A hardshell tent with an aerodynamic design and a simple setup
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Tripsavvy / Jamie Hergenrader
Speedy setup and disassembly
Optional accessories allow for customization
Sleeps two adults comfortably
Compatible with most car roof racks
Sleeping position can slope with landscape
Despite the high price, the Roofnest Falcon is worth the splurge if you go camping often and want a quick and easy setup.
Roof camping offers some advantages over traditional tent camping—primarily, you’re off the ground and further away from bugs, wildlife, and rocky or wet landscapes. You also have more flexibility in camp locations (anywhere you can park!) and many tents have a fairly simple setup process. The Roofnest Falcon is different from most rooftop tents in setup, size, appearance, and other details. It costs more than most other rooftop tents, but depending on your camping preferences and frequency, it might be the best option for your future trips.
This clamshell-style hard-top tent attaches to the roof rack on your car (your vehicle’s cross bars must be at least 30 inches apart), opening from one end while hinged at the other to form a triangle shape. The three soft sides are made of a waterproof fabric with a waterproof rating of 3000mm. Each side has a doorway that fully unzips, so you can access the tent from either side or from the back, using the included telescopic aluminum ladder. When closed, the tent stands only 6.5 inches tall. It’s named the Falcon for its aerodynamic design of both its hardshell exterior and its minimal height when driving, which helps to prolong your car’s gas mileage.
Setting up the Falcon is quick, smooth, and simple. Stainless steel latches on the back keep the tent firmly shut when not in use. When you’re parked and ready to open it, release those latches and give the frame a push upward. (Depending on the height of the car, you can do this part standing on the ground, or you can mount the included ladder to give you a boost to reach the latches.) Once you’ve pushed it up about halfway, the hydraulics finish propping the tent up—no poles, stakes, or other loose parts are needed.
Disassembling the tent is similar. Pull the tent down either from gripping the top or pulling down on the strap located at the back of the tent. As you pull it downwards, tuck in the fabric on the sides. When the tent is completely collapsed, secure the back latches.
While I was able to open the tent by myself, my husband and I worked together to close it. Even when the tent was fully collapsed, it could be tough to secure the latches. To do this, I sat on top of the closed tent while latching them under my body weight. (Think sitting on top of a full suitcase to zip it fully shut.)
My husband and I are 5 feet, 10 inches and 5 feet, 5 inches tall, respectively, and we both fit in this tent comfortably. The interior of the Falcon is 48 inches wide (a few inches slimmer than a full-size mattress), so we each had enough space to move around and get comfortable. The interior is 88 inches long, which is equivalent to just over 7 feet. However, you’ll lose a few inches of space at your feet where the tent comes to a point and a few inches by your head for pillow space, so plan to lose up to 6 to 10 inches of space total. By our estimate, anyone taller than 6 feet, 4 inches or so might not fit as comfortably as we did. With 60 inches in height, though, the Falcon is tall enough to sit upright inside.
The Falcon comes with a foam mattress about 3 inches thick, but that ended up being too hard for us, so after the first night, we used the inflatable sleeping pads we had brought with us and were more comfortable for the rest of the trip.
Temperature-wise, the Falcon was ideal. (Our trip took place during a hot, humid day in New York, and we were comfortable with just lightweight sleeping bags.) Each window has a dual layer of covering—canvas on the outside and mesh on the inside. With only the mesh layer zipped up during the day, there was plenty of airflow in the tent. At night, we closed the canvas layer partway to keep the ventilation but block out light. With zippers on the inside, we could easily adjust the window layers as needed. It also rained on two nights of our trip, but the interior of the tent stayed fully dry, and the water on the outside wiped away easily when we closed the tent.
A couple of nights, the campsite where we slept was slightly sloped, and we felt that up top in the tent as well. Unless your spot is fairly flat, you might lean on each other a bit while sleeping.
“It rained on two nights of our trip, but the interior of the tent stayed fully dry.”
Included with the tent are an 8.5-foot collapsible aluminum ladder that expands to your needed height with hardware to mount it, an anti-condensation mat that’s propped up by poles to protect from rain or extra moisture, and a detachable pocket for storage of small items (e.g. keys or flashlight). On the slanted interior of the Falcon, there’s a bungee net for larger items (blankets, a jacket, or a lantern).
Roofnest also sells several compatible accessories to customize the tent to fit your needs. Available accessories include crossbars that allow you to transport up to 100 pounds of additional gear (e.g. skis, bikes, or a surfboard) on top of the Falcon, solar panel kits to power your electronic devices, and brackets that mount to the accessory channels so you can attach awnings or other tools.
Retailing for just under $3,500, the Falcon is a splurge. And although many other rooftop tents can cost upward of $1,000 to $2,000, this Roofnest model is still on the higher end of the spectrum. However, the convenience of setting up the Falcon is a perk that might outweigh its cost and the time you’d spend on other tents.
Rooftop tents come in a variety of styles, but this one from Alu-Cab is one of the most similar options if you’re specifically interested in a hard-top clamshell style. It offers many of the same details and features, such as the setup and takedown, the size, the ability to store extra gear, three-sided access, and an awning to protect from extra moisture. However, the Alu-Cab tent also has internal lighting and USB power outlets. While the latter is a nice perk, consider you’d need a source of electricity to power those; in the Falcon, we charged our phones in the car while driving.
The Falcon is an ideal tent for frequent campers who seek convenience and efficiency. The setup and disassembly take less than five minutes each and the tent doesn’t use poles, stakes, or other accessories that can break or get lost. Its modern aerodynamic design prolongs your gas mileage when the tent is closed, allowing you to trek further distances for less money, and is small enough to stay on your car year-round while also allowing additional space to transport other gear.
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