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Six Things To Look For in Your Next Roof Top Tent

We’ve all been there before. You’re exhausted after a day filled with outdoor activity and the last thing you want to do is deal with a tent set-up. Especially when the NZ weather turns.

With multiple sizes, styles and fast set-up, it’s no wonder so many NZ outdoor enthusiasts are looking towards DARCHE’s roof top tents for their next adventure.

But with so many options and considerations, what should you be looking for? 

Hard shell roof top tents vs soft shell roof top tents

Soft shell roof top tents

If weight, price or space are big considerations, then soft shell roof top tents are for you.

Made with lighter materials, soft shell roof top tents (soft shell RTTs) can be great for smaller outdoor vehicles. A good example of this is the Darche Intrepidor 3 1400, which can fit on smaller SUVs.

Other soft shell RTT considerations:

Interior and exterior space: Depending on the design, you can get almost double the interior space once set up plus more roof space to store additional gear.

● Ventilation and windows: Made of similar material to tents, you get the advantage of features such as large zippered windows or sky windows to watch the stars.

● Size options: With 1 – 2 sleepers to large 4 person sleepers like the Darche Basecamp 2200, soft shell RTTs can be a better option for families or groups.

Hard shell roof top tents

With faster set-up time (some as little as 45 seconds), stronger structure, and built to carry heavier loads, hard shell roof top tents are a great option for larger vehicles and 4WD’s.

Supported by gas struts, you can go from driving to sleeping in a matter of minutes. Hard shell RTTs also give you more design options, such as the X-hinge of the Darche Double Dee Roof Top Tent or the clamshell design of the Darche Streamliner 1250 Roof Top Tent.

Other hard shell RTT considerations:

● Comforts and accessories: Hard shell RTTs come with more permanent fixtures and more accessories, such as LED lights and more internal storage space.

Durability: The harder materials of a hard shell RTT can help it withstand the toughest of adventures.

● Warmer and weather ready: Its roof materials and insulation also means you lose heat slower. They’ll also handle NZ storm weather better.

6 things to look for when considering your roof top tent

Weight and size

This isn’t just about weighing your vehicle down but considering its centre of gravity. Here, you need to understand the limits of your vehicle and roof racks.

You also need to think about how much space you have on your roof as well as if you need to store additional gear or just your tent.

Configuration and style

Each roof top tent’s configuration has its own pros and cons, so think about how you’ll use the tent and what’s best for your application. 

Its shape can also impact your centre of gravity, aerodynamics and even fuel consumption.

Set-up time and ease of use

What is the set-up speed? Is it a one-person job or does it have multiple steps?

The harder it is to set up and pack down, the less likely you’ll use it. And there’s nothing worse than being on your feet all day and then having to wrestle with your roof top tent.

Accessories and storage

Internal pockets and hooks are often overlooked but are very handy. The thickness of the roof top tent also affects how much you can store internally.

Another consideration is what accessories you need. Are you OK with a torch or would USB-powered LEDs be more convenient?

To avoid buying new items, think about compatibility with existing accessories.

Ventilation and weather protection

More or larger windows and vents not only means better ventilation but less condensation.

While large flies are better for rain protection, they can look awkward and flap around more in windy conditions.

The last thing you want is to wake up wet after a storm or sweltering due to lack of airflow.

Application and usage

Travelling north in the summerGreat ventilation is a must. Heading to the south island in cooler seasonsA hard shell roof top tent will be more comfortable on those windy, rainy days.

Using your vehicle for off road and general driving around NZ? For already tall vehicles, the RTT you choose could push you over garage height restrictions or make it tricky to park even at home.


Whether you choose a soft or hard shell roof top tent, it’s essential to think about what your adventure will include and what you need to feel comfortable.

Usability, accessories and storage also go a long way to creating comfort and getting a better return on your investment as you’ll want to use it more.

Whichever, you choose a roof top tent is a surefire way to step up your camping game.

You can browse the full range of DARCHE products online at www.darche.co.nz


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