Kim Sandefur and Tom Breen were tired of bad weather raining on their parade — or rather their tent — while camping out of their short bed truck.
“Last year, we were living in Washington and had a rooftop tent, which we loved for a while. But every time we went camping, it rained,” Sandefur said. “The tent was soaked every time. So we had to open it up and dry it out, and it was just a hassle.”
“We decided to buy a topper for the truck and sleep in the back of the Tacoma. But we had a 5.5-foot truck bed, and Tom is over 6 feet tall, so we’d have to sleep with the tailgate down, which didn’t solve our rain problem,” she added.
Sandefur started looking for tents that could fit under a truck bed cover and extend full coverage to the end of an open tailgate, but came up empty.
So, after moving to Denver last year, the couple created Topper Tent, a polyurethane-coated ripstop nylon rainfly that can be attached to the open backend of first, second or third-generation Toyota Tacomas and Chevy Colorado trucks.
Sandefur taught herself how to sew on YouTube and started selling Topper Tents on Facebook after testing the product out with Breen. She said she sold 10 “before it became too much to handle.”
Now, the couple have found a manufacturer in Longmont to help produce their first batch of 120 Topper Tents. And they’re using Kickstarter to fund the first production run.
“I was making them on my kitchen counter, which wasn’t ideal. So, I decided to lean into the professionals,” she said.
Sandefur and Breen launched their Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $6,000 on Nov. 26, and met their goal in 20 days. As of Dec. 29, they’ve raised $7,081 from 46 backers with four days to go.
“I wanted to see how the market would receive it without the risk,” Sandefur said. “I had no idea how it was going to work out. I knew there was some interest in it, but it was really a mystery to me.”
Once the campaign closes, they plan to retail Topper Tent on their website for $200.
Topper Tent comes with adhesive Velcro strips for storing the tent inside the rooftop of a truck bed cover, and it takes about a minute to set up, unlike other rooftop tents, according to Sandefur. There are other truck bed tents out there, like the Kodiak Canvas, but most cover the bed of the truck or don’t account for a truck topper.
“And if it rains, you don’t have to worry about getting wet because it connects to the inside of the truck,” Sandefur said. “And you can just leave the Topper Tent hanging on the outside of the truck to dry. You don’t have to come back home, take the cover off the rooftop tent and dry that out separately.”
Eventually, the couple wants to launch a tent for larger trucks like F-150s and Tundras, as well as SUVs.
Topper Tent is Sandefur’s full-time gig. She previously worked as a bookkeeper. Breen works in a cardiac cath lab.