Kelty Tents Review – A Complete Look at Their Top Tents

In business since 1952 and based out of Colorado, Kelty is one of the top tent and outdoor goods brands. The company is about building products that last, being playful and spontaneous and inspiring people to be adventurous.

With a wide range of products, Kelty can provide individual campers, couples and families a tent or shelter to suit their camping needs. Additionally, Kelty conforms to a code of conduct that includes a pledge to maintain ethical standards and employ no child, prison, or forced labor.

What Are Kelty Tents and How Do They Work?

As the creator of the first aluminum backpacking frame, Kelty is one of the leaders in the camping and outdoor goods space. The company offers several types of tents, from simple, light sun shelters to rugged backpacking tents and spacious family-sized accommodations. Kelty’s focus is creating durable equipment that lets people have refuge during camping or open-air events.

Many Kelty products are rated for three seasons of use. The tents are designed to set up quickly and easily. Several have an easy entry door, and many feature polyester or nylon as the main fabric for floors.

Kelty tents usually feature generous mesh vents. Many models have rain fly attachments and taped floor seams. Most Kelty tents are freestanding, have quick stash storage pockets and come with tent poles that use extreme weather shock cord. Capacity depends upon the model, but Kelty offers a variety of tents that comfortably fit one, two, four, six and eight people. Many of the product names indicate the number of people who can comfortably sleep inside the tent.

kelly unique tents

What Makes Kelty Tents Unique?

One unique aspect of Kelty tents is the generous amount of mesh in its shelters, which helps prevent condensation and moisture buildup within the interior walls. Many of its tents are designed to be packed up. Most models have tent poles that collapse for easy storage. The tent poles are designed to work, even if the shock cords inside snaps during a trip. If this inner cord happens to break, Kelty offers reasonable repair rates for equipment damaged by normal wear and tear.

In fact, the warranty and repair service makes buying a Kelty tent a good investment. As long as the tent is clean when sent in for repair, Kelty provides a full repair facility for a nominal charge. There also is a lifetime warranty against material and workmanship defects. Kelty staffs a Warranty and Repair Department during regular business hours to field inquiries about warranty and repair work.

Furthermore, Kelty designs its gear to last. Many users comment on the reliability and durability of their Kelty gear. Even during significant weather events, users lauded many models of Kelty tents as staying dry during downpours and withstanding the elements.


Kelty offers affordable tents at several price points. The lower-cost options are often cabanas, sun shelters, tarps or screens. These range from a [amazon_link asins=’B01JBT9UQ0|B01JBT9UQ0|B01JBT9UQ0′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’myfamilytent07-20|myfamilytent_ca-20|myfamilytent_uk-21′ marketplace=’US|CA|UK’] Rover Tarp, which includes poles, to a [amazon_link asins=’B077V1M41N|B077V1M41N|B077V1M41N’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’myfamilytent07-20|myfamilytent_ca-20|myfamilytent_uk-21′ marketplace=’US|CA|UK’] Noah’s Screen 12, which is designed to be an away-from-home screened porch. Shelters, tarps and screens are good options for short-term shade and sun protection needs in fair weather. The sunshades and cabanas should not be used for overnight trips or less-than-ideal weather conditions.

However, the tarp tents are suitable for backpackers who want to travel light and have rain protection. In addition to the Rover, there are three more tarps offered by Kelty. They are Noah’s Tarp, Mirada Tarp and Upslope Tarp.

Other cabanas, screens and sun shelters start at $99.95 for a cabana with a movable front wall and window covers and go up to [amazon_link asins=’B00NFCG8HO|B00NFCG8HO|B00NFCG8HO’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’myfamilytent07-20|myfamilytent_ca-20|myfamilytent_uk-21′ marketplace=’US|CA|UK’] for the Shade Maker 2. Of note is the Sunshade with Side Wall that comes with a backpack carry bag and two color options and provides respite from the sun during festivals or outdoor sporting games.

To satisfy more traditional camping needs under $100, the Rover is Kelty’s twist on a classic pup tent, fitting one person and starting at $89.95. The Outback 2 tent is priced at [amazon_link asins=’B01JBT8S54|B01JBT8S54|B01JBT8S54′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’myfamilytent07-20|myfamilytent_ca-20|myfamilytent_uk-21′ marketplace=’US|CA|UK’] and designed for two people, and features easy entry and exit.

New campers or those wanting to try the Kelty brand for the first time will find several tents offered in the $100 to $200 range. The Acadia 2 tent provides more head and shoulder room. Designed for one person, the Salida 1 tent features compact folding poles for easy backpack storage. The Grand Mesa 2 tent is perfect for up to two people while backpacking. The Yellowstone 4 has a four-person capacity, an awning fly and continuous pole sleeves.

Great for car camping and festivals, the Outback 4 tent has one vestibule and sleeps four. The Salida 2 is the two-person version of the Salida 1.

The Gunnison 1 with footprint has an all-in-one-hubbed pole design, compact carry cube and fully taped seam construction. The Gunnison 2 tent with footprint is for two people and features two doors to minimize crawling over your traveling companion to go to sleep.

The Acadia 4 includes a stargazing fly so you can enjoy the night sky while you drift off to sleep. The Mirada tent is a structure designed to fit inside a Mirada tarp for additional weather protection.

For buyers interested in the $200 to $300 price range, Kelty offers 15 tents, whose occupancy maximum is noted by the number in the product name. Some include a footprint, which is like a ground tarp to help prevent wear and tear on the bottom of a tent.

For Kelty tents more than $300, there are six options.

public perception

Public Perception (Other Kelty Reviews)

Kelty has a reputation as a reliable and durable brand. Many people are familiar with Kelty as a backpacker’s first choice, as they offer several aluminum-frame backpacks for avid hikers and mountaineers. These tents are a great entry into more serious camping or backpacking activities.

On Kelty’s website, most of its tents have an average of four out of five stars. Some models have five out of five stars. Many of their tents feature YouTube video walkthroughs with a person for scale, which is particularly helpful if choosing a tent solely online.

On Amazon and REI’s websites, Kelty’s tents have an average of four-and-a-half stars out of five. Users often praise the quality, design and ease of setting up the tents in their reviews. Most said they would purchase another Kelty tent in the future.

Several people specifically pointed out that the durability of Kelty was better when compared to other major brands such as Marmot or Coleman. Many shared stories of their Kelty tent remaining dry inside during rainstorms or staying in place during extreme winter conditions as proof of the brand’s superiority when it came to outdoor shelters.

Speaking specifically about the Gunnison 4 tent, one user said, “I had no issues setting up the Gunnison 4 tent by myself. I had rain three of the five nights out camping and I didn’t have any issues with leaks. It was nice and roomy inside.”

Switchback Travel, Man Makes Fire, Popular Mechanics and Wirecutter have selected Kelty’s tents as a top choice for camping, backpacking and outdoor activities.

However, many buyers complained that the tents were very tight, especially for taller users. Others noted that because interior space was very compact, gear needed to be stored outside in the vestibule rather than inside the tent. Many solved this issue by purchasing a tent meant for more occupants.

Some buyers complained about the perceived cheapness in the tent materials and that not all tent seams were completely sealed, but at this price point, inexpensive materials and critical taped seaming are not uncommon phenomena among the major brands. Critical taped seaming is when a manufacturer only seals areas that are deemed critical, or most likely to need waterproofing. “Taped seams” is the term that usually comes up in product descriptions. Sealing all seams is known as fully taped seams.

More experienced backpackers observed that some of the tents were heavy and bulky for serious backpacking, but the tents mentioned were explicitly designed to be more durable for more extreme weather conditions. Another common complaint was that the rain fly feature could be difficult to place correctly. Moreover, some reviewers noted that the poles bent easily, but were still usable.

A few tent models don’t include vents, which several buyers said made those particular models very hot during the summer. Occasionally there were complaints about pole sleeves being sewn too tightly to ease the tent poles into without some difficulty.

How It Compares

Kelty often compares to brands such as Marmot, Coleman and Tarptent. Many of these brands are very similar in their price point options. The more expensive these tents, the more features the companies offered.

Coleman can have much lower-priced tents, but the lower price comes with lower quality materials and less durability than Kelty. Similar to most major brands at this price point, there are some less expensive materials such as polyester, nylon and aluminum. This means that the tents could rip and poles could bend more readily than higher-end (and higher-priced) models.

Both Coleman and Kelty tents have some models where buyers complain about cheap tent stakes and that users chose to upgrade them. Without a tarp or footprint underneath, all the tents tended to get scratches and begin to wear out.

Tarptent’s products are often much lighter than Kelty, as Tarptent specifically designs and creates ultra light tents for backpacking.

Compared to Marmot and Coleman tents, Kelty’s tent design can feel a bit snug. However, this compactness is because the tents are designed for being stored and taken into campgrounds via backpack. With Kelty, gear often needs to be stored in the vestibule rather than inside the tent with the sleepers.

However, when set up properly, Kelty tents can often withstand the elements better than other brands. In particular, Kelty tents with rain flys and fully taped seams offer greater protection against possible leaks.

What We Think

The final vote is that Kelty tents are a great option for a mid-priced product. When taking into account Kelty’s warranty coverage against defects and reasonable repair rates for minor wear and tear, selecting a Kelty tent should provide several seasons of average use for individuals, couples or families.

Some of the two-person tents like the Outback 2 can feel a bit snug, especially with taller users. However, there are many larger models to accommodate a couple who may want more than 30 square feet (2.8 square meters) of floor area.

Campers who plan on heavy use or those who anticipate particularly challenging outdoor conditions should look for Kelty models with fully taped seams.

coupon and deals

Coupons and Deals

There are occasionally special offers from the company website such as free ground shipping. Joining loyalty clubs and signing up for newsletters often can result in store-specific discounts. If you wait until the end of the camping season, you might be able to find overstock or floor models for less than retail pricing. There also can be offers on last-season or older models of Kelty tents. Also, many places can offer deals during major holidays and before the start of camping season.

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