Tepuifest 2016: Bigger, better, and more fun than ever

 

Photo by Tom Owen.

We have to hand it to the #TeamTepui partners and community, you are the reason this event is such a blast, and why all of us at Tepui Tents are so excited to put it on each year. Each year is a little different, and as we scale up, we also seem to sell out faster!

Approaching the first day of Tepuifest (which ran Oct.14-16), we kept hearing of big storms approaching the West Coast, with our venue, Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area, square in the middle of the mess. Some friends in the Pacific Northwest were already getting hit pretty hard, and central California was in for it, but to us, all that meant was a little more mud on the tires for wheelin’!! Sometimes you just have to put the gear to the test, and as we heard many times throughout the weekend, “I was more worried about driving here than how my tent would do!” It feels good knowing that you will have a secure, dry place above the deluge to call home each night.

By mid-day Friday, folks rolled in from all over the place. Apparently storms in Washington and Oregon had gusts up to 100MPH, and the road from Colorado had some challenges too. Those heading in from the Bay Area and Southern California had a bit of an easier time, but nobody knew exactly what we were in for. We love it that everyone showed up anyway! Fortunately, Hollister Hills SVRA dodged the worst of it, and the showers that came in during the evening didn’t dampen the mood. Many returning campers setup camp once again near their friends, and new folks drifted in and got dialed in to the ideal spots. Some couldn’t wait until Saturday, and went out for mid-day trail runs before dinner!

Sheree’s welcoming melodies drew folks in from their camp games and individual sites as we tapped the delicious kegs from Discretion Brewing. A light drizzle fell, keeping the dust down and the weather pleasant and cool. As Mexxi’s served up dinner, Thrive took the stage and energetically pumped out nonstop tunes, keeping our spirits up as they put an another killer show this year – keys, horns and all – even as we put up a few canopies up for shelter. Fire pits were lit, and the night wore on as we exchanged plenty of stories and set up plans for the next day.

Saturday morning greeted the group with great breakfast food and delicious, hot coffee courtesy of Verve, so were all fueled up just right and ready for the day. The rain had let up overnight, but left plenty of mud in place, and every dog and kid that started out relatively clean soon began turning that wonderful shade of “camp dirt brown". Sheree opened the day with another terrific set, and as the sun began drying us out, last night’s plans starting coming together. Tepui’s very own Shona is a certified yogi, and led a group onstage in some late morning yoga while the main trail run got organized. It’s incredible how quickly you can pack up a Tepui when you don’t want to be left behind! Tire pressure was checked, radios were sent on channel, and we peeled outta there!

An intrepid group comprised mainly of NorCal Tacoma guys and gals that have been regular attendees took off for some more challenging runs, and about 15+ vehicles lined up with some of the North California Land Rover Club crew for a more moderate, but still at times somewhat technical run. We even had a few that drove their vehicles truly off-road for the first time, and did great! The Unimog and a few others picked their own routes, and ran into some challenges, but all vehicles made it back to camp safely, if not with a couple of breakdowns and mishaps. But that is all part of the fun!

Upon returning to camp, rounds of cornhole, washers, and various camp games simultaneously broke out all over the grounds. How many places can you go anymore where you are basically completely out of reception, and you can just be yourself, relax and chill out? Simple times can be the best of times. We value that.

Before Happy Hour started at 4PM, Tepui’s resident wine connoisseur Bernard took a group in a chartered van on a wine tour of a few of the local wineries, Calera and De Rose, just down the road. After a while, they arrived back at Happy Hour with a few cases and some cheese and crackers in tow. We began pouring right alongside the freshly tapped kegs from Discretion Brewing. The guys at NCLR put on a few informative demos of how to use an X-jack, and some basics of tools and winching.

Rack N Road had a great setup with plenty of gear for people to check out and test, and a few knowledgeable team members who spent the day on the trail with us, putting their stuff to the test. Kargo Master had killer Jeep all built out that was pure eye candy, highlighting their incredible racks and accessories in action. Nearby was Goal Zero – whose reliable lights had been casting a warm glow over the site the night before despite the unexpected rainfall – displaying a setup with every possible power and lighting solution you could possibly need while camping. Next over was another hit, Onewheel, and we just couldn’t keep off of those things! The rugged build and ease of use was totally camp-friendly and a fun addition to our weekend-long festivities. If you hadn’t already been blown away by the solid assortment of quality outdoor products, Tepui had a few new products to check out as well, with the new Baja Series model alongside our new crowd-funded White Lighting hardshell and various other gear. All this was set to the smooth and skilled sounds of Taylor Rae onstage.

Dinner by Mexxi’s was a hearty steak, chicken, and veggie affair. We happily filled our bellies in the cooling evening temperatures. Fire pits were lit, and we jumped right into the raffle, with many great prizes from Rumpl, Yeti (via Rack N Road), Goal Zero, Tepui and more. Following the raffle, we finished up eating and went back for another beer as the awards were called out.

The Oilcan Award went to Amber Turner for her Suzuki, which showed up last year with a ground tent tied to the roof. This year, it cruised around sans doors and broke down on a gnarly trail run, eventually getting towed back into camp. The Frankenstein Award went to Carl Meyer for his Unimog, which basically stands as a road-legal tractor, and looked absolutely awesome with an RTT posed on top. The Cherry Award went to returning camper Paul Boyer, who runs a built up Jeep in absolutely pristine condition (the award included some nicely packaged…dirt. Get that thing on the trail!!) And Best in Show, you must understand, is quite unique. Each year, the trophy is handed out to a winner who then takes it home and must modify it in some way and bring it back the next year to be given out and modified once again. This tradition happens year after year, and it is always great see what the last winner did to the trophy upon returning to Tepuifest. Last year it was taken home by Lloyd Copenhaver, for his highly modified VW truck. Lloyd added some beautiful customized aluminum plating, which matched the detail on his current rig. This year, the Best in Show award was handed off to Justin Roumiguiere, owner of Allsport Trailers, for his super custom trailer build, featuring everything you can imagine, including the kitchen sink! 

As the night wore on, David Jeremy played and MC’ed the night away. He showcased an assortment of great covers and duets with Taylor Rae, incorporating audience participation and freestyle jokes as the campfires burnt on into the night. The next morning was a leisurely pack-up over breakfast and coffee as we shared a final few stories, already looking forward to next year.

This event is so much fun because of the incredible people and partners that make up the Team Tepui community. We appreciate all of your support and presence each year. Another cool thing in this community of tinkerers and builders is that people always bring interesting things to share with the group. Someone made fresh cookies, another cooked late night tacos, there was spicy homemade salsa and more! Very cool...we totally appreciate how people generously contribute to the good times for us all! Thank you!

Oh and hey, we would love to see your photos and videos from the weekend! Tag @tepuitents and use #tepuifest when you are sharing. Thanks, and keep in touch!

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Tepui Tents Launches Baja Series at 2016 Outdoor Retailer

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (August 1, 2016) — Tepui Tents, a leading innovator of rooftop tents and shelters, today announced its latest innovation – the Baja SeriesTM. The new tents in the Baja SeriesTMare the Santa Cruz-based brand’s lightest to-date and allow rooftop tent users to interchange canopies depending on the conditions they face.

“Over the years, we’ve led innovation in the rooftop tent space with our first ‘Ruggedized’ and ‘Sky’ tents, and with this expansion, we’re seeing more mainstream consumers who are looking for reliable, comfortable sleeping set ups for their time in the outdoors,” said Evan Currid, founder of Tepui Tents. “The Baja Series is our latest effort to offer the lightest, most versatile tents available.”

The patent-pending Baja SeriesTM tents utilize a Zipper GimpÔ to attach the canopy to the tent’s base. Three different canopies will be available: a mesh shade canopy for hot humid weather, a lightweight nylon rip-stop canopy for spring time or a heavy duty canopy for harsh winter conditions.

The Baja SeriesTM is the latest in Tepui’s growing list of innovations that have made the brand a category leader in rooftop tents. Tepui has developed the market for rooftop tents initially seen as an overlanding necessity into affordable and comfortable sleeping options for mainstream outdoor consumers. In Spring 2016, Tepui became the first rooftop tent manufacturer to be available at major retailers, including REI, Bass Pro Shops, Backcoutnry.com and Cabela’s.

Tepui Tents will display the new Baja SeriesTM, along with models from its current line, August 3-6 in booth No. 36212 of the main hall at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City. For media appointments, please contact: corbin.clement@backbonemedia.net.

About Tepui Tents: Founded in 2010, and based in Santa Cruz, California, Tepui Tents makes the highest quality rooftop camping tents and excursion accessories available. Engineered with market-leading designs that utilize premium materials, Tepui’s tents are easy to install on almost any vehicle with a roof rack. From off-road warriors at the Baja 1000 to family car camping for a weekend at the lake, Tepui’s tents and rugged accessories make any adventure a comfortable home away from home. For more information, visitwww.tepuitents.com

Media Contact:
Corbin Clement
Backbone Media
corbin.clement@backbonemedia.net
970-963-4873

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Overland Expo 2016

Tepui just returned from a great weekend at Overland Expo near Flagstaff, Arizona over the weekend of May 20-22. Aside from our epic daily happy hours with hors d'oeuvres and beer, there was a lot going on. First, the show was big, definitely bigger and more enthusiastic than last year when it snowed.

We were solid the entire show; people streamed in with lots of good questions about Tepui. With this crowd it wasn’t a question of "what is this" and "I’ve never heard of a roof top tent." These Overlanders have seen us for years.  Some had questions about the Tepui’s they already own or asked why they should choose Tepui over some of these other brands popping up. We had many good answers and suggestions and gained a lot of new customers.

Well, we had some wind.  Not the 85 kts we had at King of the Hammers, but enough to hear about ground tents flying through the countryside.  To be honest, after taking a walk in the back forty where all the non-exhibitors were camping, we couldn’t imagine any possibility of ground tent camping because the ground looked like a waffle iron.  Thank God for our Tepui RTT’s.

You might have heard - it seem like the world has heard now - that we launched our new hard shell tent.  It features a “best in class” very low profile of 8 inches, the first rack ready design so you can bring your bikes, kayak or SUP and…we’re proud to say it is 100% made in the USA!

Everyone wants to know when they can buy it.  We don’t have full details yet, but we will start a Kickstarter campaign in June so keep any eye out and you can have the first one on the block.

It was great to see so many old friends at Overland Expo.  It’s where we first launched our brand and it really like family. 

Can’t wait until next next year.

 

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King of the Hammers 2016

Just returned from 6 days of desert camping in the Johnson Valley, watching the King of the Hammers Race. Haven’t heard of it? Think Burning Man for motor heads. It was 45,000 of the most excitable wheelers from all over the world converging on the the dry lakebed floor of the Johnson Valley.

We had two cars, an adventure trailer and a  crawler, all with tents on top. Our campsite was actually our Exposition “booth”, so our week of camping felt like we were living in a Biosphere for all to watch.

The first night, we broke the cardinal rule of wheeling too hard on day 1 and we flopped the crawler with the tent on top. Luckily, we were winched back upright and the tent was unharmed.

 

On second day there was an emergency meeting for all racers and KOH attendees. The weather forecast was serious, with 3 inches of rain and sustained winds of 45mph gusting to 80mph. People with ground tents were advised to find high ground as 3 inches of rain could mean a flashflood. We knew we were in good shape with our Roof Top Tents and the rain but we were concerned about 80mph winds.

As it grew dark, it grew cold. Then it began to snow, then the wind picked up. Soon, beers by the campfire were over and it was time for bed. The steady 25-30mph wind was not a problem and I was soon asleep. I was awakened at 2:00AM with what must have been one of those 80mph gusts. I knew the others must now be awake too and I was wondering what they were doing and what I should be doing. Would the tent rip off my car with me in it? Then we would blow into the tent on my trailer? Would the food tent next to us blow on to us and impale me with its 3” aluminum tubes? Should I get out of the tent and sit in the car? There was no going back to sleep with the violent noise, so I lay in my tent until sunrise, hoping I’d survive.

At first light it all became clear, our Tepui campsite was unscathed. All bodies accounted for and all tents in perfect condition, (of course, we had taken off the rainfly rods and battened down all windows). For the rest of the day people paraded into our camp to see if our Tepui Roof Top Tents had survived. People were astonished that nothing had broken or been damaged. I’m sure we gained hundreds of new customers that day.

Each day thereafter, we’d make breakfast, lunch and dinner, while onlookers watched, then in the evening head out to the desert to watch people try to climb “Chocolate Thunder” and “Backdoor” in everything from a stock Razor side by side, to an 800hp Nascar engine race buggy. Hundreds if not thousands of people would line the hillside to watch the carnage, some lighting camp fires to stay warm and for a couple of nights, even setting up a DJ and strobe lights.

The KOH is an incredible event with 45,000 likeminded people gathering on a dried lakebed. People are wheeling at all hours of day and night and if you break anything, someone can always fix it. There are some incredible rigs out there, from buggies to trailers to big rigs…those people love their dirt toys.

For Tepui, it was an incredibly successful event. Most people had seen a roof top tent before in some catalogue but few had seen so many set up with people living in them and surviving some very harsh conditions.

We met some great people and turned on a lot of people to Tepui Tents. From pit crews to people who just want to get away and keep it simple, I’m sure there will be plenty more Tepui Tents at next year’s KOH…and we’ll be there too.

-John

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Tales from the Road: Outdoor Retailer 2015

Normally when we are headed towards the open plains and mountains of Utah, we are looking to get away from it all for a while. Escape the crowds, explore new terrain, and see how many days in a row we can avoid emails and fluorescent lights. Well, this year was a little different.

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, UT was not our typical experience in Utah, but we really like what we do and the tents we build, so we wanted to offer the opportunity to a few more folks to climb inside an Ayer or Gran Sabana that don’t get to so often.

The Salt Palace is BIG. Like, cavernous buildings spanning several city blocks filled with countless rooms and hallways big...enough to make you consider pulling out your GPS to find your booth space. For the booth setup, our field Marketing Rep, Adam Tolman, towed a trailer with a Kukenam which he rolled inside the Pavilion (new exhibitor tent we were in) to our booth, where it was parked and set up, along with camping chairs a table and a video screen showing our #TepuiAdventures and other captivating Tepui videos. Then Adam pulled up his Landcruiser, which he received so much interest in that could have sold ten times over, and popped his Autana right next to the entrance of the Pavilion. The look was impressive with both vehicle and trailer set up and allowed hundreds if not thousands of people to not just see but climb into a Tepui tent for the first time. Lotta fun seeing the light bulb go off as people really got it for the first time.

Opening day in the Pavilions was challenging. Much of the interest from dealers and media for Tepui came in after day one, often after dealers have already gotten their stops to large companies like Patagonia, The North Face, etc taken care of. But clearly they were aware of the cool things we are doing and were showing in the Pavilion, and began to stop by to check out the new product we had to offer.


As does the ebb and flow of action when going from place to place when out on the trail, the business came in flurries. Occasionally the aisles were emptier than the desert at high noon and all of a sudden you turn around and people were forced to stand in line for their turn to climb into our tents. Most people had never seen a Tepui tent and the atmosphere was carnival-like, with people laughing at how much space there was, and how cool that they could camp on top of their car! It would be safe to say that people were surprised to learn that from our two-man Ayer, to the four-man Grand Sabana, we had a tent for most any car.

What was incredibly encouraging was that people were blown away! A lot of feedback we received was that folks could really tell that everyone loves the concept of rooftop tent camping, just like we do! Seeing that kind of passion and sharing stories with the broader camping community was super fun. On one end, the younger demographic who likes to get out do things really loved the ease of use and efficiency of traveling with a Tepui tent. On the other end of the spectrum, more seasoned adventurers who maybe don’t want to, or can’t, hike all the way to their destination admired the benefits of driving closer and setting up a base camp in their Tepui.


All in all, we had a great experience, and fun couple of days running into old friends and making new ones. It was very cool to see that the love of the outdoors is truly something which can unite people from distant places.

- JG

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