TentBox Classic Review: Best Hardshell Rooftop Tent

review of tentbox hard shell roof top tent

We love exploring the outdoors as often as possible and are always looking for a sleeping setup that’s easy to use, fast to set up, and comfortable. While we love our Promaster conversion we’ve used regularly for years, its size and FWD-only setup create some limitations to where we can go.

When we recently decided to add a new adventure vehicle to our garage, we knew there was only one sleeping setup that would suit our needs: the Classic hardshell rooftop tent by TentBox.

The TentBox Classic rooftop tent has been easy to use and set up, comfortable, lightweight, and made of strong, weather-resistance materials to ensure it continues to keep up with our adventures for years to come.

Five things we love about the TentBox Hardshell rooftop tent:

Fast Setup And Tear Down

One of the best features of the TentBox Classic hardshell roof top tent is that it sets up and breaks down with very little effort.

Even though we’d love to set up camp early and chill, we’re usually running around trying to get pictures of sunsets which leaves us setting up camp in the dark. In the mornings, we’re usually rushing to get everything ready to move so we can get places by sunrise.

Setting up the TentBox Classic is fast and easy!

The TentBox Classic is perfect for us because all it takes to set up is finding level(ish) ground, undoing two-strap buckles in the front and back of the tent, then giving the top a little push.

The four powerful struts that support the top do the rest, emphatically popping the tent open and leaving just the ladder and optional awning supports remaining to complete the setup.

The whole process takes less than 30 seconds to set up and can easily be done by a single person.

When closed, the TentBox Classic is 9-12” tall and has more than enough room to store all of our bedding inside while traveling.

It’s very roomy on the inside

We like to put our sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows in place inside the tent before leaving home so that everything is completely set up and ready to crawl into for the night as soon as we pop the tent open.

When we put this tent to the test on our recent snow-filled winter trip to Sequoia National Park, the temps were down below freezing by the time we were setting up the tent so it was nice to be able to quickly set up and crawl inside our sleeping bags.

Since the TentBox Classic opens straight up, it’s easy to find a spot to camp because it can be set up anywhere the car fits.

Camping in Alabama Hills, California

Many of the other roof top tents, including all softshell tents, swing open like a fan and need a lot of space next to the car to open up into.

Those other tents usually also need sturdy ground beside the car where mounting poles or ladders go that support the structure, making it difficult to set up in soft ground like sand, snow, or muddy fields. The TentBox classic doesn’t use any support poles, relying only on the vehicle’s roof rack for support.

When we’re ready to go, breaking down the tent is almost as quick as setting it up.

With TentBox we can be on the road chasing sunrises within minutes!

Since the bedding can stay inside, closing the tent simply means pulling the top-down and pulling the four straps through the buckles one side at a time. It usually takes me about a minute to close the tent and secure everything so we’re ready to move and is easily done by just one person.

Spacious And Comfortable

Forget about sleepless camping nights! The TentBox Classic hardshell rooftop tent is the most comfortable tent we’ve ever slept in.

The 2.5” memory foam mattress provides a plush and comfortable sleeping surface that keeps you warm and well-supported all night long.

Many of the competitor roof top tents have very thin foam mattresses that aren’t all that much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. Some even have inflatable mattresses which we’ve found to sleep very cold and uncomfortably and usually leave us tossing and turning all night.

Every time we crawl into the TentBox Classic, we instantly fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night, something we usually struggle with while camping.

Staying warm and cozy in our TentBox

In the winter, the thick canvas walls and insulated top provide good protection from the cold.

We’ve comfortably slept through winter storms with temps down to the mid 20’s without issues, and the extra room, when closed, allows us to bring plenty of sleeping bags and blankets for those cold nights.

If we were planning to sleep anywhere much colder than that, TentBox also sells a winter insulation package for the Classic hardshell rooftop tent that would easily make it comfortable in the coldest of nights.

In the summer, the TentBox Classic provides great airflow with zippered windows on every side. Every window has a tight-knit mesh flap to keep the insects out while still allowing plenty of air to circulate through.

The TentBox Classic hardshell tent

The same insulation in the ceiling that keeps the tent warm in the winter also helps keep the TentBox rooftop tent cool under the sun. Typical tents tend to warm up pretty fast when sitting in the sun, but the combination of windows all around and an insulated roof help keep this tent cool.

Another great advantage of the hardshell popup tent is that since it opens straight up, it provides ample sitting room throughout the entire tent.

Typical soft shell rooftop tents have ample room in the middle but have sloping walls that provide little to no room on the sides. The TentBox Classic has about 40” of height throughout which makes it easy for us to comfortably sit, change, or move around.

The inside is very roomy and spacious!

The interior floor space of the TentBox Classic is 50” by 83” which is about the size of a full-size bed and comfortably sleeps two.

That’s the same size of our much-loved ultralight backpacking tents and the about the same size bed we slept in for over a year in our converted Ram Promaster camper van so it’s plenty of room for us to stay comfortable.

The large interior space also allows us to comfortably sleep in the TentBox Classic with our dog Quito.

Best described as a tall, lanky pup that likes to cuddle, Quito usually takes a large part of our bed. The tall ceiling height throughout the tent allows him to easily move around and we can move him towards our feet so we can all sleep comfortably.

TentBox ceiling storage net

To maximize the space, TentBox includes plenty of storage options inside the Classic rooftop tent.

A large net that spans half of the ceiling is great for storing clothes and extra blankets.

Storage cubbies

Two large hanging storage cubbies hold shoes, lights, phones, keys, water bottles, and anything else we need to keep nearby.

TentBox also includes a couple of lights with the Classic rooftop tent which is really handy and is a great touch:

  • A battery-operated puck light provides ample lighting inside the tent.
  • The battery or USB-powered string lights are sure to create a relaxed and cozy ambiance to any campsite.

Strong Materials To Withstand The Elements And Rough Roads

One of the biggest selling points of hardshell rooftop tents (compared to softshell rooftop tents) is that the hard shell’s materials are much more durable and longer-lasting than their soft counterparts.

The TentBox Classic’s outside shell is made of thick, durable ABS plastic that’s UV resistant and won’t get damaged in the elements, rain, or shine. This is the Achilles’ heel of any softshell rooftop tent which always gets damaged and starts to rip after long exposures to the sun’s UV rays or constant rain. 

Our hardshell roof top tent

Soft shell tents also tend to start developing leaks after regular use whereas hard shell tents are much more durable since the rain is mostly hitting the ABS hard shell on top instead of the cloth.

On the side, the TentBox Classic is made of 280gsm rip-stop canvas with a 2000mm PU membrane that is thick, sturdy, and waterproof, barely moving in the wind and showing absolutely no sign of water entry.

All the seams are backed by silicone sealant tape to ensure no water gets through even in the strongest of storms. The canvas sides overlap the bottom hard shell to make sure all the water rolls off and not in.

Inside, beefy struts are placed at each corner to keep the tent open against the wind, rain, and snow. Once open, the tent feels rock-solid and indestructible and I would have no reservations about camping in the TentBox Classic through a storm.

Underneath, an aluminum frame supports the entire tent shell and makes the tent very sturdy with minimal flex. While driving, the rigid frame keeps the rooftop tent from bouncing around with the wind or over rough roads and ensures the tent stays firmly attached to the roof rack. While camping, that same frame allows us to move around the tent freely without ever feeling like it’s going to break.

All the hardware that TentBox included with the tent is stainless steel so it’s nice knowing we don’t have to worry about rust or damage when exposed to salty coastal air or road salt on winter roads.

It Can Be Left On Full Time

The strong and weatherproof materials also translate to a tent that can be left on all the time, ready for our next adventure.

When closed, the hardtop tent’s shell is completely waterproof so we don’t have to worry about leaks and mold that often damage the softshell tents.

The TentBox Classic’s hard shell is also much more aerodynamic than any soft shell tent which means less noise and better gas mileage while on the road. We observed a mileage hit of about 2-3 mpg on the highway when mounted on our Subaru Outback on long trips which only amounts to a few bucks in extra gas.

And the wind noise is there but definitely tolerable, comparable to the noise we’ve gotten after mounting a set of all-terrain tires.

At only 142 lbs, it’s pretty lightweight for a hardshell rooftop tent so driving dynamics don’t get affected much while on the highway and are not at all noticeable when driving around town. The low weight also means that the TentBox Classic can be mounted on pretty much any car with a roof rack.

Another nice feature of the TentBox Classic is that the mattress can easily be removed to create a huge rooftop storage box when not used for camping.

Easy To Install And Take Off

Over the last few months, I’ve gotten pretty efficient at taking the tent on and off our Subaru Outback camper by myself with the help of a chain hoist in the garage.

Installing the TentBox Classic on the factory-built-in Subaru Outback roof rack takes about 30 minutes and a half of that to take it off.

If it weren’t for the tight space under the factory roof rack and had a better aftermarket roof rack system like a Yakima or Thule, I would easily be able to install the tent in under 10 minutes.

When not in use, I use a simple and cheap chain hoist from Amazon mounted to our garage’s rafter to lift the tent off the car and pull it between the rafters where it can be stored completely out of the way. When ready to use, I simply back the car in under the tent and lower it back down.

At 142 lbs, it would be pretty easy for 2-3 people to lift the tent onto the vehicle as well.

The whole mounting system on the TentBox Classic hardtop tent is on a pair of aluminum rails that span front to back with four hooks to grab onto the car’s roof rack. Because the rails span the entire tent, it’s easy to fit the rooftop tent on any vehicle and position it to where it works best.

I like to place the tent as far back as possible to where the Outback’s rear hatch still opens completely since that’s the most aerodynamic position.

Ordering from TentBox is super simple as well and they stock the tents heading for US addresses in Los Angeles, right in our backyard.

The tent arrived at our doorsteps quickly and well packaged to avoid any damage.

Shipping to US addresses includes delivery in the purchase price, and all of TentBox’s rooftop tents come with a 2-year warranty for peace of mind.

So far, we’ve put our TentBox Classic to the test and it has delivered in every way. With its ease of use, comfortable interior, and strong materials, we’ll continue to use it regularly through many adventures to come!

Check out TentBox here!

Looking for more travel inspiration? Here are a few of our other popular blog posts to spark your travel lust:

Interested in stepping up your photography game? Here is the camera gear that I carry everywhere I go to create amazing travel photos:

  • Main camera: Sony a7c Camera. The Sony a7c is tiny, light, full-frame, and durable – in other words, amazing!
  • Polarizer Filter: Hoya 40.5 mm Filter. Polarizing filters reduce glare in water, protect the lens from getting scratched and bring out the best colors when it’s bright outside. Having a polarizing filter is a must-have if you plan to photograph lakes, oceans, rivers, and waterfalls.
  • Wide Lens: Sony 16-35 mm F4. Great for capturing wide panoramas, nature landscapes, and cramped city streets. Mounts to any Sony mirrorless camera and features autofocus, image stabilization, and incredibly sharp images.
  • Lightweight Travel Tripod: Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod. A good tripod is essential for capturing images in low light conditions, such as during sunset and sunrise, or creating smooth water effects when shooting waterfalls. The Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod is very sturdy, light, and folds small so you can take it on all of your adventures!
  • Memory Cards: SanDisk Extreme 256 GB. It’s always good to bring a few extra memory cards on trips. SanDisk Extreme is ultra-fast for capturing high-quality images, bursts, long exposure night shots, and 4k videos. This memory card is also durable and reliable yet very affordable.
  • Camera Batteries: Wasabi Power Battery Set. I’ve made the mistake of getting to a location to realize my camera is out of battery. Always keep your batteries charged with this camera charger set.
  • Camera Bag: Lowepro adventure shoulder bag. A camera bag is something you should definitely invest in! Without having a proper place to store it I would get my camera scratched, sandy, or even occasionally drop it.

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