Testing the Tepui at Red Feather Lakes

We installed the Tepui tent on the Tacoma, packed the truck and made plans to meet our friends, the Hemburys, at a place Bob map scouted and pinged. Bob’s dad (GrandGuy) was visiting us in Colorado for a few weeks so he came along for this first Tepui tent test! Three nights in the Northern Colorado mountains provided us a good dry run for our new equipment.

The area was more crowded than we expected as we rolled in on a Thursday afternoon, but we found a beautiful spot along a stream, an offshoot of the Laramie River, just north of Poudre Canyon. Water often means mosquitoes, but it also offers a place to play, cool off and obtain water, so we choose a spot near water every time if it’s available.

Setting up the tent for the first time in the woods was a breeze. It didn’t take long and if we needed to we could have been napping up among the trees in 10 minutes. All said and done with the annex attachment and opening all the windows, we were around 20 minutes to full home build out!

The tent design is great, though it can be a little awkward to set up, especially if you’re alone. The Annex, which is an enclosed area below the tent, is a pretty heavy attachment and you need to have some foresight to attach it prior to opening the tent up. Once you open the tent all the way, it is frustrating to have to fold it back up and readjust the ladder to add the annex. Note to self: “DO THIS FIRST”!

To set up, first you unzip the driving cover to access the tent. Then you need to take the cover off by sliding it out of the small groove on the frame. The annex slides into this same groove to attach.

Tepui tent annex groove

The cover slides out easily enough, but it is much lighter than the annex. If it seems to get stuck, one may need to file down any small burrs in the track. The annex (as stated) is heavy and would be a task for one person to set up. Depending on how tall you are and how tall the tent is on your vehicle possibly a step stool or small ladder will be needed. Keep this in mind as it is one extra thing to remember to pack! Once we got the annex slid into the groove, we unfolded the tent and then attached the annex to the base of the tent with a very heavy duty zipper attachment. Dog’s home built! As our first setup in the field, it took longer than we assume it will once we’re pros. It didn’t take any longer to get set up than it did for GrandGuy to set up his traditional tent.


I can honestly say we have never slept better while camping. It got chilly at night. GrandGuy says he slept in thermals, wool socks, a long sleeve shirt and beanie. We were all warm and comfortable in shorts and summer PJ’s. We even opened up a window in the middle of the night to let some cool air in. Dog was so happy to be in the annex on her bed. It was cool, dark and an escape from the mosquito’s. She took reprieve in the annex many times throughout the day and she slept like a log in there at night. We didn’t hear her once and it looks like she may never have moved.

While on this camping trip we realized that with the Tepui Tent on top of our truck we are kind of stuck at our campsite. With the tent attached to the rig, a new challenge becomes how to get to a far off hiking trail or sight? Unless we snag a sweet spot very close to a trail head we are either forced to pack up the Tepui each time we want to leave camp or not go at all. Though it doesn’t take too long to pack it up, it seems like a bummer to have to pack up every time we want to drive somewhere. As much as we don’t want to tow anything, maybe we will need to look into a small, basic trailer system that can house the Tepui and leave the rig free to roam…


Our camp spot worked well for the kids to loop around on their bikes while the parents hung out in hammocks and down by the river. Fishing was a fun activity for all, although we didn’t catch anything. The water was so crystal clear we could see minnows swimming. Stella (Dog) learned how to catch a Frisbee before it floated down stream. She’s never been much of a water dog in the past, but she seems to be enjoying it more with each trip.

The most memorable moment happened on our last night at Red Feather Lake. As the sun was contemplating it’s departure and the campfire was raging, three moose walked through the edge of our campsite! Seeing the male moose in person was humbling and awesome. Luckily Stella was tucked away in the Annex of the Tepui so she didn’t see the moose and we didn’t have to worry about her safety. Keeping a safe distance, we were able to admire these massive animal’s beauty. A moment later we had another visitor, a red fox slunk through the trees near us. Olivia (Girl) took the fox as a sign of good things to come.

Moose family near the Rawah Wilderness. Photo Credit Jeff Okun

The “Rig”

Guy here. I need to preface this blog post with this is my first “real” blog post. I also binge watched my first Netflix series over the winter; I guess I’m growing as a person!

I’m honestly not much of a “rig” guy. I like practical, efficient, reliable with a hint of ruggedness. I have always had a Tacoma since I inherited an old 2wd black Toyota truck (pre-Tacoma). My family used it for years before I ended up with it after moving to Colorado in 1996. I put a white aluminum shell on it, which made it look like a pretty crappy cop truck. There’s nothing like a truck to throw your stuff and dog in the back and head to the hills, even if I looked like the back country fuzz. I have upgraded 3 times since then. First with a 1998 TRD Offroad that I bought in 2005, then with an ’05 TRD Offroad that I traded up for in 2013. And now I officially own my first brand new vehicle, a 2017 TRD Offroad that I absolutely love! The bells and whistles are nice, but deep down it is the same truck that I have driven for almost 20 years. There is something nostalgic about hearing the rumble of the Tacoma engine picking its way up a rocky slope to find a majestic spot to pitch a tent for the night.

The new 2017 Tacoma. Nothing crazy or fancy…yet!

I’ve always kept my trucks stock and always beat them up “carefully”. What’s the use of a truck if you are not going to use it for truck stuff? I had some decisions to make when I purchased my new truck. I knew I wanted and needed some good tires that would get me to and fro on the highway and through the city, but would perform the minute I got onto some dirt. I went with the BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2’s. I had the old KO’s on my prior truck and they never let me down in snow, rain, ice, mud, dirt and rocks. I also upgraded my rims to the TRD rims, nothing I had to do but I liked the look. Again, I am typically not much of a “rig” guy, but if I am buying a new truck I might as well make it look like I want it to. I’ve always had a shell on my trucks. My 2005 had a Softopper made right here in Boulder, CO. I loved the versatility of it, kind of like a convertible, but there were some things I didn’t like. Firstly, there was a nasty blind spot because there were no side windows. Secondly, when it’s cold outside, it is an absolute bear to stretch the canvas and get it to snap onto the frame. Thirdly, mine was old, but the plastic windows became very hard to clean and thus very hard to see through. Lastly, the rear window became impossible to secure to the tailgate which allowed all manner of moisture and dirt to encapsulate everything in the truck bed. I had a pretty old model so I was unable to replace the rear window which now can be done. No bad feelings for Softopper, those guys are great and they make a great product, it just wasn’t what I was looking for this time around. After some research I ended up with a Snugtop shell, the Rebel model, with side windows that fold up so you can easily access anything inside the truck bed. Since I’m being honest here, I haven’t been 100% satisfied with this shell. It has leaked near the cab at the corners ever since I bought it. I brought it back twice to the dealer where I bought it and they claimed to have fixed it. However, when it rains, it still leaks. It is what it is, I will find a way to seal it myself. Aside from this, I really love it.

The big decision we had to make was where were we going to live as we travel across this great country of ours. I have never wanted to pull a trailer and there is something about camping inside a trailer that doesn’t feel like camping. The convenience is great, especially when the weather rolls through. The comfort is great, but it’s not sleeping in a tent. I grew up camping and backpacking. There is no escape in life like sleeping in the woods in a tent. This is the best vacation ever in my mind! The trailers made these days seem enormous, not to mention an eyesore, and I just don’t want something like that riding my rear while cruising the back roads of the States. A teardrop is much smaller, but it feels to me like you are just towing a bed cave. I know there are a ton of trailer options out there, but we quickly decided to go in a different direction.

A Camper Van was another thought, but DANG, those things are expensive and apparently everyone else wants one too. I would really like to try one, but I will save that for another day, another era, another drive. I did travel around the West in an old conversion van for about a month, but I still slept most nights in a tent. I have to admit the convenience of pulling off the road and being able to sleep was pretty nice.

A camper shell was another consideration, but the price tag seems very high and I can’t imagine living with Gal, Girl and Dog in the back of my 5′ pickup bed. There are many camper shell options to choose from. The Four Wheel Campers are incredible and top of the line. The AT Habitats look very cool and I like the concept. The Flip-Pacs are hard to come by, especially for the short beds, plus I never received any responses back about them after many messages and emails. I spent countless hours researching each option, weighing the pros and cons and ultimately deciding there has to be a better way.

So we come to the roof top tents (RTT). It was an option I never really considered…until I did. It really seemed like a great compromise. The price tag was much lower than all the other options. You are still sleeping in a tent, your tent is always on your vehicle and ready to go, no ground cloth or sleeping pads needed, no sleeping on rocks or sticks… I like the sound of this! After much more research, we came to the conclusion that the the Tepui tents were the way to go. We like a lot of room for the 3 of us. Our current ground tent is the Kingdom 6 from REI. There is way too much room in there even with the dog and all our stuff, we could probably rent out the second room or set it up in our backyard and AirBnB it for a pretty penny every night.

We decided to go with the largest Tepui Tent model they have, the Autuna XL Ruggedized Sky. This is a 4 person model with the following features:

  • Two built-in screened SKY panels which allow for a great view of the stars and surrounding trees when the rain fly is removed
  • – Diamond Plate Base
  • – 360g Dual Stitched Fabric (40% heavier than standard models)
  • – Anti-condensation mat (1/2″) under the mattress
  • – Fully wrapped 3/4″ heavy duty internal frame
  • – Heavy duty 3-bolt hinges and welded aluminum base construction
  • – Extra-large internal pockets, gear anchor points, & bedding Straps
  • – Fully enclosed annex featuring the same heavy duty material used for the tent canvas.

This tent is heavy duty and rugged as advertised. One of the best features is the 3″ memory foam mattress that is custom formed around the base of tent. Basically you get inside and the whole thing is a mattress…NO MORE SLEEPING PADS! It is super comfortable and it has proven so far to be very warm at night with the windows closed. If you’re not careful you can sleep until noon with how well it keeps out the light when it’s all closed up. The 3 of us have plenty of space on the 72″ x 96″ mattress. It’s also really nice to not have to haul the sleeping bags and pillows in and out of the tent every time we set up and take down. Everything just folds up with the tent. It’s really convenient!

I bet you are wondering about Dog. Well, seeing as this is a roof top tent, you do have to climb a ladder to get up to it. Introducing the Annex! The annex is a fully enclosed “room” that zips onto the bottom of the tent when opened. This adds a ton of inside space with a zip up front door and 2 side windows with mosquito netting. It also comes with a zip on PVC floor so you are pretty much bomb proof in there…please note we did not test any bombs in there, BUT this is the perfect place to store your stuff and the most perfect place for Dog (Stella) to sleep. She loves it in there. When it’s buggy out she wants to go in and lie down. When she’s hot she wants to go in and lie down. After we come back from a hike or playing in the river, you guessed it, she wants to go in and lie down. She is now the first to bed and the last one up. She loves the annex and so do we!

We have camped 5 nights so far with this setup and we are all really loving the convenience and the comfort. We like the fact that we are still sleeping in a tent and it definitely still feels like camping with a tiny touch of luxury. There are some things we need to dial in, however, and we will tell you about all those things soon! Stay tuned, this is just the beginning.

First set up at home with the annex


Dog checking out her new digs
All folded up and ready to go!


Let the adventures begin!

There have been so many moments when Bob and I have dreamed of leaving work and going on an epic adventure together. After lots of hard work, setbacks and challenges we have finally done it! We’re in the final steps of selling our business and at the same time we are in planning mode for one of the biggest adventures of our lives.

While co-owning and managing a sign shop in our home town of Boulder, Colorado work has trumped fun more often than not. Our daughter, Olivia, is growing up before our eyes and time seems to be slipping away faster with each year. We made this radical decision to sell our business so that we could spend more time doing what we love: biking, hiking, camping, traveling and hanging out together.

The first big adventure we’re planning is a road trip through the beautiful United States of America. We plan to visit as many US National and State Parks as we can over the Fall of 2017. This blog is intended to document our journey navigating all of the needed gear, guides, and roadblocks along the way. We plan to share thoughts and ideas from all of our perspectives- the guy, the gal, the girl and even the dog.

We hope you enjoy!