Rooftop tents have long been the preferred sleep solution for the overland community. And that makes perfect sense – if you’re using a vehicle to access far-flung locales in the outdoors, by definition you won’t be sleeping at a maintained campsite. So, bringing along a shelter that makes the surface where you make camp a non-issue is a major upgrade. Only recently, though, have hobby campers that are more accustomed to staying at developed campgrounds (hand raised) begun to catch on to how much rooftop camping can (literally) elevate the experience. Set up is quick and easy, as is tear down, and there’s never surprise rocks that you forgot to clear hiding under your sleeping pad.
Roofnest’s Condor series is the Cadillac of the brand’s offerings. And the Condor 2 is a complete redesign of its predecessor, incorporating hands-on experience and customer feedback with upgraded materials, sturdier construction, and a cozy interior that allows for a few different upgrades. I was fortunate to get hands-on a truck equipped with a Condor 2 Roofnest to test out, and it did not disappoint.
Roofnest Condor 2: First Impressions
|Super fast setup||Pricey|
|Comfortable mattress||Extra weight and drag can affect fuel economy|
To give the Condor 2 a proper test, I took it to Joshua Tree National Park where nighttime temperatures hovered in the high 40s with daytime highs in the 70s. Using J-Tree as a testing ground had two distinct benefits. First, it takes a few hours and several freeways to get out to the desert from my home base in coastal SoCal, so it was great to get a feel for how having a fully-loaded roof affects your drive. Second, the temperature fluctuations of the desert make for competing demands. At night, you’ll want a sleeping arrangement that’ll keep you warm, but as temperatures start to climb, shade and ample airflow to stay cool take priority.
Fully stored, the tent compresses to a modest 14 inches high with an exterior shell made of rugged ASA/ABS plastic with a Line-X finish. You’ll notice some drag, but the plastic outer shell ensures no flapping or otherwise concerning noises while in transit, even at freeway speeds.
When it came to setting up the Condor 2 for the first time, I was amazed at how quick the whole process took. You just need to undo a few latches, pull the ladder down, and it neatly unfolds in all its glory to about 99 percent ready. This bit takes maybe 30 seconds. Getting canopies, windows, and bug screens dialed-in to your liking takes a bit more time, but compared to a traditional tent the difference is night and day.
The interior features a 2” queen-size memory foam pad which felt plenty comfortable. And the overall size is definitely roomy enough for two full-size adults. I’m about 6’1” and neither my head nor my feet touched the wall of the tent at night.
Unlike other rooftop tent varieties, the Condor sports a “fold-out” style which is neither clamshell (think A-frame style), nor pop-up (where the top of the case lifts to become the top of the tent). Instead of sleeping parallel with the direction of your vehicle, you sleep perpendicular to it. This wasn’t necessarily an issue, but it’s an important consideration for a first outing when trying to find a level parking space — a slight leftward lean may put your feet above your head and vice versa.
Notable Features of the Roofnest Condor 2
Mount to Virtually any Vehicle: As I said before, while rooftop tents have long been a staple among overlanders, a major selling point of the Condor 2 is that you don’t have to own an offroad-ready 4×4 to upgrade your camping setup. Roofnest markets the Condor 2 as an ideal companion to any vehicle. The caveat, of course, is you’ll need a vehicle with a set of crossbars, and the roof should be capable of handling the weight. However, this versatility is pretty huge because it means that everyone – from weeklong adventure seekers to weekend warriors that haul their brood in a mini van – stands to benefit from elevating their camp experience in such a way.
Spacious interior: When fully opened, the interior of the Condor 2 was downright palatial. The queen mattress was plenty wide for two full-size adults, and the headroom throughout was sufficient for sitting fully upright with plenty of room to spare. At 40 inches maximum height, though, don’t expect to be able to stand up inside.
Ample windows: Nights in Joshua Tree are famous for one thing — the night sky. And the different window options in the Condor 2 facilitated the full appreciation of these celestial views. With the large main door off the ladder, two side windows, and a skylight, the Condor 2 allows for all sorts of variation when observing your surroundings. And when everything’s opened up, expect nearly panoramic views. Stowable mesh screens can always be deployed to keep bugs away. And, when you need some privacy you can always zip up the canvas closures.
It’d be irresponsible not to mention that one of the biggest drawbacks of the Condor 2 is its hefty price tag ($3,045 at time of writing). When compared to a traditional pole tent, we’re talking orders of 6-10 times what you’d spend on a set up. That said, a night’s sleep on the ground versus on a rooftop are so different the comparison doesn’t feel fair.
A second drawback is that the overall weight of the tent is 155 pounds. For a frequent camper this isn’t so much of an issue because the tent can just remain mounted on your vehicle at all times. But, if you plan to use the tent less frequently, you may want to remove it in between uses so you’re not sacrificing fuel economy. At 155 pounds, that undertaking can be a bit cumbersome.
Also, unlike a normal tent, exit and entry can take a bit of getting used to. To descend the ladder I found myself either flopping over to my belly inside the tent and sliding my feet out until my toes met the ladder or taking my first steps with my heels on the ladder and doing an awkward little shimmy to flip around and descend the rest of the way. Obviously, the more you use the tent the more you would get used to this.
Finally, any time you plan to drive anywhere you’ll need to break the tent down. This is no biggie if you plan to keep your vehicle in one spot for the entirety of a trip, or are using the tent as just a sleeping area, but it’s something to consider for trips that require drives to trailheads or to grab supplies.
The Roofnest Condor 2 is an extremely rugged hardshell rooftop tent that offers best-in-class comfort. It’s ideal for any campers looking to prioritize comfort in their sleep system with the money to spend. Setup is incredibly quick and easy, and the night of sleep you’ll get atop the plush 2” memory foam mattress high up off the ground may be the best you’ll ever have in the outdoors. Considering the cost and overall size of the tent, the Condor 2 probably isn’t ideal for the once-in-a-blue-moon camper. But, if you camp with any frequency and are looking to elevate the experience, look no further.
Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.