Gear Review

4 5

A Decent Value with Annoyances

Things that I like:

- The tent is easy enough to put up that it can be done by one person, despite its size.
- Color-coding of the poles and the corner rainfly attach points is helpful.
- Very roomy with lots of headroom to stand up in.
- It's reasonably light for a tent this big, though certainly you're not going to backpack with it.
- The rainfly provides excellent to-the-ground coverage of front and rear.
- Temendous ventilation without the rainfly on, and still good with it on.

They skimped on a bunch of little details, which is annoying when you spend the extra for a good brand like Kelty:
- The stakes are pathetically soft aluminum wire. They really cannot be used in hard or rocky soil, and you should immediately replace them. Who thought I needed finicky, lightweight stakes in an 8-person tent that weighs 30 lbs?
- The tent has 7 attach points for guy lines, but it only comes with 6 lines.
- The rainfly attaches to the frame of the tent with velcro, but that velcro is just barely long enough to make it around the frame poles. On the corners this works, as the pole is exposed, but across the roofline, the poles are in sheathes that have cutouts for the velcro straps. However, the cutouts only cut back to within an inch of the pole, leaving the velcro straps about an inch short of the length needed to actually fasten them. I have never succeeded in fastening them.
- Bizarre lack of thought to the packaging: the tent rolls up and it placed in the duffel bag without any kind of binding. The rainfly rolls up and has a thin ribbon supplied to tie it (a ribbon that is prone to disappearing, as it color matches the tent and bags). The stakes and the poles each have their own bags, and a ribbon is sewed on the bags to tie them shut, but it's sewn so close to the mouth of the bag that you'll never spend the time fussing with it to try to get it to stay closed if there's any kind of weather going on. Come on guys - I have 10 lbs of high-strength aluminum poles in a bag, but the cost and/or weight of a drawstring is just too much?
- The feeling I get is that whoever designed this tent had a great background in small backpacking tents, where one obsesses about weight, and didn't really make the leap to the car camping mindset, where convenience is a lot more important than weight. Blow the extra two pounds to give us steel stakes that can be driven into the ground without collapsing, a couple more inches of velcro, and some drawstrings on the bags.

Things that could be improved:
- The rainfly leaves the sides exposed, and the side windows have zip covers. If you get direct rain on one of these windows, you may get a trickle of water at the corners through the zipper. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.
- The "vestibule" doesn't have a roof, per se. It is just part of the rainfly that runs from the top of the tent down to the ground at a shallower angle than the front of the tent. Don't expect to be able to stand up in it.
- The design of this tent largely depends upon your ability to predict from which direction the wind will come in a storm and align the tent such that it hits the front or back and not the sides. This is not uncommon in tents this size, so I'm not dinging the tent too badly on this, but let me explain. First, the tent base is 13'x11', but there are only six stake loops - one at each corner and one in the center of the 13' spans, which means the front and back. So from the front/back, you have 3 stakes across with 6'6" spans, but from the only marginally shorter sides, you have only one at each corner, giving an 11' span for wind to get under. And it will. Add to that that the rainfly comes to the ground in the front and back (but not the sides), and that it is secured to the ground with three more stakes on the front and back. Then, in addition, the rainfly has a guy line at each corner, as well as one in the center of the front, and two near the center of the back. So, if the wind hits the back of the tent, it hits 10 stakes, in the front, 9 stakes, and in either case, the rainfly is designed to split the wind around the tent. But if the wind hits the sides, only 4 stakes, (two at each corner - none holding down the center of the 11' span). Add to this that the sides of the tent tilt out so that the window points slightly towards the ground, and you have yourself a design that is extremely effective at catching the wind and allowing high winds to peal your tent off the ground from the side if, say, the wind shifts 90 degrees right before an afternoon Rock Mountain thunderstorm.