Half-width Tepui roof-top tent leaves room for bikes or boards
Tailgate, roof, hitch – a vehicle has a lot of cargo-hauling capacity, but capacity eventually runs out, especially once you start loading large items like roof-top tents (RTTs), kayaks, trailers and bike racks. Thule is attempting to ease the burden, splitting the roof-top tent in half so that the remaining half of the roof can be used to carry a bike or other long cargo. And, of course, Thule would be more than happy to help fill that leftover roof space with various mounts, racks or cargo boxes.
Even before it was purchased by leading vehicle rack brand Thule, Tepui was pushing its tents to be more cargo-friendly. The original White Lightning had the ability to hold bikes and gear on its roof, even when popped open for camping, and doubled as a cargo box with the tent fabric removed. That model paved the way for the current Thule Tepui HyBox, which loses the roof rails but still doubles as a low-profile cargo box.
Now under Thule's ownership, Tepui tents have more reason than ever to be built with cargo in mind. Thule has reworked the dimensions on the all-new Tepui Foothill so the tent measures just 24 in (61 cm) wide when folded down, just over half the 42-plus-inch (107-plus-cm) width of Tepui's other two-person RTTs, the Explorer Ayer and Low-Pro.
Thule stretches the Foothill so it has a fixed length of 83 in (211 cm) running front to back over the car roof, whereas the other Tepui two-person roof tents have a fixed front-to-back length of only 48-plus inches (122-plus cm) and rely on the folding action to provide the necessary side-to-side length to stretch out and sleep in.
Resizing the RTT as Thule has done with the Foothill frees up a tiny amount of overall rooftop square footage but more importantly moves free space around in such a way that makes it useful for carrying long gear like a kayak, bicycles, surfboards or a rooftop cargo box. It basically leaves an entire half of the full-length roof open for such purposes, whereas wider roof-top tents limit drivers to a small cargo area behind or in front of the tent (as you can see in the hero image of this recent Front Runner article).
The Foothill travels small, but it folds out into a proper two-person RTT that has a foam-mattress-filled floor area of 83 x 47 in (211 x 119 cm). That's a touch smaller than the 84 x 50-in (213 x 127-cm) floor of the Tepui Low-Pro 2 or 84 x 48-in (213 x 142-cm) floor of the Tepui Explorer Ayer 2, but certainly not a huge penalty for those looking to benefit from the roof-space-saving advantage the Foothill brings. The Foothill stands 40 in (102 cm) above the crossbars when pitched and 9.5 in (24 cm) when packed.
The 110-lb (50-kg) Foothill tent has an integrated telescoping frame designed for easy single-person set-up. The tent design is focused on breathability and views, with large windows, dual skylights and a wide entry. A rainfly delivers weather protection to keep things dry inside.
Thule announced the Tepui Foothill this week and will be launching it in February 2021 for US$1,700.