Time needed ?: 90 minutes
Materials needed ?:
– Rooftop tent ([Buy] Tepui Kukenam Sky 3)
Tools needed ?:
– Socket wrench or ratcheting wrench
Rooftop tents have gained quite the popularity in the past few years. They allow people to camp off the beaten path where it would otherwise be harder to pitch a tent due to rocks or hard terrain, provide better warmth by being off of the ground, are safer in that you’re off-ground if wild animals may be present, and more. We’ll be writing a review about our Tepui tent where we’ll cover the pros and cons in more depth.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the steps to install the tent from store to your first trip.
- Pick up the tent from the store.
We purchased the tent at REI and so were able to pick it up just a day after ordering. The boxed tent fit snugly into the bed of our truck due to the presence of our SnugTop camper shell. It would have fit very easily without a camper shell, but if you have bed racks that sit low you may need to do some maneuvering. The other option is to have it shipped to your home and pay an extra $150-250 for the overweight shipping service.
- Unbox the tent.
We made sure to lay the cardboard box down to provide a soft surface for the tent to rest on as we assembled it. We didn’t want to scratch any of the surfaces of the tent.
- Remove the stairs and hardware from inside the tent.
The tent comes shipped with all of the parts you’ll need to assembled the tent stuffed into the tent. You’ll need to find the door, unzip it, and lift up the tent so you can get your arms in there to grab the stuff. The easiest thing to spot is the ladder but there’s also the tent cover and a box of hardware (mounting tracks, bolts, nuts, washers).
- Lay out the parts and make sure you have everything.
After you think you’ve grabbed everything from inside of the tent, the bed of the truck is a convenient place to lay it all out so that you can compare the parts list of the install instructions to what you have in front of you. Luckily, we had all of the parts and were good to go!
- Choose which way you want to orient your tent.
The first decision you need to make is whether you want your tent to extend to the side of your vehicle (perpendicular with the vehicle either towards the driver or passenger) or towards the rear of the vehicle (parallel with the vehicle extending over the tailgate). We chose to have the tent open towards the passenger side because we are also building sliding bed drawers that could possibly interfere with the ladder. If you choose perpendicular, you don’t need to do anything. If you choose parallel, you need to cut the mounting tracks shorter.
- Install the mounting tracks.
The bottom of the tent has pre-drilled holes for the tracks. You need to take the bolt with a washer, find the hole from the inside of the tent, place the nut into the groove of the track and line it up with the hole, and then finally tighten the bolt to secure the track. You need to do this for all 4 of the holes.
The image below shows one of the bolts threaded into the nut which is in the channel of the mounting track. There are 2 other bolts with their washers and corresponding nuts in the image.
- Tighten mounting tracks down.
Using your socket wrench, tighten the bolts securing the mounting tracks to the tent. This part of the assembly is 1 of the 2 steps that will keep your tent secured to your vehicle, so make sure nothing is loose. Don’t over tighten, of course.
- Flip over the tent.
Now that the mounting tracks have been added to the bottom of the tent, it’s time to flip it over so we can see the top of the tent. This is necessary for the next steps.
- Install ladder brackets.
This step is pretty straight-forward. Similar to the above, from the inside of the tent secure the ladder brackets to the frame of the tent where there are pre-drilled holes. Every now and then, we had to orient ourselves to make sure we were putting parts on the correct side such that they’d be fit for a passenger-side opening tent.
- Secure the ladder.
Another straight-forward step, but we wound up mounting it backwards (as seen in the image). It still functions entirely fine, with the exception of the velcro straps being backwards and annoying to secure or undo. We’ll re-mount it to be correct soon, but didn’t notice until our first trip with it!
- Zip on the tent cover.
The tent cover helps protect the tent from the elements while you’re driving and also, I suspect, gives an extra layer of security so that it doesn’t pop open. Like with all zippers, they can be annoying to get started. But once you’re on the zipper track, it’s a pretty heavy duty zipper and goes on easily.
- Take a breath and get ready to LIFT!
At this point, it’s time to get the tent onto the vehicle. We have Yakima crossbars, but these tents work with a variety of different rack systems. Before lifting, you should make sure you know which way the tent needs to go such that it will open the right way. Once you’re aligned, bend your knees, tighten your core, and lift! This would probably work best with 4 people since the tent is 120+ pounds and you need to lift it high, but it’s definitely doable with 2 people.
- Line tent up with your rack and slide on brackets.
Once the tent is on the rack, you need to align it such that when you slide on the brackets into the channel of the mounting tracks they’re both on different sides of the cross bar and also clearing the Yakima rack frame. You’ll need to slide 8 brackets into the channel of the tracks in total.
- Secure tent brackets to rack.
Once the brackets are slid in to the mounting tracks, now you just need to tighten the bolts with the provided nuts! There are 8 bolts in total to secure. You want to tighten enough that the tent won’t move, but not so tight that the metal bends and becomes fragile. In step 7 I mentioned there were two steps to stop the tent from falling off the vehicle, this is the second one!
- Pop open tent.
You don’t really need to do this, but I don’t know how you could avoid the curiosity! Pop open the tent and see how it looks on the inside, if you want.
Phew! At this point you’re probably 1-2 hours in, so take a step back and relish in the future trips you’re about to partake in with your new rooftop tent.
That’s all there is to it! It’s not complex, as seen by the number of tools you need (a socket wrench) and the steps above, but it does take some time and some strength to lift it.
Let us know if you have any questions!
Disclosure: Overlanding Taco invests hours of testing and writing to help you plan your trips, find gear, and other things to help you live a better life outdoors. We sometimes link out to products on Amazon and other sites. We get paid a commission if you make a purchase, but that does not influence our recommendations.