New trend gives campers bird's-eye view

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Car camping has been taken to a different level by a Santa Cruz-area company. It's called roof top camping and it's almost guaranteed to catch the eye of your neighboring campers. Think tree house meets the wilderness.

Michael Fox has been going roof top camping with his family for more than six years.

The Santa Cruz man says there's a logical reason for wanting to set up your tent on top of your car.

"This creates a comfortable place to sleep," said Michael. "You have this thick pad. You don't have to roll in and out of the dirt."

He says roof top camping eliminates a lot of hassle.

He bought his from a company in Soquel outside of Santa Cruz called Tepui.

Once you assemble your roof tent, you can leave it on your car or take it on and off the way some families remove roof racks.

The tent attaches to your standard roof rack and pops up when you're ready to use it.

7 On Your Side was there when workers for Tepui were assembling one of the tents for a customer.

You could hear the occasional sound of drilling echoing in the warehouse.

You can pay Tepui $75 to put together your tent or you can do it yourself. They say installation takes about 20 minutes.

Tepui says it's all about convenience.

"The attraction is about making camping easy," said Tepui Marketing and Sales Director John Griffith.

"There's people that have motor homes and travel trailers, but there's a whole group of people that can't afford those things."

Tepui tents accommodate up to four people and range from $1050 to $2550.

There are numerous companies that sell roof top tents.

Roof top camping was named one of the top trends in 2017 by the market research firm Technavio.

"Everything is ready to go on top of their car. We're seeing these millennials want to get out and camp more often and see national parks and get out there," he said.

One of the most common questions is perhaps the most practical. Can you fall out of these tents?

"It's not a tent you can fall out of easily," said Michael. "Basically when you back out of the tent, you know immediately where the ladder is."

Michael tells us it would be hard for him to return to traditional camping just because the comfort level isn't there.

Written and produced by Randall Yip.

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