What are the differences between hard-shell and soft-shell roof tents?

Posted by sunday campers on September 23rd, 2022

What is a hard-shell roof tent?

A hard-shell roof tent has a rigid shell made of fibreglass, aluminium or hard plastic. The rigid shell forms the ceiling and floor of the tent. The tent walls are made of a durable, waterproof fabric, such as nylon or canvas. The fabric walls are attached to the edges of the rigid ceiling and floor, joining them together. When closed for storage and driving, the rigid floor and ceiling shells sandwich the bedding and tent walls.

Hard shell roof tents open vertically. They come in two main styles. The wedge or flap models have a hinge at the front or foot end of the tent. When open, the top shell is at an angle. The ceiling is high at the head side and low at the foot. The hinges point towards the front of the vehicle. The pop-up hard-shell roof tent opens directly in a box shape. All four walls are vertical and the ceiling is flat.

Advantages of a hard-shell roof tent

1. Faster and easier to set up - a well-designed hardshell roof tent can be set up by one person in 30-60 seconds. All you have to do is unlock some safety latches and pop up the tent with the help of an air spreader bar or crank mechanism. Hard-shell roof tents require very little physical effort to open.

2. More durable - hardshell roof tents are often made of stronger materials than soft-shell models. The walls are made of a thicker, higher fibre fabric that is less likely to tear or wear out quickly.

3. More weatherproof - Hard-shell roofs are completely waterproof. Because the walls are vertical, they will not get wet in a storm. For these reasons, leaks are less common. When closed, the hard top and bottom shells are sealed together to prevent moisture from entering.

What is a soft shell roof tent?

A soft shell roof tent is similar to a ground tent when it is erected. The body of the tent is made of a thick and durable waterproof fabric, such as nylon, polyester or canvas. The tent body is attached to a rigid platform made of fibreglass, aluminium or hard plastic. An internal folding support structure made from aluminium poles opens up with the tent fabric to give the tent its shape.

There are two different designs of softshell tents. The most common is the bi-fold design. These tents have two identically sized floor sections with hinges on one side. When stored, the tent body, support structure and mattress are sandwiched between the two floor sections. The tent opens like a pop-up book. You open the top floor section hinge 180° to the side of the vehicle. The internal support structure and the fabric tent body are pulled apart and the tent pops out. When opened, the seam between the two floor sections and the hinges are located in the centre of the tent. The mattress covers the seam.

Roof tents are becoming increasingly popular, so it is important to decide which one is right for your vehicle. The price will depend on the amount of space available on your roof and your preference.

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sunday campers
Joined: September 23rd, 2022
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