Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Light, more affordable, breathable
Cons: Questionable durability, bulky for a two-person model
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Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2
|Price||Check Price at Amazon|
Compare at 2 sellers
|Check Price at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at Backcountry
|$1,575 List||$1,300 List|
$1,304 at Amazon
|Pros||Light, more affordable, breathable||Durable canopy, telescoping ladder, versatile, quick conversion||Tool-free mounting system, locks to rack, decently light||Compact, light, thick cover||Wide and sturdy ladder, boot bag, LED light strip, spacious|
|Cons||Questionable durability, bulky for a two-person model||No entrance awning, no added extras||Mounting system is limited, large gap between tent and rack||Lacking space, extra installation steps||Ladder may require drilling, velcro cover not the most efficient cover system, heavy|
|Bottom Line||A decent two-person rooftop tent with a breathable canopy great for warmer nights||Our top soft-top recommendation for most people provides excellent quality and comfort across all four seasons||A quality rooftop tent that doesn't require a handyman or a toolbox to install||A light and compact rooftop tent that doesn’t have any special accolades to speak of||With a durable design and many handy features, this model competes with the top models while costing significantly less|
|Rating Categories||Thule Tepui Explore...||Thule Tepui Kukenam 3||Yakima SkyRise Medium||CVT Pioneer Series...||Smittybilt Overlander|
|Space and Comfort (30%)|
|Ease of Conversion (20%)|
|Ease of Assembly and Installation (15%)|
|Cover Convenience (10%)|
|Specs||Thule Tepui Explore...||Thule Tepui Kukenam 3||Yakima SkyRise Medium||CVT Pioneer Series...||Smittybilt Overlander|
|Weight||106 lbs||130 lbs||115 lbs||98 lbs||144 lbs|
|Max Inside Height||38 in||52 in||48 in||45 in||51 in|
|Windows||3 side, 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof||3 side 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof|
|Floor Dimensions||84 in x 48 in||56 in x 96 in||56 in x 96 in||96 in x 48 in||56 in x 96 in|
|Floor Area||28 sq ft||38 sq ft||38 sq ft||32 sq ft||38 sq ft|
|Vestibule Area Dimensions||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Packed Size||11 in x 42 in x 48 in||12 in x 48 in x 56 in||12 in x 48 in x 56 in||48 in x 48 in x 15 in||12 in x 48 in x 56 in|
|Main Tent Materials||260g polyester cotton||420 D||210 D nylon||280G poly-cotton Rip-stop||420 D|
|Rainfly Materials||600 D||600 D||600 D||420D||600 D|
|Number of Poles||8||8||8||8||8|
|Pole Material||Aluminum/spring steel||Aluminum/spring steel||Aluminum/spring steel||Aluminum/spring steel||Aluminum/spring steel|
|Pole Diameter||1/4 in||1/4 in||1/4 in||1/4 in||1/4 in|
|Extras||n/a||n/a||Locks, quick release, clear sky windows in rain fly||n/a||Interior LED, extension cords, boot bag|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Not everyone is interested in braving the elements during their camping adventures. If you know you're going to be camping somewhere warm and dry, the Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 is a great choice. It's made for two people, so it's smaller and lighter than many other rooftop tents. It has a durable rubber travel cover, is relatively easy to set up, and has an extremely comfortable memory foam mattress.
Space and Comfort
Designed for two people, the Explorer Ayer 2 is not as spacious as its larger relatives. That said, we feel the maximum inside height of 38 inches is plenty high enough to comfortably set up bedding or change clothes. The included memory foam mattress also offers the utmost comfort. In fact, during our assessment, our testers often woke up thinking they were in their own bed. That said, while the roof height and bed length offer ample room, the width is really skinny. Although the floor measures 48 inches wide, the inner tent frame poles creep into the sleeping area an inch or two right in the middle of the tent. With two people in the tent, it's difficult to avoid bumping into or brushing up against the poles throughout the night.
Although we consider the Explorer Ayer 2 to be fairly durable, if you're looking for a bomb-proof rooftop tent, this is not the one. This model easily passed our wear and tear tests, but the canopy fabric is made of a polyester-cotton blend rather than the ripstop material we've seen used on other models. With how hard we are on gear, we can't help but be a little skeptical about what heavy wear and tear might do to this material. That said, if you plan on using your tent in warmer months or hotter climates, you may enjoy the extra breathability.
Ease of Conversion
As far as soft-top versions go, converting the Explorer Ayer 2 from travel to camping mode is about as easy as it gets. All you have to do is undo the straps, unzip the cover zipper, remove the cover, extend the ladder, and unfold the tent. At that point, it's ready to sleep in.
If you choose to erect the awnings, it adds about two minutes to the process to hook the aluminum-steel spring poles in their eye holes and insert the other end into the tent floor. Converting from camping back to travel mode takes slightly longer because you have to ensure that the canopy folds properly to fit back in the cover, but the tear-down process for the Explorer Ayer 2 is no more difficult than any other soft-top model that we've assessed.
Ease of Assembly and Installation
The Explorer Ayer 2 is about middle-of-the-road regarding assembly. It comes without the mounting rails installed, so a bit of creativity is required to get the nuts and bolts in place. We found the easiest way to handle this is to use two sets of hands while the tent is on its side and partially unfolded.
The ladder needs to be installed as well. It's only a couple of nuts and bolts, but it does add a few minutes to the assembly process. We gave the Explorer Ayer 2 an extra point for this metric for installation because of its lightweight — lifting these things onto a rack is no easy task, so every pound makes a difference. Once it's in place, it's a simple matter of tightening down some nuts and bolts with the included ratcheting wrench.
The rubber cover on the Ayer 2 is very similar to most other softshell tent covers in our review. It is made of a thick rubber that isn't exactly easy to stretch over the tent once it's folded up but also is not too difficult. This model comes with straps to roll up the cover while the tent is in use so that it doesn't dangle in your way or block a vehicle door.
Considering the price and overall performance of the Explorer Ayer 2, we think that this model is a pretty good value for anyone searching for a two-person tent for warmer climates. It's a great tent, though it doesn't have many noticeable advantages over other models we tested.
The Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 is a lighter, more breathable, and easy-to-use rooftop tent. The canopy may not be as durable as some of the burlier models, but many people don't want or need a thick canvas canopy. We'd recommend this model for couples or single folk who know they're only going to be camping in fair weather.
— Ross Patton
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