Dome Tent vs Rooftop Tent | Which is the Best for Camping?

When comparing a dome tent vs rooftop tent, there are some important aspects to rooftop tents that should be considered before you make your decision!

We’ve broken down the major similarities and differences of common tent types to help you make the right decision for your next outdoor adventure!

Dome Tent vs Rooftop Tent

First, let’s break down each type of tent:

Dome Tent

dome tent vs a-frame tent

One of the most common tent types, the dome tent is distinguished by having two crossed poles anchored in the four corners to form the tent frame.

Rooftop

dome tent vs rooftop tent

Mounted on the top of your SUV, Truck, or Jeep, these tents fold down flat while you’re driving and pop right up when ready to sleep. Rooftop tents are perfect for those who like to find backcountry campgrounds in dispersed lands or who hate setting up the tent once they get to their campground.

Major Differences

The biggest difference between dome tent vs rooftop tents is where they are set up. Dome tents are used on dirt or paved campsites while rooftop tents are attached and integrated into your vehicle’s roof or truck bed. These unique tents are highly specialized and come with prices to match. Dome tents are a very common design and can offer the same level of protection and convenience at a much lower price.

Since rooftop tents need to fit on top of your car, they typically average capacities of 2 – 6 people, with high prices to match the specialty designs. When evaluating different designs, take into account the weight of the tent in comparison to your vehicle’s capacity to ensure the tent is compatible. Dome tents can be found for up to 8 people and can be used anywhere with any type of car, as long as it can fit with the rest of your gear!

Both dome and rooftop tents typically employ a two-layer design to repel rain that should offer the same level of general protection. It is worth noting that if the rain hits, you’ll be off the ground and avoid major puddling issues in a rooftop tent but will have to contend with a slick ladder going up and down.

Built for the on-the-go camper, rooftop tents are very easy to set up and takedown. While dome tents aren’t difficult to set up, they’re certainly not as easy as a rooftop tent.

Best Uses For Dome & Rooftop Tents

Each of these types of tents is good for most car-camping situations, with rooftop tents being specially designed for car campers, but the dome tent is going to usually offer an easier and more convenient experience for other types of camping!

Dome

Rooftop


Family Camping


Car Camping


Backpacking

Feature Comparison | Dome Tent vs Rooftop Tent

Outside of having higher capacity and lower average cost, rooftop tents are just as portable as a dome tent since you can drive them anywhere your Jeep/Truck can get to! More useful in some parts of the country than others, rooftop tents are a unique way to make it easy to toss some gear in a bag and head out for spontaneous trips while you have the tent installed!

Product

Dome Tent

Rooftop

Sturdiness

Capacity

Cost

Portability

Lifespan

Want more?

Check out our infographic and larger article covering the ten most common tent types or use our tent finding tool to quickly find the tents that suit your needs!

About the Author

Photo of author

Robbie

Robbie is a Co-Founder and editor at Midwest Camping. Robbie has backpacked over two hundred miles of the Appalachian trail, visited seventeen national parks, and camped regularly for the last two decades.

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