Due to the maximum rooftop cargo weight limitations of the Jeep Grand Cherokee (limit is 150lbs), these four rooftop tents would be ideal: Yakima SkyRise 2/3, Tepui Kukenam 3, Smittybilt Overlander and Tepui Ayer 2. The table below provides stats on these tents:
|Spec||SkyRise 3||Kukenam 3||Overlander||Ayer 2|
|Sleep Footprint||56 x 96in||56 x 96in||56 x 95in||48 x 84in|
|Fabric||210-denier nylon||600-denier poly/cot||600-denier poly/cot||600-denier poly/cot|
Out of all the tents I like the Yakima SkyRise 3 and Smittybuilt Overlander the best. The Yakima SkyRise 3 is lighter and has super-easy install. The Smittybilt Overlander provides a lot of value for the cheapest price. The Tepui tents (Kukenam and Ayer) are similar to the Smittybilt Overlander and better, but are they worth the extra price?
We’re looking for good tents that stay well within the 150lbs limit. The Yakima SkyRise 3 (and SkyRise 2) is a light weight, super-easy to install rooftop tent. It compares favorably to other tents like the Kukenam 3 and Smittybilt Overlander. There is one really big outstanding issue: price. The Smittybilt Overlander is much cheaper. That’s going to be difficult to overcome.
Let’s compare the Yakima SkyRise 3 with the Tepui Kukenam 3. From the stats table above we can see that the tents are similar in size. The SkyRise 3 has thinner fabric and is 3-season compared to the Kukenam 3. But the Yakima SkyRise 3 (Medium) has tool-free vehicle install. Popping it on and off the rack is super easy. This is a pain for most other tents.
Tepui vs. Yakima Tent Review – YouTube
The Tepui Ayer 2 is Kukenam 3’s little brother. They are similar in design but the Ayer 2 is smaller. Below is a video that compares the Smittybilt Overlander to the Tepui Ayer 2.
The Smittybilt Overlander pretty much beats the Ayer 2 and the other tents too, because you get so much for the price. In this competition the Tepui Ayer won in these areas: smaller footprint, lighter weight, better ladder, more air vents and the better travel cover attachment. It’s a smaller tent (sleeps 2) so that explains the smaller footprint and lighter weight. The other areas tend to be less important, except for the ladder. The ladder is the one thing that is clearly inferior with the Smittybilt. Smittybilt won or tied everything else. At the end of the day Smittybilt Overlander just has too much going for it versus the Tepui Ayer and by extension the Kukenam 3.
Now Smittybilt has come out with another model: Smittybilt GEN2 Overlander Tent – 2583. Check out the video:
This tent is available at 4WheelParts.Com for $1,150. This next generation tent has solved the crappy ladder problem. The fabric is the same but the color is different. Overall, this tent looks to be very similar to the prior model, although there may be some minor issues addressed like the poor straps.
The Yakima SkyRise 3 is pretty comparable to the Kukenam 3. It just depends on what you like. I really like the light weight and ease of installation for the Skyrise 3. And it’s cheaper than the Kukenam 3. So I might pick the SkyRise 3 over the Kukenam 3 but there is that nagging issue of the Smittybilt Overlander and its super-cheap price.
What if we could make the Smittybilt Overlander easier to install? Using the ramp system might take the sting out of the installation process. Build a super simple ramp that makes it a piece of cake to load and unload by yourself.
Determining the Weight Limitation
We need to know the factory rooftop cargo limits which we can get from the manual. The 2019 manual says the dynamic load limit is 150lbs. We have to estimate the static load limit to be 4x the dynamic limit, or 600lbs. You’ll have to test this for your situation. No testing means you have to buy aftermarket crossbars.
ROOF LUGGAGE RACK — IF EQUIPPED The crossbars and side-rails are designed to carry the weight on vehicles equipped with a luggage rack. The load must not exceed 150 lbs (68 kg), and should be uniformly distributed over the luggage rack crossbars.
In order to test the static load limit, try putting the crossbars on two blocks of wood then load on the tent and two adults. Film this with your phone. Note the deflection of the crossbars. Does it look like the deflection will cause damage to your roof? If yes then you’ll need new crossbars.
Another test would be to mount the tent on your vehicle, and set it up. Start adding people one at a time. Note the deflection in the crossbars as you add weight. Don’t add more than 600lbs of weight including the tent weight. If you notice a lot of deflection then time to buy new crossbars.
The factory rails can typically handle large amounts of weight. They should not have a problem with 600lbs.
Yakima has a fit guide where you put your vehicle data into the guide and it tells you which racks are appropriate for your exact situation: Yakima Fit Guide. The Thule fit guide is here. Just for reference, Thule owns Tepui tents.
Just because you can put a beefier rack on your Jeep doesn’t mean you should put on more than 150lbs – the original factory limit. There are other issues than merely the ability to hold the weight. For example, how does the Jeep handle with increased weight. Could you wind up in trouble by putting on more weight? I would advise keeping an eye on that original factory limit before you getting into trouble. Maybe that 200lb rooftop tent you were eyeing is not such a good idea for this vehicle.