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    Thread: Roof Top Tents

    1. Learning New Things Every Day. GreenandChrome's Avatar
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      06-13-2018 04:19 PM #1
      Anyone have one?

      My wife is open to getting one of these before we get a travel trailer. Which I don't mind, knowing how easy these are to setup and take down. Plus I won't have the stress of a TT for a few more years.

      Pros? Cons?

      Last edited by GreenandChrome; 06-15-2018 at 04:02 PM.
      "Excluding the possibility that a female Scandinavian Olympian was running around outside our house last night, what else might be a possibility?"
      If someone you know is afflicted with Dunning-Kruger, please help. #knowthecure
      @mbull | instagram #imhardlyeverserious
      __________________________________________ #srtallthethings

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    3. Learning New Things Every Day. GreenandChrome's Avatar
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      06-18-2018 07:06 PM #2
      Also going to build something like this vvvv this fall/winter, if it all goes according to plan:



      As some of you know, the wife & I go camping out in bear country a lot. While we'd love to get a travel trailer, we don't have a place to store it (HOA, boo) without paying. Local rates are not as favorable as it once was. We'd be better off renting a TT instead the few weeks we'd use. Also, I have enough on my plate without dealing with the maintenance of a TT. Plus, it's not nearly as heavy as a TT, so MPGs won't be cut in half.

      Something like this, though, would be doable. Buying a pre-built one is at least $6k, not including the tent, and of course shipping. Six thousand dollars. And some come in pieces, so you have to assemble it yourself! I priced the main components to build something like this, except the steel. Under $1000. Adding bonus features like a solar power system, H20 on-demand heater, and space heater (no CO2 poisoning) would put the expense at under $2k. AND I can store it in my garage.
      Last edited by GreenandChrome; 08-02-2018 at 02:17 PM.
      "Excluding the possibility that a female Scandinavian Olympian was running around outside our house last night, what else might be a possibility?"
      If someone you know is afflicted with Dunning-Kruger, please help. #knowthecure
      @mbull | instagram #imhardlyeverserious
      __________________________________________ #srtallthethings

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      07-03-2018 04:14 PM #3
      Cons: Not inexpensive, not sure about exceeding your roof weight capacity. Eats up mpg while attached to the roof.

      Pro: Can be set up for ladder to be rear extended (1 parking spot) or side (2 parking spots). Usually come with a thick enough memory foam mattress. No need to set up a separate tent, mattress, etc.
      Quote Originally Posted by Jezza
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    6. Learning New Things Every Day. GreenandChrome's Avatar
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      08-02-2018 02:19 PM #4
      Well, we did end up purchasing one. I wrote up a little piece on ExPo about the installation:

      We bought a Tepui Autana 3 a few weeks ago and installed it this weekend. This is our first RTT after, like most people, sleeping like plebians on dirt most of our lives in tents (sarcasm). I'm excited to use a RTT for a whole myriad of reasons, like most of you have already shared. I read up on the Tepui here and a few other places, so I kinda knew what I was getting into. But really, there was some info that was missed. But overall, I think online user help was very good.

      In case someone asks, "why a Tepui?" Well, because of this place. Price was a consideration, but I wasn't going to go the real cheap route. That eliminated Smittybilt, and it's less-than-stellar reputation on here. I wasn't a fan of the Yakima tent, either (plus I'm a Thule fanboy lol). It was down to Tepui or CVT. CVTs were heavier, iirc. Also, they do not have a customer service approach like I see and hear from Tepui. Also, Tepuifest.

      I'd like to share my initial experience with our tent, so others can learn as well.

      Deets:
      Tent: Tepui Explorer Autana 3
      Rig: '12 Ford Expedition EL
      Rack: Stock roof rack & rails (capable of 200# dynamic)

      tl;dr: Mount on a roof rack system, not a stock system because of tight reach spots. Some things take practice. Go thru opening/closing the tent. Tepui instructions aren't the greatest. Get spare hardware, just in case. Overall, I give it a 7/10 experience. Definitely room for improvement, but not totally an unpleasant experience.

      1. Getting the tent
      We bought the tent from REI (on REI card, dividends galore!). Some slight misinformation between parties, my wife thought REI would help install it. They only help load the tent in/on vehicle. I doubted they would help install, so I was not surprised when they said no, they'll only help load.

      2. Unloading and prepping the tent for install
      I was able to unload the tent by myself. Shipping weight of 150# isn't that bad when you have leverage. Unboxed the tent on the garage floor (a table would be better). You unbuckle the straps and open the tent just enough to pull out all the parts and pieces. Hardware, rails, bag, stakes, cover, annex, and annex tub are all inside the tent.

      The first thing is to pull the plastic protective film on the base. The first actual work is to install the base rails on the tent base that will mount to the roof rails/rack. This is pretty easy. 4 bolts that go from the inside of the tent, through the base, into a nut that's in a enclosed channel in the base rail. It's nice that you only need to use 1 wrench at a time.

      To make it easy to lift and maneuver, I removed the mattress pad. Without the awning and pad, the basic tent is relatively light. Easily managed with two people. At this point, I diverge from the steps Tepui supplies (which, honestly, really need work).

      3. Installing the tent - aka, Getting it on the roof
      My wife and I took the tent onto our front patio, which is about 2.5' above our driveway. I backed the truck next to it so we didn't have to lift the tent very high or climb on ladders. This was because my wife has a vestibular disorder and gets vestibular migraines, which drastically affects her balance. Safety first, last, and always, right?

      With the tent on the roof, I adjusted the roof crossbars and placed the tent in the best place; for me I wanted most of the tent above and in front of the rear axle. The problem with going too far forward would be the installation of the rear clamps (more on these later).

      Fitment- On a stock Ford Expedition roof rack, the tent *just* fits on the crossbars inside of the plastic edge pieces. The crossbars fit into this mounting sleeve/collar, I guess you'd call it, that mounts into the rails. The sleeve/collar takes about 2" off the crossbar on each side, so we were able to place the tent right between those sleeves/collars. The tent opens over the side, so we can still get in the back of the truck through the liftgate. It also did not require cutting the mounting rails. Which that might be a possibility for some, depending upon which method you use and which direction you want the tent to open, and I don't remember reading about that possibility.

      4. Tying it all down
      If anyone has a stock Ford Expedition roof rack, do not think you should use this rack. Go buy a roof rack system from Thule/Rhino/Yakima. Why? The Ford rack sits too low for quick clamping. You can't get to the bolts from the sides, only front and back. Even then, it's a super PITA. My wife did most of the ratcheting because her smaller hands. Protip: Install the inner bolts (from the center of the tent) with the clamping plate on the bolt with the nylock nut and roughly 3/4" - 1" threads showing. Then install the outer bolts. It'll be much easier when it's either a tight fit or a long reach - or both, in our case.

      Install issue- Our tent somehow got up on the shoulder of the sleeve/collar. When I shifted the tent back onto the cross rail, the nut somehow skipped half a thread. It started to strip out the inside of the channel piece. So we had to take it out and try to get it off (it wouldn't). Cut the bolt in half, went to the hardware store and picked up a replacement bolt, lock washer, and nut. Of course they were out of nylocks, and they don't sell individual pieces. But I have spares! I think Tepui should include a spare or two of the little mounting plates the bolts go in; they can be easy to strip if you're not careful. Steel > aluminum.

      An improved clamping method would be very much appreciated for low-clearance and/or long reach installations.

      5. Finishing touches

      While my wife bolted down the tent, I installed the ladder. Pretty straightforward. You do not need to install it before you put it on the roof (it's just another 15-20 pounds you don't need to lift). Look at the pictures for the correct order of bolt-mount-plastic washer-ladder-washer-nut. While the hardware comes pre-attached for all the pieces, that does not mean the order as assembled out of the box is correct.

      6. Practicing with the tent
      We pulled the truck to a level-ish spot and opened the tent. It takes a little effort to get the hinge piece all the way in, at least in our non-flat area. The Autana, with the covered entry, has a nifty aluminum U-shaped tube that slides into some plastic mounts and that angles upward at about 45-degrees. This isn't included in the instructions. There are no velcro straps or pockets for this tube to mount to on the tent, it just kinda sits there. The bottom of the tent just kinda flaps there, unless the annex is installed.

      The rods to hold the flaps and rainfly out were pretty easy to install, from either the ground or from within the tent. Lots of zippers and stuff inside to play with for your optimum ventilation/closure. After removing the protective plastic film, we threw the pad back in and velcro'd it back in place (nice touch).

      My wife is sensitive to smells, so we let the tent air out overnight. Not a bad idea to do, even I could smell the plastic/foam/canvas. The next afternoon we put a sleeping bag up there and began to close it up.

      7. Closing up the tent
      The ladder is an awkward mess. For us, because the truck is so tall, about half of the ladder has to be extended to get the leverage to close it. Then you have to go on the other side of the truck, climb up and collapse the ladder the rest of the way. There's also a strap that holds the ladder to the tent base. This is a good idea, but Tepui did not apply sound logic here. To clasp the snap buckle, you have to be able to reach to the middle of the tent. Not that easy to do. It would be a whole lot better if the buckle was shifted all the way to either end.

      Stuffing the tent inside the base was pretty easy to do. The cover was very easy to install; I had it sitting in the hot sun while we closed the tent up. Basically, on the hinge side of the tent, there is a curved channel that one side of the cover slides into. This way you never have to completely remove the cover, and it never gets lost. Then you connect the zipper and go around the base. The zipper was very smooth and I did the trick of keeping a finger inside the zipper as I went, to prevent catching a piece of tent.

      After the cover is zipped, I threw the cover straps over the tent, and we buckled them, and connected the "hook & loop" portions. All done. Pretty easy, once you get some practice with it.

      8. Thoughts
      We have a little step stool that I'll probably bring for backup. We have a hitch step and a step bumper which helps on the back. I'm ordering a step that goes over the wheel, too. That should make it easier to put the tent away.

      Get a fan for inside the tent. We left the rainfly on, mesh up, windows down. A ~90-degree day and the inside was pretty toasty. Opening the mesh windows made a huge difference in airflow. Having a fan inside should make a big difference. I know many have suggested this as well as interior lights.

      We have a 4" foam mattress topper we thought about throwing in, instead of the stock Tepui one. The problem is the notches around the frame mounts. I'm sure it wouldn't affect the tent, but I'm sure the mattress would lose against aluminum. We don't really need to tear up a mattress; besides, the stock one seems firm enough. I'm pretty sure the 4" mattress would fit when folded up, too. Maybe not with bedding.

      We're going to get some non-slip tape for the ladder rungs. Just for that little extra grip.

      When I take this off (I'm planning on building a trailer for this), I'll do everything I did to make it lighter to install. Then I'll just unscrew the tent base from the mounting rails and remove the tent. Then I'll unbolt the mounting rails from the roof rack. It'll be much easier that way.
      "Excluding the possibility that a female Scandinavian Olympian was running around outside our house last night, what else might be a possibility?"
      If someone you know is afflicted with Dunning-Kruger, please help. #knowthecure
      @mbull | instagram #imhardlyeverserious
      __________________________________________ #srtallthethings

    7. Learning New Things Every Day. GreenandChrome's Avatar
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      08-24-2018 01:46 PM #5


      So here's the recap of usage from our vacation.

      1. It's pretty darn easy to set it up. Would be really easy on a smaller rig. I can make do with a hitch step and a step that fits over the wheel. We got a wheel step, but it doesn't fit our tires. I'll have to modify it if there's not a larger one available.
      2. Remember to bring everything with you, otherwise you're going up and down.
      3. Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Wasn't a big issue. Only once did I need to go, and it was 4am and cold.
      4. Need to get a bag to hang off the side for shoes.
      5. Didn't use the vestibule because we were setting up and tearing down daily. One more hassle.
      6. Got windy one night, 20-30mph gusts. I staked the ladder side down. The wind blew the rain fly up, which pulled one of the support bars out of the pocket. Somewhat annoying.
      7. Forgot to use the fan we bought especially for this tent. Would have been useful the night it was windy, because it was muggy as hell, and hot.
      8. The mesh windows block a lot of airflow.
      9. A battery-powered LED light rope or small lights is highly useful inside. The thick canvas blocks a lot of light.
      10. Open the roof windows for best ventilation. Unless it's cold, don't have these closed.

      We got a pretty good system of setting up and tearing down.

      Setup:
      1. Open sunroof fully
      2. Insert trailer hitch step
      3. Unbuckle, unzip, and remove cover; me on 3 sides, wife on front side going through sunroof
      4. Unbuckle ladder strap and tent straps; wife on roof of truck (this is the one major issue- the snap buckle is in the middle of the tent, the almost-worst place possible.)
      5. Extend ladder and unfold tent
      6. Set up covered portion
      7. Wife goes up and in to layout sleeping bags (kept inside) and open windows and place the window fly bars (or whatever they're called)
      8. I grab stuff for inside the tent and put inside tent through either side window
      9. I climb in, zip up for the night (bathroom trip done prior)

      Teardown:
      1. Take out everything but sleeping bags, and put in truck; fold the sleeping bags on the over-roof part of the tent
      2. Remove window fly bars
      3. Open sunroof of truck
      4. Wife exits tent, I collapse and stuff the overhang back in the tent
      5. Fold up tent and collapse ladder
      6a. Wife goes through sunroof to stuff tent inside frame
      6b. I go around the tent to stuff the tent inside frame, strap tent down
      7. Throw the cover over the tent
      8a. Wife puts cover on her side, hooks up zipper and zips front
      8b. I put the cover on the back side, and zip the remaining 3 sides
      9. I throw over the two cover straps across, go to other side and strap everything down as wife exits and closes sunroof.
      10. Take out trailer step and put in back of truck (I only forgot once!)
      11. Drive away
      "Excluding the possibility that a female Scandinavian Olympian was running around outside our house last night, what else might be a possibility?"
      If someone you know is afflicted with Dunning-Kruger, please help. #knowthecure
      @mbull | instagram #imhardlyeverserious
      __________________________________________ #srtallthethings

    8. 06-22-2020 01:05 PM #6
      Thank you for sharing. I just wanted to stick out the tent this year.

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