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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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Moose family near the Rawah Wilderness. Photo Credit Jeff Okun

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