I was an early adopter with one of the first models of the Roofnest Eagle and worked with the founder to create an installation video for the products. Recently, Roofnest came out with the Sparrow Eye and I was given the tent to test out. While I have only had the Sparrow Eye a short time, I’m very familiar with the tent design and construction, it’s usability, and how comfy the mattress is thanks to the few months I’ve spent with my Eagle and the fact all Roofnest models are made from the same materials. Here’s a video giving you a tour of the Roofnest Sparrow Eye.
My Impressions; Pros and Cons
FAST & SIMPLE - Very easy to set up and pack away. Much faster than a tent. Straps are durable and securely keep the tent in place when not in use. Installation is easy and really straightforward.
BUILT-N COMFORT - The built-in mattress is made of high-density foam and is very comfortable. I’m a slide sleeper and sleeping is usually my least favorite part of camping because most air mattress pads aren’t supportive enough for me but this mattress was great. Even if you sleep on your back just fine, the foam mattress means keeping sleeping pads at home. You’ll have a warmer night sleep since you’re not sleeping on air which is prone to cool to outside temperatures during the night.
STORAGE - There is still space within the Roofnest when collapsed to store beddings (sleeping bags, blankets, pillows), which means when I get to camp and pop up the tent, I am instantly ready for bed. It also keeps those bulky items out of your car, meaning you can pack more stuff for your adventure.
DURABILITY - The liner and shell are three times more weatherproof than a typical backpacking tent. While I haven’t been in crappy weather in this model, I’ve camped with the Eagle for a few months through rain and hail storms (made of same materials), and it’s held up perfectly. I assume the same for the Sparrow Eye. After a few road trips and about thirty nights in the Eagle and Sparrow Eye combined, it’s safe to say I’ve put these tents through the ringer. The straps have held up great, and while cleaning the outer fiberglass shell from bug guts is not fun, I’m not seeing any damage to the unit from insects, rocks, or other random debris flying into it at 70mph on the highways.
SAFETY - Tenting off the ground keeps me safer from wildlife compared to a tent or hammock, making me less likely to end up as a bear burrito.
BIKE RACK SPOILER? - Tricky to use if you have a bike rack on back of your car because that’s also where the ladder goes to give you access to the tent. If I position the tent further back on my vehicle to make the ladder easer to avoid the bikes, then my trunk opens less because it hits the bottom of the Roofnest. The result is I have to take the bikes off the rack to create an angle that works with the ladder, and when I do that, the ladder just avoids the back of my car. In fairness, given how most bike racks are constructed, you may have to take your bikes off your car to open your trunk anyway. I just noticed with my vehicle and bike rack set up it was awkward and something I was able to avoid with the Eagle model since it’s door access is from the side of your vehicle.
NEEDS A SHOE CUBBY - Inside the tent, there should be more built-in ways to store belonings. There’s a mesh basket hanging above you, which is great for all kinds of things, but I wouldn’t want to put my shoes above my head. There are compartments (more like hanging fabric with cubby holes) hanging from the sidewalls on other Roofnest models like the Eagle, so why there aren’t any in the Sparrow Eye doesn’t make sense to me given there is
space near the door for such accessories.
ZIPPERS DON'T SEAL TENT COMPLETELY - There is no way to completely seal yourself inside the tent. At the doorway, the material can be zipped up and down to open and close the mesh and canvas doors, but there's no zipper to zip the material across the doorway. This isn’t an issue in bad weather, but there is an air gap which invites in air drafts. It’s really small, and wind is unlikely to blow from below you upwards and into the tent, but in much colder temperatures you want a good tent seal to trap in body heat and keep the outside cold where it belongs. I wouldn’t care as much if this opening is where my feet were when I slept, but the Sparrow Eye is designed for your head to sleep at the doorway end.