending some time looking into compact cars and their abilities to support rooftop tents, we’ve listed four of the best so that you can plan out your next camping trip properly.
1. Granville 3 Roof Top Tent (Our Popular Pick)
Granville is one of the most renowned manufacturers of rooftop tents.
The Granville 3 is on this list for compact cars and for a good reason. It’s hugely popular! This two-person rooftop tent fits easily on most cars and can be set up in one minute.
With a price of around $1,200, it’s an investment worth potentially making, although this price point is relatively low it’s in an investment nonetheless.
The interior of this rooftop tent, once fitted, is more spacious than what you might initially think it would be. With a length of 48 inches and a width of 84 inches, there is enough space to rest and relax while out camping.
This soft top tent is made with durable materials. However, this tent is not meant to be utilized during the winter months, which is a drawback for many customers.
This Granville 3 comes with an aluminum ladder and travel cover and a 2.25′ thick foam mattress that ensures a good night’s sleep. Additionally, the redesigned ladder is safer as the steps are now parallel to the ground.
In terms of materials, this rooftop tent canvas uses breathable 420D Polyester Oxford PU-coated material, and the rainfly is made to be waterproof by using 300D polyester.
Below were going to have an in-depth look at two cars that can use the Granville 3:
Subaru Forester & Volkswagen Golf with the Granville 3:
If you own a Subaru Forester or a Volkswagen Golf, you might think you can’t use a rooftop tent, but……
The Subaru Forester can hold 700 lbs when parked on a level surface and 176 lbs while moving.
Note that rooftop tents are usually not recommended for vehicles with a weight limit (moving) of under 165 pounds.
You could instead opt for an inflatable rooftop tent, but these can be pricier.
Should you have the Volkswagen golf, you can also fit a rooftop tent to it, provided it isn’t more than the total roof weight capacity, which is 165 pounds while moving.
With both these cars, you will want to use a rooftop tent like the Granville 3 as it’s aerodynamic and incredibly lightweight at under 100 pounds.
This rooftop tent fits many compact cars and is arguably the most popular amongst small car owners who camp with a rooftop tent.
2. Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 (Our Top Pick)
Our top pick on our list of the best rooftop tents for compact cars is the Explorer Kukenam 3.
This rooftop tent is approximately $1750 and can sleep two to three people comfortably. Additionally, what’s great about this tent is that it not only works for more compact cars, but it is also a four-season tent.
For all those who enjoy frequent offroad camping, this could be the tent for you. The fabric used to make this rooftop tent is durable and made out of a 600D ripstop blend, allowing it to be weather resistant and mildew and UV resistant.
Inside the tent is a comfortable high-density foam that helps travelers get a good night’s rest.
The mattress fits comfortably within the 96 inches long and 56 inches wide floor space.
This tent also provides 6 pockets to store any gear you might have, and there are 4 mesh side panels and 2 roof panels that provide adequate ventilation throughout.
Two of the main complaints that customers have reported about the Explorer Kukenam 3 by Thule is that it doesn’t come with an entrance awning although available at $370, nor does it come with any added extras when you purchase it.
Toyota Carolla & Toyota Camry with Explorer Kukenam 3:
Both the Toyota Carolla and Toyota Camry are good candidates for the Explorer Kukenam 3 rooftop tent.
These two cars both have a dynamic weight capacity of 165 pounds, which means they can both, in theory, handle a rooftop tent provided it falls within the weight range of no more than 165 pounds.
Luckily the Explorer Kukenam 3 only weighs 131 pounds, which makes it suitable for compact cars as the rooftop tent itself is made with insulated fiberglass, which reduces the tent’s weight.
As a general tip, these two cars must use a proper roof rack. There are many suitable brands like Yakima and even Thule that provide quality roof racks that you can fit onto your Toyota Corolla or Toyota Camry.
You will also need a rooftop tent with an appropriate ladder to correctly fit these vehicles without being too long or cumbersome.
Thule’s Explorer Kukenam 3 rooftop tent provides an easy-to-use and setup 7.5-inch telescoping ladder, so you shouldn’t have an issue using it with either of these vehicles.
3. Smittybilt Overlander Tent
Are you looking for a great rooftop tent that is softshell and customizable with all kinds of accessories and will fit onto your compact car?
The new and improved Smittybilt Overlander Tent might be what you’re looking for. This rooftop tent can sleep two adults or up to three small children inside the interior, which is incredibly spacious.
Inside the spacious interior is a king-size bed that fits easily while providing enough space to still move about. An annex is sold separately with a removable floor that can be attached with heavy-duty zippers for privacy
In addition to this, the tent fabric is durable and breathable due to being made with a 600D heavy-duty waterproof top and rain fly, sunroof, side windows with mosquito netting, anodized aluminum tent frame poles, telescopic ladder, interior LED strips, and many more features.
Notably, one of this tent’s key features is the quick setup time, which will only take you around a minute. The tent also available in Size XL sleeps 3-4. Ladder extension also available. Ladder capacity = 265 lbs.
There is also a smartly redesigned ladder, which is safer, and there are hardshell stainless steel locks to ensure the tent doesn’t come loose.
At only 48 pounds, this rooftop tent is ideal for some Honda civics, and Honda Accords as the dynamic weight carrying capacity for both vehicles is roughly 165 pounds.
However, remember you need to ensure that you distribute the weight; otherwise, an incorrectly placed rooftop tent could damage your vehicle.
Raptor Series 100000-126800 (Our Budget Pick)
California-based camping brand Raptor might have been in business for only a few years, but they are quickly becoming known for their exemplary products.
The Raptor unique design rooftop tent has been redesigned to be easier to use and is relatively affordable at approximately $930. It can sleep two people and is suitable for most cars, including the more compact car models available in the US.
This tent’s interior is cozy, with an interior length of 78 inches by a width of 48 inches. Along with other features that impress many who have purchased this model, the firm high-density foam mattress stands out for being comfortable for heavier campers.
In addition to this, the interior provides several windows, which allow occupants a nice breeze and adequate airflow year-round.
Additionally, the unique design nature of this tent adds some noise to your vehicle while driving but the aerodynamically engineered shape helps withstand heavy winds and shed rainwater.
Moreover, the awning creates a natural panoramic view, with some customers choosing this model just for this reason.
However, the Raptor pop-top rooftop tent is quickly becoming a favorite. This is partly due to its being set up in less than a minute, with many campers throughout the US appreciating this handy perk.
Another great feature is that this rooftop tent is made with quality materials making condensation less apparent, and the canvas itself is waterproof.
Below find a few compact vehicles that can utilize the Raptor rooftop tent.
With the Raptor only weighing 159 pounds, this softshell rooftop tent is ideal for most cars:
- Mazda 3: Dynamic Weight Capacity of 165 pounds.
- Kia Soul: Dynamic Weight Capacity of 165 Pounds.
- Chevrolet Equinox: Dynamic Weight Capacity of 200 pounds.
How Much Should You Really Pay For A Rooftop Tent For Your Compact Car?
When looking at rooftop tents’ cost for compact cars, the pricing varies due to many factors.
Importantly you will first need to determine your budget and what you’re looking for in a rooftop tent before you can establish how much you really should be paying for one.
Hardshell rooftop tents for compact cars are more durable and often more aerodynamic. This tends to be especially important for compact vehicles.
However, hard shells are more pricy, but it might be worth the investment if you plan on utilizing your rooftop tent regularly.
We would recommend, and my personal favorite, the Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 but it’s the most expensive of the bunch. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can’t beat the Raptor Series 100000-126800 soft shell rooftop tent with its unique design will work almost as well at a cheaper price point.
In the end, the key takeaway is to remember that the weight measurement matters when deciding if your car can handle a rooftop tent. Always check the load capacity for your roof rack!
To carry a rooftop tent safely, a vehicle needs to have a dynamic carrying capacity of 165 pounds or more.
The dynamic carrying capacity can vary from model to model, and a 2010 and 2012 Toyota Camry, for example, can have different weight limits, so be sure always to check.
We’re passionate about getting the most from your car when it comes to going on adventures and road trips. When you take one of these trips you often need more room in your car than you usually would. This is when we come in, to help you find the best roof tent for your car and needs.