Tepui Explorer Series Kukenam 3 Tent Review

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Tepui Kukenam 3 Rooftop Tent
Tepui Kukenam 3 Tent Closed
Tepui Blue Kukenam 3 Roof Top Tent
Kukenam 3 Tent Side
Tepui Kukenam 3 Front
Tepui Explorer Series Kukenam 3 Tent
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Backcountry Outdoorplay REI

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 Summary

  • The Tepui Kukenam 3 is an all-around softshell rooftop tent that’s made for four-season camping and comfortably fits up to three people with extra space for gear.
  • Pitching the Kukenam 3 takes just a few minutes and mostly involves unclipping the side straps and unfolding the tent to prop it up on the telescoping ladder. The ease of set up is great for those times when you’re tired after a long day of driving.
  • The A-type design of the Kukenam 3 provides ample headspace while the high-quality memory foam mattress is an assurance that you’ll be warm and comfortable whenever and wherever you decide to spend the night. With large windows and sky panels, you can decide whether you want to sleep in privacy or with a full view of your surroundings.
  • Although the Kukenam 3 is light enough not to compromise the handling of your car, the lack of an aerodynamic design means that it’ll contribute to drag when driving at high speeds. Gas mileage might be an issue if you’re planning to take the Kukenam 3 on long road trips.
  • The mounting brackets that come with the Kukenam 3 feel a bit cheap – maybe something that Tepui can improve upon in the next iteration of this rooftop tent.

 Reviews by our Readers


Introduction

MAKE:
Tepui
MODEL:
Explorer Series Kukenam 3
TYPE:
Roof Top Tent
MSRP PRICE:
$1,499.95
RECOMMENDED FOR:
Vehicle camping, adventure travel
WARRANTY:
2-year
MODEL YEAR:
2019
WHERE TO BUY IT:
Backcountry, Outdoorplay, REI

Roof Top Tent Details

SLEEPING SPACE:
56″ x 96″
EXTERIOR:
56″ x 96″ x 52″ (open)
56″ x 48″ x 12″ (closed)
WEIGHT:
130 pounds
CAPACITY:
Sleeps 3 adults

Written Review

Often, a comfortable night’s sleep is one of the first luxuries to go when one decides to go camping. From having to pitch a tent on uneven terrain to getting battered by heavy rains and wind during the night, there are so many elements in the great outdoors that can make you miss the comfort of your own bedroom. Fortunately, rooftop tents have made it possible to get a good night’s sleep even when you go on long camping trips in your vehicle. Rooftop tents are also incredibly light, compact, and obviously much cheaper than investing in an RV.

The Kukenam 3 from the Tepui Explorer Series is one of those rooftop tents that excels in most of the fundamentals. It’s a soft-shell canvas rooftop tent that’s designed to comfortably fit up to three people along with extra gear. It also looks great in all of its 5 available color scheme options (blue, olive green, haze gray, Siberian camo, and standard camo). With weatherproof construction and well-designed insulation, the Kukenam 3 is perfect for four-season camping.

Tepui is a relatively young company that’s been producing high-quality rooftop tents out of their facility in Santa Cruz, California. They’re now under new management, having been recently acquired by outdoor gear giant Thule. The acquisition feels like a step in the right direction, further raising the heights of what Tepui can achieve.

Weighing in only 130 pounds, the Explorer Series’ Kukenam 3 is well within the dynamic load capacity of most cars. It’s pretty big, so if you want something a bit more compact, then the 2-man Explorer Series Ayer 2 and Rooftop Sparrow Eye are both worth checking out.

The Kukenam 3 comes with all the brackets you will need to mount the tent on your rooftop rack. Tepui even throws in a ratchet wrench to make the mounting process easier. The mounting brackets feel a bit cheap and low-quality, though, especially considering the price premium of the Kukenam 3. Although it’s possible to use the Kukenam 3 with your vehicle’s stock rails, Tepui recommends using a stronger after-market rail setup for added peace of mind.

Folded up, the Kukenam 3 basically takes the shape of a large box. Measuring only 12 inches high, the Kukenam 3 is small and light enough to not affect the handling of your car. However, it’s very un-aerodynamic shape can result in reduced gas mileage — the drag caused by the Kukenam 3 will be magnified the faster you go, so you’ll need to keep that in mind whenever taking longer trips (check out the Roofnest Eagle if you want something a bit more streamlined). A travel cover made out of 1000g heavy-duty PVC drapes over the Kukenam 3, protecting it from the elements while you are on the road.

One of the best things about getting a well-designed rooftop tent like the Kukenam 3 is that pitching it can be done in just a few minutes. To set up the tent, just unzip the travel cover, unclip the side straps, fold open the tent, and extend the telescoping ladder to the appropriate length. There are no pegs to hammer to the ground, no guy lines to hold the canvas taut, and no separate rainfly that you need to install. When you’re at the end of a long and tiring day, we promise you’ll be thankful for the Kukenam 3’s ease of pitching.

But don’t let the size and weight of the Kukenam 3 fool you: this is an incredibly durable rooftop tent that was built for four-season camping. The internal frame of the tent is made from strong but light 5/8″ aluminum tubing. The telescoping ladder is also made from durable aluminum – a noteworthy detail, considering that the ladder of the Kukenam 3 is load-bearing. The base of the tent is made of a composite material of aluminum and insulated fiberglass, making it strong enough to support the weight of all people and gear inside the tent while also helping to regulate the internal temperature.

The main tent material is made with high-quality 600D rip-stop material that’s tear-resistant, mold-resistant, and provides ample protection from heavy wind and rains. Weather protection is further enhanced by a 420D Polyester Oxford PU-coated rainfly. A 3-inch gap between the rainfly and the tent draws moisture away from the tent walls while also helping to maintain the temperature inside the tent.

The rainfly can be opened up using a couple of quick-release clips, giving access to two extra large sky panels if you’re in the mood for sleeping under the stars. Large side windows can be opened up with the awnings held taut by metal rods. This design keeps the rain away while maximizing air circulation inside the tent. All windows, as well as the sky panels, are outfitted with no-see-um mosquito netting.

Fully opened, the internal space of the Kukenam 3 measures 96″ x 56″. Slightly wider than a double-sized bed, this feels nice and roomy even for three people with their gear. The A-frame design of the tent maximizes headroom so you can sit up comfortably. If you have any small items such as clothes, water bottles, and headlamps that you’d like to bring inside the tent, you can place them in any of the four internal pockets or elastic lines that run across its ceiling.

One of the best things features of the Kukenam 3 is the 2 1/2″ high-quality memory foam mattress inside the tent. The single-piece mattress is warm and comfortable throughout, so you’re not likely to miss out on the comforts of sleeping in your bed even while on the road.

Tepui rooftop tents are designed to extend beyond the roof of the car, which means about half of the Kukenam 3 is supported by the access ladder. This design may seem disconcerting for some people but the ladder is more than sturdy enough to hold up a fully-loaded tent. Getting the surface of the tent perfectly level can be tricky, especially on uneven terrain, but the telescoping design of the ladder definitely helps. Just make sure to engage the locking mechanism of the ladder unless you want to wake up hanging on the edge of the tent. The telescoping ladder extends up to 8’6″, which means that it’s perfectly possible to set up the Kukenam 3 in lifted vehicles without a ladder extension.

With the quality of materials and great design of the Kukenam 3, it’s hardly a surprise that it’s a pretty expensive rooftop tent. The sizable investment is best justified by considering the comfort that it can provide, especially compared to pitching a tent on the ground or contorting yourself to sleep inside your car. Other ways to stay comfortable on the road – such as getting an RV or checking yourself in to a hotel every night – are much more expensive and far less flexible.

The Tepui Explorer Series Kukenam 3 is a wise investment if you find yourself sleeping regularly in your car. It’s a one-time expense that’ll go a long way towards keeping you comfortable on the road. It doesn’t provide a lot in terms of privacy – for that, you might want to take a look at the Explorer Series Autana 3 with its private canopy entrance. If you’re looking for a good mix of value, comfort, and space – with a good view of the stars to boot – the Kukenam 3 is an outstanding option.

 What’s Included

  • Kukenam 3 rooftop tent
  • Mounting brackets
  • Ratcheting wrench
  • Telescoping ladder
  • Memory foam mattress

 Warranty

As a testament to Tepui’s quality standards, they provide a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty for all of their rooftop tents. This warranty only covers damage due to manufacturing defects. Damage because of improper use or storage and normal wear and tear won’t be covered by the warranty. Buyers of the Kukenam 3 can make a warranty claim for free repair or replacement of the product (or any defective parts) at no extra cost. Tepui requires that all products sent in for repair or replacement be cleaned accordingly and include prepaid postage.

Tepui also has a 30-day return policy that allows customers to get a full refund within 30 days of purchase. To file a returns claim, the original receipt of the purchase must be presented and the customer must cover all return shipping costs.

Pros:

  • The Explorer Series Kukenam 3 is a comfortable, all-around rooftop tent made for four-season camping. It’s light enough to be mounted on most cars but offers enough space for up to three people with gear.
  • Pitching the Kukenam 3 is very quick and easy. This could a welcome relief at the end of a long day when you’re not in the mood to mess around with tentpoles and guylines.
  • Featuring a high-quality memory foam mattress, large cross-breeze windows, and internal storage options, sleeping in the Kukenam 3 is extremely comfortable in all types of weather.

Cons:

  • The boxy shape of the Kukenam 3 reduces gas mileage due to increased drag. This effect will be especially prominent when you drive at high speeds.
  • The mounting brackets that come with the Kukenam 3 feel cheap and a bit too light. We’re not confident that they can withstand heavy use for a long period of time.
  • The overhang design of the Kukenam 3 may feel disconcerting for some. However, the durability and safety of the tent are unquestionable as long as it’s been properly set up.

 Final Thoughts

Many campers and travelers are slow to warm up to the idea of buying a rooftop tent. Although it still may seem like a novelty item to some, a high-quality rooftop tent like Tepui’s Kukenam 3 is a product that will pleasantly surprise a lot of people. It’s easy to set up, durable, weatherproof, spacious, and comfortable. The softshell design helps keep the weight of the Kukenam 3 down, making it a versatile rooftop tent that will even work on smaller cars. We also appreciate how many color choices the Kukenam 3 comes in as it gives buyers the ability to choose something that fits their personal style.

While some components of the Kukenam 3, such as the mounting brackets, do feel a little cheap especially when viewed in the context of the rooftop tent’s premium price, we believe Thule’s acquisition of the company will lead to improvements in future iterations.

Click Here to Buy the Tepui Kukenam 3

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