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.