by Greg Stokes, Colorado Crew
TJM, a premier Australian company specializing in products aimed at the safari/overland market, has recently entered into the competitive rooftop tent market with two offerings: The smaller Boulia and the larger Yulara.
Shipping and Packaging: My experience with the larger of the two roof top tents, the Yulara, began at Toytec Lifts in Denver, CO. Toytec is the main distributor for TJM in Colorado and was friendly and courteous to me in receiving the tent. Opting to save on freight costs, I drove to Toytec to pick-up the Yulara in person.
The Yulara roof top tent came well packed in a padded, heavy cardboard box affixed to a pallet. This made loading easy as the warehouse staff at Toytec were able to place the tent on my flatbed trailer with a forklift. Upon arriving at my house the tent was actually fairly easy to move around with two people. Weighing in at 137 pounds, the tent is not light by any means, but is comparable to nearly all tents in its size class. Unboxing the Yulara demonstrated how well packaged the tent had been; no damage was present at all, not even a light scratch on any of the aluminum shells. I did find one issue–I was unable to locate any installation directions within the box or inside the tent (I later discovered the directions were in fact in the box but had slipped in between layers of the cardboard. I do not believe this is a common occurrence and merely an isolated incident with my early production tent).
Installation: Assembly was very easy despite not having instructions initially. The tent came completely assembled with the exception of bolting the mounting rails to the underside of the tent and attaching the included ladder. All hardware is included and offered little difficulty in affixing the rails to the tent. The rails can be oriented to allow the Yulara to open to either side of the vehicle or to open off the rear. I opted to orient the tent to fold over the driver’s side of my 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser to keep the tent away from the exhaust on the passenger side. Lifting the tent is easy for two adults. Attaching the tent to my tubular roof rack is very straight forward with the included clamps. I utilized my own tools, however there is a tool pouch included that comes with all tools necessary to mount and maintain the tent. The final step is to attach the heavy PVC weather cover into its channel. This protects the tent while it is folded and stowed.
Available separately, I purchased the matching annex and a ladder extension. The ladder extension was necessary due to my Land Cruiser having a suspension lift above the factory height. I recommend adding this extension to the tent with any vehicle above factory height to help maintain the appropriate ground-ladder angle when the tent is set up. The annex space truly opens up the Yulara for family camping. The annex attaches to the underside of the tent adding floor space and essentially doubling the square footage. It utilizes the PVC cover channel and a heavy-duty zipper. A thick PVC floor, made from the same material as the weather cover, zips to the bottom of the annex walls. Metal tent stakes and a rubber scuff pad that protects the PVC floor from the ladder’s feet are included.
General Impressions: The TJM Yulara is a very well-built tent. The main upper section is made of cotton canvas ripstop material and all seams of the tent have been weather sealed to keep water out. A nylon rain fly is included that is permanently affixed to the framework of the tent. Inside the Yulara, there are four large storage pockets and straps that act as hand-holds to aid entering and exiting the tent. Two large windows with mesh screen are found on the sides of the tent and have shades that deploy with spring steel rods. Another large window, identical in size to the main door, is located at the far end of the tent. A set of four small bungee cords are included that attach to rings along the inside to draw the material of the tent inward when folded. Set-up and take-down are very quick. Once I was familiar with the operation of the Yulara, I was able to deploy the tent in under five minutes without the annex attached, and approximately ten minutes with the annex. Stowing the tent takes a short time longer.
Camping with the Yulara: In the six months I have had the TJM Yulara, I have spent approximately 20 nights in the tent. These nights were in weather conditions ranging from below freezing to monsoon rain, to nights when the temperature remained in the 80’s. The tent’s heavy cotton canvas insulates much better than the light material common to most ground tents. This feature, combined with the dense foam mattress, lends to much warmer than expected nights when the temperature dropped below freezing. In the rain, the Yulara proved to be water tight. The annex did, on one occasion, let in a very small amount water–but this was attributed to having the floor pulled too tight and thus mis-aligning the flap over the annex zipper. The large shades over the side windows allow the windows to be opened in the rain, providing ventilation with no water intrusion. The large windows allow for excellent air flow and help keep the tent reasonably cool during warm nights. The mattress is more than adequate for a comfortable night’s sleep without causing any undue pressure on my shoulders or hips.
Rants & Raves: During my time with the TJM Yulara I have absolutely no complaints about the build quality of the tent. It has proven itself night after night showing no signs of wear whatsoever. The only complaint I have is regarding the quality of the tent stakes included. In the hard rocky soil of Colorado, the stakes have not lasted and all but 2 stakes have bent beyond use. Some areas of the world may not have this issue, but in my geographical area it was a definite headache when the stakes bent with little effort. I have since replaced the stakes with more of a heavy duty tent stake and have had no issues. One difference noted with the TJM Yulara and an almost identical tent from CVT called the Mt. Shasta is the annex construction material. The annex on the Yulara is constructed from heavy nylon, whereas on the CVT Mt. Shasta, it is made from the same cotton canvas ripstop material as the main tent. In testing (visual comparison to a friend’s Mt. Shasta), this difference shows no variation in quality and it should also be noted that the Yulara with the annex added still costs less than the CVT by $200-$300, depending on the distributor.
One modification I did make to the Yulara, was that I wanted to add the annex room without removing the weather cover. There are no provisions from TJM to accomplish this, however, CVT does sell a tent accessory called the Annex Channel. I purchased this item in a 56-inch length (since the TJM Yulara is constructed almost identically to CVT’s tents). Adding this channel not only allowed me to leave the weather cover attached to the tent, but I was also able to leave the annex walls attached and fold them up with the Yulara. This enabled me to accelerate my set-up and take-down even more, needing to only zip the annex floor onto the tent once set up.
Conclusions: In the competitive market of roof top tents, TJM has hit a home run with their line by maintaining the build quality while keeping the price point low . The TJM Yulara can be sourced from Toytec Lifts for $899 and the annex for an additional $259. The ladder extension can be sourced for around $50.