By now, you’ve probably seen a roof top tent (RTT) in the wild, whether at a National Park campground on a cross-country trip, or deep in the desert far off the beaten path. Maybe you’ve even camped with someone who has an RTT. Regardless of what brought you here, you’re officially RTT-curious, and you’ve got questions: Why should I consider a roof top tent? Are they really as cool as they look? Is a roof-top tent right for me? Well, sit back and relax because we’ve got answers.

Your biggest questions are likely to fall under one, overarching theme: What are the benefits of an RTT over a ground tent? They are a sizeable investment, so the benefits should be clear, and, in our humble opinion they are, so let’s get right to it. In fact, let’s start by walking you through a typical camping scenario and contrasting an RTT experience with a ground tent camping experience. At the end of this trip, you should have a pretty clear idea of why an RTT is the better, easier and more comfortable choice for just about any campsite you’ll drive to.

Packing system for RTTPacking for Car Camping Trip


It’s time to start getting ready for your next trip. Whether it’s an overland expedition or camping at a summer music festival, you’ve got to pack. For the sake of comparison, let’s assume packing means not just the tent, but the bedding you’ll use as well.

Ground Tent

Most people will start by locating their tent and possibly choosing the right one for the type of trip they’re heading out on based on the forecast, time of year, what type of campsite they might find, etc. They’ll balance that with how many people will be in it and how much space and comfort they want. Then they gather up the camping mattresses, sleeping bags, blankets and pillows, again going through much of the selection matrix above, adding in the factor of “will it all fit in my vehicle.”

iKamper RTT

It’s already on your vehicle. It’s complete with a mattress and packed with all the bedding you used last time. You’re done.

Finding a Campsite

Ground Tent

If you’re in an established campground, you’re all set, as long as you reserved the tent site and not an RV site. If you’re at a music festival or a walk-in site, I hope you brought a big cart to drag all your stuff to the tent camping area. If you’re camping out in the wild, you’ll need to look around for a cool spot and one with ample room for everything in your camp setup, including your tent. Not too sloped, not too many rocks, hopefully not in a place that will pool water if it rains, and on a surface that you can drive your tent stakes into without breaking them.

iKamper RTT

Pull-up to a cool spot with room to hang out and cook. Maybe stuff a rock or a leveler under a tire. Done.

Opening a Skycamp 3.0Setting up a ground tent

Setting Up Your Camp

Ground Tent

Unearth your tent from within your vehicle. Find that spot you thought would be perfect, and hope it still is under closer inspection. Clear debris and any big rocks, pull the ripcord on the tent stuff sack and dump everything out. Did you remember poles? Stakes? Ground cloth? That weird vestibule pole you keep misplacing? Now, grab a partner and begin barking contradictory directions at each other until you finally figure out which way is up and what pole goes where, often by trial and error. Then, repeat that process for the rainfly. Before you begin throwing in your bedding, take your shoes off, crawl in there, and check the level. Pull all your stakes, move the tent again, and repeat until even. Have everyone go back to the vehicle, grab their stuff and toss it in the tent. Unpack sleeping bags, try to talk someone into helping you blow up the mattresses, and you’re practically done! Whew.

iKamper RTT

Unbuckle/unzip, fold out, insert tension poles. Done. Every iKamper tent is built with space to store and protect your bedding and full-time until you need them again.

Striking Camp

We don’t need to go through the minutiae of reversing the previous steps to get across the idea that setting up and packing up an iKamper RTT is a far easier and faster process than everything involved with a ground tent. Just know that the less time you spend fiddling around with your gear, the less frustration and the more fun you’ll have on every trip.

Still not sure? Here are a few more general reasons an RTT out-performs a ground tent:


Quite simply, because iKamper RTT’s are built to very different standards of weight and compactness compared to a ground tent, we build them burly. Our roof top tents can handle far more than any ground tent and, with proper care, will easily outlast them. Our stout zippers won’t wear out after a couple of seasons, our heavy-duty fabrics won’t delaminate while sitting in a damp basement, and they’ll never touch the unforgiving ground that can shred a traditional tent floor in a single night. These facts alone add a ton of value when looking at your investment over a decade or more.

iKamper Skycamp 3.0 in the snowRainy Day Under the ExoShell 270 Awning

All-Season Compatibility

An IKamper RTT includes a mattress and the option of a quilted, insulating liner for cold-weather camping. They are also incredibly stable in the wind, particularly the hardshell Skycamp and BDV models, all while being awesome in every other season, too. Ground tents are built for specific seasons and conditions and generally perform poorly outside of their intended use.

Safety and Comfort

When a strong wind starts buffeting your ground tent, it can keep you up all night. At worst, it can crush a large tent, snapping poles and ruining your trip. Not so with the heavy-duty build of an iKamper RTT. The hardshell designs can be pointed with the wedge into the wind, deflecting it away, while the pneumatic struts that make opening and closing so easy stabilize the tent and keep you sheltered within the storm.

In addition to that peace of mind, you’ll rest well knowing that being high up, on top of your vehicle, can keep you safer from a number of things, ranging from surprise stormwaters to creepy crawlers and larger, furry things that go bump in the night.

Hopefully this quick comparison gives you some solid context for pondering your choice between an RTT and a traditional ground tent. Sure, there are more subjective benefits to add to the list, but speed, convenience, lasting performance, comfort, and versatility really are the big ones you’ll enjoy on every trip you take with a roof top tent. If you need more of that in your life, give an iKamper RTT a closer look, and reach out to us with any questions here. We’re happy to help.

We’ll see you out there!