Thule’s excuse for hosting an off-site product launch at Summer Outdoor Retailer is that they simply couldn’t fit enough vehicles into a booth to show off all the racks, roof boxes, tents and other cool gear they brought. The most eye-catching was the new Vector cargo box that mimics the silhouette of modern cars, like the sick new VW Arteon fastback sedan. But that wasn’t all, there’s new goods for Vanlife, car-camping, mountain biking, road bikes, and everything in between, plus a sweet new gear bag for anyone riding straight from the office to the group ride or trailhead…
The Vector gives up some cargo capacity for looks and aerodynamics, but the low profile and dropped nose help it follow the lines of high end, sporty vehicles to keep the clean looks.
Those good looks come at a price, though. Retail is $1,499, available end or year or early next. Full specs coming.
Along with the new box will come a new, sleeker mounting system, too. New feet will offer a low-profile mount for their aero cross bars with hidden mounting tracks. Pricing and options coming later this year, too. Check out how it compares to their original design:
This is Thule’s first roof rack system, which only needed one design. Established in 1942, it took a few years before the company settled on vehicle racks as their main business. When they did, they introduced this roof rack to carry skis. It only needed this one foot design because virtually every car on the road had similar rain gutters, and it clamped into those. Now, with so many variations of rain tracks, roof rails, naked roofs and more, they have a massive variety of feed and mounting solutions to fit nearly any vehicle. Even on the back:
Most North American vehicles use a hitch-mounted bike rack, but in Europe it’s a different story, particularly for vans. Check out the upper bike rack mounted to the rear of this van…
The mounts clamp around the rear door and act as tracks that you slide the bike rack or other options into. Clever, and super cool. The ladder on the side of the van is a new collapsible option that they tried to show off at Sea Otter, except the show van they brought had the rough bed-liner paint and it wouldn’t stick. It uses a magnetic mount to hold in place, which is a great solution if you have smooth metal sides on your van.
Speaking of things that stick to the side your car, well, these stick out from the side of your car. They offer several sun shades that extend from a cylindrical case mounted to your roof rack. Both models shown above hide all of the support beams inside the case, either folding into themselves or collapsing and folding into the outer edge.
One simply requires a bit more piecing together than the other, but both are fully self contained. The Thule versions range from $849 to $1,149 and use a more elegant hard case mounted to the roof. Tepui versions start at about a third of that price, but use a soft-sided cover and require more assembly.
That Tepui starts to show promise
The purchase of Tepui has just yielded its first completely new product under Thule’s ownership, though it was likely in the works already. This two-person fold-open roof tent is the smallest they’ve ever made, closing down to just 24″ wide. That leaves room for a kayak, or a couple bikes, on the roof next to it. And a shade canopy.
Called the Tepui Duo, it uses a simple folding hinge with sturdy frame. Just remove any tension poles used for the rain fly and fold it up and the entire thing collapses into a big rectangle. Cover it with the included cover and you’re off. Retail will be $1,100 when it hits stores in Spring 2020. Until then, pay attention to the long-in-the-tooth Tepui U-bolt mounting system. It’s what that brand has always used, but Thule’s reps hinted that it’ll be getting the Thule treatment soon so that their tents better integrate into the Thule rack and cross bar universe. Which will be a welcome update as it’ll make it way quicker and easier to remove the tents when they’re not needed, a process that can take a while with the present design.
They also have new tent covers with premium materials that get Thule/Tepui co-branding for the first time. It’s all coming together…
Last up for the roof are these artist series wraps they commissioned for show, which were wrapped then painted by five different artists. While they (probably) won’t sell them or anything like them at scale, it’s worth seeing since you could easily have your own roof box wrapped with any design you wanted.
Easy on-ramp for e-bikes
Their EasyFold XT hitch rack has a smoother bike mounting platform that others, and it’s kinda aimed at heavier e-bikes that can use the assist of the available ramp to roll them on it and into place. Now, there’s a new, longer EasyFold XT ramp (shown on right, $80) that makes it even easier to get the bikes up there, particularly on taller vehicles with more ground clearance and, thus, a higher rack placement.
Thule’s got a brand new bag
The new Thule RoundTrip Duffel comes in at $120 and has individual compartments for several days worth of riding clothes. There are also special pockets and sections for sunglasses, your helmet and (on the outside) shoes. The front pocket has loops and pockets for your ride gear like a pump, lube, tubes, snacks, etc. And the top flap has a waterproof tarp-material zippered pocket for dirty clothes or wet items.
Close it all up and the criss-cross shoulder strap keeps the bag directly behind you, hidden behind your body, making it easy to navigate through hotel and office corridors, or even the team bus or van. The idea is to make it as easy as possible to bring your bike gear with your, wherever you go, even if you’re rolling or riding your bike.
Next to our model (thanks Kristibee!) are the new women’s Vital hydration packs. The shoulder strap’s yoke and shape have been modified from the original to better fit a woman’s body…
and the oversized side pockets get a small Velcro strap to keep it closed on one side, making it easy to stash your sunglasses without fear of them flying out. They keep the slick magnetic hose attachment that automagically pulls your hose back flush against the strap when you’re done drinking.