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Reviews > Shelters > Shelter Accessories > Kelty Triptease Lightline > Owner Review by Greg McDonald

May 16, 2008


NAME: Greg McDonald
EMAIL: gdm320 AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 21
LOCATION: Boynton Beach, Florida
HEIGHT: 6' 0" (1.83 m)
WEIGHT: 225 lb (102.00 kg)

I have been camping for 15 years, 11 of them have been spent hiking in the backcountry. My hikes are almost exclusively in Florida and range between one and three nights, although my favorite hike was a 10 day expedition in the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmaron, New Mexico. I consider myself a lightweight but comfortably equipped hiker, with a pack averaging between 25 and 30lbs (11 and 14 kg).

Product Information

Photo Courtesy of Kelty

Manufacturer: Kelty
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US $15
Weight: 1.0 oz (28.35 g)
Length: 50 ft (15.2 m)
Diameter: 3 mm (0.12 in)
Manufacturer's Stated Breaking Strength: 188 lb (85 kg)
Material: 3M Scotchlite
Color: Reflective Gold
Core Material: Dyneema SpectraR 900

Warranty: Technically, like all Kelty products, the Lightline is covered by a limited lifetime warranty. However, I question the warranty a bit because of the exact language of the warranty. The warranty says that it does not cover normal wear and tear, natural hazard damage, abuse or alterations. So theoretically, as soon as I have cut a piece of the Lightline off I have voided the warranty due to alteration. Likewise, a careless neighbor tripping over one of my guylines wouldn't be covered either. The Kelty customer service department didn't have any valuable input on this, so I would classify this as a product without any sort of real warranty.

What It Is

The Kelty Triptease Lightline (henceforth known as "Lightline" for the purpose of this review) is a thin, highly reflective, and durable line product. Kelty specifically states that the Lightline should be used for guylines on tents and tarps, but I have found that it can be used for much more than just that. The Lightline comes packaged in 50 ft (15.2 m) sections, each one weighs only 1 oz (28.35 g), and is very thin and packable.

The Lightline is a reflective gold 3M Scotchlite outter layer with a SpectraR 900 core. The listed diameter by Kelty is 3 mm (0.12 in), something I do not have the tools to verify, which might seem thin and possibly weak but Kelty claims the Lightline has a maximum tensile strength of 188 lb (85 kg). Given that information, this should give the Lightline plenty of strength to perform pretty much any typical backcountry task.

My biggest draw and main purpose of the Lightline is its reflective feature. The exterior of the line is a reflective gold color with a white reflective material interwoven into the outter sheath. These elements come together to form a highly reflective line to reduce tangling or tripping incidents.

Field Use

Kelty says that the Lightline was made for replacing typical guylines found on most tents today. This is where I started with the product when I first came across it nearly five years ago. Since that day, I have replaced all the guylines on each my tents with the Kelty Lightline. While I hate to admit it, being a bit clumsy myself, this is a must-have for me so I can avoid taking out my own shelter by tripping over the guylines in the middle of the night. When I'm only half awake stumbling around outside my tent after a midnight break, the Lightline is a lifesaver. When under a flashlight, or under moonlight if the moon is full and the weather is clear, the Lightline lights up like a Christmas tree making it extremely visible. Not only does it keep me from tripping over my guylines, it keeps the occasional careless or ignorant campsite neighbor from an embarrassing (or infuriating, depending on whether or not I am ASLEEP at the time) incident. The picture below is a rough demonstration of how the Lightline becomes highly visible even in the dark when exposed to light.

Kelty Triptease Lightline lit up by an LED headlamp.

Even when it is bright and sunny, the gold Lightline is much more highly visible than standard dark green or black parachute cord that lots of tents use for guylines. All around, it is much more highly visible than standard guylines to reduce accidents.

However, I have found that the Lightline is good for much more than just guylines - in fact it is one of the most versatile items in my backpack. The number one thing I use it for outside of guylines is as an enhanced zipper pull. All my tent zippers have a small 4 to 5 in (10 to 12 cm) piece of Lightline looped through them. This modification has been a fantastic addition to the shelters, especially the ones with the smaller zippers with no factory zipper-pulls. Not only that, but I've added the pulls to my rain jacket and some of the more important zippers on my pack. I've also tied a piece of the Lightline in the same fashion through the hole in the handle of my CRKT M16-10K knife. Being that the knife is all black, the reflective Lightline makes a normally impossible task of finding it in the dark a breeze.

Next, we get into one of the more controversial uses of the Lightline. Kelty insists that the Lightline should not be used to hang a bear bag. The reasoning for this is twofold. First, at 3 mm (0.12 in) in diameter the Lightline is very thin and could dig into the branch it is slung over. The other reason is that the outter sheath of the Lightline is very abrasive and can saw through the bark.. These factors combine to pose too high a risk of damaging the tree. I am a big supporter of the "Leave No Trace" philosophy, so I do not use Lightline for this purpose. However, given the breaking strength and the length of the cord I have found that it is possible to suspend a bear bag with it in an emergency situation or if there was simply no other option. I am disappointed that I have to carry a seperate length of parachute cord to hang my bearbag, so this is a drawback of the Lightline.

I have also found that a 6 ft (2 m) piece of the Lightline serves very well as a clothesline. I have not noticed any sort of digging into the tree when used in this manner, however when I put heavier loads on the clothesline I have placed something between the line and the trunk of the tree to serve as a buffer.

I personally have never had any issues with the Lightline in terms of holding knots. I use a bowline to attach the line to the webbing or grommets on my tents and tarps, then a tautline hitch on the other end. The tautline hitch allows me to tighten or loosen the guylines without having to move the stakes around, which is important when you have rough terrain and it is hard to find a place for stakes. The Lightline may be thin, but I'm still easily able to adjust the hitch without any issues. However, I have never done it in extremely cold weather while suffering from numb fingers - I'll have to leave that test to somebody else.

Final Thoughts

No field repair kit should be without some sort of cord or line. The Kelty Triptease Lightline has found a permanent place in my backpack to fill this niche, I never leave for the backcountry without it. At only 1.0 oz (28.35 g) for a 50 ft (15.2 m) section it is a priceless piece of equipment with literally dozens of uses in the backcountry. Just in case it wasn't useful enough as the perfect replacement for the cheap and practically invisible guylines that come standard on tents these days I can use it to hang bear bags, clothes lines, improve zipper pulls, or add it to my more elusive pieces of gear to make it easier to find. I'd recommend this product to anyone who has ever fumbled with a tiny zipper on a tent or a rain jacket or taken a less-than-graceful fall on a guyline demolishing a tent or shelter on the way down.

Never Stop Exploring,
Greg McDonald

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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