A-Frame Tent vs Rooftop Tent | Which is the Best for Camping?

When comparing an A-Frame tent vs rooftop tent, the decision really comes down to price and whether you have the supporting equipment or not. 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!

A-Frame Tent vs Rooftop Tent

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

A-Frame

a-frame vs backpacking tent

The A-Frame tent is distinguished by its triangular prism design which uses a rectangular floor, two A-frames on the ends, and a cross pole in order 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 differences between an A-frame tent vs rooftop tent are their setup, capacity, and best use. Rooftop tents attach to a jeep or truck bed and are set up by pulling the ladder down to unfold the tent and attach any necessary exterior poles to stretch the tent out. In contrast, A-frame tents use multiple poles to set up a shelter directly on the ground (the classic tent you’re likely thinking of). A-frames use poles on the front and back sides of the tent in combination with a pole across the top connecting the front and back to create the frame of the tent.

A-frames and rooftop tents will have similar peak heights, although rooftop tents may have straighter sides that provide much more room than the sloped A-frame style. A-frames come in sizes of around 4 people at their largest while the largest rooftop tents max out at around 6 people.

Both types of tents usually use a two-layer design to repel rain but rooftop tents may be slightly more comfortable to spend a longer period of time inside during a storm as you can sit inside with more room (or just jump back into the car to stay extra dry).

An A-frame’s biggest advantage is its ability to be set up anywhere with flat ground Rooftop tents can only be used wherever you can drive your car to. A-frames aren’t great for backpacking but can give you the option to use primitive campgrounds that are more private than being right off the road atop your truck at a traditional campsite. That said, jeeps and trucks can get to spectacular backcountry campgrounds in national forests and other wilderness for free and incredible possibilities.

Best Uses For A-Frame & Rooftop Tents

Rooftop tents might be better for family camping since they can get up to a larger capacity and offer more general space while either is good for almost any car camping situation in smaller groups. We wouldn’t recommend using an a-frame for backpacking since the number of poles can be both heavy and bulky but it’s certainly possible if you’re willing to put up with the weight.

A-Frame

Rooftop


Family Camping


Car Camping


Backpacking

Feature Comparison | A-Frame Tent vs Rooftop Tent

Rooftop tents can get you to unexpected places and are easy to set up but can be very expensive compared to the classic a-frame. A large a-frame won’t be more than a few hundred while low-end rooftop tents can easily run over $1,000 for a new tent, not to mention needing a truck or jeep to attach it to.

Given their differences, you’ll want to pick the one best suited for your next couple of years of camping plans!

Product

A-Frame

Rooftop

Sturdiness

Capacity

Cost

Portability

Ease of Setup

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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