Thule Tepui Foothill Review
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Thule Tepui Foothill
|Price||$2,000 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Rectangular design allows for more room on the rack, quick installation, durable canopy||Very comfortable, durable, has entrance awning, great weather protection, included annex||Durable canopy, telescoping ladder, versatile, quick conversion||Light, more affordable, breathable||Wide and sturdy ladder, boot bag, LED light strip, spacious|
|Cons||Thin mattress, longer conversion time, Cordura cover may be less durable||Longest conversion time (though not by much), side window awnings don't roll up, pricey||No entrance awning, no added extras||Questionable durability, bulky for a two-person model||Ladder may require drilling, velcro cover not the most efficient cover system, heavy|
|Bottom Line||A rooftop tent that leaves lots of room on the rack for extra toys||A versatile rooftop tent that offers maximum comfort no matter what Mother Nature decides to do||Our top soft-top recommendation for most people provides excellent quality and comfort across all four seasons||A decent two-person rooftop tent with a breathable canopy great for warmer nights||With a durable design and many handy features, this model competes with the top models while costing significantly less|
|Rating Categories||Thule Tepui Foothill||Thule Tepui Autana 3||Thule Tepui Kukenam 3||Thule Tepui Explore...||Smittybilt Overlander|
|Space and Comfort (30%)|
|Ease of Conversion (20%)|
|Ease of Assembly and Installation (15%)|
|Cover Convenience (10%)|
|Specs||Thule Tepui Foothill||Thule Tepui Autana 3||Thule Tepui Kukenam 3||Thule Tepui Explore...||Smittybilt Overlander|
|Weight||122 lbs||130 lbs||130 lbs||106 lbs||144 lbs|
|Max Inside Height||38 in||52 in||52 in||38 in||51 in|
|Windows||3 side, 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof|
|Floor Dimensions||87 in x 40 in||56 in x 96 in||56 in x 96 in||84 in x 48 in||56 in x 96 in|
|Floor Area||24 sq ft||38 sq ft||38 sq ft||28 sq ft||38 sq ft|
|Vestibule Area Dimensions||n/a||26 in x 56 in||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Packed Size||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||11 in x 42 in x 48 in||12 in x 48 in x 56 in|
|Floor Materials||Welded aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum|
|Main Tent Materials||600 D||420 D||420 D||260g polyester cotton||420 D|
|Rainfly Materials||600 D||600 D||600 D||600 D||600 D|
|Number of Poles||6||6||8||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|
|Extras||Double level pockets, loop inside for hanging lights and gear||Awning over ladder, 2.5" foam mattress||Memory foam mattress||Memory foam mattress||Interior LED, extension cords, boot bag|
Our Analysis and Test Results
For those that want the luxury and comfort of sleeping in a rooftop tent but don't want to sacrifice the entire space on their rack, the Thule Tepui Foothill is the best option. While most rooftop tents take up the entire horizontal width of your crossbars, this model is longer and skinnier, offering a full-length mattress while leaving plenty of room next to the tent for additional gear.
Space and Comfort
Despite its slim construction, the Foothill has an A-frame shape with a maximum inner height of 38 inches. Our team found there to be plenty of room for two people to move around comfortably. However, with the door on the side rather than the end of the tent, it's either squish or be squished if the person furthest from the door wants to exit the tent first. Although the mattress isn't quite as thick as some of the other models, we found it to be much more comfortable than a typical camping mattress or backpacking sleeping pad.
The Foothill offers phenomenal views. The two roof panels open lengthwise, so there is no obstruction other than the center support — giving you a great chance of catching the whole show during those meteor showers. In addition to the main door, the windows on the other three walls open completely, so you'll also have a great panoramic view of the surrounding landscape, provided that your bikes, kayaks, cargo boxes, or other toys aren't in the way. We awarded the Foothill extra points for space because, although the interior isn't exactly the roomiest, it frees up a ton of space on your rack, which can often be more important than sleeping space.
The last thing you want when you purchase a product that costs this much is to watch it fall apart. We put these tents through rigorous testing –- camping in each model for at least five nights and driving on rugged 4x4 roads to test the mounting system. While on our adventures, we converted each tent between travel and camping mode 25 times and also zipped and unzipped every door and window at least 25 times. If you're looking for a softshell rooftop tent with a durable canopy, the Foothill hits the mark.
The canopy on this model is made of the same material many tents use for their rain fly — 600D ripstop fabric with water ventilate coating. In many climates, this may completely eliminate the need for the added rainfly in most storms. The zippers all performed perfectly even after dozens of borderline violent pulls as part of our testing.
The only reason why we didn't give the Foothill a higher score for this metric is because the travel cover is made out of a Cordura fabric rather than the thicker rubber-like material that we've seen out of most of the other models that we've put through the wringer. Even after more than three years of use and thousands of highway miles on one particular model, we haven't seen any signs of damage on the rubber versions. Fabric, however, tends to flap in the wind and may eventually weather and tear over time — especially if you're doing a lot of high-speed interstate miles.
Ease of Conversion
The Foothill is not the easiest tent to convert from travel to camping mode and back. There are a couple of key steps that make it take a few minutes longer than most of the other tents. To maintain its slim profile while in travel mode, the three inner poles are telescoping on both ends and must be extended and collapsed during every conversion. This only adds maybe a minute to the process, but it is an extra step that many of the other tents in our review do not require.
The slim design does not allow for the standard Tepui ladder to be permanently fixed in place. In travel mode, the ladder sits on top of the tent lengthwise. When it's time to set the tent up, you have to attach it to the tent body using a couple of quick-release pins and then remove it when it's time to put the cover back on. This realistically only adds a minute or two to the setup time.
Ease of Assembly and Installation
Unlike the other soft-top rooftop tents in our review, the Tepui Foothill comes ready to slap on your rack right out of the box. While the other models require you to attach the mounting hardware underneath the mattress (which can often be complicated and require two people), the mounting rails come installed by the factory when you purchase this tent.
Pull the Foothill out of the box, grab a buddy to help you lift it onto your rack, then use the included ratcheting wrench to crank down a few nuts, and you're on your way to adventuring. While you're at it, you can install a bike rack, kayak rack, or a skinny cargo box and get it all done at once. The only reason why we didn't give this tent a higher score for this metric is that there are models that do not require tools once it's time to remove the tent for the off-season or to reinstall your tent once it's time to camp again.
It's very easy to get the Tepui Foothill cover off and put it back on. The more square-shaped tents require you to do a few laps around your vehicle to deal with the cover, whereas the Foothill can be dealt with from one side. Recognizing that sometimes you end up climbing all over your vehicle like a monkey to get the rubber square covers to squeeze everything in before they can be zipped up, we see this as a huge bonus.
Considering the versatility of the Thule Tepui Foothill, we believe it offers a great value. You'll get the comfort and convenience of a rooftop tent while leaving room on your rack for your other toys. For some folks, that versatility is priceless.
We absolutely love the Foothill. It is innovative, ready to install right out of the box, and one person can deal with removing or installing the cover with ease. If you want a rooftop tent but don't want to give up all of your roof rack space, this is the one.
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