Tepui Tent Awning Review
While most of our camping and travel takes place within the Rocky Mountains, this allowed us to become spoiled with the abundance of tree cover and shade. Because of this, we often overlooked the importance of shade while camping or living outdoors. After stringing up tarps, using ropes and bungee cords a few times, we finally broke down and purchased the Tepui awning. I had looked over the popular options such as ARB, Rhino Rack, and CVT, but ended up purchasing a Tepui from REI using one of their members 20 Percent off coupons, plus free shipping which made the Tepui the cheapest high-quality name brand option on the market.
Out of the box, the unit felt very high quality. The bag was well fit, not too small or large, and we didn’t have to work to get the unit back into the box. The canvas was good quality rip-stop material, and all mounting hardware was solid and built of high quality aluminum. I initially mounted the awning to my factory Xterra roof rack using U-Bolts and custom brackets, and moving it to the Land Cruiser mounting it to my Gamiviti roof rack using their Awing mounting kit.
My unit had a major failure on the first use. The adjustable legs are held in place by small plastic clips that apply pressure to the overlapped tube. This small plastic piece failed on my first test setup in my drive way, just a few days before my planned trip to Moab and the White Rim Trail which meant shade was going to be a vital necessity of our setup.
I am a firm believer that all these awnings no matter the vendor or brand come from the same factory in China. Customer service is what separates these companies from the huge corporations such as ARB, Smittybilt, or no name vendors that just entered the market. I sent an email to Tepui and got an immediate response. Tepui to my surprise, did not carry any replacement legs for their awning (once again, made in China, and drop shipped from China), and they could not provide me with a replacement leg. REI was currently out of stock, and it was quickly looking like I was going to be going without an awning in the desert where awnings are a vital piece of kit.
The next day I received a call from a customer service rep from Tepui explaining that they did not stock legs, but they might have some old legs lying around their warehouse and that they would look. A few hours later I received another email asking for my shipping address, and they would be sending an old leg they found overnight.
The following day, a package arrived with a replacement leg, that did not match, and looked like it might have been off a prototype as the locking mechanism was a bit simpler, but worked nonetheless. Tepui provided high quality customer service that was quite impressive. If I was going to make a recommendation, it would be that a company of this size should have a stock of replacement parts, such as legs, brackets, guy line ropes, etc. In situations such as this, I found it incredible that they could not just send out a new leg on warranty, and became clear that they have no hand in building these units.
Follow on use….
Continued usage of the awning proved that these are highly useful pieces of gear, that can provide a small bit of shelter when traveling through exposed terrain. Setup is much easier with two people, but can be done single handed, albeit a bit more difficult.
Another weak point of the design is the brackets that hold the cross-member legs to the main mounting points. During one windy day the eyelet of one of these brackets was ripped through completely, which I blame solely on the quality of the metal used for construction. All the guy lines were used and cinched down tightly. We were able to bend the bracket back into place and it held enough to continue using the awning.
I would recommend the product due to the convenience of having shelter at a moment notice, but wish there was a bit more thought put into fixing the weak points of the design such as the legs and the brackets. If those two issues were fixed, it would be a superb product, with very little to complain about. The customer service received was outstanding, and I feel like I would not have received that level of service from large corporations such as Smittybilt. Kudos to Tepui for ensuring that we had the parts needed for our upcoming trip.
In the end, I decided to return the awning to REI due to the failed leg, and weak bracket design. Thanks to REI for having a great gear return policy, they took the item back with no questions asked and provided a full refund.
If you are going to be travelling in your vehicle, you will quickly learn that sometimes natural shade is not available and an awning is needed to maintain a comfortable temperature while enjoying the outdoors. So we decided to order another awning, the ARB Touring awning which we will review in another article, but it is clear in the design alone, that they have been in the game much longer which is seen in the design. Check out our ARB Awning review here.