Discovering The TepuiKukenam 3 Rooftop Ten

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There are many brands, shapes and sizes of rooftop tents. REI happened to be having a 20 percent off sale, so I pulled the trigger on the Tepui Kukenam 3 Rooftop Tent. The standard model Kukenam 3 is about $1400 depending on where you make your purchase. I spent an additional $600 on the ruggedized version. The Kukenam 3 Ruggedized model has beefier components all the way around, including a heavy-duty internal frame, diamond plate base and 360g dual stitched tent fabric. I figured if I we were going to travel across the country, I wanted it to stand up to a little abuse.

If you haven’t seen a rooftop tent in action, they are quite the contraption. They mount to a vehicle’s luggage rack crossbars or roof rack. When you’re ready to camp, unzip the rain cover, unfold the tent using the telescoping ladder, and presto – instant tent. After a little practice, we could be resting peacefully within 15 minutes. Our sleeping bags and pillows remained inside the tent while traveling, thus saving space.

Rooftop Tent Size Matters

My Tepui has a footprint of approximately 56″W x 48″L x 12″H when folded up. When deployed, it’s about 56″W x 96L” x 52″H. I use the word “deployed” because that’s the best way to describe setup. The sleeping footprint is 56″W x 96L“. As comparison, a queen bed is 60″w x 80″L. The complete specs are here.

Surprisingly, there was plenty of interior space for both my daughter and I to stretch out. And the 96″ length made it easy for us to stow two duffel bags, a few books and my laptop bag in the extra space behind our heads. Our Tepui has small mesh pockets sewn in vertically on the inside walls. We used the pockets to stash our phones, flashlights, charge cables and flip flops. Also, they made for a handy place to keep the bear spay within reach.

Rooftop Means Better Venitlation

I tent camped a lot as a kid, and our rooftop unit, at least the Tepui‌ model that I own, sure beats the hell out of sleeping on the ground. Rooftops keep you out of the mud and have much better ventilation than traditional on-the-ground tents. Since they are, well, on your roof and off the ground which logically provides better airflow.

My specific model has a rain awning/cover that can be removed which opens up the tent ceiling for an unobstructed view of the stars. All sides, including the roof, have well made screens to keep the insects outside. There is absolutely nothing worse than a horsefly or mosquito buzzing around your nose when you are trying to sleep.

Dry and Comfortable

In addition to the ceiling, there are four windows each with a small awning to keep the rain out when the windows are open for ventilation. We were able to test the awnings and rain cover in, of all places, San Diego. If you camp with or near me, you will get wet – that I can promise. Rain clouds follow me around like they are attached by a very long rope. With the glued seams of our upgraded model, we stayed dry even after a heavy, all night Southern California downpour.

I was really amazed at how well I slept in our rooftop Tepui. Let’s see, fresh mountain air or stale tourist hotel room AC. During our trip, we experienced night time temperatures of 40 at elevation and highs into the low 80s‌ in the desert. We adjusted the zip-open windows accordingly and slept well on the 3 inch foam memory mattress that comes standard with the ruggedized version. continue reading on next page