Is it worth buying a TentBox? Our honest review of this popular car roof tent brand

Published by Finn Hayden

TentBox on top of a car

When we were all cooped up inside during the pandemic, most of us realised how much we loved being outdoors. And when it was finally safe to get outside again, many of us grabbed our tents and headed straight out for some camping.

In our opinion, the only downside to camping is setting up the tent - it can be fiddly, time-consuming, and most of the time it can be pretty uncomfortable too.

That’s why equipment such as the Tentbox is becoming so popular. The Tentbox is a tent which is attached to the top of your car, making setting up your tent very quick and convenient. This type of tent is becoming very popular, and we actually published a guide listing the best car roof tents that we've tried.

But is the TentBox actually any good, and is it worth buying? We wanted to take a close look at the TentBox to see if it's worth your money, let's get into it:

Quick summary: Tentbox is good for beginners, but our favourite brand is still RoofBunk. The soft top RoofBunk tent here is cheaper than the cheapest tent from Tentbox, plus it's bigger.

Now let's get into the full review:

How does the TentBox work?

A TentBox is essentially a tent that sits on top of your car. The first thing we'll say about a TentBox is that it will take some getting used to compared to sleeping in a normal tent on the ground - if you're not great with heights or you're a light sleeper then this is definitely something to consider, as despite being a really safe piece of kit, you're still elevated off the ground and depending on the type of car you have, it can be pretty high off the ground

It can also feel a bit exposed in windy weather because unlike when you've got a tent on the ground, it's hard to get shelter from the wind when you're in your TentBox. But having said that, our TentBox Lite 2.0 has a wind rating of up to 39mph.

But then there are also lots of benefits to being off the ground like this - for starters, you're away from many insects and other creatures who like to sniff around your tent while you're in there. We've also found that the TentBox stays much cleaner than our usual pop-up tent, probably because we're away from mud, and when it rains there isn't any water getting underneath it as there is when we're on the ground.

We also find the mornings to be pretty special when we're in our TentBox - when you unzip the front of the tent, you're often met with pretty amazing views as you can see much further from your TentBox than you can from a normal tent on the ground.
In terms of setting up and attaching a TentBox, it's pretty straightforward. A TentBox will work with any type of vehicle, but we'd definitely say that the bigger cars will feel more stable. You'll also need roof bars, which sounds complicated but is actually really straightforward. In fact, you'll be able to install roof bars on pretty much any car. TentBox sells a range of roof bars, but we'd probably recommend buying them from somewhere else, as they're just as good but almost always cheaper.
We got our roof bars from Halfords (pictured) for less than £100, plus we paid £20 for someone to fit them on the car properly. If you buy roof bars via the TentBox website then it'll cost £120, plus you'll have to figure out how to install them yourself, which isn't too tricky but it is a bit of a hassle. You can fit a TentBox to a roof rack, and there is actually a guide on the TentBox website which shows you how to do this, but TentBox recommends fitting a TentBox to roof bars instead.
TentBox with Halfords roof bars
You'll also need to check your roof load limit to make sure that your car will actually be able to support the TentBox. TentBox recommends that you only use a TentBox if your roof load limit is greater than, or equal to the weight of the TentBox that you're buying, but we'd say that ideally for peace of mind, it's better to have a roof load limit which is greater than the weight of the TentBox you're planning to install. If your car has a roof load limit of 75kg or higher then it will work with all TentBox models. You don't have to worry about the additional weight of people inside the TentBox when you're stationary as the roof load limit is 5 times higher when the car is stationary versus when the car is moving.

How much does a TentBox cost?

The price of the TentBox will depend on what model you choose - the TentBox Lite 1.0 is the cheapest model, and it costs £1250 through the official TentBox website currently. The most popular model is a TentBox Classic (pictured) which will currently cost you £2,250 through the official TentBox website.

TentBox Classic

If you're like us then you're probably thinking, "Wow, that's a lot to pay for a tent". And it's true, it really does feel like a lot of money upfront to pay for something like this. For context, the most we'd paid for a tent before we bought our TentBox was £120, so we spent more than 10 times on our TentBox than we'd ever spent on a tent before because we bought the TentBox Lite 2.0 which costs £1295.

But we'd also say that we absolutely feel like we've had our money's worth. The TentBox makes camping easier and means that we have more options for places to stay and we're not limited to grass pitches. We've had a few trips where we've decided to stay in a car park because we know that it'll still be comfortable in the TentBox.

TentBox Classic

We'd also say that the TentBox is more comfortable than tents we've had previously, and it feels more like a sleep pod than a tent. Our TentBox Lite 2.0 has plenty of space for 2 people and has an anti-big mesh on all the doors and windows, plus storage pockets inside so you won't have to keep going down the ladder into your vehicle to get things.

Plus, we think that instead of comparing a TentBox to a tent, you should compare it to a caravan or campervan instead, because a TentBox literally gives you a home on wheels. In that context, the TentBox seems like an absolute bargain.

There is maybe an argument that sleeping in a TentBox isn't "real" camping and that camping should be on the ground, but we don't feel that way at all.

It's also worth noting that the cost of your TentBox doesn't include the cost of roof bars, which you will almost certainly need and which will cost around £100.

The TentBox Side Awning

We don't actually own a Tentbox Side Awning, but we had the chance to try one and have a close look at one on a recent camping trip (pictured), and we were really impressed. It's an awning which can be used for shelter and attaches very easily to your roof bars. We were really impressed with how waterproof it was, and it held up during some pretty heavy winds too. But what really impressed us, as with other products from Tentbox, is how quick it is to set up - it took us less than 2 minutes to unzip the cover, pull out the canopy, and have it fully set up and standing, ready to use.

Tentbox Awning

What are the third-party reviews like for TentBox?

We love referring to third-party reviews for our review guides, and we were very happy to see that Tentbox has an active and verified Trustpilot profile. TextBox currently has an 'Excellent' rating on Trustpilot from more than 1,000 reviews, which is really impressive. Overall, reviewers seem really impressed with everything about TentBox, from the quality of the products to the quality of the customer service.

Anything else to mention?

We should mention that your TentBox comes with a number of extras - one of the big appeals of a TentBox is that it actually comes with a built-in mattress which we found to be comfortable, and certainly more comfortable than sleeping on the grass. Your TentBox will also come with a ladder which is telescopic and comfortable to walk on even in bare feet (which is ideal for any midnight toilet trips).

Speaking of toilet trips, we also read some people online worrying about how much of a hassle it would be to get in and out of the TentBox during the night, but we'd honestly say that compared to crawling out of a normal tent (usually onto cold grass or similar), getting out of the TentBox is a breeze.

So, is it worth buying a TentBox?

Overall we'd say that if you're a keen camper and you're looking to buy a piece of kit which will enhance your camping experience, then the TentBox is a very good choice. It's quick to set up, it's very comfortable, and it's well worth the initial cost for people who go camping frequently.

We'd also say that if you've been thinking about buying a caravan or campervan but you're not sure about spending lots of money, then a TentBox is a great alternative. A TentBox will provide much of what a caravan or campervan will provide but at a much lower cost.

Do you have a TentBox or do you plan to buy one? Let us know in the comments what you think of our guide and if you have anything else to add!

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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