Best SUV Tents

By Miriam B. Weiner June 06, 2023
Credit: Sergey Nemirovsky/Shutterstock

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Car camping has a number of advantages, namely that your car can serve double duty. In addition to transport, your vehicle can provide space to house equipment, or even additional room to sleep. If you are a frequent car camper, you may want to consider adding an SUV tent to your packing list.

What is an SUV Tent

An SUV tent is one that converts a portion of a larger car–be it the trunk or the roof–into sleeping or storage space. Deciding which SUV tent is best for you depends on several factors, including the type of vehicle you own, the level of accessibility you require, and the environmental conditions you expect to encounter.

Some people consider an SUV tent as a tent to be one that mounts to the roof of a larger vehicle, or a tailgate awning tent, which converts the trunk of a hatchback into sleeping space. For the purposes of this ranking, we define an SUV tent as one that attaches to the hatchback trunk of the vehicle.

Benefits of using SUV tents

SUV tents can make your camping trip comfier and more convenient in a number of ways. Firstly, the extra space can really make a difference, especially if you’re camping with kids or a larger group. Plus, SUV tents are great for taller campers due to the height required to attach to the car.

For many, an SUV tent increases the sense of security one gets from car camping. For example, if you encounter bad weather, you’ll likely be much happier sleeping in your car than on the ground. Also, if you find it challenging to sleep on the ground, you may find that the trunk provides an optimal base for your sleeping bag, especially if the terrain isn’t level.

Lastly, SUV tents are often priced fairly reasonably compared to tents designed for more rugged experiences.

Limitations of SUV tents

SUV tents’ relatively reasonable price points are due to the fact that they cannot endure extreme weather conditions as well as more costly free-standing tents. With that in mind, SUV tents are best suited to spring, summer or fall camping trips.

You may also find it challenging to locate a campsite that can accommodate an SUV tent. Your options will be limited to places where you can drive your car directly to your camping location. What’s more, SUV tents are not always suitable for solo camping. While SUV tents are relatively easy to set up, their size makes them challenging to handle without a second set of hands.

Top SUV tents on the market

Napier Family Sportz SUV Tent

  • MSRP$449.99
  • Sleeping Capacity6 (2 in car)
  • Weight41lbs

The Napier Family Sportz SUV Tent, model 84000 is designed by Napier Outdoors, a Canadian company with a long history of building vehicle tents.

This spacious 10 x 10 foot tent, with a ceiling height of 7.25 feet, includes a screen room and an awning, meaning you can enjoy the outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. It has a universal, detachable vehicle adaptor sleeve, allowing the tent to be used on any number of vehicles, or as a stand-alone tent.

This SUV tent comes with a rain fly, a bathtub floor, and sealed seams, meaning it can stand up to rain and moisture. Still, some people recommend applying additional sealant on the seams for good measure.


  • Universal vehicle hatch adaptor
  • Floor less screen room 6′ x 7′
  • Awning
  • 2 large doors with mesh windows
  • 1 large mesh window
  • Gear pockets
  • Lantern hooks
  • Water resistant, bathtub floor, rainfly


  • Sleeping capacity: 6 (4 in tent + 2 in car)
  • Weight: 52 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10 feet (length) x 10 feet (width) x 7.25 feet (height)

Notable user comments

  • Some users have noted the tent’s weight as a challenge and recommend two people to set it up
  • Although some have mentioned some leakage during rain, most users were happy with the rain protection the tent provided
  • The tent’s screen porch does not have a floor. However, most users appreciate the feature and found it good for bug protection.
  • The tent is easy to set up once you are familiar with the process.
  • A lot of users noted the spaciousness of the tent, specifically the tall ceiling

Napier Backroadz SUV Tent

  • MSRP$269.99
  • Sleeping Capacity6 (2 in car)
  • Weight28lbs

Given the history of Napier Outdoors, it is not surprising to see another of their products on this list. The Napier Backroadz SUV tent is spacious and can accommodate up to six people if the car is also used for sleeping. Owners of this tent point to the amount of headroom, easy setup and take down, and straightforward attachment to the vehicle as reasons to opt for this SUV tent.

Unlike the Napier Family Sportz SUV tent, the Backroadz model does not have an awning or screen room. However the door and two large windows provide good ventilation, and mesh protection, when unzipped. It is also lighter and more affordable than the Family Sportz model. However, some customers have pointed out that the Backroadz’s water protection was not sufficient with heavy rain and strong wind.

The Backroadz is a great SUV Tent for the money. It provides ample space with lots of headroom. It is easy to set up and take down, and it will do a great job in fair-weather camping conditions.


  • Universal vehicle hatch adaptor
  • 1 large door with mesh windows
  • 2 large mesh window
  • Gear pockets
  • Lantern hooks
  • Gear loft
  • Rainfly


  • Sleeping capacity: 6 (4 in tent + 2 in car)
  • Weight: 28 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10 feet (length) x 10 feet (width) x 7.4 feet (height)

Notable user comments

  • Easy and fast to setup
  • Lots of room, spacious
  • Quality materials
  • easy to connect to vehicle
  • Some users observed rain leakage
  • Only one door which can limit setup in certain campsites
  • Thin floor so make sure to have a tarp for it in case the ground is rough

North East Harbor Universal SUV Camping Tent

  • MSRP$172.99
  • Sleeping Capacity5 (2 in car)
  • Weight19lbs

The North East Harbor Universal SUV tent is a popular choice among car campers given its reasonable price point and its durability. This tent is manufactured by KapscoMoto, which primarily focuses on automotive parts and vehicle covers.

This tent is the lowest priced amongst the three SUV tents on this list, though it’s also the smallest at 8 x 8 feet. Most users find that, despite the tent being advertised as having a four-person capacity, it’s much better suited to two or three people. However, the 7.2-foot ceiling height provides plenty of standing room.

That said, the North East Harbor Universal SUV tent is lighter than both Napier models, and is easy to set up and break down. It also handles moderate wind and rain effectively.


  • Universal vehicle hatch adaptor
  • Freestanding
  • 2 doors with mesh windows
  • 1 Window
  • Gear pockets
  • Easy setup
  • 3 season tent
  • Water resistant, rainfly and bathtub style floor


  • Sleeping capacity: 5 (3 in tent + 2 in car)
  • Weight: 19 pounds
  • Dimensions: 8 feet (length) x 8 feet (width) x 7.2 feet (height)

Notable user comments

  • Most users noted issues with poles
  • Users appreciated the good value
  • Spacious

How to pick the right SUV Tents

To find the best SUV tent for you, you’ll want to consider the following factors:

SUV Tent size

SUV tents are not one size fits all, and there’s nothing more unpleasant than a cramped sleeping arrangement. Before making your purchase, consider how many people you need to accommodate, and whether or not you intend to use your car for sleeping or storage. Speaking of storage, you’ll also want to take into account the amount of gear you plan to bring, as that will eat away into your real estate.

Vehicle Compatibility

When researching SUV tents, make sure you know the dimensions of your car. The last thing you want is to end up with a tent that doesn’t fit with your vehicle. SUV tents tend to be larger than standalone tents to accommodate the height of the trunk door. That said, not all SUVs or hatchback vehicles have comparable dimensions, or even trunk styles, so make sure the tent you choose is compatible.

You may also want to think ahead: If you plan on purchasing a new vehicle for camping in the near future, you may wish to research SUV tents that would fit with that car.

Ease of setup and take down

Most customers claim that SUV tents prove fairly easy to set up and take down. However, this process usually goes more smoothly with two people for a few reasons. Because they have to fit an open vehicle hatch, SUV tents tend to stand taller than standard tents, so having an extra set of hands (and a step stool) can help with the vehicle attachment. This step is especially important to SUV tent setup, as a good seal between the car and the tent is necessary for weather proofing and for keeping pests away.

Durability and weather resistance

If you do a lot of winter camping, an SUV tent is not the right choice for you. However, they are a great three-season tent option as long as you choose one that will form a good seal with your car. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to measure your vehicle’s dimensions before investing in an SUV tent. It also never hurts to apply additional sealant to the tent’s seams for extra weatherproofing.

An SUV tent that will stand the test of time is made using quality materials. Choose a tent made from thick synthetic materials, such as polyester and nylon with a higher denier count. A higher number means more durable fabric, but also heavier and more expensive. The same considerations apply to poles. Meanwhile, poles made from aluminum or steel are less likely to break than fiberglass poles, but they also weigh and cost more.

Detachable tents, and other features and accessories

A detachable SUV tent will give you more flexibility on your camping trip. Detachable tents can act as a standard SUV tent, or as a standalone tent. This allows you to occasionally leave the car behind.

No matter which style you choose, you’ll want to find a tent that provides good ventilation, easy access, and reliable weather protection. Large mesh windows and ventilation ports can help keep the tent cool and keep the bugs out. Meanwhile, having more than one door will add flexibility should the campsite have limited options for parking positions. A built-in awning or screen porch can increase the amount of living space by providing shade and rain protection, while a sewn-in bathtub floor will ensure any ground moisture remains outside the tent.

Lastly, universality and a good warranty will guarantee use of your tent for years. Purchasing an SUV tent with a universal adaptor will mean you won’t need to buy another tent should you invest in a new car. And a good warranty will bring peace of mind should something happen to the tent during use.

Top Tips for SUV Tent Camping

Make your next SUV tent camping trip a success with these tips:

  • Watch your battery. You may need to manually turn off your lights, as some vehicles automatically keep the lights on when the trunk or hatch is open. You can look to see if your vehicle has an off switch. Alternatively, some SUV tent campers recommend removing the fuse or lightbulb in their vehicles in order to avoid draining the battery.
  • Review parking restrictions. Some campsites do not allow cars of a particular size, or at all. Others may have specific layouts which might force a less-than-optimal setup. Advance research can help you prepare.
  • Always engage your emergency break. Even if you’re camping on flat terrain, your safety could be at risk should something cause your car to move. Your emergency break provides an extra level of protection. If you have a wheel chock, it wouldn’t hurt to use it.
  • Invest in additional shade. It may feel tempting to rely on your car’s air conditioning during warmer weather, but you’d run the risk of killing your battery. Instead, consider purchasing a tarp to set up above the tent. Not only will this provide more sun protection, it’ll also come in handy should you encounter rain.
  • Identify unexpected light entrances. While some people may enjoy watching the sun rise or set, if that’s not you, take a moment to identify areas where sun may sneak in and disturb your sleep. Your car windows are often the culprit. Putting covers over your windshield and car windows won’t only keep unwanted light out, they can also help keep your vehicle cool.

FAQs About SUV Tents

  • Can you use an SUV tent with any car?
    • Not every car can accommodate an SUV tent. Many SUV tents have a universal sleeve adaptor, allowing them to attach to any number of vehicles. However, SUV tents typically require a hatch-style trunk, where the door opens upwards. What’s more, SUV tents may require your vehicle’s hatch to reach a certain height in order to work effectively. It’s important to measure the dimensions of your vehicle to ensure the tent will fit.
  • Can you run the car engine with the tent attached?
    • You should not run your car when the SUV tent is attached. Although the exhaust pipe is not encompassed by the tent structure, exhaust fumes could potentially infiltrate the tent.
  • Will the open hatch drain the battery?
    • Many cars automatically turn the interior lights on when the trunk hatch is open. If you do not manually shut those lights off, you run the risk of draining your car battery. Most cars have a manual off switch; if yours doesn’t, you can also remove the bulbs or the fuse.


SUV tents are a great option for those who are new to camping, or not interested in a rugged excursion. With an SUV tent, you have the ability to use your car as additional storage or even sleeping space. This can prove beneficial if you require a more level sleeping surface, or if you need additional space for a larger group or family.

However, SUV tents are not one size fits all. Before choosing a tent, make sure it will work with your vehicle, accommodate your desired sleeping capacity, handle the camping conditions you want to enjoy and fit your budget.

After evaluating a number of key decision factors and user reviews, we recommend the Napier Family Sportz SUV tent as a reliable, durable and flexible option.

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