I really wanted a Sierra Designs Lightning tent and had ordered one last fall only to find out that they were out of stock, so I decided to wait until spring to buy the new version when it came out. When I saw the new SD lineup, I was pretty shocked. The Lightning was gone and something that looks like it fell off the deepend replaced it. I know that Kelty is a downline of SD, so I decided to see if the old tent somehow filtered downline into Kelty. It sort of did in the form of the Kelty TrailLogic TN2 tent. I ordered one and this is my preliminary review.
Here’s what Kelty says about the tent:
The 2014 Backpacker Magazine Editors’ Choice Award winning TN2 tent is a compact and lightweight shelter designed to pack easily while saving space inside your backpack. Part of Kelty’s new TraiLogic™ Collection, the TN2 features shorter poles so you can pack it into a flat, rectangular Tent Cube to help save space in our TraiLogic™ PK 50 (or any other) backpack. Our Stargazing Fly™ gives an unobstructed view of the sky for nighttime entertainment. And if it does begin to rain, the TN2’s fly can be fully deployed without ever leaving your sleeping bag.
Kelty TrailLogic TN2 Specifications
Claimed minimum weight: 4 lbs
Claimed packaged weight: 4 lbs 9 oz
Actual packaged weight: 4 lbs 9.3 oz
Floor area: 27.5 ft2
Vestibule area: 10 + 10 ft2
Length: 83 inches
Width: 50 inches
Height: 42 inches
Packed diameter: 11 inches
Packed Length: 14 inches
Initial Thoughts about the Kelty TrailLogic TN2
I’ve had the chance to use Kelty’s TrailLogic TN2 on two trips so far this year. For my full reviews I like to use a product for a minimum of 30 days before I write a full review, but a preliminary review is helpful for sorting thoughts. I’ve used Kelty products before and have had good luck with them. For example, I love my Noah Tarp. But, I’ve always thought that they sort of “dumb down” their products to try and appeal to what they believe the mass market is going to want. And it’s usually by adding features that add extra weight and don’t really add that much functionality. This tent has a few of those features.
Two of the features that I don’t think add much but extra weight include the windows and the oversized door on one side. The theory behind windows on a tent is that you can look out and see the weather without having to get out of the tent. I don’t mean to sound like the grumpy curmudgeon here, but tents aren’t like a house built from structural insulated panels in which you can’t even hear a wind blowing at 90 mph. In a tent, you hear raindrops and the wind pushes the rainfly around. I’ve never been in a tent and couldn’t figure out the weather without having a window. A second feature is the oversized door on one side. Because there are two doors, I can’t imagine ever needing the oversized door to get out of the tent. I guess the thought here is that two people can sit side-by-side and cook in the vestibule during a rainstorm — unless you’re in bear country. I just don’t see doing this often. I’m not sure how much weight would have been saved by having a shorter zipper and two less windows, but I’d think we’re talking about 3 to 4 ounces.
Before I get to the good stuff I’d like to talk about a couple more annoying things. The stuff sack that the tent comes in is rectangular. Kelty’s idea is that you’re going to roll your body and rainfly separately and pack the poles between them to keep them dry. In practice, I found this mostly annoying, because it takes longer than rolling up the fly and canopy together with the poles and then sliding it into a stuff sack. I think the real reason that it was made this way was because they wanted to be able to hang it in a store from peg board and show a picture of the tent. Also, the clips that attach the tent to the poles look cool, but in reality are a little fiddly compared to those found on previous SD tent or Big Agnes tents. I’m sure I’ll get used to them, but they’re a little annoying.
The biggest annoying item with the tent is the hub that connects the two main poles. It has an attachment system for a for a clip on the tent’s canopy, but you can only attach the clip one one side of the connector. Every single time that I’ve set up this tent, I’ve turned the poles the wrong way up the first time, which means taking down the poles and flipping them over and redoing everything. Either make the hub capable to accept the clip on each side or use an old school SD fitting that fits over two poles. The later option would be better, because with the poles always attached, it’s a pain to break them down. You’re fighting the pole when you break it down or set it up, which slows things down. If the poles were separate, it would go faster.
One gimmicky feature that I thought I’d hate is the Stargazing Fly™. Basically, the tent is designed so that half the rainfly can be rolled up on dry nights and you can look out at the sky. If it starts raining, you can unzip the door, roll the fly out and cover the tent. It actually works really well and I like the feature. It also added little weight to the tent.
The big pluses so far on the tent is the size for the weight. Even though I think the tent is a little heavy at 4 lbs 9 oz. packed, it’s much more roomy that you’d expect for the floor plan. The near vertical walls and in the case of the sides, the walls that fall away from the tents center create a spacious two person tent. It’s the roomiest 3-season backpacking tent that I’ve owned since a Eureka Glacial Bay and it’s a heck of a lot lighter. I really like the two big vestibules. It’s nice for stashing boots and other gear and because it’s so big, you can stash stuff out of the way and don’t have to worry about tripping over the gear as you get out of the tent.
I haven’t used it many days, but the ventilation seems great. The canopy is all mesh and the vents in the rainfly help keep air flowing. Even though I’ve never been a big fan of Jake’s Foot pole attachment system — I’d rather have a grommet and clip — it does set up quickly.
I haven’t had this tent in strong winds yet, but with the four guylines, and three points where the poles cross, I suspect that it will do fine for a three-season tent.
In light rain, I had no splashback into the tent and limited into the vestibules. Despite camping on a slope and having rain flow down the slope and under the tent, the floor was dry. The rain tended to pool on the top of the tent in a triangle formed by the three poles, but the amount was limited.
So far I like the tent despite its annoyances. I like it so much that I can’t see myself using my Big Agnes Seedhouse SL 2 much this year and that’s been my go to tent for the last 10 years. If you’re looking for a tent, I preliminary recommend the Kelty TrailLogic TN2.