Helping you get closer to achieving the van life without having to buy the van

Van life has been all the rage for some time now. The problem is the startup cost for this kind of lifestyle can empty your bank account rather quickly. Before you start thinking about trading in your current vehicle for a sprinter van, turn your eye toward the rooftop tent company, Roofnest.

Started in 2016 in Boulder, Colorado, Roofnest is the brainchild of Tim Nickles. Nickles had at one time also sought out the van life, and started looking for ways to deck out his own rig. When perusing the options for a hard-shell rooftop tent, he began to realize that many options were far too expensive. And so he started looking into ways that he could provide a budget-friendly option to consumers.

“My goal is to be a better value,” said Nickles.

Today, Roofnest offers four options ranging in size and style. We got a chance to test out one of their models — the Eagle — on our Toyota 4Runner. Here’s what we have to say:

Roofnest tent setup
Setting up the Roofnest is simple: just unlatch and push up for a setup time of less than a minute.Terrance Siemon
Extremely Easy Setup

The Roofnest is probably the easiest tent that we’ve ever set up. After unfastening the straps that hold the top down, we simply pushed up in a couple of spots and the tent popped right up. From start to finish, it took us about one minute, with that time including ladder setup and placement.

Frees Up Space

Not having to sleep in the back of the car and also not having to pack a tent was really nice and provided more space and organization for our camping trip. Roofnest also includes a 3-inch foam mattress that was more comfortable than we expected, also saving you from having to bring the sleeping pads. The great thing about Roofnest, too, is that you can keep your sleeping bags and additional bedding right in the tent, which we would put under the “easy setup” category as well.

Roofnest hard-shell rooftop tent
Take the Roofnest wherever you go. The hard-shell rooftop tent fits on most vehicles.Tiona Eversole
Works On Most Vehicles

Sure, we were testing the Roofnest on our 4Runner, which was more than capable of holding up to the 125- to 150-pound Roofnest, but when it was time to return it to Nickles, we helped transfer the rooftop tent onto his Volkswagen Alltrack.

“You don’t have to buy a new car,” said Nickles. “You just put these on your existing car. We’ve got them on Mini Coopers, Priuses, 4Runners, trucks, Sprinter vans, you name it.”

Final Thoughts

Roofnest is a great option for those who want to get out and camp without having to take the time to set up a tent. For those who are constantly pulling into a campsite late at night (think Weekend Warriors leaving at 5 p.m. after work on a Friday), a Roofnest helps take the stress out of setting up in the dark.

“The words are comfort, ease-of-use, efficient camping,” explained Nickles. “You’re never sleeping in the dirt, you’re up on top of your car with better views, better air circulation; it’s just a lot more pleasant experience.”

While a Roofnest can simplify camping for many, this option is not for everyone. Individuals that have issues climbing up and down a ladder should reconsider this option, as this is how you get into the tent.

All things considered, we would recommend the Roofnest to anyone who wants a taste of the van life or a simpler means to camping.

Roofnest Open on 4Runner
The Eagle is super comfy for the solo traveler, couple or family.Terrance Siemon

Eagle $2,795