Tent Review – Kelty Grand Mesa 4 is best of the cheaper tents

In preparation for this year’s Boundary Waters wilderness trip, we needed to grab another tent for some of the folks going with us.  We wanted to get a less expensive tent, but one that could survive inclement weather and be durable.   After some extensive reviews, we purchased Kelty’s Grand Mesa 4.

The tent is lightweight (~8 lbs) and packs relatively small (8″ x 25″) and has shown strong ability to stay dry in rain. The rainfly has a built-in vestibule, which is a nice feature.  If you want a tent in the $150 range that can hold up to the demands of the wilderness, you might want to consider this one.  I don’t think it’s as tough as the Eureka Timberline 4, but I’m very impressed so far.

There are two aspects to this tent that you need to know.  First, it’s not vented well with the rainfly on. In the back of the tent is just a small triangular window.  We’ll see how this functions over an entire week, but I think I’d want some flexibility in determining the amount of breeze without having to unfasten the rainfly.  

Second, the tent is vented too well.  In the front, behind the vestibule, is only a mesh door.  So, you cannot zip in and try to keep your body heat contained in the tent.  And you can’t take the rainfly off without losing a lot of privacy.

We’ll see how this all plays out on the trip this summer and I’ll update my thoughts.  Still, we’re excited about this tent and think it will perform well.  It’s received strong reviews from Backcountry.com and Trailspace.com.

Again, this isn’t the wimpier department store $40 versions (we’ve been through 4 of those) that will leak at the slightest rainfall. If you want something that’s versatile, solid for the backyard and the backpack, this easy-to-setup 4 person tent is worth considering.

UPDATE: (3/23/11) This article remains one of the most popular on my website. So, I thought I’d provide an update. The tent performed admirably during our trip, and the interior stayed dry during an average rain (we use an external and internal ground cloth with each of our tents, a must). The only issue with the tent is that it is a warm weather tent. The campers in the Eureka Timberline 4 could close it up tight and create a shell against the 32 degree nights better than the folks in the Mesa, which has a gap between the screen and rain-fly. This may not be an issue for people with good sleeping bags and appropriate dress, but it’s worth noting. On the other hand, in hot summer weather, this tent would fare better than the Timberline, I think.

We’re pleased with the Mesa so far and will keep using it again this year.