KELTY TN2 REVIEW: BEST BACKPACKING TENTS
The Kelty TN2 has all the basics when it comes to tent features that you will need in variable weather. The color coding and linked poles make setup easy, the mesh walls keep it breezy, and you can pull down the 3,000 mm Nylon fly during cold nights or rainy evenings.
While the Kelty TN2 doesn't particularly excel in any one area compared to the peers, it does everything it is intended to do reasonably well, making a good generalist at a slightly lower price than it's competition.
Bottom Line: A good starter tent that won't break the bank. Although, it is a tad let down by it's packed size and weight.
Comfort & Livability
Weight & Packed Size
Ease of Set-Up
|Minimum Trail Weight||4 lbs. 4 oz.|
|Fly / Footprint Pitch Weight||Not applicable|
|Packaged Weight||4 lbs. 13 oz.|
|Packed Size||14 x 11 x 3 inches|
|Floor Dimensions||83 x 50 inches|
|Floor Area||27.5 square feet|
|Vestibule Area||10 + 10 square feet|
|Peak Height||42 inches|
|Number of Doors||2 doors|
|Number of Poles||3|
|Pole Material||DAC aluminum pressfit|
|Pole Diameter||8.5 millimeters|
|Canopy Fabric||15-denier no-see-um mesh|
|Floor Fabric||45-denier nylon|
|Rainfly Fabric||40-denier coated nylon|
There's a name for that thing you do when you leave behind the comforts of four walls and a roof and hit the trail. It's called freedom, and it's sweeter than candy corn. You know this. You've poured this flavor into your coffee while regarding a misty lake or facing the wind full on atop a rocky mountain crag.
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There is no road to happiness; happiness is the road. But there's no way to walk that path safely without the right gear. You love your gear like a firm handhold you manage to get your fingers into milliseconds before slipping. You bring the fancy gadgets when you can, and bring very little when you can't. But no matter what you're up to in the outdoors, you're going to need a tent. You're going to need a good tent. If the gods and your bank account allow, you're going to bring the best tent. We're here to review the Kelty TN2 TrailLogic tent to let you know whether or not this one is the right one for you.
We will now distill our experience, the words on the wind, and the musings of the internet into a comprehensive review of the Kelty TN2.
One of the big pros concerning the TN2 is the headroom it allows. The walls of the tent rise almost vertically to a 42" height at its peak, and the small half pole that goes across the intersecting poles create a good space above you. Thus allowing you to move about without stretching or potentially ripping the nylon with any sharp objects that may or may not be attached to your body. This may seem like a casual luxury, but for anyone who has spent a good amount of time in the outdoors, things can get stressful. It doesn't take a lot to compound that stress and, if you feel like you're sleeping in a coffin, things might get ugly.
Backpackers have found Kelty's measurement of 83" in length to be somewhat generous. Most of us sleep better when we don't have nylon keeping us contained at our head and feet. Backpackers as tall as 6'1" may find this tent a little too short. With a width of 50," this tent will be snug for two, but not terribly tight. Most tents approach 30 square feet in area, but the TN2 only makes it to 27.5. At 42" in height, however, it does go higher than most.
You'll find the fly to be breathable even in hot, humid and wet conditions. We'll discuss the nylon at greater length in the following section.
When it comes to weather resistance, the main thing we're talking about is waterproofing. The fly on the TN2 is 1800 mm, while the floor is 3000 mm. This is certainly not the most waterproof tent out there, but it's pretty damn good for the price. Nylon, unfortunately, is not naturally waterproof; it requires an additional coating. Given enough use, this coating will deteriorate, and you will need to reapply. The TN2 does, however, have taped seams, fixing a classic weak point in tent waterproofing. Based on these qualities, you should not bring this tent to Scotland, any rainforest, or India during monsoon season.
On the other hand, you do not want a crazy waterproof tent during the hot summer months because you will swelter. Except with certain high-end materials such as cuben fiber or non-woven Dyneema, there is usually a direct waterproofing to breathability ratio. The TN2, therefore, is a good choice for climates that get some rain and some sun. May there forever be more of the latter when you're out in the bush.
Another weather factor to consider is wind. We mentioned earlier that we love this tent for the extra headroom it has. That also means that it's boxier and catches more wind than other small profile tents. If you anticipate anything close to gale-force conditions, either bring some reinforced stakes or consider a different option.
On a final note, this is a three season tent. If you use it to camp in the winter, you probably won't have such a good time.
When it comes to the poles, you should get some solid mileage. The TN2 uses poles made by Dongah Aluminum Corporation, a Korean company that's been in the game since 1997. Their aluminum alloy is light, durable, and flexible, like a blade of grass in the wind. The Pressfit method of joining tent poles keeps the poles right and tight and decreases the chances of cracking or stress fractures.
The floor is made of 70D 3000 mm nylon. The fly is 40D 1800 mm nylon. That's decently sturdy. If the fly catches a spark from the fire, it should only burn a small hole. The interior walls of the tent, however, are simple mesh. That's great for breathability, but you are going to want to be super careful with sharp objects inside, that mesh is easy to rip.
Some backpackers have reported issues with the fly window coming apart from the fly. This is not common, however, and Kelty will fix the problem if you send the tent back in. Other than reapplying waterproofing eventually, this tent should keep you going for several seasons.
This category is not the Ketly TN2's forte. It weighs in at 4 lbs, 4 oz and packs down to 14" in length, 11" in diameter. This may not seem very big or cumbersome, but when you're loading up your pack, every pound and square inch counts. In comparison to other tents, the TN2 is nearly twice as heavy. The Nemo Blaze 2p Ultralight, for example, is 2 lbs., 7 oz., and the Tarptent Double Rainbow is 2 lbs. 10 oz.
In some regards, however, a line should be drawn. If your trip is going to be so intense that you're whittling down your toothbrush, you probably have a higher budget, and you're just a little too intense for the TN2. Some great tents are just as heavy or heavier than the TN2. The Hilleberg Anjan 2 is 4 lbs 1 oz. and the REI Half Dome 2 Plus is 5 lbs., 13 oz.
To ensure ease of access and a proper weight distribution, check out our guide on "How to Correctly Pack a Backpack".
Alternatively, learn about Ultralight Backpacking, and how you can start shaving weight off your next trip.
Concerning weight, you will rarely be able to cut down without sacrificing something else. Many lightweight tents are not freestanding, meaning they need to be staked into the ground for support. Others have significantly less space inside. Others still use fabric that is very light but also very prone to tears or burning.
Regarding setup, this tent is both straightforward and color-coded. Two identical poles form an x and stretch out the tent in a basic square shape. Another pole runs horizontally across that x on top to spread out the walls.
You will be able to set this tent up in the dark, even if you hit the whiskey a little hard on the final stretch of the day. Another huge plus is the fact that you can raise and lower the fly into stargaze mode by simply reaching your arm out of the door.
While we praised the TN2 for its headroom, the tent's greatest limitation is its space. It is simply a smaller tent than many other two-person models, and we do not recommend it for anyone over 6'1." Most of these tents have an average square footage of around 30 ft. The TN2 clocks in at only 27.5 ft. That's two and a half square feet of space where you won't be able to put yourself or your belongings.
The TN2 is best used for shorter-term (2-5 nights) hiking, paddling, or car camping trips. It is a good general use tent that may grow a little tight if used for long trips, especially ones where you may be spending your evenings and mornings stuck inside out of the rain.
This tent is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive; neither the highest quality nor the least. Regarding cost, it lies towards the lower end of the spectrum and concerning quality, somewhere closer to the middle. Because of this cost-quality ratio, the TN2 is a good idea if you're not looking to break the bank or trek through any extreme weather conditions. It is surprising that Kelty has been able to include the DAC poles in this tent; they are the highest quality aspect of the tent, have proven light, robust and durable, and should hold up through anything short of a direct lightning strike, alien abduction, or tornado.
When it comes to the nylon on the fly, you are getting some good bang for your buck. Several tents, most of which are more expensive than the TN2, have waterproof ratings of only 1500 mm, 1200 mm, or even just 1000 mm. At 1800 mm, the TN2 should keep you dry for several years of use before you need to reapply waterproofing.
The Kelty TN TraiLogic also comes in three and four-person sizes. If it's in the cards, we prefer a good roomy setup out on the trail. It can be a good idea to buy larger sizes even if you don't have more people. Larger sizes are, of course, more expensive.
Kelty also offers a footprint to accompany the tent. Footprints are waterproof ground sheets intended to prevent groundwater from seeping into the tent and getting you wet from below. We tend to chuckle at the use of these products, as they are often over-priced and less effective than their manufacturers would lead you to believe. If you're worried about water running through your tent, a ground sheet won't do much. You're better off digging a trench instead. If you're still concerned about water, pick up a tarp from your local hardware store and cut it down to the correct dimensions. Tarps are great, and you can use them to build rain shelters over other campsite areas or put your gear on them in dry conditions to keep everything organized and clean.
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The Kelty TN2 and the Big Agnes Copper Spur are very comparable tents, but the Copper Spur tends to win by a little bit in every category. It has an extra square foot and a half of space; it's a pound lighter, has better, lighter poles, and packs down smaller. The Kelty does, however, have a higher waterproof rating, although its fly is more susceptible to rips.
The Copper Spur is significantly more expensive than the TN2. If you're looking to go further or longer, that extra price may be worth it, or it may not.
If you're working with a very tight budget, this North Face tent might be more of a necessity than a better choice. It is cheap. Its aluminum poles help to chalk the weight up to 5 lbs., 14 oz., although it does pack down smaller than the TN2. It also offers three more square feet in size. The waterproof rating is not listed, but it is made from coated polyester, a generally inferior fabric to nylon. The Stormbreak is less durable, weather resistant, and heavier than the TN2, but it's also nearly half the price.
If you're looking for something seriously lightweight, the Nemo Hornet is an excellent choice. It weighs just two pounds and has more room than the TN2. It breaks down in comparison, however, when it comes to durability and weather resistance. The fly is rated at 1200 mm for waterproofing, and the ground fabric is only 1500 (compared to 3000 with the TN2). It all comes down to your own size, preference, and what kind of trekking you're up for.
In an age when everyone seems to be locked to their small blue screens, I am vehemently passionate about getting more people outside to enjoy the wonder of nature. I hope my posts are informative for both the grizzled veteran and the complete novice alike.