Tepui (pronounced teh-POO-ee) has built a reputation for producing some of the best roof top tents (RTTs) on the market. Since 2010 they have produced a variety of RTTs, including hard shell and soft shell tents that can sleep anywhere up to four people.
RTTs provide many benefits, including the fact that they are designed to mount onto nearly any type of vehicle and they allow you to camp almost anywhere and in any weather conditions.
The brainchild of a husband and wife team after a road trip across Venezuela, Tepui is now part of the Thule Group based in Sweden, although the Tepui brand is based out of Santa Cruz, California. Some elements of their tents are sourced internationally, although Tepui is working to transition the fabrication process fully into the United States.
‘Tepui’ is a Venezuelan word that refers to a mesa or tabletop mountain – a fitting name for their main product. By constantly taking into account customer feedback, Tepui strives for perpetual improvement.
First, we’ll look at an overview of the different models currently available from Tepui…
Soft Shell Tepui Tents:
Tepui offers three series of soft shell tents: Baja Series, Explorer Series, and Ruggedized Series. Each of these options offers different levels of versatility, weight, and durability. They also have a Low-Pro line of RTTs.
The Baja Series includes the Kukenam tents which come in both 3- and 4-person models, and the Ayer tents which have 2-person capacities. Both the Kukenam and Ayer tents are available with interchangeable Ultralite, Mesh, and/or Aluminized canopies.
Each tent comes with one canopy and a rain fly, with other canopies available for purchase separately. The Baja Series tents are some of the lightest and most versatile tents on the market. They are most suitable for weekend use or in situations where weight must be kept to a minimum.
The Explorer Series tents are slightly beefier than the Baja Series, offering more comfort and durability. Models include a 3-person Kukenam, a 2-person Ayer, and 3- and 4-person Autana tents. These tents are more suitable for long-term and year-round use than the Baja series.
Explorer Series tents include four large pockets inside for storing gear and accessories, a removable rainfly, and a 2.5-inch high-density foam mattress.
The Ruggedized Series tents are the toughest RTTs available. They are built for serious off-roading and include a diamond plate base, 40% heavier canopy fabric than the other models, an anti-condensation mat built in under the mattress, a heavy-duty ¾-inch internal frame, stronger hinges, and extra-large internal pockets.
This category of RTTs includes 3- and 4-person Autana tents with annexes, and 3- and 4-person Kukenam tents. These tents will stand up to the harshest conditions and gnarliest 4×4 roads.
The Low-Pro line of RTTs includes 2- and 3-person options, and features the lightest and most streamlined construction Tepui has produced to date. These tents are significantly more aerodynamic than other Tepui tents, starting at just 105 pounds and 10 inches thick when closed.
Hard Shell Tepui Tents
Tepui currently only offers one model of hard shell RTT, the HyBox. This unique design allows you to use the HyBox as either a 2-person RTT or as a roof top storage box. The 3-inch thick mattress is easily removable to convert it into a storage box, which offers 23 cubic feet of space.
You can easily pop open just the back of the RTT to access storage, or pop up both ends for the tent function.
The HyBox is a four-season tent so it can be used comfortable year-round.
Pricing and Wait Time
Prices for Tepui tents range from about $950 to upwards of $3,000, depending on the size and model you choose. If you buy through Tepui.com, you can opt for a financing option through Affirm, which will break up payments into 3, 6, or 12 month terms. Tepui tents are also available through other retailers, like REI.com and Amazon.com.
REI and other outdoor retailers also offer Tepui RTTs as part of their gear rental programs, so you can try before you buy.
Tepui sells used tents, blemished-but-functional tents, and demo models, which are sold as-is without warranties. This can be a good way to save a chunk of money, although all sales are final and these tents must be picked up at the Soquel, California warehouse as they are not eligible for shipping. All tents are inspected to make sure they don’t have major or structural damage.
You can browse available tents on their Garage Sale page.
All tent models that are in stock generally ship within two business days for a flat rate of $150 to the lower 48 states or for $650 to Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico. Expedited shipping can be arranged if you place your order over the phone with Tepui’s customer service team. If you are near Tepui’s warehouse in Soquel, California, you can opt for local pickup and/or installation of some tent models.
The installation fee is $80 for RTTs.
What Types of Vehicles Work With Tepui Tents?
Tepui RTTs will work with nearly any vehicle that has a roof rack. Your roof rack must have a Dynamic Weight Capacity that is at least the weight of the tent. Dynamic Weight Capacity is the amount of weight the rack can carry while the vehicle is in motion.
Many vehicles can only safely carry about 165 pounds on the roof while in motion, so be sure to check with your vehicle manufacturer as to whether your vehicle is suitable for an RTT before you buy a roof rack and tent.
Owner Q&A: What Three Tepui Tent Owners Had To Say
1. What model of Tepui tent do you have?
Liz: Explorer Series Kukenam 3
Karina: Kukenam Sky 3 (no longer available on Tepui.com, but still sold through REI.com)
Matt: Ruggedized Series Kukenam 3
2. How/why did you choose this tent over all others?
Liz: “We are avid campers, camping regularly at least once a month throughout the year with our three kids (and pup!) and were looking for something quick and easy for times when we want less of a camping experience and more of an adventure with a quick and easy place to sleep.”
“We chose Tepui because of their great reviews, great look and simplicity of design, large sleeping area, and fun community!”
Karina: “It was a tough choice between a CVT tent and the Tepui, but we made our decision on the Tepui because we were able to pick it up locally and we didn’t have to pay for shipping. There also was a sale at REI. We don’t regret our decision!”
Matt: “Tepui was having a scratch and dent sale at their headquarters, I was able to get a decent deal on a good tent.”
3. Have you owned any other RTTs in the past and if so, how did they compare?
Liz: “This Tepui tent is our first!”
Karina: “Nope, this is our first RTT! We daydreamed about it for about 2 years before we actually purchased it.”
Matt: “Yes. I used to have an iKamper Skycamp. Unfortunately it was stolen. I miss it, but I have an iKamper Skycamp Mini on order!” Matt elaborated that he prefers the iKamper tents because of their superior setup/tear-down time and the lesser amount of effort required for those processes.
4. What are some pros and cons of your Tepui tent?
– Super easy to both set up and pack away
– Great windows and skylights. Can be totally open to nature or totally private within minutes
– Roomy interior, with lots of headroom and space to stretch out
– Not a con as there are definitely larger tents available, only wish it was just a little bit wider on the long side! It’s a three person tent sleeping vertically to the entrance, but we can fit our family of five (kids ages 7, 10, and 12) inside if necessary by sleeping horizontally. That said, it’s a bit tight for my almost 6′ husband, but it’s perfect for kids (and shorties like myself LOL)”
“One pro is that inside the tent it is pitch black when it’s all zipped up. It keeps the tent cooler in warmer weather. It’s also well insulated.
The tent is pretty roomy with lots of head space, we went with the 3 person tent keeping our future dog in mind and we think it’s the perfect amount of space.
It’s very durable and rather easy to get in and out of.
The mattress pad is pretty bad, we had to buy a mattress topper to make it comfortable. Our first camping trip without it was….. rough.
The tent had a few problems with the zipper when we first bought it, but Tepui’s customer service was amazing and fixed everything for free.
The condensation can be bad occasionally, which can be expected with any tent.”
Good quality tent, and I was willing to pay the price they offered it for on sale. Condensation mat and mattress are great.
Zippers are weak. I have to replace the zipper for the top cover after having used it maybe 10 times.”
5. Was there a long wait time when you ordered your tent?
Liz: “We ordered our tent from REI and the shipping time got mixed up, arriving a day later than we had hoped, which was a bummer as we were planning to use it that weekend, but we ended up just using it for the first time in our backyard for the night which was great fun. Overall shipping time was under a week.”
Karina: “There was no wait time, we ordered our tent from REI and it was ready to pick up within a week. We ended up having REI hold it for another week because we hadn’t purchased our truck yet.”
Matt: “There wasn’t a long wait time, they had a list on their website of what was available and I was able to get the one I had picked out.”
6. Do you have any other relevant details or advice you’d like to share?
Liz: “Get out there and adventure together! We love that we can all pack in together for a quick night’s sleep, or that we can spread out and also sleep in the cabin of the car below, or in another ground tent, depending on our needs for different trips.
We are planning on doing a 10 day road trip from NC to the Florida Keys in April sleeping in our Tepui tent the whole way, stay tuned for how it goes! Pro tip: Don’t allow your kids to eat pretzels in the tent.”
Karina: “Roof Top Tents have changed the camping game for us and the Tepui has been a great first tent. I recommend this tent to anyone!”
Matt: Tear-down is time consuming, relatively speaking. After folding the floor over on itself the tent material usually doesn’t fold back down properly, forcing you to have to go around and shove the material back in. Easier said than done when your tent is mounted on the back of your truck.”
Bottom Line: Are Tepui Tents Worth The Investment?
While Tepui tents are some of the more expensive RTTs on the market, my overall impression is that they are generally worth the price. While Matt strongly prefers iKamper RTTs, Liz and Karina are quite happy with their Tepui tents. However, neither of them have owned other RTTs for comparison.
But, based on the overall popularity of Tepui tents, it’s safe to say that they are industry leaders and will continue to improve and hone their RTTs to perfection for many years to come.
Featured image (top of post): Karina @lunacy___
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Cat is originally from Seattle, WA but has traveled around the US and Canada full-time in a self-converted school bus with her boyfriend Aaron since April of 2018. She enjoys rock climbing, paddleboarding, hiking, and generally being outdoors!