As far as I can remember, I have been camping, first with my family, then the Boy Scouts, and now my wife and extended family, and occasionally my colleagues. I slept in trucks and cars, under the stars, on a picnic table, under a shelter I built of tree branches, and slept in more tents than I remembered. In all these adventures, I haven't slept in a tent as comfortable or comfortable as the Roofnest Condor roof tent I spent a recent weekend.
Rooftop tents are not a new idea, but not in a land-based setting (although I am of course interested in it), they are a kind of portable shelter that I haven't tried until this summer. If you are also environmentally friendly, the concept is simple: most of the pre-assembled tents in the protective shell or cover are installed on the roof rack of your vehicle or on the bed of a pickup truck. When you are ready to use it, you can raise or fold the tent and erect it in the process. Then, you install auxiliary accessories, such as rain-proof struts, and you can start using it. No need for stakes, no need to assemble poles and pass them through the fabric loop.
Roofnest is a new player in roof space, it only focuses on tents. My condor model retails for $3,195. To be honest, you can find many cheaper rooftop tents from other manufacturers. But with Condor, you get what you pay for—this is the best and highest quality tent I have ever used.
This is obvious in terms of materials and build quality. Many tents, regardless of type, are made of thin synthetic materials. If you are a backpacker and need to reduce weight, this is great, but it can be frustrating when you see sunlight through the stretched seams, especially when the clips and straps start to pull out of the seams. Condor is made of stronger materials. Its structure allows enough material to overlap, and there is enough material to fix the seams.
The mechanical components of the Condor are equally robust. Roof tents are unique in design and are usually folded in one way or another with the help of gas struts or springs. The working conditions of each mechanism may vary greatly, but the hinges, joints, struts and rods in the Condor all run smoothly and consistently, making setup a breeze.
Overall, this is the best part of the roof tent. This is the fastest speed you can set up a tent. Condor is a two-step process, first open and lift the hard cover (it rises toward the driver's side of the vehicle to form the back wall of the tent), then unfold the foldable ladder and use it as a lever to fold in one action Open the floor, roof and three other walls of the tent. All that's left to do is to insert a flexible metal support that can support rain flies (if you need to use it). That's it. The setup is complete. You are ready to collapse.
However, if you have one minute left, be sure to install Roofnest's biggest features, namely the suspension device and the shoe rack. Slide the flexible rod sewn to the top of the bracket into the floor frame on both sides of the ladder. When you climb in, you can conveniently store dirty shoes and other equipment instead of throwing them into the corner of the tent or leaving them on the ground.
After entering, you will find the second and third best features of Roofnest. There is an additional zippered window on the ceiling with a screen on it to watch the stars or stand up like a submarine. And don’t worry about rain, it has a transparent plastic window. If there is not enough starlight to see what you are doing in the tent, you can open the detachable USB powered light strip above the door (battery not included).
Once you are in place, you can enjoy the other first three features of Condor, the built-in sleeping pad. Its thickness is 2.4 inches, which is much stronger than ordinary sleeping pads. The foam is quite strong, but even after five days of driving on the road, it proved to be comfortable all night.
Because the whole thing is folded to double the floor area, the tent is very spacious. It is 83 inches long, 60 inches wide, and 50 inches high. It is much more spacious than the two-person tent I own. Slightly larger than a queen-size mattress, and as spacious as my bed.
Although it was installed on the roof of Kia Telluride for our test, it didn't even move much. Because you sleep perpendicular to the vehicle, rolling will not cause the car to shake too much (this will vary from car to car, but I have the same experience with similar tents installed on pickup beds). If you have ever slept on the bed of a pickup truck, you know that vehicle shaking can be a problem when you are placed parallel to the vehicle. It is much easier to tilt a car from side to side than front to back, so the way you turn over in your sleeping bag is important.
Although it is better than a tent installed on a truck bed in many ways, the roof tent does have some disadvantages, the biggest of which is that you have to put the tent in order to drive. Thankfully, the Condor can be stowed almost as fast as it is set up, but it still means taking all your things out and closing it just to drive to the trail’s starting point or viewing point, and then turn it off when you return. Put everything back in place. In theory, when you fold the Condor, you can leave a set of sheets and blankets inside, but in reality it folds so tightly that any extra stuff inside is difficult to close properly.
Then there is the problem of finding a flat parking space. I recommend using drive-through leveling blocks, because most campsite parking areas are not completely level, and if the car is not level, the tent will not be level. This is the same problem with bed tents and campers, a problem that is easy to fix with building blocks. The other inherent compromises brought about by rooftop tents are unavoidable. You are climbing a ladder to get in and out, which is not the most interesting for running in the bathroom in the middle of the night. Moving things in and out of the tent means a lot of things are on your head, so pack lightly. If you don't want to do anything on the roof, Roofnest does include a floor mat and a separate pop-up changing tent.
In addition, adding a large box on the roof will affect your fuel economy. The aerodynamics of modern cars have been adjusted very carefully, and installing anything on the roof will interfere with the calculations. The good news is that Condor’s height is only 12 inches, and our telluride only sees its fuel economy drop a few miles from the EPA’s estimate of 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 22 mpg. gallon.
Installing a rooftop tent can also be challenging. The Condor weighs 135 pounds and needs to be bolted to the roof rack rails. It has only eight bolts, but at least an assistant with good upper body strength is required to open and close the tent (which is why you always see so many people driving them in the city). Of course, before you go further, you need to confirm how much weight your roof rack can bear, considering the weight of the tent plus two or three people.
Since all these compromises apply to all rooftop tents, we cannot really make them oppose Condor, especially. But do some clever features and better construction quality make it more valuable than other rooftop tents? I said yes. A few weeks before Roofnest appeared, I tried the Yakima SkyRise roof tent. Its fabric covering is not very durable, all sizes are smaller, and it is made of cheaper materials. It costs US$2,299, so yes, if you have the budget, the value of a well-made Roofnest Condor is US$900 higher. Considering how much you have to pay regardless of the roof setting compared to the old-fashioned ground tent, it is worth getting the best quality product. For our money, it is a condor.
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