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Sleeping Arrangements Guide

by Derrick Cui June 03, 2022

Sleeping Arrangements Guide

@the_dark_yota with a deployed hard-shell RTT

In recent times, roof top tents have become almost a quintessential part of the 'overland' experience, and for good reason! However, they are far from the only option. In fact, as more of the staff here at SSW gain further experience with off-roading and dispersed camping, we have found there are actually some great benefits that come along with sleeping somewhere other than your roof! In this article we'll cover some of those other options and their pros/cons, as well as the current selection of RTTs! 

The Roof Top Tent (RTT)

The current reigning champ of getting a good nights rest while out off-roading is the roof top tent. Although the concept of mounting a folding tent to the roof of a vehicle has been around a long time, they have really only blown up in popularity in the last decade or so. They come in two flavors, soft or hard shell, with the latter usually boasting a more aerodynamic profile and durability, however at a higher cost. 


  1. Elevated from ground (bugs, elements, animals)
  2. Looks cool 
  3. Padded sleeping surface 


  1. Expensive
  2. Weight
  3. Increased center of gravity
  4. Wind Noise
  5. MPG reduction

@5.7snow with a soft RTT

Roof top tents do offer a consistent, reliable sleeping accommodation regardless of weather and external factors, which is why they are still very popular. Low profile bed-racks also allow for lower mounting to mitigate wind noise and aerodynamic drawbacks. A great solution, however not without its detriments. 

Camper Shell/ Bed Cap

This has been a long time solution for truck campers, and has been making a resurgence among off-roaders as well. The common fiberglass camper shell is now only one of several options, with canvas and metal shells becoming more common. Canvas options such as soft-topper offer a more affordable solution, as well as ease of removal. Metal options such as Smartcap offer more cargo mounting and storage capability, as well as rugged looks, in exchange for a high price tag. 

@surfnturf.outdoors with a SmartCap


  1. Aerodynamic
  2. Daily Truck Friendly
  3. Lockable Storage
  4. Weather and Wind Resistance 


  1. Can Be Expensive
  2. Cargo must be removed to Sleep
  3. Short Bed Trucks limit Sleep Space

When taking a look at the benefits, it's easy to see how shells have become a popular alternative. Having also gone the RTT route, switching to a camper shell has been a better choice for my personal camping needs. One important note is how the camper shell transitions the truck bed into a shared space for both cargo and sleeping. This means if camping in snowy or muddy conditions, upon packing up camp, it becomes quite difficult to keep your sleeping area clean without preparation and planning. 

@exploringyaweh with a SmartCap

Ground Tent/ Covered Cot

Probably the oldest and most proven option is of course the ground tent. Long before roof top tents event existed, this was the way people spent their nights away from civilization. With the development of quick setup ground tents, as well as them being light, small, and affordable, this is honestly still a great option. Covered Cots also offer elevation above the ground to mitigate some of shortcomings of a traditional ground tent.


  1. Affordable
  2. Little to no affect on vehicle performance
  3. Quick Setup Options


  1. Uneven Surfaces
  2. Poor Wind Resistance
  3. Less Protection from Animals and Elements

A folding covered cot setup

Finishing Thoughts

It's important to remember to consider your own priorities when deciding on a sleeping arrangement. If off-road performance is your main concern, it may make sense to use an option that doesn't add too much weight. If you don't want to compromise on being comfortable during a long touring trip, perhaps go with a hard shell RTT. Perhaps you have a SUV and are perfectly fine with seats that fold flat. Or maybe your solution is a mix and match of some of these options. Whatever the case, we hope this article helps with finding the best option for your own needs! 

@littowildpack putting a RTT to good use! 

Derrick Cui
Derrick Cui

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