My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby 97cargocrawler [OP] » November 13th 2013, 1:29am

I finally I got to play with my new toy. A few months back I bought a rooftop tent:

http://www.tepuitents.com/models/gran-sabana-product.html

It's a decent tent, made in China of course. I was under the impression it was made in the USA until after I bought it and read more reviews on it. No matter, after replacing most of the hardware and attaching my own electrical strut based rail system the tent is very nice. I'm happy with my purchase. The materials feel more than adequate and the construction is sufficient. Shipped this tent cost just under $2K USD.

The tent weighs in at about 200lbs and the dimensions are roughly 4ft by 6ft by 1ft. It's very large and awkward to store. I have a large garage but it's pretty much maxed out for storage space. I decided the garage ceiling was the best storage solution.

Arrival:

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My first order of business was to devise a way to lift the tent by myself up to the garage ceiling. The tent came with aluminum rails that bolt to the floor but I wanted something that would extend beyond the sides so I could attach eye-bolts and pulleys. I'm a huge fan of electrical strut. It's perhaps a bit heavier than the aluminum channeling provided but it would serve to strengthen the floor and allow me a multitude of attachment options for whatever, including attachment to my rack which is also strut based. Here is the basic idea for attaching to my rack upper rails:

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I implemented a double pulley system on each corner of the tent. It's not the most convenient design for a one person lift operation but it allows me to get the tent flush to the ceiling with minimal effort. The double pulley system reduces pulling force to 1/4 the weight of the load. With one system per corner on the tent I only have to lift 1/16th of the tent weight, or roughly 12.5lbs of pull force. That's rather effortless.

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Up and out of the way. With the storage solution worked out it was time to move on to the rack mounting.

This tent typically mounts to a vehicle rack and opens off the side. The rectangular design facilitates this but I wanted the tent to open to the back of my van. This requires having the tent with the long end hanging off the sides of the roof. For travel that is not a great idea. While not wider than my track width it does hang 8" off both sides of the rack. So my idea was to drive to my destination with the tents long side tucked in and seated below the rack basket rails for safety. Then I can lift the tent and rotate it 90deg once I arrive and attach it to the top rails of the basket. Sounds like a major PITA. I needed a way to easily lift the tent and rotate it so I bought a motorcycle scissor lift jack, stripped off the unnecessary weight and replaced it with aluminum. Then bolted a 500lb lazy Susan type bearing to the bottom:

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At first I thought I could construct a similar lift apparatus below my balcony to lift the tent and then drive under to get it on my vans roof. Turns out the van is way too tall for that. My next best idea was to construct a lift that was balcony floor height. I wanted the lift to be lightweight, easy to assemble and require no modifications to the building structure. I'm a renter and my balcony is totally rotted and infested with termites! So drilling into it is just not an option. I came up with a design that works, albeit ugly:

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The structure rests on the balcony floor and wraps around underneath with no physical attachment and can be assembled in just a few minutes.

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Now I can drive under it:

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Once I knew where the tent would sit I made some mounts to secure it for driving. Four corners bolt down and the jack is slightly raised to support the center. The mounts:

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The rails rest on brackets and then a threaded knob secures it:

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I made a really long handle for the jack:

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It would look a little more tidy with the travel cover in place, but here is the profile:

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Once I arrive at my destination the knobs remove, the tent gets jacked up a few inches and then rotated 90deg and rested on top of the rack rails. Then it's bolted down with these:

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I added some awesome edge trim to the top of my rack rails to prevent the paint from being scraped off. It also allows me to easily slide the tent into position.

OK, on to the interesting stuff.

There are three ways I plan to use this tent. The first is the most convenient for a short term camping stay, requiring minimal setup effort. This is the mode I would be most likely to use if camping by myself and traveling on a daily basis. Setup takes about 10 minutes. Here the tent is pushed all the way forward on the rack and does not hang off anything when opened up. It is by far the most secure setup and allows me to use the ladder incorporated in my tire carrier to climb up to the tent. I could also potentially drive like this, if wanting to switch to a nearby campsite etc.

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There is an awning outside the door of the tent that perfectly overhangs my tire carrier/ladder.

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The tent is surprisingly large inside, even for a four man tent. In my experience a four man tent means you can cram four dudes in it but damn, who'd want to? This tent has room for four warriors and a harem. It's roomy for sure.

I have a nice spot outside the front door to put shoes on:

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The tent has a front and back door and two windows on the sides. All completely unzip and can act as doors but the window sides have poles in the way so it would be tricky to enter there. Still its a nice feature knowing you have four potential exits. Or in case you need to whizz and don't wanna crawl over anyone sleeping. The windows and doors all have mesh screens that unzip and tie up and a panel on the outside that unzips and ties up.

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The front door and both windows have an awning held by metal rods separate from the solid and mesh panels:

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Back door (side without huge entrance awning) uses the solid panel as the awning which kinda sucks:

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The rain cover also needs to be untied to prop it up (they do provide some bungee cords though):

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Some inside shots:

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Notice the vent in the top:

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I took some pix with me laying inside to get an idea of the roominess with a 220lb guy inside...mmmmmmmnope. Not gonna show 'em. The tent comes with a 2" thick mattress that folds up with the tent and it's quite comfy for now. The bed doesn't seem much different than my CalKing bed in the house. It's big.

The second setup for this tent is with it mounted for overhang. This is the traditional setup, although mine is off the back. This setup gives me a 5'x5' patch of rack space to hang out, setup up beach chairs or whatever. It also means half of the tent is supported by the ladder which I find creepy when you're more than 8ft. off the ground. The ladder may be more sturdy when its not fully extended on a shorter vehicle but for me it's at it max extension and its scary. I was able to climb it with it flexing and get into the tent but I did not feel safe. I definitely would not have anyone else in the tent with me with the provided ladder holding it. I will need to find a new ladder.

Here it is:

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The extra space is nice to hang out...in case you never wanna touch the ground :roll:

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It would be cool to park in a river and fish off the roof!

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You could fit two chairs outside.

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The ladder is crap:

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At this height you really want something to grab while going up or down:

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It's a long way down to fall in the middle of the night!

The third setup is with the annex zipped on. It was a major PITA to try and figure out how it went on the first time and I had to use a ladder because the van is so tall. But the annex is awesome!

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The floor area is diminished due to the height of the van but its still surprisingly large.

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There is a large vehicle access door too:

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It does allow critters to get in though:

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The annex would be a great spot for a shower. You can also fold up the ladder if nobody is in the tent and have some extra space.

:dance: Now I just have to finish all my other exterior and interior mods for the perfect camping platform.
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby Jasen » November 13th 2013, 2:37am

Damn nice set up.

That ladder is one of those telescoping one's. I've got a 12' one and it does flex a lot, I've had a few 200-240 lb guys on it over the years. It's aluminium so yea it's going to flex, and keep in mind, round tube is stronger the square tube.
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby SilverBullet1997 » November 14th 2013, 5:40pm

Great Write up. I love it.... so when you going to paint the van and screw it up and give it to me? hmmm?
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby Jumper » November 14th 2013, 11:38pm

"It does allow critters to get in though:"

We know you fixed that part already...
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby intothewild » November 15th 2013, 12:26am

You're an industrious little ****, aren't you? Awesome setup man. I have been lusting over RTT's for a while now.
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby 97cargocrawler [OP] » November 15th 2013, 1:43am

Jumper wrote:"It does allow critters to get in though:"

We know you fixed that part already...


Yep! I put my BBQ there! Foods cookin, critters hoppin on, its the continuum of life. :D

intothewild wrote:You're an industrious little ****, aren't you? Awesome setup man. I have been lusting over RTT's for a while now.


I give it my best shot. This tent would have worked for most folks right out of the box. I spotted some substandard things and made improvements for longevity and to suit my needs.

I can't wait to actually go someplace and use it.
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby CoolCat4Christ » November 15th 2013, 4:32pm

Your like a genius Cargocrawler
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby 97cargocrawler [OP] » November 15th 2013, 5:53pm

Ha! Thanks. (your check is in the mail)

Last night I bolted some more strut to the other half of the floor for reinforcement. Maybe it was good enough as is but I want this tent to last and feel solid while in sleeping on it.

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The ladder cushions are no longer able to dent the board:

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The cover was a challenge to zip on because it fits like a glove. I was impressed how well it fit. When it comes to items made in China I have very low expectations but this tent has been quite an exception.

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There was another configuration I really wanted to try as well. I'd like to hang the entrance off over the hood and have a patio on the back half of the rack. I welded some attachment points to my brush guard that will allow a ladder or other support to attach. Right now my front end is apart for mods so I couldn't try it.
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby SkipMorgart » November 15th 2013, 7:55pm

Taking camping to a whole new heighth!
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby 94 Van Guy » November 15th 2013, 11:34pm

Hey CC, is that a '76 202 I see on the side?

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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby astroman97 » November 15th 2013, 11:37pm

Some serious engendering there...think I would just sleep in the van lol...but looks awesome
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby davejonas » November 15th 2013, 11:54pm

Truly impressive!
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby 97cargocrawler [OP] » November 16th 2013, 12:29am

94 Van Guy wrote:Hey CC, is that a '76 202 I see on the side?

Keith


Yep, '76 2002. One of three project vehicles. It received a lot of love the first month I owned it ($1K a week) and then it blew a gasket and shot coolant out the tailpipe the day before I was gonna smog it. Pissed me off so now it rots and has become a black/brown widow nest. A rattle snake lives in it too. Hopefully soon I will have time for it, though it's gonna be a '75 or older when I'm done ;) I have no desire to keep the engine or interior stock and forget about smogging it now. It's gonna be a rocket. It was a dog house when I bought it. Seriously. I had her purring the day before, all just to smog it then I was gonna rip it to pieces and start from scratch:

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I do hope to outfit the interior of the van for camping as well. The tent is just a bonus!
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby 94 Van Guy » November 16th 2013, 3:39am

Yep, mine was a '69 2002 TI, the ones with a 2 throat Solex side draft carb. I had a lot of fun driving that. If you drove it in a swank neighborhood, people would look with envy. If you drove it in a "geto" neighborhood, they would look at it as just a box on wheels. It fit in, just about anywhere.
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby 97cargocrawler [OP] » June 12th 2014, 4:54pm

OMG. Looks like I bought my tent too soon because they now have this:

Siberian Tepui.JPG


Siberian Tepui 2.JPG
Siberian Tepui 2.JPG (67.77 KiB) Viewed 7728 times


CRAP! On an all flat black van this would be killer. Mother F! Not too sure I want to spend another $2K for a tent. :crying:
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby SilverBullet1997 » June 12th 2014, 5:01pm

I'll take your old one at a severely discounted price!
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby DRZ » June 12th 2014, 5:56pm

No Motel 6 by you ?
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby Corsemoto » June 13th 2014, 2:58am

I saw that on their site awhile back, I think black could get too hot.

I think my next RTT is going to be the Tepui Autana Sky as I like the roof panels for a more open feel and stargazing or whatevs. I don't mind stepping down a bit in size because I'll have more flexibility in mounting options. I want the tent to open over the rear hatch so I can have a full length awning/screen room over the sliding door.

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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby SilverBullet1997 » June 13th 2014, 4:31am

Corsemoto wrote:I saw that on their site awhile back, I think black could get too hot.

I think my next RTT is going to be the Tepui Autana Sky as I like the roof panels for a more open feel and stargazing or whatevs. I don't mind stepping down a bit in size because I'll have more flexibility in mounting options. I want the tent to open over the rear hatch so I can have a full length awning/screen room over the sliding door.

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That is nice, I like the stargazing feature! and the price!
R.I.P.-1997 Astro AWD SilverBullet I 4-9-1997 to 2-17-2015 - Cause of death: Rear-ended
R.I.P.-1999 Astro AWD SilverBullet II 1-4-1999 - July-2016 - Cause of death: Roadrash passenger side

Current: 1999 Astro AWD GreenBullet I - Purchased 02/2018
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Re: My Tepui Gran Sabana Rooftop Tent

Postby Corsemoto » June 14th 2014, 5:41am

The Kukenam Sky is actually the rtt I'm interested in not the Autana which is about the same size as my Camping Lab.
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