Friday, July 4, 2014

Tepui Rooftop Tent Installation Instructions (with photos)

Let's face it, sometimes the installation manual that comes with a product leaves a little to be desired. I love the crew at Tepui and the great products they put out - but for those of us without an intimate knowledge of how a Rooftop Tent goes together, the installation can be fairly painful.

The instructions and photos below represent what I wish I had when I did my first install. They supplement/compliment the instructions that Tepui supplies with each tent they sell. Click on any image to enlarge it.

Here we go. It is the 4th of July (thus the flag) and I am installing this Tepui Kukenam tent on top of my 2007 FJ Cruiser, equipped with a Gobi Ranger rack - this tent will install on pretty much any OEM or aftermarket roofrack - but be sure to check and see that yours will work before buying the tent.

Tent in a box. I picked mine up from a dealer, but you may get yours shipped directly to your house.

1) Remove tent from box. Duh!
Place on a clean, flat surface. I put mine on a table, but sawhorses would work too. Keeping the tent off the ground for the initial hardware installation will save your back.

2) Figure out which side of the tent is the side that will mount to your roofrack. The side you are looking for has 4 holes drilled through the aluminum - they are covered with black plastic grommets. Place the tent hole-side-up.

3) Figure out which side of the tent is the "hinge" side. This is the back of the tent. For now, you need the other end. Unstrap everything so you can get into the front of the tent. This is where all the hardware, tools, and various pieces are stored during transport.

(These closure straps are on the side, near the front side of the tent. You need to unfasten them to get in the door)

4) After unstrapping, you can reach inside and pull out the items you will need to install the tent. You get a bag of tools and metal hardware, the tent poles for the awnings, the ladder, and the two aluminum channels you are mounting to the tent.

5) Organize your hardware and make sure you have everything. There are NO EXTRA PARTS, so don't lose any of it. Tepui has graciously supplied you with two standard wrenches, which you will need unless you want to use wrenches of your own.

6) Now for the fun part. Remember when you set the tent hole-side-up? Now you get to prep the surface for installing those long aluminum channels. Pry out the black grommet-things from the 4 holes. These are trash - feel free to discard them. You can also remove the plastic covering on the aluminum. Discard it also.

7) The 4 small (10mm) bolts with 2 washers and a nut are the pieces that hold the channels to the bottom of the tent. I know they seem small, but they will be plenty sturdy. Don't worry about it.

I like my ladder off the side of the truck, rather than the rear - so I mount my aluminum channels full-length to the tent. Depending on how your roofrack is set up, you should be able to get away with NOT chopping the aluminum mounting channels.

8) Pull the nut from the bolt. Pull one washer from the bolt, leaving the other one on. Set aside nut and washer.

9) Stick your hand underneath the mattress and push the bolt through the hole. Add your second washer between the tent and the channel. Slide the bolt in the bottom of the channel - I use a screwdriver to push it to where it needs to go.

10) hand-tighten the bolt into the nut but leave plenty of slack. That will make things easier on you a bit later. Do this for all 4 bolts so that the aluminum channels stay put. 

11) Slide the U-bolt assemblies into the channels. 4 bolts per channel.

12) Life-saver: unscrew ONE of your nuts on each the U-bolt teams and add in the metal that will become the bottom of the U. Leave the other end unattached. All 4 bolts should slide fairly easily in the channel (this is why we left the other 4 bolts loose in step 10).

13) I add in the (optional) end-caps now.

14) Center two of your bolts on the channel. Slide the others to the opposite ends. You can tighten the mounting bolts half-way down to make sure the channel doesn't move. I still leave things a little loose.


The configuration should look like this ^^.

The idea is that once you have the tent on the rack, you can slide the bolt where you need it without having to lift and rearrange things.

15) You are done with the bottom of the tent for a while. Flip the tent over so you can install the ladder. This is explained fairly well in the included Tepui instructions. Note that the ladder goes INSIDE the hardware mounted to the tent frame. From outside to inside: Nut, washer, tent mount, spacer, ladder mount, washer, bolt head. Use the included strap to strap the ladder into place while you manhandle the tent onto your vehicle. Note that the ladder should have two bumpers. You want the bumpers against the aluminum surface - they stop the tent from bouncing around while you're off-road and damaging the aluminum.

16) Get a friend to help you lift the tent onto your vehicle. Make sure you know where your hinge is and where the tent will fold over. Center it on the rack where you want it.

17) Tighten down those (13mm) nuts! The bolts should stay put when you start cranking on them.

18) Got everything mounted down pretty good? Time to open up your new tent! Extend the ladder and use it as a lever to open the tent. Get up there and open up the vents and windows to help get rid of the fabric smell. Bring your 10mm wrench with you to tighten down the 4 bolts we left kinda loose in step 10-12.

19) Pull back the mattress on the side where your tent is mounted to the rack. Tighten those babies down like you mean it, but don't deform the aluminum of the base of the tent.

20) ENJOY!

Any questions? Drop a comment or an email my way and I'll be happy to help.