Gear Review – Tepui Ayer 2 Roof Top Tent

It’s only fitting that I review this The Tepui Ayer 2 roof-top tent (RTT) before I review anything else. I called the Ayer 2 my home for over 2 months in the summer of 2019, and it performed extremely well throughout the entire trip. I estimate that I unfolded and refolded the tent about 100 times during my journey through 17 states.

Holding up to the elements

With almost 20,000 miles driven, the Tepui RTT was reliable across all climates encountered. High in he mountains of Utah, Colorado, and California, the temperature hovered around freezing at night (even in July). The mattress, despite being relatively thin, insulated quite well against the temperature and wind.

On the other end of the temperature extremes, I used the tent during the days and nights where the temperature was well above 100F near Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave Desert in California and Nevada. I was able to sleep even with the temperature in the 90s (no blanket required) and the tent provided good shade during the day.

Campsite for the night outside of Joshua Tree
Shade can be a luxury in the desert

RTT travel history

Below is a map of all of the amazing (and some not-so-glamorous) places where I put it to use.

The drag of having a house on your car

I mention this in the video, but the tent can cause a slight reduction in gas mileage. I estimate it’s about 1-2 mpg. My Forester typically gets around 30 mpg. I set a trip on my odometer, and after 10,000 miles, I was a little below average at 28.5 mpg. Tepui also makes Low-Pro (low profile) versions of their tents which reduce wind resistance.

Where can I get it?

If you are interested in buying this (or another) RTT based on this review, use the link to check it out on Amazon. It’s also available from REI, Moosejaw, and directly from Tepui.

If you are not a reader, below are two videos that review the tent (after 6 months on the car, and after 1 month in the field)

Video Reviews

The 6 month review is more useful than the 1 month (I think).

6 month “long-term” review

1 month field review

Report Card Details

In writing, I can go into a little more detail as to how I “graded” the functionality and durability of the tent that I summarized in the 6 month review video.

I broke the ratings into two categories: functionality and durability. After 6 months of heavy use, I can easily say that the tent has performed very well and that it should last for many more years.

For one of the smaller RTTs on the market, the Ayer 2 is amazingly functional. It’s built for two people, but using it primarily alone, there is plenty of space to spread out. I would often eat dinner from the comfort of my tent.

Cover

The corner of the cover is frayed for about an inch, no big deal. FYI the white spots on the cover are bird poop – it happens.

Functionality: A+
No issues with the cover in terms of functionality. No water was able to penetrate Tepui’s patented zipper gimp system, even in windy conditions.

Durability: B+
The cover is no doubt made of heavy, durable material. The only issue I encountered was that the material began fraying a little at the corners that slide into the frame of the tent. This does not affect the integrity of the cover. The cover slides into the frame well and it’s still 100% functional; but it was a little disappointing to see the material not hold up completely. If the fraying continues, I may have to replace the cover after one more season of heavy use. To avoid fraying the corners, I recommend removing the cover with 2 people. Unfortunately I was alone for most of my trip, so I had no help with the cover.

The cover withstood temperatures ranging from 30F to 120F and faced all kinds of weather (except snow). This picture is from a particularly mild day in Mendocino County.

Ladder

Functionality: A+
Durability: A+
No complaints about the ladder. It extends up to 8.5 feet high, and it feels super sturdy climbing up.

Telescoping ladder – notice the extra rungs at the top for higher vehicles

Floor and frame

Functionality: A+
Durability: A+
The floor is sturdy and has only a few minor dents on the bottom (I think they were there when I bought it). Excellent design for the “bones” of the tent.

Exterior/rain-fly

Its just a flesh-wound. These rips don’t affect performance at all.

Functionality: A
Durability: A+
The only complaint I have about the exterior is that when the tent is unfolded, the material that covers the gap at the hinge can get pinched and rip. It’s totally avoidable, but my tent became a casualty of this mistake. The damage is completely aesthetic. It still provides 100% protection from the elements.

Attachment points

Functionality: A-
Durability: A+
There are so many hooks, straps, clips, etc. on the outside and inside of the tent. They are all still in original shape after a long journey. Some of the attachment points for the awnings are not easy to reach from the inside or outside. If you want to tie down the awnings for extra weather protection, they can be tricky to get to.

Mattress

Functionality: A
I couldn’t believe how comfortable a 2.5 inch mattress could be, especially when it is routinely folded. The mattress is still in great shape after a solid 6 months of use.
The mattress cover can be removed and washed. It’s a little cumbersome to remove, but it’s a nice feature.

Durability: B+
In my tent, a small crease developed along the middle of the mattress because the mattress is folded when not in use. It’s still comfortable to sleep on; however a crease is not a good sign. I have noticed that if the tent is left unfolded for a day or more, the mattress tends to flatten back out to it’s original shape.

Mounting Hardware

Functionality: A+
Durability: A+
I am extremely pleased with the hardware. My tent rode with me for almost 20,000 miles and didn’t slide from its original position in any direction.
It’s a good idea to check the nuts and bolts on the attachment points periodically to ensure they stay tight on the crossbars.

Attaching the tent to the roof-rack is a two-man job, but once it’s on the vehicle, the hardware keeps a good hold to the crossbars

Awning Poles

Functionality: A
The poles are great, but since they are under tension, there is a small chance that they will “slap” your vehicle if you aren’t careful when you set up or pack up the rain-fly/awnings. I didn’t encounter this, but I have heard stories from other people about scratching or denting their cars with a “rogue pole”

Durability: A-
The poles function like new, but they are under tension a lot and have bent slightly at the frame attachment points. Originally, they were straight, so maybe it’s better that they are slightly bent in the direction that they bend under tension. I don’t foresee them breaking anytime soon, but something to keep in mind.

Summary

No, I didn’t grade this on a curve!

Those are my actual, as-close-as-I-can-get-to unbiased observations. Overall I would rate the Ayer 2 a solid A. Although there are a few minor issues I encountered while using this tent for 6 months, it did the job even better than I expected. Once it was installed on my car, I didn’t have to worry about anything (other than slightly reduced gas mileage).

I was able to live “luxuriously” out of my car and see a good chunk of the United States on a budget, and in comfort. Not only that, it gives you great options in terms of where to set up. With an all-wheel drive car, I could go just about anywhere if I was looking for solitude in the wilderness.

Wilderness escape in a redwood forest – Humboldt County, CA

The price may seem high. But when I thought about it, how much would I have spent if I had stayed at hotels, hostels, or even established campsites every night? Much more than the cost of the Ayer 2. And now (at least as I write this post) many of the RTTs are on sale (it is Black Friday after all). So if I have persuaded you by now, try out the Ayer 2 (or another RTT). And if you plan to buy one, help me out by using this link or the Amazon link in the “Where can I get it?” section.

One of my favorite set ups along CA Route 1 in Sonoma County

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