We used a Subaru Ascent as our rooftop camping base with a Thule®1 Tepui Low-Pro 2 rooftop tent affixed to the crossbars. But in the 2023 and 2024 model years, more and more Subaru models – such as the Outback Wilderness, Forester Wilderness and Crosstrek Wilderness, among other trim levels – are equipped with roof rack capacities that allow for these tents to be safely driven to your location and used with the suggested number of campers.
Wondering how the tent gets attached to your vehicle? Here’
The “Low-Pro” part of the tent’s name comes from the fact that it folds up into a rectangle just 7 inches tall. Since the introduction of the Low Pro 2, Thule has introduced a number of rooftop tent options, including space for up to four and hard-shell covers that help to keep the tent drier when driving in inclement conditions.
Fully packed, it’s hidden beneath a water-resistant cover, and the tightly zipped package doesn’t emit a whole lot of whistling at Wisconsin’s 70 mph speed limit. In combined driving on the highway and back roads, we still managed a 21 mpg average even with the box on the roof during our trip.
The collapsible ladder attaches to the underside of the Tepui Tec honeycomb fiberglass floor. Using the extended ladder as leverage, the tent accordians into a three-person shelter. The ladder extends up to 8 feet, 6 inches for taller vehicles, but we only needed about 6 feet for the Ascent.
The only time I looked at the directions was to understand how the prop rods held up the window covers. It was – by far – the easiest tent setup I’d ever executed. Fully unfolded with sleeping bags spread out on the tent’s internal 2-inch high-density foam mattress, we were ready to camp in minutes.
“What’s the advantage of sleeping on the roof?” at least four people asked during our three-day adventure. The idea of sleeping on the roof might seem like a gimmick, but there are strong arguments for taking a camping trip with one of these lashed to your roof rack.
The entire cargo area is freed up for gear other than your tent. Fully packed traditional tents don’t take up a ton of room – and a vehicle such as the Ascent can lug a lot of camping accoutrements – but any space you can salvage back there is always appreciated.
Weather & Debris Protection
Like most tents, the Tepui Low-Pro 2 comes with a rain fly, but having camped in heavy rain before, I know you can end up with a river running alongside your sleeping bag. Getting the tent up in the air solves this.
You also track a lot less dirt, leaves and pine needles inside the tent, since most of the forest floor’s detritus from shoes ends up falling off by the time you get to the top rung of the ladder.
Finally – and most importantly – the setup is way more convenient than the network of fiberglass poles of a traditional tent. It’s as easy as pulling up to a site and then unzipping and levering the tent into place with the leverage of the ladder. You’ll need another minute or so to insert the prop rods for the window covers, but if you skip that until morning, you could set this up in full dark and be sleeping inside in the time it would take you to pull a conventional tent out of its storage bag.
1 Thule® is a registered trademark of Thule Group.