Hard Shell vs Soft Shell Roof Top Tent Cam

Camping should be fun and easy because we do that to escape our daily life stress; if there are complications involved in your process of escapism, then that ruins the entire purpose, doesn’t it? Similarly, a rooftop tent is supposed to be quick and easy to use instead of needing 10-15mins to set up because that is a LOT of time for people for whom time is precious. So, to make your life easy and to prevent you from tripping into the pitfall of confusion where you cannot decide between a hard-shell or soft-shell rooftop tent, we will do the hard labour for you and clearly define the differences down below.

A hard-shell rooftop tent, as the name suggests, has a hard outer covering made of fibre-reinforced plastic and a soft-shell rooftop tent has a soft canvas cover. The pros and cons are discussed below:


Deployment Speed

The time it takes to deploy a tent can make or break a deal because nobody wants something that takes forever to set up or tear down, especially not those people who move from campsite to campsite daily. For this reason, the hard-shell rooftop tent takes the win because the setup is as simple as un-latching a couple of clips and pushing the top slightly up (gas struts will do the rest of the job), setting up the ladder, and you’re done within a minute or two. 

Soft-shell rooftop tents, however, are a bit more laborious. To set up, you first must unzip the travel cover from around the tent.  On each side of the tent is velcro laches that must be unfastened. 

You fully extend the latter, which is fixed on the tent. Pulling down the ladder towards you will lift the tent floor up and out toward you. The ladder will be arm's length above your head.

Lastly, you will take your window tension rods and place them in your windows.

Although there are slightly more steps to set up the Soft Shell RTT compared to the Hard Shell, the overall amount of time is still under 10 minutes. 


Your rooftop tent is your most significant investment. Both “The” Soft Shell and Hard Shell RTT’s are durable and built to last. Our exterior bag on “The” Soft Shell differs from other competitors. We keep our bags tight to our tent construction. This sleek bag increases the longevity of the cover and tent as it is not as impacted by the wear and tear travelling. 

Aerodynamics & Weight

Weight and aerodynamics matter a lot. A rooftop tent goes on top of a vehicle’s roof, impacting the center of gravity and aerodynamics. The hard-shell rooftop tent is aerodynamic, so it can help lower fuel consumption. The soft-shell rooftop tent lacks aerodynamic features.

However, it’s like a double-edged sword because weight factors into the equation. Our hardshell RTTS is more aerodynamic but slightly heavier in weight than “The” Softshell.  Will choosing one over the other make an enormous impact on your vehicle's fuel economy? No.  However, if you are single and thinking about lifting and installing it onto your vehicle yourself, the lighter soft shell tent might be for you. 



In the end, it all boils down to personal preference.  Both options that SMRT Tent offers are worth it.  If you are new to rooftop camping, we encourage you to go with “The” Soft Shell.  It's a great entry-level price point without compromising quality.  It’s also excellent if you have a larger family and have four people sleeping in the tent. 

If you are ready to upgrade to a hard shell RTT, check out our SKY LOFT or SUMMIT SUITE.   One thing that we guarantee is that you will not be disappointed by the extra details that we put into all our products!

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