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SUV Tent Camping Guide

 photo by mysticenergy via iStock

SUVs are one of the most common vehicles you see out on the trail. They are spacious, comfortable, safe, and in many cases, very capable. 

An SUV can easily turn into a home on wheels with the right accessories. 

A quality tent that offers comfortable sleeping and doesn’t take up much cargo space is the perfect SUV camping companion. 

So, let’s look at some of the best SUV camping tents one can buy.

Table of Contents

What is SUV Camping?

SUV Camping near a lake

 photo by dm2912 via iStock

As the name suggests, SUV camping is an activity in which people take their SUVs into the wilderness for a few days of camping.

For many people, this means camping in a ground tent. For others, a rooftop tent is a better option. More on that in a moment. 

Why Should You Camp With an SUV?

SUV Camping

 photo by jeffbergen via iStock

Camping with an SUV is convenient. You have space, comfort, and capability. All your camping gear is easily accessible in the trunk while you and your family can enjoy the trip to the campsite.  

SUVs also offer secure storage space. Unlike a truck, the storage area in an SUV is enclosed, can be locked, and your gear can be hidden. This minimizes the chances of someone stealing your gear. 

Depending on which types of vehicles you compare, SUVs also tend to be a little more capable off-road.  

For example, the light back end of a truck leads to less grip than an SUV provides. Additionally, trucks come with leaf springs in the rear which hinder wheel articulation. 

The weight of an SUV tends to be more balanced, and the rear end uses coil springs which lead to a better ride and suspension articulation. 

Why You SHOULDN’T Camp with an SUV

Why You SHOULDN'T Camp with an SUV

 photo by Sjo via iStock

While they do offer a lot of space, SUVs can’t match the storage and payload capacity of a truck. 

So, if you’re planning to haul a lot of accessories or even big toys like a side by side, an SUV may not be the best choice. 

Depending on the make and model, SUVs also tend to be a little more expensive than pickup trucks. It may not be worth getting a luxurious SUV for the job when a simpler truck will suffice.

With a cheaper vehicle, you won’t feel as bad driving through difficult terrain or getting in and out of it with dirty clothes. 

Trucks may also have the upper hand in terms of the availability of aftermarket accessories. Again, this depends on the make and model of the vehicle. 

If SUV camping is on your to-do list, one thing you absolutely should avoid is buying a “soft-roader.” These vehicles, such as the Toyota Rav4 or Ford Explorer, offer very little ground clearance, poor 4×4 systems, and weak drivetrain.

Furthermore, there is a lack of aftermarket support for soft-roaders. What’s the point of SUV camping if you can’t modify your rig to meet your needs?!

smrt-sky-loft-price

The most popular SUVs for camping combine space, comfort, and capability.

Vehicles such as the Toyota 4Runner and Jeep Wrangler tend to be the most common ones out on the trail. However, there are plenty more new and vintage models people love to use:

  • Land Rover Defender
  • Range Rover
  • Toyota Landcruiser FJ60
  • Lexus LX470
  • Ford Bronco
  • Jeep Cherokee XJ

Regardless of your ride, you need a tent to go with it. Below is a list of some of the best options

SUV Camping Tent Option 1: Head to the Roof

smrt-sky-loft

Our first SUV camping tent option is the famous rooftop tent. Rooftop tents have become much more popular in recent years due to an increase in safety they provide and the cool factor of sleeping up high.

The best option for an SUV Camping Tent is a hard-shell type tent. The reason behind this is that hard-shell rooftop tents tend to have a lower profile, so they won’t ruin your car’s aerodynamics. They also keep the center of gravity lower.  

The biggest issue with rooftop tents on SUVs is fuel consumption due to increased wind drag and an unbalanced feeling on off-cambered sections due to the weight sitting on top. But with a good-quality hard-shell tent, these issues are drastically reduced.

From our experience, one of the best hard-shell tents is the SMRT Sky Loft

suv camping smrt sky loft

The Sky Loft is built for most roof sizes and weight carrying capacities. The tent is exceptionally quick and easy to open and close. Actually, it’s the fastest and easiest to set up in the SMRT lineup!

A fast-to-set-up tent means you can spend more time doing what you set out to do and less time setting up camp. 

SMRT Tent

With the Sky Loft, you also get the bonus of some storage room inside and out. Pictured above are handy shoe bags for keeping your dirty shoes out of the tent. You also have space for some bedding in the tent when it’s packed up, making closing the tent a breeze. The Sky Loft features an elastic cord to gather the tent fabric, making it easier still to break camp and hit the road.

This tent’s light weight and strength are both achieved through clever engineering. The tent’s upper and lower shell is made from an impact-resistant injection-molded ABS plastic. An aluminum frame is added to the lower shell for rigidity and support while keeping the weight down.

The upgraded mounting tracks are made from strengthened aluminum for durability and longevity. The three built-in ladder mounts are braced to the boxed aluminum frame. This offers multiple entry points to use with the aluminum telescopic ladder. 

Sky Loft SMRT Tent

Inside the tent, you’ll feel right at home with quilted polyester fabric on the top and bottom. The fabric also removes the need for an anti-condensation mat and assists with four-season camping. 

The tent fabric is made from a 280 gsm poly-cotton ripstop canvas for breathability. All openings come with both canvas and mesh windows for ventilation.

smrt sky loft 4runner

Comfortable sleep is also guaranteed thanks to a high-density EPS open-cell foam mattress that provides comfort and water resistance. The mattress is firm to the touch yet adaptive to the body. The removable mattress cover is made from cotton for durability, moisture control, and ease of cleaning.

The SMRT Sky Loft is a well-thought-out product that offers quality, durability, and comfort. In our opinion, it makes the perfect SUV camping tent!

SUV Camping Tent Option 2: Coleman Dome Tent 

Coleman Dome Tent

When it comes to ground tents, Coleman is hard to beat. Their 4-person tent has space for a family and also folds up small enough to easily fit in the back of an SUV

The Coleman Dome Tent is wind and rain-tested and can withstand winds of 35+ mph. The large windows offer great ventilation, and the tent even features an E-port, which makes having electrical power inside a breeze.

The tent also comes with a limited 1-year warranty.

This is the perfect SUV camping tent for those who do not want to spend a lot of money but still need a quality product that serves your camping needs for years to come.

SUV Camping Tent Option 3: Core 4-Person Dome Tent 

Core 9-person dome tent

The Core 9-person dome tent is a perfect SUV camping tent for a large family or a smaller one that requires more space. 

The Core tent fits three queen air mattresses, has a gear loft to keep everything organized, and offers an electrical cord to power all your gadgets. 

The kit includes tent poles, rainfly, tent stakes, and a carry bag. 

If space is your priority for your sleeping setup, then the Core 9 person dome tent is the perfect SUV camping tent for you. 

SUV Camping Tent Option 4: Backpacking Forceatt Camping Tent 2-3 Person

Forceatt

This option from Forceatt is a great SUV camping tent for people who love to embark on hiking adventures during their camping trip. 

The tent only weighs 5.5 pounds and is designed to sleep two people. The lightweight design is achieved due to waterproof and windproof material made of high-quality 68D polyester fiber and a 220T waterproof coating. 

While this might not be the most comfortable tent for a long-term SUV excursion, its weatherproofness, small form factor, and scant weight make it the perfect backpacking tent.

SUV Camping Tent Option 5: Backpacking Night Cat Camping Tent for 2 Persons

Night Cat

This SUV camping tent from Night Cat is even lighter than the previous one at just 4.4 pounds. It’s made from 210D oxford cloth with fully taped seams treated with a waterproof spray. 

The inner size of the tent is 87 x 47 x 47 inches, making it roomy for a backpacking tent. 

This will also make for a great backpacking SUV camping tent. However, the Forceat above may be better in bad weather and may also pack a bit smaller even though it is slightly heavier. 

SUV Camping Tent Option 6: Coleman 3-Person & 6-Person Connectable Tent Bundle

Coleman 3-Person & 6-Person Connectable Tent Bundle

The second Coleman option on our list is a great SUV Camping tent for people who need two separate rooms. For example, you can have the kids in the smaller section of the tent while you stay in the larger area.

The two parts connect using a zipper, and the connection points are fully enclosed. Privacy doors between the two tents are also included. 

Setup should be quick and easy with a fast pitch system that shortens setup time with pre-attached poles and hub, fast-fit feet, and snag-free install clips to secure the tent to poles in a snap.

Furthermore, the Weather Tec welded floors and inverted seams help keep water out. The strong frame is factory-tested to withstand +35mph winds. 

You can also bring an extension cord inside through the E-Port.

This is a great tent for a big family or group of friends. However, when folded, storing it in your SUV will take more space than other smaller options.  

SUV Camping Tent Option 7: KTT Extra Large Tent 12 Person

KTT Extra Large Tent 12 Person

The KTT Extra-Large Tent also features two rooms but has a completely different design than the Coleman discussed above. 

The whole tent is one unit with a dividing wall in the middle, and is made from waterproof oxford polyester and high-density mesh. 

This will be the ideal tent for a camping trip involving a lot of people. The tall and wide dimensions of the tent mean that you can easily stand up and move around inside it. 

Again, this can be great if you want to separate two families during the night or separate the kids from the adults. 

Being an even larger tent than the previous one, storing it in your vehicle will take a lot of space.

Final Thoughts

couple sitting in camp chairs looking at sunset above river in mountains

 photo by Vera_Petrunina via iStock

The options for SUV camping tents are endless. From large to small and even vehicle-mounted, you have it all! As you can see from our list of options, there are tents for all types of activities and family sizes. 

We hope the options provided make your buying decision easier!

If you have any further SUV camping tent questions or any other off-road or overland-related questions, post them in the forum section of the site!

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