If you’re camping with an SUV, you should use the best SUV tent. But, how can you know which one works well for your situation? When comparing SUV tents, you need to ensure they’re compatible with your vehicle and that they offer the same ruggedness and practicality of a regular tent. For example, what if you decide to take your SUV somewhere but leave the tent behind? Will there be a gaping hole in the side, or can the tent stand on its own?
For the uninitiated, an SUV tent is a model that wraps around the rear door of your SUV. This connection allows you to use both the trunk and the tent for living quarters. For example, perhaps your kids can sleep in the SUV while you and your partner sleep in the tent (or vice versa). SUV tents are perfect for weekend getaways because they’re easy to use and highly versatile.
So, with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the top six SUV tents. Let’s dive in and see which ones are the best.
If you’re in a rush, our favourite SUV tent is the Napier Backroadz SUV tent.
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Best Budget Pick
Best Tent For Summer Weather
|Tent Capacity||5 person||4 to 6 person||4 to 6 person||6 person||4 to 6 person||3-6 people|
|Vehicle Models||Universal Fit||Universal Fit||SUVs and CUVs||Universal Fit||SUV, CUV, and Minivan||SUV and Minivan|
|Ease of Setup||4.8/5||4.8/5||4.5||4.6/5||4.5/5||4/5|
|Value for Money||4.8/5||4.8/5||4.4||4.4/5||4/5||3.7/5|
With seven feet of clearance and a rugged shell, this tent is comfortable and will last for many seasons
This tent has enough space to fit most families well, but it's not quite as durable as our top pick.
Large doors and windows mean you get excellent ventilation. A built-in awning also adds extra convenience, but this tent doesn't handle rain as well.
This tent is spacious and relatively easy to set up, but it has a few design flaws and may leak in heavy rains.
This tent works well for warm weather, but it can leak relatively often if rain is in the forecast.
Although this tent is pretty large and comes with several awnings, it likely won't last more than a few camping trips.
Best SUV Tent Product Reviews
The best SUV car tent is one that will accommodate your family on any camping trip, rain or shine. That said, some tents are more weather resistant than others, and as we’ve seen, the features can run the gamut. Here’s our breakdown of each model and why it might be suitable for your next adventure.
- Extra-tall ceiling for moving around
- Wide floor to store more gear
- Universal attachment sleeve works on all vehicles
- Durable weatherproofing materials
- Sets up in 10 minutes or less
- Tent is a freestanding model
- In rare cases, water may seep in through the SUV opening
- The opening doesn’t stay shut as tightly as others when not car camping
Napier Outdoors is one of the top brands making SUV tents, so we’ll see the name come up a lot on this list. We chose the Backroadz SUV Tent as our top pick because it offers a bit more value for the money than others we’ve seen. Overall, this tent is super spacious on the inside with a seven-foot-tall ceiling that can accommodate virtually everyone.
We like the universal fit of the SUV opening, so you shouldn’t have any compatibility issues when attaching it to your vehicle. Also, if you want to take your SUV out during the day, you can seal the opening and leave the tent freestanding.
The waterproofing and durability of this tent are excellent, although we’ve heard reports of some models arriving damaged and leaky. That said, those cases are pretty rare, so you should be warm and toasty even when the weather gets sour outside.
- More affordable than other models
- Freestanding tent model
- Universal compatibility with all vehicle types
- Tall tent walls make it easy to move around
- Durable flooring helps keep pests and water at bay
- Tent may not come with setup instructions
- In rare cases, the tent may rip along the bottom seams
Typically, SUV camping is more casual than standard camping. Since you can attach your tent to the back of your ride, you have more creature comforts than you would if you were “roughing it.” So, while you want something that won’t leak like a sieve once it rains, you likely don’t want to break the bank to get a high-quality model.
Fortunately, this tailgate tent from North East Harbor is the perfect way to sleep with the family under the stars. It’s much more cost-effective than most other models on this list, and you don’t have to sacrifice much in the way of quality. Overall, this tent offers decent protection from the elements, although the bottom seams may not be as durable as the rest of the structure. So, you need to be careful when setting up this model.
- Built-in awning
- Lantern holder and gear loft inside
- Extra-large window and ceiling vents
- Tall ceiling and walls make it easy to move around
- Durable steel and fiberglass structure
- Sets up in 10 minutes
- Screen room may get wet in heavy rain
- In rare cases, the poles may bend during setup
Typically, a “summer” tent is one that offers excellent ventilation but can’t handle much inclement weather. Fortunately, the Sportz SUV Tent from Napier offers all the same benefits with almost no downsides. The only reason we didn’t rank this tent as our number-one pick is that the front screen room isn’t fully protected by the rainfly. So, if it does rain, you’ll get puddles in this section, which can spread to the interior.
That said, you can mitigate this problem by attaching a second awning or a tarp over the opening. However, we like the awning provided because it gives you an extra option for enjoying hot weather. If bugs are out, you can use the screen room. If your campsite is bug-free, you can use the awning. Otherwise, this tent is pretty durable and water-resistant.
- Freestanding tent model
- Universal car attachment
- Tape-sealed seams for added durability
- Rainfly extends past the opening
- Side opening can seal shut when not connected to your vehicle
- Not very good in windy conditions
- Water can leak in through the car opening
As far as pop up tents go, something like this model from Rightline Gear is a good option because it offers tons of room inside. As with the other tents we’ve seen, you can stand up and move around, making it comfortable for everyone in your family. Plus, since it sleeps six, you have more than enough room for your equipment, even if you don’t attach it to your SUV.
One of the primary highlights of this tent is the attachment opening, which seals when you’re not using it. As a freestanding tent, this unit works well both with and without a vehicle. However, we didn’t rank it higher because it has a couple of design flaws. First, the rainfly doesn’t do an excellent job at preventing water from getting in, so rain can be an issue. Secondly, setting up and tearing down can take longer because the poles catch on a mesh material as you go. This flaw can also lead to tears, making this tent less durable overall.
- Front awning for added comfort
- Tall ceiling so you can move around inside
- Larger model comes with a front screen room
- Extra-large mesh openings for better ventilation
- Not as durable as other models
- Water can sometimes leak in through the mesh
When comparing different SUV tents, you’ll notice that most models come with the same features and have similar shapes. Part of the reason for this is that many are made by the same company (Napier). So, you have to pay closer attention to the materials and specifications to determine which one is best.
While the Sportz 82000 offers lots of interior room and comes with an awning, the material is not as durable as our top pick. In some cases, you might not be able to use the tent more than a couple of times, so it’s not necessarily a great value. Also, we’ve heard reports that water can seep in through the large mesh openings more easily than with other tents.
- Extra-large interior
- Two awnings for added comfort
- Large front screen room
- Relatively fast setup time
- Durable tent poles
- Tent material can feel flimsy
- Water can leak in through the screen room
Our final SUV tent is this model from KingCamp. The Melfi is an expansive tent that offers quite a bit of coverage outside of the main interior. This model has a front screen room and two awnings, so you can move around more easily and still stay covered.
However, we didn’t rank this tent higher because the materials are a bit flimsy, and water does get in through the screen room. So, we’d recommend this tent for warm and dry weather only if possible. If rain is in the forecast, you’ll likely need a tarp or something similar to stay dry.
Best of the Rest
Since we’re reviewing the best SUV tents, we want to make sure that our featured models work with SUVs. However, you can find a couple of other models that are similar but don’t provide the same level of functionality. We’re listing them here for comparison purposes to help you determine which tent is right for you and your family.
This model only works for cars and other shorter vehicles, so it doesn’t work as an SUV tent. The design and layout are similar to other ones we’ve seen, with a tall interior and a front awning. This is also a freestanding tent that comes with a resealable attachment opening. The Sportz Dome is also smaller than the others we’ve seen, as it only sleeps four.
Although this unit fits SUVs, it’s not technically a tent. Instead, this is an awning that can help protect you from the sun. This is truly a tailgate tent, as it’s not something you’d want to use for overnight camping. But, it works well for tailgating or daytime use if you want some extra protection from the elements. The awning also has a mesh opening to keep bugs out if necessary.
What Makes a Good SUV Tent?
As we mentioned, most SUV tents have similar features, so it can seem difficult to pick the right one. To help you on your search, we’re breaking down our rating criteria so that you can understand why the Backroadz is our top choice.
Which SUV Tent is the Most Comfortable?
Fortunately, most SUV tents are pretty tall because they have to accommodate the vehicle’s rear hatch. So, unlike a standard dome tent, you have more than enough room to stand up inside. Usually, these tents are around seven feet tall or more, which should accommodate virtually everyone.
Another way to measure a tent’s comfort level is if it has other amenities to make your camping trip more enjoyable. Examples can include gear pockets, lantern hooks, screen rooms, and awnings. These elements allow you to customize your tent to fit your specific needs. Basically, you can adjust the tent to suit your preferences, not the other way around.
Overall, we like the Backroadz because it’s so spacious inside and comes with gear pockets. While this model doesn’t have an awning, we ranked it the highest because of its durability and weatherproofing on top of its comfort. A close second would be the Sportz SUV Family Tent because it comes with a screen room and an awning.
Related: In the mood for a bit of truck camping instead? Check out our favourite truck tent for camping.
Which is the Best SUV Tent for Ventilation?
Ventilation is a crucial feature for any tent, no matter the weather. In the summertime, having mesh openings allows you to create sufficient airflow to stay cool when the weather heats up. In colder temperatures, ventilation is essential to manage condensation that can occur at night. Without the right vents, your tent may have a thick layer of water on the inside whenever you get up in the morning.
Once again, the Backroadz and Sportz tents are perfect for ventilation because they come with massive mesh openings on the ceiling and sides. Technically, the Sportz is a little better, but the vents can backfire as they can allow water to seep in when it rains.
Which SUV Tent Has the Best Weatherproofing?
Overall, SUV tents are meant for casual camping, so they won’t always hold up to extreme weather. In most cases, we wouldn’t recommend using an SUV tent if heavy winds or rain are in the forecast. Even if the tent is rated for three seasons, that doesn’t mean it will hold up well enough when nature starts showing her true colors.
Weatherproofing elements not only include a waterproof exterior, but tie downs and guy lines to keep the tent in place during a windy storm. Without these elements, your tent can get knocked around, especially if you’re not inside it. The Backroadz model has a pretty good tie down system, and the rainfly is excellent at repelling water.
An awning is another helpful feature because it can keep water from getting into the front entrance. For that reason, we also like the Sportz model.
Which SUV Tent Will Hold Up the Longest?
Ideally, you want a tent that will last a few seasons before needing repairs. In some cases, the manufacturer will reinforce seams and corners so that they don’t rip and tear too easily. Usually, incidents occur when setting up and tearing down the tent because that’s when you put the most pressure on these pieces. However, you also have to be careful about where you place your tent, since natural elements like sticks and rocks can puncture the floor.
To alleviate potential rips, most SUV tents come with thicker material on the floor so it’s more puncture-resistant. The Backroadz is pretty durable, and should hold up well season after season.
Which is the Easiest SUV Tent for Setting Up?
Because you have to attach the tent to your SUV, you want something that won’t take too long to set up. Fortunately, models like the Backroadz have skeletons that are super easy to put together. Then, you just slide the opening over your vehicle’s rear hatch, and voila, you’re ready to go. That said, you also have to secure the opening so that rain, dust, and pests won’t get inside.
Realistically, unlike true pop up tents, SUV tent models will take about 10 minutes on the fast end, which is where the Backroadz and Sportz tents come in. The North East Harbor Tent is also pretty easy to set up, with or without the opening.
Related: SUVs shouldn’t get all the love! We’ve also pulled together a review of the best minivan tents for camping.
Which SUV Tent Offers the Most Value for the Money?
Ranking tents by value can be tricky since it’s hard to quantify what makes a tent extra “valuable.” However, for our purposes we’re paying attention to how much you can use the tent before needing to repair or replace it. So, a flimsy tent has a much lower rank than one that will last season after season. For example, the KingCamp Melfi might only last a couple of camping trips, but something like the Backroadz or Sportz tents should be okay for several years.
We ranked the Backroadz higher because you get a high-quality tent without paying so much money. So, overall, the tent has more value per dollar than other tents in its class. For this reason, we also like the North East Harbor model because it’s the most affordable without being the flimsiest.
Ranking SUV Tents by Size
Here’s a quick table to help you select an SUV tent based on the number of campers you’ll have:
|Number of Campers||Tent Model|
|2 People||North East Harbor|
|3 People||Napier Backroadz|
|4 People||Napier Backroadz|
|5 People||Napier Backroadz|
|6 People||Napier Sportz|
FAQs About SUV Tents
We’ve covered a lot of information so far, but you might still have some questions about how to choose the best SUV tent. Here are some points to consider when making a final decision.
Which SUV Models Fit These Tents?
Our top picks come with universal attachment openings, so you shouldn’t have to worry about compatibility issues. According to the manufacturers, the tents work with all SUVs, including (but not limited to) Honda CR-Vs, Buick Enclaves, Ford Explorers, Toyota Highlanders, Chevy Traverses, Audi Q5s (or 7s), and more. Universal attachments can also work with Jeeps, minivans, and cars with a rear hatch (i.e., a Prius).
Are SUV Tents Good?
Compared to freestanding tents, SUV tents usually don’t hold up as well against the elements. Since they’re made for car camping, most of these models wouldn’t survive a storm, at least not without leaking or ripping. That said, if you’re looking for a reliable tent that works with your SUV, these units are perfect for weekend family camping.
Overall, we prefer SUV tents that also work as freestanding models, but that may not be a deal breaker, depending on your plans.
Do SUV Tents Leak?
Technically, these tents don’t leak any more than a regular camping tent because they’re made from the same materials. However, the one area you might have to worry about is the attachment opening, as it can allow rain to come in. We like models that offer some kind of cinch enclosure so you can create a tight seal. Otherwise, you can use bungee cords to get a similar effect.
Are SUV Tents Good for Keeping Bugs Out?
Again, the attachment opening can be an issue because it doesn’t create an airtight seal. So, pests and other bugs can get in easier than if you just had a freestanding tent. While you shouldn’t wind up with an insect menagerie inside your tent, you might get a few intruders here and there.