Although considerably newer than their soft shell counterparts, hard shell tents have been around long enough to be nearly perfected by the handful of manufacturers making them. In North America, there are fewer than half a dozen companies offering hard shell tents, most of them commanding a price exceeding $3,000. What would compel a buyer to dosh out so much money for hardshell? In a word––convenience.
The one attribute of a hard shell tent that drives most of its sales is the ease of set up and take down. Many of the nicer hard shell tents on the market include internal struts with hydraulically assisted deployment. To set up these tents, the user simply unlatches four buckles and the tent springs into position all by itself. After attaching the ladder to the tent, it is ready to go. Setting up a hard shell tent can be done with one hand in as little as 60 seconds. Stowing the tent takes a bit longer, but again can be accomplished in as little as 2-3 minutes.
Another less overt advantage to most hard-shell tents is the livable space provided by vertical walls. The majority of hard shell tents provide four vertical walls unlike most soft shell tents which have at least two sloped walls. Vertical walls are always preferred within any living space to maximize the useable floorspace.
On the road at cruising speeds, hard shell tents tend to afford much better aerodynamics with their lower profile shapes designed with leading and trailing edges for maximum efficiency. This also reduces wind noise and limits the amount of aerodynamic instability produced by such a large rooftop load.