If you’re at a race, camping, or just road-tripping the country, it can be a big jump to go from tent living to an expensive RV or van. In order to bring the luxury #Vanlife to more people, Roofnest attaches to the roof of almost any car, giving you a one-room pop-up place to sleep. With a starting price that’s far below conversion vans, could this be the semi-luxury camping experience of your dreams?

All images courtesy Roofnest.

#Vanlife: Roofnest roof top tent for your vehicle

While our #Vanlife series often covers crazy (and pricey) conversion vans, Sprinters, and 4x4s, this week features something on the other end of the price spectrum. Roofnest is a Boulder-based company specializing in fiberglass hardshell roof top tents that fit on a wide variety of vehicles. They operate with a simple motto:

Roofnest = Ride. Drive. Sleep. Repeat.

While Roofnest has several different models to suit various vehicles and budgets, they just introduced a new model called the Sandpiper ($2,795). It has a unique built-in aluminum gear rack on top that can hold 100 lbs of bikes or other outdoor gear.

All Roofnest models pop up using gas struts, and feature a 7cm-thick HDF mattress. They also throw in a 1cm thick anti-condensation mat for cold nights – which competitors charge $150+ for as an add-on.

When it comes time to close up shop and hit the road, this quick video shows how easy it really is.

All models of Roofnest weigh between 120 and 150 lbs, making them compatible with a wide variety of vehicles.

Roofnest starts at $2,295, with shipping available to the lower 48 states for $249 ($399 to Alaska or Hawaii, inquire for Canadian shipping rates). All Roofnests come with a 1-year warranty, with spare parts available from their Boulder office. Learn more or price your own at the link below.



  1. I’ve never really understood the appeal of a $2500 rooftop tent. Especially if you have to get out and pee at night…

    • As with many camping options like this. Not much better than a standard tent experience, and at that cost, it equals about 20 nights in a nice hotel with things like heat or AC.

        • The hotel at the foot of a waterfall without another human for 10kms? The hotel at the top of the pass with the awesome view and no light pollution? I want things like this more than I want a/c. Reminds me of the ‘it’s a Jeep thing’ meme.

          • You mean the amazing waterfall that has a road right along the bottom where a base model Subaru can go? Or the top of the pass reachable by mini-van?

            Presumably, if a car can reach these places, the OP could sleep in his cozy hotel and then just drive there in the morning.

            • Possibly, not presumably.


              A lonely, loooong beach, on the wild coast of South Africa, 65 kms from the nearest hotel (which doesn’t have AC) but where you can camp and wake up to surfing a right point break after your morning coffee and then go for a long mountain bike ride.
              Or northern Algonquin Park.
              Or the Baviaan’s Kloof.
              I would still prefer that over a/c, even in summer.

              Specific enough?

  2. I can’t get on board with roof top tents because there is no way in hell my dog would be able to get up there. Not the most compelling of reasons but for the camping/backpacking that my family does there has to be a way for Fido to get into the tent with us.

  3. Are the developers and the potential users aware that most cars can’t carry anything heavy on their roof racks?
    For example the limit advised by the car manufacturer is 100kg on a Renault Scenic (compact MPV) or 55kg on a Toyota Corolla. It’ll probably hold a lot more weight, but I wouldn’t take the risks.

    • Yeah. I question this statement: “All models of Roofnest weigh between 120 and 150 lbs, making them compatible with a wide variety of vehicles.”

      If the base weight is 120 to 150 lbs, and you add two 150lb humans you’re well over 400 lbs on a roof rack. I’m not sure how many vehicles / racks are rated for that kind of capacity.

      • You are talking about static versus dynamic weight limits. You could probably stack a Toyota Corolla on top of another Toyota Corolla without anything getting crushed. Try moving the car on the bottom, all hell will break loose.

        • I get that the car’s passenger compartment will not crush. I’m questioning whether factory and/or aftermarket racks are designed for such loads. At the Yakima site, for example, they cite a 124lb max roof load for my vehicle. Yes, that’s presumably for dynamic loads. But if their tower fails when subjected to a 400lb static load, they ain’t gonna warranty it – or cover vehicle damage. “How’d this load bar kink?” “Oh, you know, I was just driving along…”

          • I’ve got a Rhino Rack on my Jeep Wrangler and it can handle a dynamic weight limit of 264lb (less when off road). My wife and I as well as the 2 dogs sleep in the rooftop tent with no issue. Although the static weight limit is not stated anywhere in the instructions, I’ve got no hesitations to put that much weight up there when we are camping.

        • Brad Sedola FTW! Cars are made to be able to roll down embankments while protecting the passengers inside… If you put 150 lbs of bikes (3 DH rigs) on your car rack and then go 100 mph, how much weight do you think is exerting force on the rack attachment to the vehicle? If you answer 150 lbs you’re wrong – if you answer more like 1000 lbs you are likely closer. This is why parked cars can support 500-800 lbs on their roof with crossbars and a good rack and also why you shouldn’t go 100 MPH with 2 adults and 2 dogs in your RTT on your roof…. :-p

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