The Tembo 4x4 roof rack is the storage base for all your adventure gear. This heavy duty aluminium roof rack fits nicely on the roof of your vehicle and makes sure you can bring all the necessary equipment on your camping trip or expedition. We make good use of it, time for a review.
When we first bought the Defender it came with a galvanized roof rack, the original safari-style one that you see in the movies a lot. It was a great piece of kit that withstood the test of time. It was also the rack we used on the 2017 Europe roadtrip. But it lacked some essential requirements for the future.
Once we started planning the 2020 South-America trip we soon realised the Defender would be too high to fit into a shipping container with this galvanized rack. It was time to look for a different solution, a new rack with a lower profile. Luckily for us we were still in contact with Tembo 4x4, the company that also made our rooftop tent. After visiting their shop we knew they had the solution to our problem: a new aluminium roof rack with a lower profile and good mounting solutions.
We soon got our hands on the new Tembo roof rack, which upgraded the looks of the Defender the moment it was installed on the vehicle. We have used the rack for almost a year now, including a 22.000+ km trip to Scandinavia, Spain and Portugal. Driving thousands of kilometers off-road. It's finally time to tell you more about it and share our experiences.
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What is the Tembo 4x4 Defender 110 roof rack?
The Tembo 4x4 roof rack is a heavy duty aluminium rack that provides a base to transport your expedition equipment on top of the vehicle. It's made in The Netherlands and is built with high-quality 6063 aluminium. Using the newest design techniques (3D-CAD) and highest standards Tembo made sure their rack is strong, lightweight and reliable. It has a great appearance and good aerodaynamic performance.
The rack is available for different vehicle brands and types and comes in a few different colors. We bought the black powder coated roof rack for the Defender 110 Station Wagon, which fits nicely and snug onto the roof. Minimizing the space in between, thus not creating unnecessary height. Which is great for shipping a vehicle across the globe, but also keeps the center of gravity lower. The sleek design and black color adds to the aesthetics of the vehicle, giving it a uniform and high-end look.
Both the flooring and the outer frame are provided with T-slots that act as bolt guides. You’ll be able to use square nuts to mount a variety of accessories on the rack. We use this to secure the rooftent, top-frame, Zarges aluminium storage boxes, jerrycan in its Front Runner jerrycan holder, awning, Autohome aluminium ladder and the solar panel. Yes, our roof rack is fully loaded. We try to keep the heavy items low in the vehicle, but even then our roof rack takes a considerable amount of weight.
This all sounds pretty good right? Let's talk about the pros and cons after one year of heavy use.
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- The roof rack has a sleek appearance, especially with the black powder coating.
- The coating is very hard wearing and hasn’t aged after beating it for almost a year. This includes six months of fulltime travel.
- The profile of the walkboards provide sufficient grip, even when it's raining or snowing.
- It’s easy to mount on the roof of the vehicle. The eight legs clamp onto the gutter and don't require any drilling.
- Both the side-rails and walkboards have bolt guides in them. Mounting accessories is very easy using square nuts.
- It’s made of aluminium, which means no rust! Which is great when overlanding in wet places.
- It's very sturdy. So far it has survived 40.000 km, of which 10.000+ km off-road, whilst heavily loaded.
- Removing snow from under the roof rack can be a bit difficult. It's a downside of any roof rack with a low profile.
- You can’t slide two square nuts underneath each other in the bolt guides. You may have to shuffle some nuts around when adding a new accessory.
- The space between the walk boards is most likely wider than your foot, beware not to step in between. Once you get the hang of this you’ll be fine.
- Fitting a rooftop tent sideways is straight forward. But mounting it so it opens towards the back needs a little adjustment. See below.
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Should you buy the Tembo 4x4 roof rack?
Most overlanders can’t do without their roof racks. Whilst it is important to keep the centre of gravity down, most travelers will need the extra storage space the roof rack provides. The roof rack is a great base for your rooftent and the perfect place to store lightweight bulky items.
If you’re in the market for a roof rack there are a few things to take into consideration when choosing the right product. You can think along the lines of the material used (steel or aluminium), weight, wind noise, rust-prevention, coating, design and accessory mounting options. In our opinion the Tembo rack has a lot going for it, making it a great choice for travelers and fulltime overlanders.
We are very satisfied with the Tembo 4x4 roof rack that we bought. The quality is outstanding and the possibilities for mounting accessories are endless. It truly lives up to the claims and is designed very well. Weighing up the pros and cons we can definitely recommend the Tembo roof rack. If you're outfitting your vehicle for overland travel or camping you should definitely take a look at the Tembo range.
If you would like to hear more about our experiences with the Tembo roof rack feel free to send us a message!
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Pro-tip 1: mounting a rooftent
It seems that mounting a rooftent sideways is the way to go these days. We would rather see it folding out backwards, creating a covered space over the backdoor in the process. Unfortunately you'll need to make a minor adjustment to the support beams of your rooftent to make it fit. It's nothing to be afraid of and only takes five minutes. You simply have to cut away a small corner at both ends of each support beam and you're ready to go.
Pro-tip 2: mounting the ARB Touring awning
Mounting an awning to a roof rack can be quite the challenge. No mounting system is alike and you proably have to get creative. These days Tembo 4x4 has their own range of awnings, which will probably fit onto their roof racks. We still had our ARB Touring awning and decided to use that one instead. To mount the awning to the rack we used custom made stainless steel brackets. Below you can see the design sketch and final result. Thanks to these brackets the awning fits nicely and snug to the side rails of the roof rack.
Disclaimer: Tembo 4x4 is a supporter of our travels, but hasn't paid us to write this review. But we do like to work with (and for) companies that stand by their products and offer great support when necessary. Great relationships keep us on the road with piece of mind. We hope you did like this (independent) equipment review.