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Thule Tepui Autana 3 Review

A versatile rooftop tent that offers maximum comfort no matter what Mother Nature decides to do
Thule Tepui Autana 3
Photo: Backcountry
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $2,300 List | $2,299.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Very comfortable, durable, has entrance awning, weather protection, included annex
Cons:  Longest conversion time (though not by much), side window awnings don't roll up, price
Manufacturer:   Thule Tepui
By Ross Patton ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 3, 2019
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 7
  • Space and Comfort - 30% 9
  • Durability - 25% 8
  • Ease of Conversion - 20% 7
  • Ease of Assembly and Installation - 15% 7
  • Cover Convenience - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Thule Tepui team members are no strangers to adventure. With their headquarters located near Santa Cruz, California, they are within a day's drive of most ecosystems in the United States. Having to consider desert heat, coastal fog, torrential rain, and the potential for a rogue snowstorm during research and design has shone through in their premiere fold-out rooftop tent, the Thule Tepui Autana 3. From small details like the quality of stitching to huge advantages like having the ladder protected from the rain, this tent is the best option for less than favorable weather, restoring your faith that you can head out no matter the conditions. At the same time, with large sky windows and a 2.5" foam mattress, it offers the highest level of comfort. The ladder is simple to use, and the cover is convenient so that you can spend more time enjoying the great outdoors and less time setting up camp.

The main drawback of the Autana is its high price tag. This category is expensive, and the Autana is on the higher end of the price range.

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Price $2,300 at REI
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Pros Very comfortable, durable, has entrance awning, weather protection, included annexDurable canopy, telescoping ladder, versatility, quick conversionRectangular design allows for more room on the rack, quick installation, durable canopyTool-free mounting system, locks to rack, lightWide/Sturdy ladder, boot bag, LED light strip, spacious
Cons Longest conversion time (though not by much), side window awnings don't roll up, priceNo entrance awning, no added extrasThin mattress, longer conversion time, Cordura cover may be less durableMounting system limited, large gap between tent and rackLadder may require drilling, Velcro cover not the most efficient cover system, heavy
Bottom Line A versatile rooftop tent that offers maximum comfort no matter what Mother Nature decides to doOur top recommendation for most people provides excellent quality and comfort across all four seasonsA rooftop tent that leaves lots of room on the rack for extra toysA quailty rooftop tent that doesn't require a handyman to installWith a durable design and many handy features, this model competes with the top models while costing significantly less
Rating Categories Thule Tepui Autana 3 Thule Tepui Kukenam 3 Thule Tepui Foothill Yakima SkyRise Medium Smittybilt Overlander
Space And Comfort (30%)
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Durability (25%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Ease Of Conversion (20%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Ease Of Assembly And Installation (15%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Cover Convenience (10%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Thule Tepui Autana 3 Thule Tepui Kukenam 3 Thule Tepui Foothill Yakima SkyRise Medium Smittybilt Overlander
Seasons 4 4 3 3 3
Weight (in lbs) 130 lbs 130 lbs 122 lbs 115 lbs 144 lbs
Max Inside Height 52 in 52 in 38 in 48 in 51 in
Pockets 4 4 2 4 5
Windows 3 side, 2 roof 3 side, 2 roof 3 side, 2 roof 3 side, 2 roof 3 side, 2 roof
Floor Dimension 56 in x 96 in 56 in x 96 in 87 in x 40 in 56 in x 96 in 56 in x 96 in
Floor Area 38 sq ft 38 sq ft 24 sq ft 38 sq ft 38 sq ft
Room Divider No No No No No
Vestibules Yes No No No No
Vestibule Area 26 in x 56 in n/a n/a n/a n/a
Packed Size 12 in x 48 in x 56 in 12 in x 48 in x 56 in 9.5 in x 24 in x 83 in 12 in x 48 in x 56 in 12 in x 48 in x 56 in
Floor Materials Aluminum Aluminum Welded aluminum Aluminum Aluminum
Main Tent Materials 420 D 420 D 600 D 210 D nylon 420 D
Rainfly Materials 600 D 600 D 600 D 600 D 600 D
Number of Poles 6 8 6 8 8
Pole Material Aluminum/spring steel Aluminum/spring steel Aluminum/spring steel Aluminum/spring steel Aluminum/spring steel
Pole Diameter 1/4 in 1/4 in 1/4 in 1/4 in 1/4 in
Design type Fold-out Fold-out Fold-out Fold-out Fold-out
Extras Awning over ladder n/a Double level pockets, loop inside for hanging lights and gear Locks, quick release, clear sky windows in rain fly Interior LED, extension cords, boot bag

Our Analysis and Test Results

When it comes to fold-out style rooftop tents, the Autana 3 is king. While staying on par with the other tents we tested in every metric, it outperforms the competition in the aspects that we deem to be the most important.

Performance Comparison


Photo: Ross Patton

Space and Comfort


Where the Autana 3 truly shines is space and comfort. The foam mattress is so nice that it will have you feeling like you woke up in your bedroom. The maximum internal height in the Autana is 52" which leaves lots of space to relax. With the rainfly removed, the top of the canopy nearly completely opens to the sky with two large windows that have mosquito screens that unzip and roll up. With all of the windows open you truly do feel like you're sleeping in the stars. To us, other aspects of comfort are privacy and peace of mind. The entrance awning adds both as it blocks out other campers and also keeps your ladder dry during storms.


The Autana 3 also has an included annex. Once your tent is converted to camping mode, the annex is hung from the bottom of the tent floor. This essentially adds an entire extra room to the tent which can be used to change clothes, store extra gear, or hang out. It has the main door, two side windows with bug screens, and a rear door to access your vehicle from inside the tent. Most other products in our review do offer annexes as an additional purchase, but because none of them have the extended entrance awning, the annexes are smaller than the Autana 3 version. With the other annex type, the ladder is outside which means it's exposed to the elements and you have to go outside of the annex to go up to the sleeping quarters of the tent.

The Autana offers the most space, privacy, and protection from the...
The Autana offers the most space, privacy, and protection from the weather, but when the sun comes out it easily converts to open air.
Photo: Ross Patton

One thing to consider is that the side window awnings on the Autana 3 are part of the main canopy as opposed to the rainfly like the Front Runner and the Yakima Skyrise so they can not be removed or rolled up. Without the rainfly on, the Featherlite and Skyrise have unobstructed views out of the side windows; so if 360-degree views are on your list of make-it-or-break-it features, you should consider one of those models.

The annex that comes included with the Autana 3 adds a lot of extra...
The annex that comes included with the Autana 3 adds a lot of extra living space as well as keeps your ladder completely dry from any rain.
Photo: Ross Patton

Durability


Depending on your application, durability can be a very important factor. After converting the Autana 3 from camping mode to travel mode more than 25 times and sleeping in it for several nights, this tent shows no signs of wear and tear. This comes as no surprise as the canopy is made out of 600D ripstop. With a canopy this beefy, tears and creases are not very likely. On that note, this material will easily keep you dry in a light storm without the rainfly attached. Although the ladder is telescoping style, it is exceptionally sturdy. Telescoping ladders also offer the most amount of options for height — if the ground is slightly uneven, you can adjust the ladder height accordingly. That way you aren't ever putting stress on the ladder or the tent floor by having your ladder too steep or not steep enough.


Added durability usually means added weight, which seems to be the case with the Autana. For some people, durability may not be quite as important. If you're only going to use your tent on occasion and you're very kind to your gear, then a canopy tent that weighs less may be a better option. Also, with an increase in canopy durability likely means it will be less breathable, as thicker fabrics tend to lend longevity but lack breathability.

The 600D ripstop canopy material on the Autana 3 shows no signs of...
The 600D ripstop canopy material on the Autana 3 shows no signs of creasing or weakening after dozens of conversions.
Photo: Sarah Cote

These products pack a hefty price already, so we think it should last you many, many seasons of recreating. And we believe the Autana is one of, if not the, most durable model among our test group.

Ease of Conversion


All of the rooftop tents in our review take about the same time to convert to camping mode. The Autana 3 does take an extra minute or so because of the awning over the ladder, which all of the other models in our test lack. In times of high wind, the awning will also need to be anchored to the ground with included ropes and stakes (or attaching to heavy objects). However, when converting back to travel mode, Thule Tepui is ahead of the game. Their telescoping ladder system has integrated buttons on the bottom of each rung of the ladder that self-release as the ladder is closed. This means that you're only having to push two buttons to put the ladder away which makes getting back on the road painless. While this may sound small, our testers found this to be a significant bonus.


The only tent that scores higher in this metric is the Autana's cousin the Thule Tepui Kukenham 3. With the identical ladder, but without an entrance awning, the Kukenham requires a little less time to convert. The Skyrise also has a telescoping ladder, but it lacks the self-release system of the two aforementioned models.

The Tepui ladder has a button release system that allows each ladder...
The Tepui ladder has a button release system that allows each ladder step to release the step above it as the ladder collapses.
Photo: Ross Patton

Ease of Assembly and Installation


The Autana is relatively easy to mount and remove from a vehicle using the included wrenches. The 13mm ratcheting wrench helps you install the tent on your rack more efficiently than a normal wrench.


Also, at 130 lbs, the Autana 3 isn't the lightest rooftop tent that we tested. If you plan on removing your tent from your vehicle often, then a lighter tent may be a better choice.

The included ratcheting wrench makes installation or removal of the...
The included ratcheting wrench makes installation or removal of the tent quick and easy.
Photo: Ross Patton

Cover Convenience


The Autana 3 cover is one of the easiest to use. There are two straps that close around D rings with Velcro that take a matter of seconds to open and close. Once the straps are off, there is a beefy zipper that easily unzips around three sides of the cover. One great feature on the Tepui models is that the D ring side of the straps double as straps to roll the cover up when it is not in use while still keeping it attached so that you can access your vehicle or truck bed while you're camping.


When it's time to put the cover back on, the zipper system on the main closure is faster and easier than models which use Velcro as their main closure. It's also very fast to throw the straps over the tent and attach them to the D rings without climbing on your vehicle. Big convenience points there.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Best Applications


The Autana 3 is the right tent for a couple or a family of three that likes to get a lot of use out of their tent. This tent will perform well in any condition, and it's not going to easily break down over time. It's comfortable, it's spacious, and it does offer exceptional privacy. Its durability and protection make it one of the most versatile options out there.

The extended awning over the entrance on the Autana protects the...
The extended awning over the entrance on the Autana protects the ladder from the weather as well as provides extra privacy.
Photo: Ross Patton

Value


The Autana 3 is the most expensive model in our review. For many people, the added features and performance may not be worth the high price. If you don't care about the entrance awning and you don't think you'll be running into foul weather, then it makes sense to go with something cheaper. You'll get the most value out of this model if you use it often. If you want more occasional use, you might want to save some cash and go with a less expensive model.

Conclusion


Between the durability, the comfort, the privacy, the versatility, and overall execution, the Thule Tepui Autana 3 is an easy choice to win our admiration. Whether you're in a crowded campground or in the middle of nowhere, whether you're in a low elevation dry desert or in a high alpine meadow getting dumped on, this quality rooftop tent does it all with complete, luxurious protection.

Rooftop luxury, provided by Tepui.
Rooftop luxury, provided by Tepui.
Photo: Ross Patton

Ross Patton