What SUV tent should I get?

Best tents that attach to SUVs

If you’ve ever wanted to go camping, you’ll understand that putting up a tent by itself can be quite cumbersome. Often it’s the most frustrating part of the holiday – it’s no wonder that people sit down with a strong drink afterwards.

That’s why many people opt to buy tents that attach to SUVs. The reason is simple. Having a tent hanging off the back of your SUV gives it more stability. But it also makes erecting the tent a lot easier because you’re using the SUV to attach to. It’s a bit like having a wall to work from.

But there’s another reason. We all know what a pain tents are to put up, so when you speed up the process, it makes camping a whole lot easier and enjoyable. Remember the days of spending hours trying to pitch a tent and anchor it into the dirt? By using your SUV’s tailgate as the basis, things get a lot simpler and faster.

But having the freedom to also use your vehicle’s loading space is a bonus, because you can choose to sleep extra people in there, or simply have gear close at hand by reaching in through the sleeve.

Is an SUV tent easy to erect?

Definitely.  We could go into depth explaining it, but it’s easier if you check out this video to see the process of one of these tents being erected.

How much do they cost?

As always, it depends on your budget. You can spend almost as much or as little as you’d like, but as a guide, most good quality SUV tents are usually a few hundred dollars. The price does go up if you get more features, or the size increases.

Sure, this isn’t as cheap as your regular pop-up tent, but you’re paying for the convenience remember.

What should I look for in an SUV tent?

The most critical thing and this applies to all tents, is what the tent material is made from. You’ll want a waterproof (or at the very least water resistant) fabric, with some tents achieving this via a rain fly.

The rain fly is an extra piece of material which sits over the top of the tent to prevent you getting wet when it rains, and it normally attaches to either the tent poles or to the ground using tent pegs/stakes.

The other critical thing is the floor material and construction. Floors made from polyethylene (PE) are a great choice as they won’t let water in, they’re tough and they’re light.

If the base is sealed further up the sides, it also helps when the ground gets very soggy.

Also, look for a detailed instruction set, so that your first time putting it up isn’t so frustrating.

Things to keep in mind

Speaking of the first time erecting a tent, it’s worth doing a trial run before you get to your destination.

You also want to have the right size SUV tent. We suggest always buying a tent that is sized one person bigger than you’ll need. For example, if you have four people, get a five-person SUV tent. If you have three people, get a four-person tent.

This ensures you have enough room when you sleep – traditionally, tent manufacturers tend to be a little too conservative when it comes to sizing. The last thing you want for your holiday is to sleep all cramped up – it doesn’t make for a nice break from the daily grind.

In addition, making sure the instructions of the tent are clear. The last thing you want is to get out into the outdoors and then have no idea how to erect your SUV tent.

So, now that we have the tips out of the way, let’s dive into our top five pics for tents that attach to SUVs.

NAPIER Backroadz Truck Tent & Napier Backroadz SUV Tent

  • By: Napier Enterprises
  • Product Dimensions: 30 x 8 x 8 in.
  • Item Weight: 18 lbs.

This is one of the simpler SUV tents around, but that doesn’t mean it’s low quality. With a sewn-in floor, it’s able to withstand all kinds of weather, but this is the one that is most suited to couples.

Why is it called both an SUV tent and a truck tent? It’s because you can actually set it up in the bed of a truck.

It’s very fast to put up, which is probably this tent’s best attribute. Some people have said that it can be done with one person, but with another person helping, you’re looking at a 10-minute setup.

There’s a lot of ventilation, and while that would normally make things a bit worrisome in the rain, it has a full rain fly to keep you dry. Both the tent and the rain fly are made from polyester taffeta and the floor is made from polyethylene (PE).

There are four windows and one door in the tent, and having an extra flap for the door is great for not only privacy but also stormy weather.

It’s also worth noting that there are different sizes, so make sure you get the right one to suit you if you’re a taller person (or couple).

Napier Outdoors Sportz 4 Person SUV Tent

This is one of the more popular options out there. Mainly because with its larger footprint (9 by 9-foot tent) it’s able to sleep four people (or five at a pinch) thanks to seven feet of headroom in the center of the tent.

But even couples who have a lot of gear will appreciate this handy tent thanks to its large size.

Because of the large sleeve which covers the vehicle’s tailgate, you have the option of converting your cargo space into a sleeping space for extra people if you have someone else want to come along.

Then, if you take the sleeve off, you have a standalone tent. One person can put it up if need be, but with two people it becomes quicker and easier.

Got a large vehicle? No problems, even full-width tailgates will fit inside the sleeve.

People who have already bought one of these have noted that it’s sturdily constructed and the floor is all part of the tent with around half-a-foot of material up the side to prevent water leaks.

There’s a rain fly which covers most of the ventilation, but also keeps the water out when raining. So, if the weather is good, simply take the rain fly off and you’re blessed with a night under the stars.

KingCamp Melfi Plus 5 Person SUV Tent

  • By: KingCamp
  • Product Dimensions: 32 x 14 x 14 in.
  • Item Weight: 53 lbs.

This tent attaches easily and is massive – basically, it’s a standalone tent that can attach to a vehicle.

The space available is 9×9 feet, it’s 86 inches high in the center and will sleep five people.

The reason we like this one is there’s plenty of ventilation – important for when the sun comes up in the morning. There are two doors and one window, and for practicality, you get four pockets to look after smaller gear, and if you want to have some light at night, there’s a roof ring for hanging a lantern.

We also love the extra awning which comes out from the back, giving you some more shade so you can sit outside without getting burned to a crisp.

The floor is made from PE (despite the fact some pics look like it doesn’t have a floor) so you’re assured of not getting wet if the ground is damp.

The people who have bought this have noted that the instructions aren’t great, but that it’s easy to work out, so best have a dry run before going camping.

Erecting the tent only takes around half an hour, and the sleeve is designed to attach to just about any size SUV. Even pickups can be accommodated.

Napier Outdoors Sportz 5 Person SUV Tent with Screen Room

  • By: SportZ
  • Product Dimensions: 32 x 14 x 14 in.
  • Item Weight: 53 lbs.

This tent is one of the larger ones going around, as you can clearly see. Its advantage is the extra screen room that sits off to the side.

Not only that, but the footprint of this tent is 10- by 10-foot. This serious bit of gear allows you to sleep five or six people. Inside there’s over seven feet of headroom, so even the tallest individuals won’t feel cramped.

Outside is that screen room which is seven foot by six foot, so you can play cards in the outdoors, or have a drink (or both) without getting eaten by mosquitoes or bothered by flies. Just be aware that the screen room doesn’t have a built-in floor like the tent itself.

Like the others, the sleeve which attaches to your vehicle can transform your cargo space into sleeping quarters, so you could potentially have seven or eight people come along. Just make sure you have a Ford Expedition or something similar to carry everyone around in.

You can also have it as a standalone tent, so with several options available, this tent comes highly recommended.

Rightline Gear SUV Tent

  • By: Rightline Gear
  • Product Dimensions: 26.4 x 8.3 x 8.3 in.
  • Item Weight: 21 lbs.

This curved shape tent is presented differently to the others but is very hardy and tough. Its shape means it’s more suited to smaller families (sleeps four adults) but thanks to tape-sealed seams, it’s impervious to water.

You don’t need a ground tarp, with a PE floor that prevents moisture getting in. It also doesn’t require a rain fly, because everything is sealed. The windows also have two zips to give you privacy (outer zip) and ventilation (inner zip).

The footprint is 8ft x 8ft and the height is a generous 7.2 feet. Some people have said that it’s a little tricky lining up with their SUV when erecting, so again have a practice shot first.

The ground stakes are also said to be a little weak, so make sure you get something a bit stronger, but if you do, you’ll have a strong, waterproof and private tent for many years to come.

So there you have it, folks. Five of the best tents that attach to SUVs, creating a much easier camping experience, and one that will keep people being happy campers.

If you’ve bought one of the SUV tents above, or you already have one that you’re very happy with, why not share it in the comments below. We’d also love to hear your tips and tricks, especially for getting the tent up quickly.

Let’s hear your experiences.

About Karl Peskett 431 Articles
A passionate writer, editor and driver, Karl is the go-to man when it comes to four wheels. With stints in television, radio, print and online, Karl has been writing about cars for more than a decade. He drives around 100 vehicles every year and has tested everything from Bugattis to Suzukis. Sometimes on track, sometimes off-road, his focus is on producing objective journalism without fear or favour.

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