Roof-top tent greets changing seasons with changing fabric
Tepui is on a mission to get people up off the ground and sleeping on top of their cars and trucks. Since its founding in 2010, the company has been busy expanding not only its own lineup but the footprint of the roof-top tent market. Its latest product line should only help. The light, versatile Baja Series provides three interchangeable fabric options, giving campers year-round comfort.
The first time I came across a roof-top tent a few years ago, I thought, "What is that amazing, new contraption and where in the world do I get one?" Upon looking into it, I came to the realization that roof-top tents had been around for ages, at least since the 1930s, just not so much in the general tent market I was used to shopping and covering at events like Outdoor Retailer. They are used in other outdoor enclaves, like overland and 4x4, where they're about as common as big, grippy tires.
Tepui has been trying to bridge that awareness and market gap, pushing roof-top tents to the large, passionate community of hikers, mountain bikers, paddlers, auto-touring nomads, and car campers who have always thought real tent camping could only be done on the ground in a shock-cord-poled dome. Not only has it been attending Outdoor Retailer for the past couple years, but this past spring it was successful in getting its tents into major gear retailers like REI, Backcountry and Cabela's.
And it's not alone. Other roof-top tent companies, like James Baroud and Freespirit Recreation, displayed their wares at this summer's Outdoor Retailer, and vehicle roof rack staple Yakima introduced a roof tent of its own.
A few weeks ago, Tepui made yet another overture to the mainstream outdoorsy crowd, Kickstarting the White Lightning, a tent designed to accommodate the likes of bikers and skiers with a shell built to transport gear on the roof. One of the features it introduced on that model was interchangeable tent fabric, which allows the tent to transform from breezy summer screen room to warm, reflective winter cabin. So the tent is good for everything from hopping between ski resorts and chasing powder to touring national parks and chasing waves.
Clamshell tents have both pros and cons, though, and one of the cons is that, short of a clever expansion system like the one on the Hardtop One, they offer limited floor space.
For campers that want the versatility of interchangeable fabric in larger fold-out roof tent form, Tepui has introduced the Baja Series hot on the heels of the White Lightning. The new series features a new attachment system for securing the three available tent fabrics. In place of the hook-n-loops (Velcro) on the White Lightning prototype, the Baja uses what Tepui's dubbed Zipper Gimp ... a goofy name for what looks like a good ol', basic zipper around the base of the tent.
After unzipping it, you just pull the fabric off the frame and replace it with one of the others. The three fabrics are a shaded mesh canopy with modified rainfly for hot, humid weather, a nylon ripstop for moderate spring/fall weather, and a heavy, reflective canopy for winter.
Tepui also says that the Baja Series tents are its lightest to date. The pictured tent appears to have a smaller footprint when closed than other roof-top tents, leaving about a quarter of that 4Runner roof open for carrying other gear, but the dimensions are the same as Tepui's current models, so that's all about the extended width of the rack below.
Tepui introduced the Baja Series at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market last week and seems to feel good about the feedback it got. It will offer the tents in two-, three- and four-person sizes. We've reached out to request pricing and availability information, and will update if/when we hear back.