Roofnest Sparrow – Roof Top Tent Review

This is my initial review and thoughts about my new roof top tent. I’ve had it for a couple of weeks and have only spent one night in it so far, so there may be a follow up review coming as well.

All roof top tents offer some distinct advantages over other options, including;

  • they work well with a variety of vehicle options, depending on your needs
  • being up high off the ground helps it all stay cleaner and reduces issues with unwanted wildlife visits, plus you get better views and breezes
  • having a dedicated sleeping space separate from the clutter of a vehicle used for travel is nice
  • setup and take down are both fast
  • most include a mattress or sleeping pad built in
  • some models have room to allow you to leave your bedding in the tent, increasing efficiency and vehicle storage space

After much consideration, I realized I wanted a hardshell roof top tent instead of the all fabric style. The main advantages are the ease of setup and take down (especially when I’m traveling solo), having a smaller overall footprint for the vehicle and deployed tent, and the streamlined shape and size during travel.

Customer service has been great so far! Ross in sales at Roofnest promptly answered my questions and has been super nice to work with. Shipping was prompt and effective.  I had mine shipped but you can also pick them up in person at their facility in Boulder, CO.

When we got the box off the truck, I was a little spooked by the appearance of the outside of the box.

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I had the driver wait while I un-boxed it and checked it out. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the tent was just fine, no issues at all. That is one heavy duty box they package these things in.

With the help of an able bodied friend (thanks Joe!), we lifted the tent onto the roof rack of my Subaru Outback and fastened it down. I’m using the Subaru factory roof rack and crossbars. The brackets that came with the tent worked just fine, our only issue was the narrow space under the roof rack crossbars. If you have an aftermarket rack it’s probably going to be easier to get to, because it will likely be a little higher off the roof. The good news about the low crossbars is that it’s a nice streamlined result without adding a lot of height. Having a sunroof made it a little easier to get to the front brackets and yes, the sunroof will still operate in both open and tilted up mode. No sun but still a nice option for ventilation.

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After the install I opened it up and checked everything out. Inside there’s a gear loft, two coat hooks, two pockets, two doors, and two windows. The tent fabric is a nice heavy weight material and there are beefy zippers and mosquito netting where you need it. One issue, not a surprise, was that there was some odor, probably volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) left over from the manufacturing process. I took the mattress out, washed the cover, and let it air indoors. I also put the tent up and left it up for several hours to ventilate. That pretty much took care of it.

The weekend arrived and I headed up to the North Georgia mountains to try it out. Wind noise on the road was increased, but only by a minimal amount. Fuel economy maybe went down 1 mpg based on my driving habits, not bad at all. Rain was in the forecast so I figured it would be a good test of the tent. Set up is so easy!

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We did get a good bit of rain and it was dry and cozy in the tent. There’s something nice about hearing the heavy rainfall on the fiberglass roof. Ventilation was fine and no moisture issues at all. The mattress was comfy but could be a little thicker; I have high standards when it comes to my sleeping arrangements. It’s quality 2.5″ thick medium density foam with a removable, washable cloth cover that zips off. I’ll likely add a couple of closed cell foam camping pads underneath for my next outing. I’ll keep you posted on how that works out.

I really like that I still have the full capability of the Outback for those forest service roads. Being able to get to the more remote campsites is great!

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Photo credit to Michelle LaFon, @mountainmunke on Instagram

I’ll give some more updates later, so far I’m really liking this Roofnest roof top tent!

Here’s a link to their website: