When stopped for the evening and setting up camp, you’re going to need to have some form of shelter. There are numerous options, and if you’re an experienced camper, you may have a preference of one thing over another. Overlanding is no different than regular camping, and plenty of people get by using what they already have. Being able to carry multiple options ensures you are staying safe from the elements.
This is probably the easiest and cheapest option provided you have a large enough vehicle. The cargo area of an SUV or truck with topper can be converted into decent sleeping accommodations. Most SUVs and truck beds are large enough to accommodate a single person blow up mattress, sleeping bag, and some blankets.
While not most people’s cup of tea, simply laying down a sleeping bag on the ground will also work. This is a great way to sleep under the stars. However, you must be aware and prepared for possible weather conditions and animals.
Probably the best option is a regular ground tent. They’re cheap, easy to set up, and most people already have one. Unless you’re rolling around with a huge canvas hunting tent, their footprint in terms of space claim is minimal. If this is your preferred choice make sure you have season rated tents.
Hammocks can be a great alternative to using a tent, especially if you are traveling by yourself. Their footprint is about the same size as a tent, maybe smaller. Hammocks come in a variety of sizes and variations. With under quilts and over quilts they can be extremely warm in colder months. Set up and tear down of a hammock is as easy as stuffing it back in its storage bag and moving on to the next campsite.
The more expensive option here provides the same type of shelter as its ground brother, just on your vehicle’s roof. The main benefit of having a rooftop tent is that it gets you off the ground altogether with no worry about animals or changing weather conditions affecting sleep. Most rooftop tents will accommodate a regular mattress for sleeping on that stays in. For some, this is preferred to sleeping on a blow-up pad, hammock, or just on the ground.