Truck Camping 101 | Part 4 | Comfortable Sleeping – Tepui Tents Kukenam Sky
Once in a while, you come across an item that is a game changer. As much as I like to spend time in the outdoors, for my wife, sleeping on the ground never appealed to her. To be honest, I’m in my 40’s and am kind of over it as well. With a banged up body compliments of the Ranger Regiment catching up to me, being able to recharge overnight is essential. And sleeping on an unforgiving ground no longer does it for me. Tepui Tents out of Santa Cruz, California has come up with a game changing solution. Roof-top camping. I had the opportunity to demo a 3 person roof-top tent this summer and really fell in love with the concept. Here is what I thought of the Kukenam Sky from Tepui Tents.
After meeting with the folks from Tepui at Outdoor Retailer in Utah, I was able to secure a demo unit for testing and evaluation. Due to its size and weight, the tent arrived on a pallet via freight carrier. Fortunately, I did a fair amount of research prior to receiving the tent so installation went smoothly. A Yakima rack was fitted to the bed rails of my Toyota Tundra as a sturdy foundation for the Kukenam Sky. Tepui tents can be mounted on most aftermarket racks as well as factory rails and cross-bars. Just confirm that the dynamic load of your rack can handle the weight of the tent. Tepui tents are among the best built roof top tents on the market. And due to their robust construction, these tents have some weight to them.
Porcupine Mountains Trip
Our family of 4 planned a cross-state trip to the far western part of Michigans Upper Peninsula. A 3 day exploration mission of the Porcupine Mountains. The kids had Labor Day weekend off and the weather looked favorable. It’s the busiest weekend of the summer and we had absolutely no reservations at any campgrounds. Mainly because I don’t like campgrounds. They look like neighborhoods full of gypsies and that’s not my idea of camping in nature. With a Tepui tent on the roof, the campground can virtually be anywhere. Since nightfall was nearing while enroute to our destination, we needed to locate a spot to sleep. A quick map recon on Google Earth showed an abandoned grass airfield nearby. We backed the truck into the wood line facing the airstrip and deployed the Kukenam Sky in under 5 minutes.
The beauty of the Tepui design is its ease of operation. Simply remove the travel cover and extend the telescoping ladder. Pulling the ladder towards you unfolds the floor halves and locks them into place. Like opening a book. Or should I say a “pop-up book”. Because the tent frame and body unfolds and extends from within as you open the book. Lock the adjustable ladder in place and the tent is nearly complete. Finally, install the 8 metal rods that hold open the awnings and rain fly and your palace awaits. Inside you’ll find a 2.5″ foam mattress covering the entire floor. Which makes for a high-and-dry comfortable nights sleep.
Like most tents, I tend to up-size. For 2 people, I recommend a 3 person tent. This allows a bit more comfort while sleeping and offers additional space for a backpack, tomorrows clothes, power supply, etc. With a generous 56″x 96″ footprint and headroom measuring 52″, the Kukenam Sky was a perfect choice for my wife and I. The kids slept in a Big Agnes Copper Spur 3 person tent with sleeping pads from Nemo. They’re still young and limber so crawling in and out of the ground tent wasn’t a problem. Nighttime temperatures dipped into the 50’s so we buttoned up the outer doors, turned off the lights and slept comfortably. The tent body is made from heavy 260 g Polyester Cotton; 600D ripstop fabric with water-resistant ventilate coating. This heavy fabric offered great insulation compared to any lightweight nylon tent.
Quality Family time
After waking from a good nights sleep and a delicious breakfast, we spent the next day hiking in the Porcupine Mountains exploring various waterfalls. While driving through the forest, we settled on a location near a stream for our second night. And setting up the Kukenam Sky gets easier and easier with repetition. A beautiful full moon and a campfire that lingered into the night set the stage for great conversations with our two teenage boys. Our daily lives are so busy that we rarely have these moments without interruption. Lack of internet access in the wilderness is a good thing. I was reminded how smart, funny and capable my sons are. Next Labor Day weekend, my oldest will be in college so this trip was essential for our unit.
A delicious pancake breakfast and Black Rifle Coffee fueled us up for another beautiful day. More trekking through the beautiful Porcupine Mountains followed by a drive along Lake Superiors southern coast. Our final campsite was a dry, bug free location just a few steps from the largest fresh water lake in the world. A lake capable of 30′ waves and the ability to snap 700′ freighters in half. But this evening she lay glass calm. A sight to behold as the sun slipped below the great lakes horizon. Earlier in the day, I heard on the radio that a large thunderstorm might be headed our direction. A look at the doppler radar showed a large magenta colored blob rolling across Lake Superior. And at 2am, the wind, lightening and rain slammed us.
Earlier in the evening, the boys and I prepared a trench around their tent to divert the ground run-off from the impending rain. Something I learned in the Boy Scouts many moons ago and passed along to them. Despite it working like a charm, they both woke up during the storm and took cover inside the truck. I guess they didn’t have faith in their light weight tent. The waterproof canvas and aluminum frame of the Kukenam Sky was put to the test however. And I’m happy to report that it bucked the wind like a champ and shed water like a duck. Another victory for Tepui. But I feel like the real winner here is me. My wife really enjoyed the trip and wants to continue exploring as a family and as a couple. A big part of that is having a comfortable, dry, critter free tent.
Tepui Kukenam Sky specifications courtesy of tepuitents.com
|Size (Closed)||56″ x 48″ x 12″ (WxLxH)|
|Size (Open)||56″ x 96″ x 52″ (WxLxH)|
|Sleeping Footprint||56″ x 96″ (WxL)|
|Canopy Fabric||260 g Polyester Cotton; 600D ripstop fabric with water resistant ventilate coating; UV and mold resistant|
|Mosquito screens||no-see-um mesh|
|Rainfly Fabric||420D Polyester Oxford; PU coated|
|Mattress||High Density 2-1/2″ foam with cotton cover|
|Annex Material||Annex Sold separately|
|Annex Area||Annex Sold separately|
|Travel Cover Material||1000g Heavy Duty PVC|
|Internal Frame||5/8″ aluminum tube|
|Base Construction||Aluminum with insulated fiberglass sheet|
|Ladder Construction||8ft-6in Telescoping Aluminum Ladder|
Despite having to return the demo unit to Tepui, I just placed an order for a new “Ruggedized” Kukenam Sky. Tepui offers models for 2, 3 or 4 people and a Ruggedized version of each. Utilizing a heavier canvas fabric, diamond plate floor bottom and a larger diameter aluminum tent frame, these models can handle the worst of conditions. I just figured the heavy-duty Ruggedized version may age better over time. Each of the “Sky” models feature 2 large openings in the roof with mesh panels which are great for star-gazing. But you have to remove the Polyester rain fly in order to use the Sky panels. So checking the weather before committing to that configuration is a must. If you’re looking for a new way to camp, take a look at the roof top tents and accessories from Tepui and pick your next adventure.