If you’re wondering about the best tents for SUV, you’ve come to the right place!
An SUV tent attaches to your truck bed, giving you extra living space while utilizing the space you already have in your truck. It’s a great solution if you have an SUV. The question is – are they as good as regular camping tents? And how can you find the right one?
The bottom line up front: SUV tents are just as great as regular camping tents, and we like the Napier Family SUV Tent. It’s easy to set up, and it works well for a small family if you need space.
We also like:
- Rightline Gear Truck Tent – ideal for solo campers or couples
- KingCamp Melfi Plus SUV Tent – great if you want space to really stretch out
We’ll be looking at:
- The best tents for SUVs compared
- What an SUV tent is
- What features you should look for
- The top 5 tents for SUVs, including their key features, pros, and cons
- Some frequently asked questions
- Which one we like the best, and why we like them so much
If you want to find a good tent for your SUV, keep reading – we’ve tried to cover a range of sizes and styles, so you can hopefully find the best one for you!
Table of Contents
- The Best Tents for SUV Compared
- What is an SUV Tent?
- What to Look for in a Tent for SUV
- Top 5 Tents for SUVs
- Napier Family SUV Tent – Best Family Tent
- REDCAMP Waterproof Car Awning – Best Awning
- Napier Dome-to-Go Tent – Good All-Rounder
- Napier Sportz Cove Awning Tent – Best Small SUV Tent
- KingCamp Melfi Plus SUV Tent – Best Large SUV Tent
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Our Final Thoughts – Which Tent for SUVs is the Best?
The Best Tents for SUV Compared
What is an SUV Tent?
SUV tents attach to the back of your vehicle using straps. Essentially they act as an extension to your trunk space.
They’re great multipurpose tents: you can use them if you need somewhere to sleep but don’t want the hassle of setting up a regular camping tent, or you can use them alongside your current camping setup to give you more space.
What to Look for in a Tent for SUV
Here are a few key features to look out for when you’re on the hunt for the best SUV tent:
Dimensions / Capacity
Car tents are designed to fit a range of different vehicles. It’s always worth checking that your vehicle will be compatible with the dimensions of the tent, but many tents are adjustable, which helps.
Just like regular camping tents, SUV tents will advertise their capacity clearly (it will say something like ‘sleeps 6’, or ‘6-man tent‘). SUV tents can range in capacity from 2-6 people, so it depends on what you’re looking for.
However, it’s worth checking the actual dimensions too. A 4-person tent, for example, may technically fit 4 people but it could be a tight squeeze for 4 adults. The Camping and Caravanning Club goes into more detail about choosing the right tent size in their guide ‘Choosing Your Tent’ if you want more information on this.
Some SUV tents are designed just to fit over the truck bed, giving you an overhead covering to keep you safe from the elements, with just enough room for 2 people to sleep in. Others have tunnels or other rooms, making them better for larger groups of people.
Tents tend to be made from polyester, nylon, or a polycotton blend. They each have their own advantages:
- Polyester is a popular choice, as it’s hard-wearing and durable, helping to keep you safe and dry in wet weather
- Nylon has the advantage of being a little cheaper than polyester, but it does tend to be prone to UV damage over time
- Polycotton is made from a cotton and polyester mix. It’s breathable, strong, and tear-resistant, but is a little heavier than polyester or nylon
Tents can be coated in waterproofing materials (like polyurethane, a kind of plastic), which is ideal for keeping the rain out (but more on that in a moment).
SUV tents will have a frame made from poles, which are typically made from aluminum or fiberglass. Aluminum is lighter and cheaper, but fiberglass is stronger and less prone to wind damage.
You may see something called the ‘hydrostatic head measurement’ – this refers to the amount of water that can pool on top of the tent before it starts to seep through. This is measured in millimeters, with 2,000mm being a good number to look for. Not all tents advertise this measurement, so it’s worth looking for other features to see how waterproof they will be, like heat-sealed seams and covered zippers (which keep rain from leaking in at the edges).
Most tents come with a rainfly, which is either attached to the tent or removable. Look for a rainfly that covers the whole tent (including the entrance points) to prevent water from pooling around the edges.
A strong frame will help to protect you from wind damage, as well as strong fixtures like aluminum tent pegs, which help to anchor the ‘ground’ section of your tent (if your tent has one). This is important if you do accidentally get stuck in a storm, especially in high winds. Eureka! has a guide on 20 Tips for Camping in High Winds which is worth checking out.
It’s also worth looking at ventilation. Go for a tent with multiple, mesh-covered doors and windows. This increases ventilation while keeping small insects out.
Ease of Use
Another thing to consider is how easy it is to set up your tent. SUV tents are similar to regular camping tents in that they can vary in how easy they are to set up and pack down again. Small features like continuous pole sleeves are useful here (this means you don’t have to keep re-threading poles through tiny gaps in the material).
The larger the tent, the larger it will be packed down (and the heavier it will be, too). If space is an issue, it’s worth checking the size packed, so you can plan how you can best use the space in your vehicle.
Most tents come with a carry bag, which helps to keep things contained, but it may take a few practice runs to pack it down small enough to fit back in there again!
Some tents come with other features too, including:
- Storage – look for things like small pockets for valuables, camping tools, and water bottles, as well as overhead storage lofts for larger items like backpacks
- Light hooks – these allow you to hang lanterns or torches, giving you light in the evenings
- Awnings – this gives you extra shade as well as a ‘porch’ area to keep items like shoes and coats
Top 5 Tents for SUVs
Now we’ll look at our top 5 SUV tents in more detail. We’ve tried to cover a range of prices and styles, so hopefully, you can find something that suits you!
Napier Family SUV Tent – Best Family Tent
- Sleeps: 6
- Material: Coated polyester
- Weight: 53 pounds (24.04 kilograms)
- Size: 10 x 10 x 7 foot (120 x 120 x 84 inches)
- Size Packed: 32 x 15 x 15 inches (89 x 38 x 38 centimeters)
The Napier Family SUV Tent is a great SUV tent for a family of 4 wanting to spread out a little – although it states it sleeps 6, it would be a tight squeeze at full capacity. It has a large tunnel covering the truck bed, opening up to a straight-walled tent with plenty of headroom. It has 2 large doors for ease of entry/exit..
In terms of weatherproofing, it’s pretty good – it has steel and fiberglass poles which work really well to protect the tent’s structure in windy weather, as well as a bathtub-style floor. This means the floor curves upwards at the edges, preventing water from pooling from the sides of the tent and soaking through underneath – so you can expect to have dry feet even in a downpour.
It’s easy to set up the main tent area, with straightforward instructions. It’s also simple to attach it to the truck bed. The downside is that it’s pretty heavy to carry.
It has some small pockets for valuables, but doesn’t have much in the way of extra features.
- Lots of space for a family of 4 (or 6 at a push)
- Good amount of headroom
- Easy to use
- Great weatherproofing
- Lacks extra features
- Heavy to carry
REDCAMP Waterproof Car Awning – Best Awning
- Sleeps: N/A
- Material: UV protective polyester
- Weight: 9.7 pounds (4.39 kilograms)
- Size: 10.4 x 7.5 x 7.2 foot (125 x 90 x 86 inches)
- Size Packed: 16 x 4.7 x 6 inches (42 x 12 x 15 centimeters)
The REDCAMP Waterproof Car Awning is a good choice if you’re looking for an awning tent. Some awning tents (like this one) aren’t suitable for sleeping under, but they do provide a nice area of shade, which is perfect for hot days or beach trips.
It has UV50+ sun protection coating, which means it will work really well at protecting you on sunny days. It’s also durable, with a hydrostatic head measurement of 3,000mm. Although it has open sides, this will help to keep the rain at bay at least a little. It has steel poles, which are pretty strong and durable.
It’s also super easy to set up, but it may take a few practice runs to pack back down into the carry bag. It’s lightweight and packs down small (if you fold it in the right way).
It doesn’t really have any extra features to speak of, but it’s a good option if you want an awning for days out.
- Provides a lot of shade
- Good UV protection
- Strong frame
- Easy to set up
- Difficult to fold back down again
Napier Dome-to-Go Tent – Good All-Rounder
- Sleeps: 4
- Material: Polyester
- Weight: 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms)
- Size: 8.5 x 8.5 x 6.5 foot (102 x 102 x 78 inches)
- Size Packed: 28 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches (71 x 24.13 x 24.13 centimeters)
The Napier Dome-to-Go Tent is a good little tent, ideal for a couple with young children, or 2 people wanting a bit of extra room. It has a decent amount of headroom at 6.5 feet (1.98 meters). The tent has a large awning for extra shade.
It has strong fiberglass poles, which hold up well against strong winds. The tent also has a full-length rainfly with sealed seams for protection against heavy rain, and great ventilation, with 2 large doors and 3 large windows with mesh covering.
It’s pretty simple to put together – it has continuous pole sleeves which makes things easier, and the instructions are clear. It can be a bit more tricky to fit the tent to the truck bed and may take a bit of practice.
It has 2 inside pockets, and a gear loft for storing bigger items.
- Spacious with good amount of headroom
- Ventilation and weatherproofing are great
- Easy to put up the tent part
- Good storage
- Can be tricky to attach the tent to the truck bed
Napier Sportz Cove Awning Tent – Best Small SUV Tent
- Sleeps: 2
- Material: Polyurethane-coated polyester
- Weight: 7 pounds (3.17 kilograms)
- Size: Dependant on size of SUV
- Size Packed: 25 x 6.5 x 6.5 (63.5 x 16.51 x 16.51 centimeters)
The Napier Sportz Cove Awning Tent is a good awning tent for 2 people. It’s designed to protect you on both hot and rainy days, but it can also be used if you want to sleep in the back of your SUV (although it won’t provide extra room like some of the larger tents on this list). It is designed to fit mid-to-large sized SUVs – you can see the full list on Napier Outdoors Sizing Information section.
It creates a large area of shade, giving you somewhere to sit on hot days. The tent also has good waterproofing and an integrated storm flap (this is a piece of fabric that folds over the zip to stop rain from getting in). This works really well if you want to take it out on hunting or fishing trips and you need a dry place to sit if the weather turns bad.
It’s easy to set up, although it may take a bit of practice to get it firmly attached to your SUV in just the right place to keep it secure. It’s easy to pack down and fold up, too. You can watch the Napier Sportz Cove Setup video to see how it’s done.
It doesn’t have much in the way of extra features.
- Good weatherproofing
- Storm flap included
- Easy to pack down
- May take a bit of practice to get it attached properly
- Not much in the way of extra features
KingCamp Melfi Plus SUV Tent – Best Large SUV Tent
- Sleeps: 6
- Material: Polyurethane-coated polyester
- Weight: 38.8 pounds (17.59 kilograms)
- Size: 9.2 x 7 x 6.5 foot (110.4 x 84 x 78 inches)
- Size Packed: 28.3 x 13.8 x 13.8 inches (72 x 35 x 35 centimeters)
The KingCamp Melfi Plus SUV Tent is ideal if you want a real home-away-from-home kind of tent. It has a large ‘living area’ which can be opened up completely for lounging in the daytime, as well as a large sleeping area. The tent also has an awning that creates a lot of shade, ideal for hot days.
It has a hydrostatic head measurement of 3,000mm, which means it should keep you safe in a downpour. It has a strong removable footprint, and the large mesh windows mean you won’t have to worry about ventilation issues.
It’s a little more tricky to set up than some of the others on this list, as it is larger and has a slightly more complex structure, so it’s worth practicing before you go on your first trip with it. It packs down fairly small given the size, which is great.
It also has internal storage bags and a covered e-port, which means you can thread wires through it safely.
- Lots of room
- Great windows and doors for ventilation
- Good waterproofing
- Can be tricky to put together
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about SUV tents:
Will my tent come with a warranty?
This depends on the manufacturer, but as a general rule, tents do come with a warranty against defects. Usually, you’ll get a 1-year warranty as a minimum, which gives you time to test it out to make sure there are no defects.
Can I make my tent more waterproof?
You can treat it with a waterproofing spray. We like the Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellant Spray, as it’s really easy to use. Trespass has a guide on How to Re Waterproof A Tent if you need more ideas. If you’re after a super waterproof tent, you can see some of the most durable out there in our guide to the Best Family Tents and the Best Tents for Rain.
How do I clean my tent?
If your tent gets a bit grimy, it’s best to lay it out when you get home and wash it with soapy water, spraying it down afterwards to rinse it. The main thing to do is to make sure it is completely dry before you pack it away again – if you pack it away damp, mold can grow. You can find out more about this in the Eureka! Guide to Tent Care Tips.
Is it safe to use an SUV tent?
Yes, it’s very safe if you put up the tent properly.
Our Final Thoughts – Which Tent for SUVs is the Best?
If we had to pick 1, we’d go for the Napier Family SUV Tent. It’s good for a lot of reasons – it has great waterproofing, it’s easy to set up, and there’s a lot of space for a small family.
If you’re travelling solo or you’re in a couple and you don’t really need that much space, you might want to check out the Napier Sportz Cove Awning Tent. On the other end of the scale, the KingCamp Melfi Plus SUV Tent is excellent if you want plenty of room to spread out.
We hope you’ve found a tent for SUVs to suit you! If you found this helpful, please feel free to share it online. We’d also like to hear your thoughts. Have you tried one of these tents? How do you find camping in your SUV, and do you have any tips? Leave us a comment below!