Fjordsen XL Inflatable Roof Tent (P)review

This is an early-bird review of the Fjordsen XL Inflatable roof tent, which can be pre-ordered right now. More like a preview than a review. If you have come across this post you must have seen the one of the adverts popping up recently…so you must be as curious as I am what the Fjordsen XL is actually like?

Is the Fjordsen XL a truly revolutionary design? The biggest rooftop tent? A truly 4-person air tent on a roof rack? Is it as innovative as the iKamper for example? Is it going to be as hyped as the iKamper was?

Or is it just a good design with limited usability?

You must have noticed that I have a thing for unusual tents – inflatable tents & roof top tents for example! The Fjordsen XL is two in one! An inflatable roof top tent! WOWW!!

When I heard about them / seen the first pictures I was VERY EXCITED!

And on top of everything the Fjordsen XL doesn’t look like a normal roof top tent. Or a normal inflatable tent! It is a prototype of a bloody mooncamp!

So judging blindly, it should be a great tent: inflatable tents have very good weather performance, they are easy to set up and they aren’t heavy.

Quick Summary

The Fjordsen XL is a 4-person inflatable roof tent – the largest roof tent currently available. It uses air poles instead of traditional systems, and has a unique geodesic design that maximizes internal space. It is still lightweight and fits on most compact cars and upwards. Sadly, it lets down on water-resistance, which ultimately limits it’s usability. Nonetheless, it can be a great add-on for your summer trips, if the weather allows!

PROS
- Large internal space
- Good wind resistance
- Plenty of colour options to choose from
- Lightweight (compared to its size)
CONS
- Not water-resistant
- Slow pitching
- No mattress included
Price & Shipping
Discounted price: £1.748 - £1.971
Normal price: £2.045 - £2.268

FREE UK Shipping

How to Buy The Fjordsen XL

You can pre-order the Fjordsen XL at the Fjordsen website by paying a £250 deposit. If you place your order before the 2nd of March, you get the discounted price.

Shipping starts during calendar week number 17 and 18 of April 2020. Reservations will be shipped based on a “first-come, first served” basis.

Shipping is FREE to the UK and to a handful of other EU countries, 95 EUR to Europe (EU) and 125 EUR to the Rest of the World.

What do we know about the Fjordsen XL?

Let’s start with what we know about the tent. Sadly, its not a lot if we look behind the marketing bullshit material.

About the company

Fjordsen are a Dutch company, founded by a guy called Thierry. Apart from his enthusiasm for outdoors and camping, there isn’t much about the company on the website, or anyone else who was involved in the development of the Fjordsen XL rooftop tent.

Guessing by the pictures of the prototypes, there isn’t decades of history behind the company and the development process.

Interiors

One of the big selling points, is that the Fjordsen XL is the ‘Largest Roof Top Tent’ and it is ‘Extremely Spacious’. Which is true: the Fjordsen XL is large with it’s 2.2 metres by 2.2 metres footprint. That’s almost 5 sqm when folded out.

This probably doesn’t make it a true 4-person tent, less than 60 cms sleeping space per head is definitely not something that I would suggest as comfortable for anyone older than 10 years of age. So it may be alright for 2 adults and 2 kids, but I think it’s fair to say that the Fjordsen XL is maximum a 3-person tent to sleep, but thanks to it’s shape, 4 people can easily sit and spend time in it at the same time.

Dome-shape design - the Fjordsen XL maximizes internap space
Dome-shape design – the Fjordsen XL maximizes internal space

Having said that, as a 3-person tent, its really spacious. I mentioned the size of the footprint, but the internal height is 130 cms. That’s more than plenty to sit up comfortably, change clothes etc. and thanks to the dome-shaped design you can enjoy this head-space almost everywhere inside the tent.

Windows / Doors

It’s quite easy, as the Fjordsen XL has 3 large windows and 1 door – the same, huge opening on every side.

Large doors and windows on the Fjordsen XL
Large doors and windows on the Fjordsen XL

As the ladder supports the weight of the top half of the base-plate, this ultimately determines which side you’ll use as the door. Nevertheless, the 3 windows are just as large as the door.

The windows are all meshed with a removable privacy curtain.

Exteriors

The Fjordsen XL is not the smallest when folded either. It simply folds in half when packed away, meaning that the length of the tent remains the same, the width would be 110 cms and the height / profile would be 35 cms.

Fjordsen XL on the roof - a bit boxy for it's 35 cm high profile
Fjordsen XL on the roof – a bit boxy for it’s 35 cm high profile

This not too high, but there are a lot of other rooftents that have a lower profile, like the FrontRunner FeatherLite for example.

The shape is very much box-like, there is not a streamlined forehead, wind-deflectors etc. (although you can buy some aftermarket wind-deflectors later ).

As for colors, you have plenty of options to choose from. The cheaper designs use simple colours, while the pattern versions are £200 more expensive.

Floral pattern Fjordsen XL
Floral pattern Fjordsen XL

Weight & Fitting

The net weight of the Fjordsen XL is 60 kgs. Compared to the space it offers, this is really lightweight, especially that this allows you to fit the Fjordsen onto almost any family car, if you look at the weight only.

Find out the roof weight limit of more than 150+ makes and models here:

Which roof tent fits your car? Find out by checking the dynamic load capacity of your car first.

Roof Top Tent Weight Limits

The limiting factor here will be the length of your car, to be precise, the distance between the cross bars you fit the Fjordsen XL onto. As the folding size of the tent keeps the 220 cms length, the cross bars need to be at least a metre apart from each other; however, I could not find any manufacturer’s instructions in relation to this.

It’s probably even better if you had 3 crossbars to spread the load evenly – not so much during transport, but when the tent is fully up and 3-4 people sleep in it.

Unfortunately the material and thickness of the baseplate have not been disclosed so far.

Pitching time

Inflatable tents have a huge benefit over pole-tents: that’s pitching time. Whereas you need to find the poles etc. and pitching of a larger pole tent can take up to 25-30 mins, and inflatable tent of the same size only takes about 15 minutes.

There’s less difference if we talk about smaller tents, but inflatable tents will always be slightly faster to pitch, not to mention that they are waterproof after 5 minutes as soon as the airpoles are inflated.

I am not sure what’s the deal with air-poles versus completely automated (often hydraulic assisted) pitching that takes less than a minute; or 5 minutes tops, for huge soft shell roof tents.

Pitching of the Fjordsen XL takes around 8-10 mins – that’s around average for an inflatable tent of this size.

We have definitely gained some space, but lost minutes in pitching time compared to other roof top tents.

The Fjordsen XL does come with the 12V air pump, again, not so much info on it. If you have a bigger compressor, pitching may become quicker.

Deflating takes around 3 minutes. Although there is not a video of it yet, depending on the valves the Fjordsen XL uses I can easily imagine that as there is no rolling involved.

Mattress

I thought its important to add that the Fjordsen XL comes WITHOUT a mattress. As Fjordsen put it, everyone has their preferences, so rather giving you a mattress that you may not like and throw away, it is the environmentally conscious choice not to give you a mattress. hmm… don’t know.

They could have just given you a thick and comfy bamboo mattress. But anyways.

Everything that I mentioned above, you should bear in mind that there’s no mattress. So weight: 65kgs, great, but there’s no mattress. 35cm profile: not bad, but the roof tent only fits a mattress of up to 5-7 cms thick.

130 cms internal height: very nice, minus the the thickness of the mattress of your choice. Still great though…

Pitching time: well its not too good anyways compared to other rooftents, but you must add the time you need to inflate your mattress.

Fabrics Used & Weather Resilience

Again, not so much info about the fabrics. That seems 100% that there is only a SINGLE LAYER of polyester fabric.

According to the website, its 70% polyester / 30% PVA, and the fabric is 195 gsm thick.

As for the latter, 195 gsm suggests that the material is durable and thick. I must admit, I haven’t seen this PVA composition before as a tent fabric material. PVA is basically a glue, or in other words, a fabric stiffener.

Fjordsen XL - looks good until it gets wet...
Fjordsen XL – looks good until it gets wet…

If it takes out 30% of the weight (or volume?) of the fabric, it suggests that it is a thick coating. The downside of a thick coating is that it makes the fabric non-breathable.  See update below!

The next problem with coatings, that the composite can break down over time if exposed to sun-light (UV rays). The coated polyester flysheet is very common among air tents, however I am pretty sure that they don’t use PVA coating, but something else, to ensure that it is protected from breaking down by UV light too quickly.

Update: I got in touch with Fjordsen and they said that the PVA coating is actually a micro porous acrylic coating. This is a coating that I have only heard of being applied on wood, mainly because the coating prevents the wood from water (water-repellent), yet it is still breathable (through the micro pores).

The coating is also UV resistant, however I could not find any information on what type of UV resistance it provides, ie UPF or SPF, and what grading.

The coating used on the Fjordsen XL however reflects sunlight very well: according to Fjordsen the color-weather fastness of the Fjordsen XL equals to or greater than 6. Color-weather fastness rating is a standardized method of measuring the changing of the color of the fabric over time, it is rated from 1 (worst) to 8 (best). Commercial fabrics are usually rated 5 and above. 

More on tent fabrics, coating and weird acronyms: Tent materials, fabrics, specifications and all the acronyms. FAQ.

Higher-end air tents use polycotton or cotton flysheets – the latter doesn’t need any coating as it has natural water-resistant properties.

Roof top tents tend to use polycotton tent walls, which has the best of both worlds – lighter than a canvas tent, while keeping some of the thermal properties, ability to ‘breath’ and water-resistance.

Having said that, the Fjordsen website highlights three properties of the fabric: ‘water, mold and dirt repellent’.

Water-repellent

Hmm, and I though that the 60 cm water column (sic) was only a typo. That’s exactly 600mm HH, if you use the lingo that every other tent-maker uses, so that we can compare apples to apples.

600mm HH is somewhere between your normal windcoat and a beach tent. I don’t think a fabric is classed as water-resistant under 1500mm HH.

At least Fjordsen are somewhat honest about it. I have copied here what they say about their fabrics on the website, word-by-word.

Fjordsen uses the best materials for the best roof tent. That is why also TenCate outdoor fabrics. Because with the coated qualities in 100% polyester, TenCate offers a high-quality product. The material is light yet strong and durable. The microporous acrylic coating makes the fabric waterproof, weather-resistant and durable. The material is easy to clean and meets the strictest requirements in terms of environmental friendliness. The fabric of the Fjordsen XL is light and highly coated. Technical information: 70% polyester / 30% PVA 195 g / m2 60 cm water column Finish: water, mold and dirt repellent

Source: Fjordsen.com

 

Wind resistance

The other great feature of inflatable tents is the flexible yet stable structure: as long you can peg it out properly they can withstand relatively high winds. Some manufacturers like Vango use inner tension system to increase wind resistance up to 55 mph.

The Fjordsen XL has been tested in a wind tunnel – the video is actually publicly available.

According to the video, the tent collapsed at around 30mph constant wind speed, at ‘near gale wind speed’.

It may be a bit misleading, gale force wind is above 63kmh sustained wind speed, while ‘Near Gale’ on the Beaufort scale (that’s to measure and categorize wind speed) is 32-38mph.

The next category down is 25-31 mph, which is called ‘Strong Breeze’, this is where trees begin to bend and telephone wires may start whistling.

So definitely not ideal for camping, but the Fjordsen XL seems to withstand sustained near ‘near gale force’ winds.

Warranty & Customer Service

The Fjordsen XL rooftent comes with a 2-years warranty, you can contact them via WhatsApp, phone and email.

I must admit I have been trying to reach them via email with a few questions I wanted to clarify before publishing this preview. I have sent 3 emails so far, and no reply has come back…but WhatsApp seems to work, I got a reply almost instantly.

Fjordsen XL Roof Top tent.
Fjordsen XL Roof Top tent – 2 year warranty included

Alternatives to the Fjordsen XL

There are 3 alternatives I wanted to shed light on.

If you need a large roof tent, that fits 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children, I’d recommend the Ventura 1.8M Roof tent.

Ventura Deluxe 1.8M roof tent

The Ventura 1.8M has a 180 cm by 240 cm mattress, so if you are under 180 cms of height you can easily have enough space across the tent to sleep with a partner and two kids. On top of that, Ventura has gone over and beyond in terms of weather resistance, there are addons (like and Annex), and it weighs 60kg, just like the Fjordsen XL.

Oh, and its a few hundred Pounds cheaper too…here on Ventura Roof Tents,  on Trek Overland or sometimes they pop up on eBay too at a reduced price.

The Ventura Deluxe 1.8 is actually one of the cheapest roof tents in the UK. Find out who else is on the list: TOP 10 Cheap Roof Tent 2020 UK

HeimPlanet

In terms of how original the Fjordsen design is: have a look at the HeimPlanet tents. Fair enough, you can’t put them on top of your car… But if you fancy the Geodesic design, and you look for a unique-looking inflatable tent…

Inflatable Roof Tents – Gentle Tent

I must admit, continental Europe is slightly ahead in designing inflatable roof tents. GentleTent for example, have come out with their GT Roof 2-person inflatable roof tent in 2018.

It can be used as a normal air tent (on the ground) and apparently as a boat too…oh those Germans

Gentle Tents GT Roof tent – or a boat? great fun either way.

It only weighs 25 kgs, and the baseplate is only 1 by 1 metres, so you can pop it on top of a Fiat Panda or a Kia Picanto.

They ship to the UK for 204 EUR, so the total price of the GT Roof including shipping is around £2000.

GT Roof is their smallest rooftent, there’s one for pickups and one for VW Transporter-sized larger vehicles and SUVs.

My Gut Feeling about the Fjordsen XL…

I wanted to believe that the Fjordsen XL has managed to keep the best of both worlds by creating a unique roof top tent design that truly is the largest available right now, as a roof top tent (only if slightly); and brings a good average performance in everything else. Sadly, the water-resistance is just not enough on the rooftent market, yet alone at this price range.

So sadly, my gut feeling is that the Fjordsen XL is not more than a pretty face…

 

 

 

 

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