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Kelty Trail Ridge 6 Tent
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- Packaged Weight 14 lb. 12 oz.
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 96 x 120 x 72˝
- Number of Poles: 4 Type: DAC DA17 Aluminum
- Freestanding design
- Taped seams on floor and fly
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Looking for a spacious interior? The Trail Ridge incorporates a multi-diameter pole configuration that enables the walls to stay steep and aggressively arch toward the top for a much larger livable space. This ideal family tent also has two equal-sized vestibules flanking each end for easy entry/exit and plenty of storage.
Looking for a spacious interior? The Trail Ridge incorporates a multi-diameter pole configuration that enables the walls to stay steep and aggressively arch toward the top for a much larger livable space. For more space, this tent includes two equal-sized vestibules for plenty of storage. Other features include mesh wall panels, taped floor seams, clip-and-pole-sleeve construction, internal storage pockets, and noiseless zipper pulls. Waterproof fly keeps out moisture.
- Freestanding design
- Continuous pole-sleeve construction
- Clip and pole sleeve construction
- Taped floor seams
- Gear-loft loops
- ArcEdge floor
- Mesh wall panels
- Internal storage pockets
- Noiseless zipper pulls
- Taped seams
- Side-release tent/fly connection
- Fly vents
- Noiseless zipper pulls
- Guyout points
- Seasons: 3
- Number of doors: 2
- Number of vestibules: 2
- Capacity: 6
- Minimum weight: 13 pounds, 13 ounces
- Packaged weight: 14 pounds, 12 ounces
- Floor area: 80 square feet
- Vestibule area: 22 square feet plus 22 square feet
- Dimensions: 96 by 120 by 72 inches (L x W x H)
- Packed diameter: 9 inches
- Packed Length: 25 inches
- Number of poles: 4
- Pole type: DAC DA-17
- Wall material: 68D polyester
- Floor material: 68D nylon, 1800 mm
- Fly material: 75D polyester 1800 mm
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Top Customer Reviews
Before I go into the details, be aware that tent ratings are based on "tight quarters" camping--with the occupants sleeping shoulder to shoulder like sardines. It's a mathematical, not a practical calculation, and it doesn't factor comfortable "living space" into the equation. You don't really want to put 6 adults in this tent. But it's perfect for up to 4 adults, or for two adults with up to 3 small children.
Now for the good stuff...
EASY, PAINLESS SETUP: The tent is erected with two main poles. The poles are large-diameter DAC aluminum, which is much lighter and stronger than fiberglass and will weather storms far better. The aluminum sections fit together seamlessly, which means there are no raised joining collars to snag as you feed the poles through the tent sleeves. The sleeves are perfectly cut to produce a tight, wrinkle-free, superbly shaped structure once the tent is standing. They are also cut full enough to ensure good standoff from the tent body, ensuring the rainfly will not sag and touch the main tent. This is important because that buffer of air between the main tent and the rainfly is vital to prevent condensation. On a poorly designed tent, condensation may actually cause more water to get inside than from rain! No worries about that here though.
On my first setup, with no familiarity with this particular tent, I was able to pitch the tent body in 180 seconds (yes, only three minutes flat!). Then I was able to attach the rainfly AND stake out the four guylines in another three minutes. In other words, this tent will easily pitch in six minutes or less. That is phenomenal (compare this to the 25 minutes it took me to pitch the comparably sized Coleman Ara, which is much more complicated yet much poorer in structural shape than this tent). More importantly, I achieved that time without trying to rush. It was simply a painless, easy setup. Just stake out the four corners of the tent tightly. Slide in the two main poles. Erect the tent by fitting the pole ends into the grommets at each tent corner. Snap in the two partial poles that help to refine the slope of the walls for more headspace inside. Done! After that, attaching the rainfly is as easy as tossing it over the tent and snapping it into place with four nylon buckles. Then walk around the tent and stake out the guylines. Simply awesome.
SUPERB DESIGN: The design of the tent is simple, but superb. Besides easing the setup by sticking to a basic 2-pole cross-over dome style, Kelty added two partial poles that run front to back to modify the dome shape into something closer to a cube. The partial poles reduce the inward slope of the front and rear walls, which means more headspace inside and a slightly stronger, better tensioned overall structure. The tent feels very roomy as a result. You never feel like you have to sit in the middle in order to sit up comfortably or to keep your head from brushing against sloped walls. Instead, almost every square inch of the tent is usable living space. A 6'1" person can stand up fully in the center of the tent (and even a little way off center) with ease, so it's easy to pull on your pants in the morning!
The rainfly slopes gently outward, especially in the front and back (the door areas). This ensures that all rainwater drains 6 - 12" away from the well-sealed floor seams of the main tent. We pitched our tent in a drainage area in our back yard and then slept in it through EIGHT HOURS of consistent, ample rain. With the rain falling all night and even draining underneath the tent, there was no seepage through the floor's fabric or seams. In fact, we ended up with less than half a cup of water inside, which was distributed in droplets near each door. I'm 99% certain that water entered when we were entering and exiting the tent--NOT as a result of any leaking. That is simply amazing. It was pure coincidence that we got so much steady rain on our first trial of the tent, but I am happy to report that, as long as you keep the rainfly closed, it ranks among the driest tents I've ever slept in. The mildly sloping rainfly should also shed wind better than a flatter or more open design, but I can't confirm that since there was almost no wind during the night.
The rainfly snaps into place with nylon buckles. This is nice because (1) it attaches quickly and easily, (2) it releases easily when taking down the tent, and (3) it permits you to adjust the rainfly's tension by simply pulling the webbing through the buckle--making it easy to get a nice snug fit. There is a small bungee loop sewn into the middle of each of the two sidewalls of the rainfly, allowing you to stake the sides out to tension the lower edge of the rainfly away from the main tent body. This promotes much better air flow between the rainfly and tent. A lot of affordable tents omit this important feature, but it's one reason we had zero trouble with condensation despite sleeping with the rainfly sealed up tightly.
EXCELLENT VENTILATION FOR WARM WEATHER CAMPING.
If you look at pictures of the tent without the rainfly, you'll quickly notice that almost every part of the main tent body is mesh except for the floor, an 18" tall band of opaque fabric running all the way around the tent sides (adjacent to the floor), and the two doors (which are mostly opaque except for a small mesh panel in the top of each door). EVERY other part of the tent body is mesh. This means 360 degree visibility and straight-up stargazing when the rainfly is removed! I've had 2-person backpacking tents with this feature, but I looked a long time before I could find a true family tent that offered the same luxury. I consider it a vital feature since my family lives in Georgia and hot, humid camping is par for the course in the summertime.
I didn't understand why they made the doors opaque until I slept in the tent with the rainfly in place. Then I realized that by attaching the fly and opening the doors on each side (which can be rolled up and held open with a tidy toggle attachment already sewn in for that purpose), it allows air to flow freely into and around the tent without sacrificing privacy. The opaque doors of the main tent body prevent people from seeing in through the open rainfly, and the rainfly prevents people from seeing in from all other angles. Brilliant! You can bask in the luxurious feeling of an unimpeded breeze (make sure you pitch the tent with the doors pointed toward the dominant breeze for this reason), and yet you can change your clothes or snuggle with your spouse without any concern about privacy, even if you're camping right next to another family! Again, I can't tell you how impressed I am that someone thought so carefully about this.
In rainy weather, you WILL need to close up the rainfly or else the very short peak over the doors will let rain drip down onto the main tent body. It would be nice if they extended those peaks another 6" outward to prevent this, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that, even with the rainfly sealed up, the ventilation inside is still quite good. One reason is the fact that I had used the guylines and bungee loops to tension the fly correctly so that it sits approximately 3" away from the tent body, allowing air to flow up and in. Another reason is that Kelty builds two roof vents (one on each side) into the rainfly. They have a small velcro tab that holds them open so warm body heat can rise up and escape. Again, this is crucial to preventing condensation--and not a feature you're likely to find on cheaper tents. Yet another reason is because so much of the tent body is mesh. On other tents, there might be large windows, but it's still hard for air to flow up under the rainfly, rise up along the walls, and then make a sharp turn to enter the tent through a window opening. But with this tent, if any air gets under the rainfly (which it will), it is sure to spill into the tent unimpeded by fabric.
GOOD ORGANIZATION OPTIONS: Inside the tent, there are four mesh pockets (one on each wall, hung about 18" above the floor) and a gear loft (a large mesh pocket that suspends from four attachment points on the center ceiling to make a kind of shelf--sometimes called a "gear attic"). I don't think this is a coincidence in a tent so ideally suited to four campers. In fact, I suspect a clever design expert at Kelty thought very smartly about the family camping experience. What it means is that one person can each have their own organizer pocket for stowing their own personal items. I kept a flashlight, glasses, and pocket camera in mine. My two-year-old daughter kept a flashlight and sippy cup in hers. And before I even thought of it, my daughter said, "Look daddy, a pocket for Mommy and baby sister too!" (pointing at the other two pockets). Brilliant! What a wonderful design element to make it easier for a family to stay organized without fighting over who gets to use the only one pocket (or maybe two pockets) that a lot of other tents include. But it gets even better... When I realized my two-year-old was going to keep playing with my pocket camera, I moved it to the gear attic overhead where she couldn't reach it. Out of sight, out of mind. Did you get that? A pocket for everyone AND a place to put expensive, fragile, or unsafe items (pocket knives, bugspray, etc.) out of reach from your children! This is a perfect organizer setup for a 4-member family. And if you have three children instead of two like me, you can give a pocket to each child and to mommy. Daddy can just use the gear loft for his stuff. I'm very impressed.
One last note about organizer pockets. With every other tent I've ever owned, including $400 and $500 high end tents, I have always had to purchase the mesh gear loft (they provide the sewn-in attachment points on the tent, but the mesh loft is always sold separately as an accessory). In this case, when I unfolded the rainfly, I was stunned to see a mesh gear loft fall out. It's INCLUDED! Thank you Kelty!
ONLY TWO SHORTCOMINGS: If I could improve this tent, I would only make two changes. One of those changes applies to every mid- to low-end tent... I would upgrade the wire stakes! Those stupid wire stakes come with every mid- to low-end tent. They bend easily, they hurt your palms when you drive them into hard ground, they hold poorly, and they can really do some damage to your foot if you trip on them barefoot or while wearing open sandals. Just go ahead and buy some proper aluminum stakes of the Y shape (such as MSR Groundhogs) and you'll be much happier. That's really not a critique of Kelty since every manufacturer seems to ship their tents (under $300) with wire stakes.
The other shortcoming is the rainfly, which is already great, but could be made better by extending the peaks over the doors by another 6" to 8". That would allow you to sleep with the rainfly open in a gentle downward rain, which would be so cool. At present, if you tried that, it would slowly drip onto the door panels of the tent. That wouldn't be a problem, but as it runs down the door panels to the lower zipper seam, those droplets would then slowly seep into the tent. If it was a very gentle rain, I would probably just let it. But last night, the rain was so hard I think we would've woke to a very wet tent if I had tried it. So, it would be nice to have a little more coverage over the doors. It's a small concern, and not something that will bother me about this tent. I already love it.
NOTES OF INTEREST: Cool-weather campers will want to have a good (warm) sleeping bag. The ample mesh of the tent means it will sleep cooler than a more enclosed tent style, though closing up the rainfly will provide some warmth and draft-protection. This is an ideal summer tent, but will be a little cool in chilly weather in the late Fall or early Spring. Dress a little warmer and that won't be a problem. (Personally, I always prefer a cool, airy design over a warm, stuffy one.)
The colors and style of the tent are tasteful. The off-white rainfly with light green and medium orange trim is bright enough to find easily in the woods, but it is not an obnoxiously bright orange or red like "sportier" tents. It simply looks nice.
To protect your tent, I recommend cutting a polytarp to slightly smaller dimensions than the floor. This will help preserve the nylon floor from punctures and abrasions. Make sure the polytarp does not stick out visibly from the corners of the tent. Otherwise, it will catch water and allow it to pool and stand under the floor, leading to seepage (that's why a "footprint" or groundcloth should always be cut slightly smaller than the floor dimensions... to avoid catching rainwater).
SUMMARY: I am astonished that such a good tent can be had for $220. There is truly no good reason to spend more unless you want a different, more involved design (such as an attached screen porch, for example). For your money, you get DAC aluminum poles, easy grommet-style pole attachments, high quality fabric and waterproofing, painless setup, excellent organization pockets, an included gear loft, and the Kelty warranty. I know you may be drawn to tents in the $100-range, but trust me, this is WAY more tent for the money. Hence my claim that this is probably the single best value you will find in a family tent suitable for two parents and up to three small children (or two large children). Very highly recommended!
(P.S. Read my review of the Coleman Ara 6-person tent if you want to learn more about all the drawbacks that add up to a real hassle with cheaper tents.)
[UPDATE 11-22-2012: I've now had this tent for several months. After several uses--including one night in sub-freezing temperatures--I'm delighted to say it has held up and performed extremely well. In sub-freezing temperatures, it indeed sleeps very cool since there is so much mesh. However, with plenty of blankets, my daughter and I slept nice and warm inside. More importantly, we had no problems with condensation when we woke in the morning. Often, your breath while sleeping in cold weather can lead to drips or puddles of water, but we found no dampness on our sleeping bags or anywhere inside the tent. Clearly, the ventilation is very good on this tent. Every time I pitch it or take it down again, I continue to be pleased with the painlessness of the setup and the ease with which the tent can be stuffed back into its storage duffel. I find it to be MUCH easier than any other tent of this size I have ever used. Well done Kelty! Worth every penny.]
Design and setup: I love the design of the tent body. The poles keep the walls at a steep angle. At 5'10", I'm able to stand up in more than just the middle of the tent. The doors are tall, so I can open the door, walk through the tent, open the back door, and exit without bending over at all. The TR6 is easy to set up with 2 people, but i've been able to do it by myself in about 10 minutes (but i'm getting faster). I was surprised to see a gear loft included! Don't tell anyone, but its made out of the same No-See-Um mesh as the body, so it works great for suspending a tablet overhead for a drive-in movie type experience for the kids. As with most tents, the stock stakes aren't great but will suffice. I bought some MSR Groundhogs especially for the guy lines and fly. I also bought the footprint for added protection. It's great for keeping the bottom of the tent clean when you pack it away.
Putting it to the test: So far, I've used it five times in temperatures ranging from 90 degrees and humid at the beach to 30 degrees and windy in the mountains. In the heat, it regulates temperature well. The fly design allows for excellent airflow when the sides are staked out away from the body. Additionally, I was able to angle the doors to face the breeze and i was impressed how well it breathed. The opaque doors are great for campground camping as they maintain privacy even while the fly doors are open. One night called for rain, so I had to keep the fly zipped. Adequate air flow under the fly and out the vents kept us comfortable and prevented any condensation from forming on the inside. It kicks the pants off of the single wall saunas I've woken up in in the past. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. In the evenings, the campground we stayed in had a major mosquito problem. Thanks to the no-see-um mesh, we were well protected in our Kelty refuge.
"90% Chance of THUNDERSTORMS over night......Hey kids, wanna go camping?" After an enthusiastic "YES!" we packed up the car and headed to our local state park. Just after eating our second s'more, we felt the raindrops. We dove inside our TR6, and shared one of the best times telling funny ghost stories and enjoying each other's company while a torrential downpour pummeled the fly. I quickly told the kids how the sound of the rain made me sleepy and they agreed. Once they were fast asleep, I peeked outside to grab a cold one from my cooler in the vestibule. I kid you not, our tent was sitting in an inch of standing water!! It poured down rain all night and we slept like logs. "THANK YOU, Kelty" was all I was thinking when I woke up and found our tent and all our gear to be bone dry.
A week ago, when the forecast called for a low of 30 degrees overnight, I said "Oh well, let's try it." I was hesitant to expose my 4 year old to those temperatures, but I staked the fly close to the bottom of the tent at the sides and closed the fly vents. I used a little space heater, and the tent protected us against the cold winds, no problem. I woke up a dozen times through the night to check that my kids were warm and they were sound asleep and snug. In the morning, our wash tub was frozen solid.
So, there you have it. From sweltering heat, to ice cold overnights, to monsoon-like rain, I trust the Trail Ridge 6 to protect our family and keep smiles on their faces. They are developing a love for camping and a love for the great outdoors. I couldn't be happier with my purchase of the Kelty Trail Ridge 6.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Tall adults can fully stand up, since there is a ridge pole spreading out the tall section of the roof. Design is pretty good.