Practicality and Packability
The Kelty brand has been a staple in the outdoor industry for many years. Building on this success, Kelty reinvented the Trail Ridge 3 tent with uber modern features, fit for a true adventure seeker. The dynamic nature of camping allows people the freedom to experience the outdoors in whatever ways are most satisfying. Now more than ever, new gear needs to equip adventurers with the tools and features to suit their needs; this will only increase the amount of positive experiences that individuals have while camping.
A trip to Sequoia National Park served as the perfect backdrop to test the new stargazing fly on the Trail Ridge tent. We happened to pursue the dispersed campsites and couldn’t have made a better choice; the entire campsite was ours! Oh, and the milky way happened to make an appearance — the stargazing fly was made for moments like this. Without concern for bugs and other nocturnal creatures, we were stoked to fall asleep staring at the star-light sky, night after night.
In support of our group camping trip to the Sequoias, Kelty sent us the Trail Ridge 3-person tent, w/ footprint. Oh the three man tent — it’s never quite as roomy as you might hope for — prior to setup, you really never know what you’re going to get. let’s be honest, no one want’s to feel packed in like sardines with their friends or family, not even for a couple ounces of weight saving. When we discovered the dual-doors feature from Kelty we immediately smiled over the possibility of an unobstructed 1am bathroom break. That is, if you take our advice and never sleep more than two in a three-man tent — unless you’re at high altitude and need the shared body heat.
All The Bells and Whistles
In a world of an absurd amount of sub $300 backpacking tents it can be really difficult to find the right one that fits your needs. However, the Kelty Trail Ridge has a healthy list of bells and whistles that make tent camping more enjoyable. The internal storage and light hangers are small features that make a huge difference after a long day on the trail. Additionally, the taped seams, vertical walls and x-ray vision proof tent material provide a homey feel that we truly appreciated. You often forget how difficult it can be to move around, yet alone change in a tent. The shape and layout of the Trail Ridge 3 is friendly more even slightly taller campers.
Especially when car camping, it’s always a safe-bet to pack a tent that’s rated for one more person than you plan on camping with. The Kelty Trail Ridge 3 has the perfect amount of room for two full-size adults, and a little elbow room to spare. Three smaller individuals could be comfortable with this space, but don’t expect much room to move in. Again, great for backpacking or bike packing, but for car camping we enjoy the extra comfort of slightly more space.
At just over 7 pounds fully packed, this tent ranks in the middle of the pack for weight comparison. Yes, it’s possible to backpack with this model but this might seem unfair to the group member that has to carry it. Bike-packing or moot-camping? Now we’re talking! Out of the box, the tent is a compact unit that required little room in the truck with the rest of our gear — there was a ton. It might not be looked at as a premier feature, but the tent tube carrying bag was pretty handy as well. Anytime designers pay special attention to organization and east of transport, we highlight these features.
Sequoia National Park is notably one of the most visited parks in the state which leaves little chance of escaping the crowds during peak season. It was a stroke of luck that we found the site that we did; maybe the majority of campers wanted to be closer to “bathrooms” and running water — where’s the fun in that? With our spacious site we took the opportunity to pitch three separate tents to build our own little basecamp. The Kelty Trail Ridge, hands down, was the most simple tent to put together — just two poles is all it takes for this shelter. A color coded clip construction and compact aluminum poles snap into place quite effortlessly. Just match the green poles with the green webbing and the grey poles with the grey webbing.
The tents freestanding design is also a friendly, user-designed feature that made the setup process simple and painless. The entire tent can best be described as a system of lightweight poles and strategically placed clips which tension the structure into place. Beneath the two poles are a canopy made of almost entirely mesh; a great material for ventilation. Two side pillars of polyester intersect the mesh to offer some additional structure and wind protection . The base of the Trail Ridge 3 is also a durable polyester which is completely taped and water proof.
The drastic temperature difference, from morning to evening, left the tent damp and even frosty on the last night — the 68D material kept the inside of the tent dry without concern. The equally durable fly played a role here; it fits incredibly well to the shape of the tent with zero water space — characteristics of a much more expensive mountaineering dome.
Did It Meet Our Expectations?
The weather couldn’t have been more beautiful and cooperative which is what you want when familiarizing yourself with a new tent. A month prior we were using the previous version of this tent in 50-60mph winds; let’s just say there was some duct tape involved in multiple pole repairs — granted, most tents aren’t designed to withstand this force. However, we learned that the new design was in fact an upgrade in relation to quality and interior detail.
This tent stands out with the amount of internal storage and clips for lights on the roof. I had more than enough pockets to store the my phone, flashlight, keys and anything else I had in my pockets. Add on the fly and you have two small vestibules perfect for stowing you bag outside the tent. For those warmer months, keep the fly off and you’ve got a great view of the stars, and great ventilation.
Finding a packable tent that provides enough comfort for a good night sleep is easier said than done; we never felt cramped when changing or rolling out our bags, and always felt like it was roomier than other three-man tents we’ve used before. This is definitely due to Kelty using a center pole that runs the entire width of the tent. Door and zipper placement were also a user-friendly feature. We enjoyed having a tent that had partial covering on it when the fly wasn’t present. At the end of the day, If you’re looking for a new three-man tent with more functional living space, nifty light fixtures, and a super user-friendly design, the Kelty Trail Ridge 3 won’t disappoint. Now get out there and explore something.
Know of someone who’s looking for a new tent? Share this review!