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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Kelty Grand Mesa 2 Tent > Owner Review by David Willoby

September 22, 2012


NAME: David Willoby
EMAIL: dwillobyATrocketmailDOTcom
AGE: 32
LOCATION: Central Ohio, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 185 lb (83.90 kg)

I started backpacking just over a year ago. The majority of my trips are three-day, two-night excursions in the Midwest or Appalachian regions in three-season weather. We try to keep to moderate trails, and usually about 10 miles (16 km) per day. My pack weight usually ends up at about 45 pounds (20 kg.) I want to get that down a bit, without giving up too much comfort. I like to hike in a small group, usually three to eight guys, or with my wife and three children.


Manufacturer: Kelty
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: $139.95 US
Listed Weight: 4 lb 10 oz (2.10 kg)
Measured Weight: 4 lb 9 oz (2.07 kg)
Listed Length: 82 in (208 cm) ~ Measured: 80 in (203 cm)
Listed Width at Head: 58 in (147 cm) ~ Measured: 57 in (145 cm)
Measured Width at Foot: 43 in (109 cm)
Listed Floor area: 29 sq ft (2.7 sq m)
Listed Height: 44 in (112 cm) ~ Measured: 43.5 in (110 cm)
Number of poles: 2 - 9 mm DAC Press-fit Poles
Number of vestibules: 1
Listed Vestibule area: 6 sq ft (0.6 sq m) ~ Measured: 6 sq ft (0.6 sq m)
Listed Packaged Size: 7 in x 20 in (17.8 cm x 50.8 cm) ~ Measured: 7.5 in x 21 in (19.05 cm x 53 cm)
Number of doors: 1
Seasons: 3
Wall Material: 68D polyester
Floor Material: 68D nylon, 1800 mm
Fly Material: 75D nylon, 1800 mm

Grand Mesa 2
Photo courtesy of Kelty

The Kelty website describes the Grand Mesa 2 as "a feature-rich backpacking tent ideal for the budget conscious shopper. Freestanding design, color-coded clip construction and under five pounds, will ensure for many hassle-free nights under the stars." It comes packaged in a stuff sack that is appropriately sized to carry the tent, poles, stakes and footprint. The footprint is sold separately (MSRP $34.95 US) and adds 7 oz (198 g) to the total weight of the shelter.

The Grand Mesa 2 is a two-person double-wall tent. It has a single door and vestibule at the head of the tent. This makes it a little tougher to enter and exit without bothering a second person in the tent, but really no more than a single-door side-entrance tent. It does make the vestibule more accessible to both people. Each person also gets a mesh pocket at the head of the tent.
Mesh Pocket

All of the seams are factory taped, and the floor is bathtub-style to add additional protection from surface water. The top half of the tent body itself is mesh, to increase air circulation and decrease weight. The tent body is a taupe color at the bottom and light gray in the middle. The fly is the same gray and a light moss green.

The tent comes with aluminum hook stakes, which I have continued to use. The guy-out lines included are black.

The tent has two cross-poles that are placed in grommets at the corners of the tent floor. There are matching grommets in the footprint as well to hold the footprint in place. The straps holding the grommets are color-coded grey and orange. Matching straps on the fly help in setting it up as well. There are clips on the straps that make attaching the fly easy, and hook-and-loop straps inside the fly that hold it firmly to the poles.

Straps and Grommets
Straps, snaps, and grommets
Pole Hooks


The first time that I used the tent was for two nights in April in Kentucky's Red River Gorge, we experienced overnight lows just below freezing. Elevation was about 1300 ft (400 m). Coupled with a synthetic-filled sleeping pad and a synthetic bag rated to 20 F (-7 C), I stayed warm. I didn't experience any condensation, but I was the only one in the tent. This did leave plenty of room for me and all of my gear inside. The campsite that we chose did not appear as if it had been used in a long time, as it was overgrown in most places. About half of the tent was over vegetation from the previous year, about 300 ft (100 m) from a large stream. The ground was very dry. The second night's site was very similar, but the site was cleared of vegetation.
Tent in camp
Red River Gorge

I used the tent again in July in the Smoky Mountains, this time with my 8-year old son. We started at Newfound Gap, headed north on the Appalachian Trail to Charlie's Bunion, down Dry Sluice Gap Trail, and camped at the Cabin Flats, site 49. Elevation was about 3000 ft (900 m), overnight temperature was around 60 F (15 C). The campsite was well established, so the tent sat on hard, packed dirt, near a large stream. Although it was warm and humid, we didn't experience much condensation in the tent. The footbox of my sleeping bag was up against the foot of the tent, and it was damp in the morning, but not wet. There wasn't room in the tent for our gear, and the vestibule wouldn't have held it all very easily. There was no chance of rain, so we didn't worry too much about covering everything. If rain had been a possibility, we would have stacked our packs under the vestibule, and probably kept our boots in the tent.
N in Smokies
Cabin Flats

Two nights I used the tent in the rain, and didn't experience any water entering the tent, either through the fly or the fly vent, or through the floor or seams. One night was particularly wet in Dolly Sods, West Virginia, in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita. We camped between Breathed Mountain and Red Creek. Elevation was about 3200 ft (975 m), overnight temperature was around 50 F (10 C). That night, it rained hard the entire night. The ground was wet peat before we set up the tent. In the morning, the ground was soaked, but everything inside the tent remained dry. Through the wind, the tent remained stable, and there were no worries about its ability to hold up. I had all the guy lines run out, and never had a concern about the tent not standing up to the wind. I had expected more noise from the rain fly, but didn't get much.
Rear view of tent
Rear View of the Tent


I have found the tent to be incredibly easy to set up by myself. I put it up in the dark, in the rain, and I don't think it ever took more than 5 minutes to set up.

I've used this tent for about eight nights in all during 2012. I used the footprint every night, because it doesn't seem like it would take much to puncture the floor of the tent.

I replaced the included guy lines with Kelty's Triptease Light line ($15.95 US for 50 ft (15.24 m)), a 3mm reflective nylon cord, to improve visibility in low light. There are four loops at the bottom of the fly, right between the poles, to attach the guy lines to. I ran these guy lines out every night, which I found essential to avoiding condensation. There are guy line loops on the corners of the tent, about halfway up the tent. These would probably not be necessary for avoiding condensation, but they do add a lot of stability in the wind.

I used the tent two nights when it rained. One night was a gentle rain all night, the other was the remnants of Hurricane Rita, in West Virginia. Although it rained steadily and heavily all night, and we had some wind, we never got any water inside the tent. Most of our equipment stayed under a tarp that night, but we did have our boots under the vestibule. They stayed dry as well.


I've really enjoyed this tent, and it will spend a lot of time on the trail with me. To me, it's a great mix of lightweight, durability, and a price point that doesn't break my budget. Add to that the fact that it's easy to set up, and this one is a big hit.


It's lightweight without having to worry about tearing the material.
It stays dry in the rain and the wind.
It's very easy to set up.


It's pretty snug to be considered a two-person tent. That said, it makes for a very roomy one-person tent.
It's not easy to enter or exit the tent with another person in it, especially if you're on the side of the tent opposite the vestibule door.


David Willoby

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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