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Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 Review

A decent two-person rooftop tent with a breathable canopy
Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2
Photo: Tepui
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Price:  $1,400 List | $1,399.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Light, affordable, breathable
Cons:  Questionable durability, bulky for a two-person model
Manufacturer:   Thule
By Ross Patton ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 22, 2021
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 7
  • Space and Comfort - 30% 7
  • Durability - 25% 6
  • Ease of Conversion - 20% 8
  • Ease of Assembly and Installation - 15% 8
  • Cover Convenience - 10% 8

Our Verdict

If you know you’re going to be camping in a warmer area, the Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 may be the right rooftop tent for you. It has a breathable polyester-cotton blend canopy that allows for a moderate amount of airflow even with the doors and windows all zipped up. It does, however, include a reliable, 600-denier ripstop rainfly for when Mother Nature decides to unleash. Built for two people, this model is also extra lightweight, making it much easier to lift on and off of vehicles than its larger, beefier cousins. Considering that you are likely going to be lifting the tent to at least chest height if not higher, a tent that is 20 or 30 pounds heavier can be quite a bit more difficult to deal with.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Light, affordable, breathableDurable canopy, telescoping ladder, versatility, quick conversionRectangular design allows for more room on the rack, quick installation, durable canopyTool-free mounting system, locks to rack, lightWide/Sturdy ladder, boot bag, LED light strip, spacious
Cons Questionable durability, bulky for a two-person modelNo entrance awning, no added extrasThin mattress, longer conversion time, Cordura cover may be less durableMounting system limited, large gap between tent and rackLadder may require drilling, Velcro cover not the most efficient cover system, heavy
Bottom Line A decent two-person rooftop tent with a breathable canopyOur top recommendation for most people provides excellent quality and comfort across all four seasonsA rooftop tent that leaves lots of room on the rack for extra toysA quailty rooftop tent that doesn't require a handyman to installWith 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 Thule Tepui Foothill Yakima SkyRise Medium Smittybilt Overlander
Space And Comfort (30%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Durability (25%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Ease Of Conversion (20%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Ease Of Assembly And Installation (15%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Cover Convenience (10%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Thule Tepui Explore... Thule Tepui Kukenam 3 Thule Tepui Foothill Yakima SkyRise Medium Smittybilt Overlander
Seasons 3 4 3 3 3
Weight (in lbs) 106 lbs 130 lbs 122 lbs 115 lbs 144 lbs
Max Inside Height 38 in 52 in 38 in 48 in 51 in
Pockets 4 4 2 4 5
Windows 3 side, 2 roof 3 side, 2 roof 3 side, 2 roof 3 side, 2 roof 3 side, 2 roof
Floor Dimension 84 in x 48 in 56 in x 96 in 87 in x 40 in 56 in x 96 in 56 in x 96 in
Floor Area 28 sq ft 38 sq ft 24 sq ft 38 sq ft 38 sq ft
Room Divider No No No No No
Vestibules No No No No No
Vestibule Area 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 9.5 in x 24 in x 83 in 12 in x 48 in x 56 in 12 in x 48 in x 56 in
Floor Materials Aluminum Aluminum Welded aluminum Aluminum Aluminum
Main Tent Materials 260g polyester cotton 420 D 600 D 210 D nylon 420 D
Rainfly Materials 600 D 600 D 600 D 600 D 600 D
Number of Poles 8 8 6 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
Design type Fold-out Fold-out Fold-out Fold-out Fold-out
Extras n/a n/a Double level pockets, loop inside for hanging lights and gear Locks, quick release, clear sky windows in rain fly 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 Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 is a great choice. It’s made for two people, so it’s also 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.

Performance Comparison


The Explorer Ayer 2 is well designed, two-person rooftop tent that...
The Explorer Ayer 2 is well designed, two-person rooftop tent that especially thrives in mild conditions.
Photo: Ross Patton

Space and Comfort


Designed for two people, the Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 is not as spacious as its larger relatives. That said, we feel as though the maximum inside height of 38 inches is plenty high enough to comfortably set up bedding or change clothes.

The memory foam mattress included with the Explorer Ayer 2 offers the utmost comfort. In fact, during our assessment, our testers often woke up thinking they were in their own bed.

The thick memory foam mattress in the Explorer Ayer 2 feels like...
The thick memory foam mattress in the Explorer Ayer 2 feels like sleeping in a real bed.
Photo: Ross Patton

Durability


Although we do 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. That said, if you plan on using your tent in the warmer months or hotter climates, you may enjoy the extra breathability.

We took the Explorer Ayer 2 up high on an alpine ridge to see how...
We took the Explorer Ayer 2 up high on an alpine ridge to see how the canopy did in some chilly overnight winds.
Photo: Ross Patton

Ease of Conversion


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 rooftop tent that we’ve assessed.

The awnings take a few extra minutes to erect but are well worth it...
The awnings take a few extra minutes to erect but are well worth it for the views and breathability when the weather permits.
Photo: Ross Patton

Ease of Assembly and Installation


The Explorer Ayer 2 is about middle-of-the-road when it comes to 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 light weight — 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.

You will need to spend a few minutes bolting the ladder and mounting...
You will need to spend a few minutes bolting the ladder and mounting brackets in place if you decide to go with this model.
Photo: Ross Patton

Cover Convenience


The rubber cover on the Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 is very similar to most other rooftop 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 the cover up while the tent is in use so that the cover isn’t dangling in your way or blocking a vehicle door.

Value


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 Explorer Ayer 2 is plenty roomy enough for couples or those...
The Explorer Ayer 2 is plenty roomy enough for couples or those going it alone.
Photo: Ross Patton

Conclusion


The Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 is 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 to be considered by couples who know they’re only going to be camping in fair weather.

Ross Patton

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