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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 rooftop tent review
Credit: Backcountry
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $2,500 List | Check Price at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Very comfortable, durable, has entrance awning, great weather protection, included annex
Cons:  Longest conversion time (though not by much), side window awnings don't roll up, pricey
Manufacturer:   Thule Tepui
By Ross Patton ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 28, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 10
  • Space and Comfort - 30% 9.0
  • Durability - 25% 8.0
  • Ease of Conversion - 20% 7.0
  • Ease of Assembly and Installation - 15% 7.0
  • Cover Convenience - 10% 8.0

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 Explorer 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.

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thule tepui autana 3 rooftop tent review
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
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$3,195 List$1,499 at Backcountry
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$1,599 at Backcountry
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Pros Very comfortable, durable, has entrance awning, great weather protection, included annexEffortless conversion, no assembly, tons of cargo spaceDurable canopy, telescoping ladder, versatile, quick conversionRectangular design allows for more room on the rack, quick installation, durable canopyWide and sturdy ladder, boot bag, LED light strip, spacious
Cons Longest conversion time (though not by much), side window awnings don't roll up, priceyBig while in travel mode, expensiveNo entrance awning, no added extrasThin mattress, longer conversion time, Cordura cover may be less durableLadder 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 doA high-end hardshell rooftop tent that is comfy, spacious, and incredibly easy to install and set upOur top soft-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 toysWith a durable design and many handy features, this model competes with the top models while costing significantly less
Rating Categories Thule Tepui Autana 3 Roofnest Sparrow EYE Thule Tepui Kukenam 3 Thule Tepui Foothill Smittybilt Overlander
Space and Comfort (30%)
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Durability (25%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Ease of Conversion (20%)
7.0
10.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Ease of Assembly and Installation (15%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
Cover Convenience (10%)
8.0
10.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Thule Tepui Autana 3 Roofnest Sparrow EYE Thule Tepui Kukenam 3 Thule Tepui Foothill Smittybilt Overlander
Seasons 4 4 4 3 3
Weight 130 lbs 130 lbs 130 lbs 122 lbs 144 lbs
Max Inside Height 52 in 44 in 52 in 38 in 51 in
Pockets 4 1 detachable 4 2 5
Windows 3 side, 2 roof 2 side 3 side, 2 roof 3 side, 2 roof 3 side, 2 roof
Floor Dimensions 56 in x 96 in 83 in x 49 in 56 in x 96 in 87 in x 40 in 56 in x 96 in
Floor Area 38 sq ft 28 sq ft 38 sq ft 24 sq ft 38 sq ft
Room Divider No No No No No
Vestibules Yes No No No No
Vestibule Area Dimensions 26 in x 56 in n/a n/a n/a n/a
Packed Size 12 in x 48 in x 56 in 6 in x 50 in x 88 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
Floor Materials Aluminum Fiberglass-reinforced ASA/ABS Aluminum Welded aluminum Aluminum
Main Tent Materials 420 D Polyurethane-coated polyester and cotton blend 420 D 600 D 420 D
Rainfly Materials 600 D n/a 600 D 600 D 600 D
Number of Poles 6 2 8 6 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 Clamshell Fold-out Fold-out Fold-out
Extras Awning over ladder Matress, LED light, privacy tent, ground mat, anti-condensation mat n/a Double level pockets, loop inside for hanging lights and gear 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 softshell tents we tested in every metric, it outperforms the competition in the aspects that we deem to be the most important.

Performance Comparison


thule tepui autana 3 rooftop tent review - the autana is impressive across the board.
The Autana is impressive across the board.
Credit: Ross Patton

Space and Comfort


The Autana 3 truly shined during this portion of our evaluation. 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 inches, which leaves lots of space to relax. With the rainfly removed, the top of the canopy opens almost completely to the sky with two large windows with 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 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. We found it to be the perfect place for dogs to sleep, and you could even use it as an overflow room for more people to sleep. It has a main door, two side windows with bug screens, and a rear door to access your vehicle from inside the tent. Most other softshell models in our review 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 also outside, meaning 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.

thule tepui autana 3 rooftop tent review - 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.
Credit: 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, so they can not be removed or rolled up. Without the rainfly on, some other tents 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 looking to a model like the Yakima Skyrise Medium.

thule tepui autana 3 rooftop tent review - 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 and keeps your ladder completely dry from any rain.
Credit: 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 many nights, this tent showed 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. Additionally, although the ladder is a 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. This 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 occasionally and you're very kind to your gear, then a canopy tent that weighs less may be a better option. Also, an increase in canopy durability likely means it will be less breathable, as thicker fabrics tend to lend longevity but lack breathability.

thule tepui autana 3 rooftop tent review - 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.
Credit: Sarah Cote

Ease of Conversion


All of the softshell tents in our review take about the same time to convert to camping mode. The Autana 3 takes 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 attached to heavy objects).


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 that self-release as the ladder is closed. So you only have to push two buttons to put the ladder away, making getting back on the road painless. While this may sound small, our testers found this to be a significant bonus.

thule tepui autana 3 rooftop tent review - 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.
Credit: Ross Patton

Ease of Assembly and Installation


The Autana takes a bit of time to install the mounting tracks to the bottom of the tent. We found this process to be substantially easier with two people, so be sure to grab a friend before tackling this task. Once assembled, the Autana is relatively easy to mount and remove from a vehicle using the included wrenches.


Also, at 130 pounds, 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. Also, keep in mind that the annex does not fit inside the tent. It weighs 20 pounds on its own, and you'll need to find room for it in your vehicle.

thule tepui autana 3 rooftop tent review - the included ratcheting wrench makes installation or removal of the...
The included ratcheting wrench makes installation or removal of the tent quick and easy.
Credit: Ross Patton

Cover Convenience


Of the models with soft covers, 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, a beefy zipper easily unzips around three sides of the cover. One great feature of the Tepui models is that the D-ring side of the straps double as straps to roll up the cover 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.

The D rings on the Tepui cover straps are big and easy to use.
The D rings on the Tepui cover straps are big and easy to use.
The Tepui cover straps are also used to roll the cover up while...
The Tepui cover straps are also used to roll the cover up while you're camping so that you can still access your truck bed or car doors.

Value


This is the right tent for a couple or a family of three that plan to get a lot of use out of their tent. The Autana 3 is comfortable, spacious, and it offers exceptional privacy. Its durability and weather protection also makes it one of the most versatile options out there. But it isn't cheap, and the added features and performance may not be worth the high price for many people. If you don't care about the entrance awning and don't think you'll be running into foul weather, then it makes sense to go with something cheaper.

thule tepui autana 3 rooftop tent review - 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.
Credit: Ross Patton

Conclusion


Between the durability, comfort, privacy, versatility, and overall execution, the Thule Tepui Explorer Autana 3 is an easy choice to win our admiration. Whether you're in a crowded campground or in the middle of nowhere, 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.

thule tepui autana 3 rooftop tent review - rooftop luxury, provided by tepui.
Rooftop luxury, provided by Tepui.
Credit: Ross Patton

Ross Patton
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