Rooftop Tent vs. RV’s: Pros and Cons

Roof Top Tent vs. Recreational Vehicle, the Pros, and Cons

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You have been cooped up at home for months since the pandemic struck and can’t wait to go back into the great outdoors. You have been fantasizing about it for months and talking it over with your spouse and even the kids. Nonetheless, up to now, you haven’t taken the plunge of whether it’s better to go with an RTT or an RV.

While both RTT and RV camping might be similar in some way you can’t stop but ask yourself a couple of questions when it comes to the ultimate comfort? How life will be on the road with your kids? Which travel camping option is safer to use in this Covid-19 period?  Which is the best option when it comes to remote jobs? Etc.

In this post, we’ll try to answer all these questions and much more and give you a clear understanding of what to consider between RTT camping and RV camping.


A rooftop tent is less expensive than an RV. For instance, a new rooftop tent will cost you somewhere between $1,000 to $5,000 while a recreational vehicle costs you easily six figures.  Furthermore, the cost difference won’t end there since after the purchase the RV will cost you money to maintain, insure, and also fuel, unlike a rooftop which won’t cost much to maintain.

Fuel Efficiency

Yes, you will need to fuel your car while camping with a rooftop tent but that won’t cost as much as an RV. A gasoline-powered camper usually requires 10 miles per gallon while a diesel camper goes for 20 miles per gallon. This means the RVs require you to fill up more than an average rooftop tent camper thus making the road trip cost more.


Though a camper van isn’t as difficult to drive as a large Class A or Class C camper, it is usually wider and taller than a standard automobile. The visibility of these vehicles is not always great either when compared to a standard car.

Additionally, it is also tough to park in parking garages or standard size parking spaces making the campers to miss out on certain camping areas. On the other hand, rooftop tent cars aren’t limited when it comes to parking garages or even camping areas.


As mentioned in the above point, both rooftop tents and recreational vehicles will require some maintenance.  The difference is that rooftop tent maintenance doesn’t cost much or take a long time to repair as an RV.  For instance, a camper can take all weekend to repair while a rooftop tent is a lot easier and quicker to repair.

Some may argue that it’s not fair to compare a rooftop tent with an RV as you still need to maintain your vehicle. However, a rooftop tent camper had already maintained their car which means there no additional maintenance. Also, a standard car like a small SUV or crossover won’t cost as much to maintain as a large camper van.

Ease of Transfer

Are you planning to sell your rooftop tent? Then no problem, unlike an RV, it will be easy to sell a rooftop tent.  You won’t require any special licenses or a title deed to transfer between owners.

For buyers, though you may have to pay a sales tax when purchasing a rooftop tent new, you won’t have to pay a title deed transfer. Furthermore, it may take you less time to sell the rooftop tent than the RV.


A rooftop tent has its luxury when compared to a ground tent but nothing beats down an RV. Yes, a well-made rooftop tent when properly sealed won’t let in dust or rain but you won’t have the complete comfort an RV will offer.

Depending on the size of the RV, you will get air conditioning, heating, indoor plumbing which includes sink/basin running water, shower, and toilet.  You also won’t hear the sound of the wind blowing which will bring total comfort, unlike a rooftop tent.


Camping is very safe and there aren’t many cases of people being assaulted in their rooftop tent. Nonetheless, a rooftop tent doesn’t fully protect you against people or large animals.  For example, a bear or mountain lion can easily climb onto the car and reach your rooftop tent or even a person can cut the tent open.

What’s more, apart from mosquitoes, there are ants which may bother you especially when you eat meals in your rooftop tent or if you are parked near a tree. On the other hand, an RV has hard walls, door, and windows that keep away most animals.

Moreover, some RV campers have gone the extra mile of putting alarm systems and security cameras to keep them safe. These options are useful in high crime places or bear and mountain lion areas.


It’s a given that RV’s are more spacious than rooftop tents when it comes to moving around, standing, sleeping, cooking, and sitting. What’s more some RVs enable you to access the front to the rear without getting off the camper and also drive with the roof open.

Also, the roof of the RV is usually large and flat with plenty of space for solar panels for charging phones, tablets, laptops, and even watching TV.  You can also carry lightweight sports gear such as kayaks and surfboards and more.

This is not possible with a rooftop tent as you need to close the tent before driving which might be both difficult for one person, especially short people.


Unlike RVs, rooftop tents can be tiring as one needs to climb up and down the ladder. Not only that, physically impaired people such as blind and even wheel chaired campers won’t get to access a rooftop tent. Nonetheless, an RV does offer handicap access and they can easily be used by blind people too as getting in and out isn’t a big problem.

Conspicuous Camping

Though a rooftop tent is on top of your car, they can be seen especially when opened.  This means you won’t be able to park in business parking lots or busy neighborhoods.

As for RVs, indeed, they aren’t as conspicuous too but at least they offer the possibility of camping unnoticed in a parking lot or residential places once you close up the roof, doors, and windows.


RVs might cost more to maintain but they last longer than rooftop tents. Even if rooftop tents are quite durable especially hard-shell ones, they can only last for a maximum of 10 years.  An RV will probably serve you for 10-20 years depending on how you maintain it.


Come rain or snow, an RV will always be dry all the time, unlike a rooftop tent which will require you to dry it out after a rainy or stormy day. You can’t close a rooftop tent when it is wet and will have to wait until the sun dries it.  In case there is no sun and you need to pack up you will have to improvise and use dry towels or clothing to semi-dry it to avoid damaging it. Note that, you need to open it up to dry completely once you reach your next destination.

Rooftop Tent vs. RV: Life on the Road with Kids

Camping with kids can be a great experience. Apart from spending time as a family, the kids have a chance to connect with nature while learning basic survival skills. What about giving them a chance to unplug from the technology world a bit?  That sounds like a great idea. However, before you start planning for the camping trip, there are some factors you need to consider and one of them entails whether to camp with a rooftop tent or an RV.

Here are the pros and cons of Rooftop Tent vs. RV

Panoramic View

The main benefit when it comes to rooftop tent camping is that your kids get to enjoy great views early in the morning or at night. On the other hand, they might miss some amazing views while sleeping in a Recreational vehicle.


Though you can take precautions when camping with your children, an RV is more secure and less prone to accidents when it comes to getting in and out of it.  Nevertheless, as for a rooftop tent, you have to frequently make sure the ladder is secured before you and the kids step on it.

Apart from ensuring the ladder is safely locked into the door of your tent, you also need to keep it dry especially in the rainy or snowy season.  This prevents you or the kids from slipping and falling.

What’s more, when it comes to windows and doors of a rooftop tent, it is better to keep them zipped up when the kids are hanging out during the day or when they are sleeping. This prevents the young ones from looking or rolling out of the windows or doors.


When it comes to storage, you and the kids can leave a bunch of stuff inside the rooftop tent. From beddings, clothing, foldable tables, and chairs among others can be folded under the tent thus giving you enough space in the car while on the move. However, you will be required to go up and down the ladder when you need to access this stuff.

With an RV everything is inside the vehicle and arms reach thus enabling you to have access to everything at all times.  The good news is that you can watch your kids wash dishes while reading a book and vice versa or get to play games while the food is cooking.


As you know a rooftop tent does come with a high-density memory foam mattress which will provide you and your kids with a nice, comfortable sleep.  But wait a minute, depending on the number of kids you have, it might be difficult for all of you to sleep comfortably due to the lack of space the rooftop tent provides. Keep in mind, most rooftop tents accommodate 2-3 people which means the maximum it can take is 2 adults and 2 kids.

Some RVs are known to accommodate two to six people or even up to seven people.  What’s more, the RVs offer other amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area.  The kids also get to charge their phones or tablets, watch cable TV as most RVs can be hooked up to electricity while on camping grounds or through solar panels.

Rooftop Tent vs. RV, Life on the Road in the Covid-19 Period

Both Rooftop tent car camping and RVs are perfect ways to quarantine at this coronavirus period. Serving as a mobile home, both options will allow you to travel around the states while still keeping your distance.

Again, just as both rooftop tent and RVs have similarities; they do differ in many areas.

Camping Areas

When it comes to camping areas, Rooftop tent car camping has the upper advantage as they are more places to park a standard vehicle than RVs.


Although you can park an RTT near public facilities at this Covid period, it might be quite risky to get infected with the virus as you share the facilities with other people. RV’s are great at this point since you don’t have to share public facilities since RV’s are equipped with a kitchen where there is running water, a shower, and a toilet.

Remote Jobs

Although you can work while traveling with a rooftop tent, it might be limiting especially where social distancing is required and you could pop into a cybercafé to use the internet and get some work done. Yes, you can still work in your car or rooftop tent but if you don’t have enough charge for your laptop or phone, you won’t do much of anything.

However, an RV is the best option if you want to enjoy some remote jobs.  With most of them powered by solar panels, lithium batteries, and even onboard generators, you get to charge all your gadgets so you can be productive all the time.


We can’t decide for you when it comes to rooftop tent car camping or RV. By the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preferences and desires. We just hope that the above information will help you decide whether a rooftop tent is right for you or an RV is more convenient.

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