Kelty Flight 2 Tent REVIEW

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by Jay Ham | 2004-10-07 03:00:00-06

Overview

kelty flight 2 tent - field shot

The Kelty Flight 2 is a single wall lightweight tent with a two-pole exoskeleton frame. It has numerous features, a reasonable price, and quality construction. However, the ventilation design is flawed. The Flight 2 is very similar to the Eureka Zeus 2EXO (see the Backpacking Light review here) but it costs less and has a slight edge in features and headroom. The Flight 2 could reduce weight by losing some unnecessary features and employing lighter, less durable fabric.

Specifications

• Tent Type

single wall with floor

• Fabric Description

Component Description
Floor 2.3 oz/yd2 (78 g/m2) 70d Nylon Taffeta with 1,800 mm urethane coating
Fly 1.9 oz/yd2 (65 g/m2) 40d Ripstop Polyester with 1,500 mm urethane coating
Door Same as fly

• Weight Full Package

As supplied by manufacturer with stuff sacks, stakes, guylines, etc.

Backpacking Light scale Manufacturer claim
4 lb 3.3 oz (1.91 kg) 4 lb 8 oz (2.04 kg)

• Weight Minimum Package

Includes tent body and fly, minimum necessary stakes and guylines, no stuff sacks or extra hardware.

Manufacturer supplied

8 stakes, 0 ft guyline
Backpacking Light Same as Manufacturer's Minimum but with 0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes and 0.004 oz/ft (0.37 g/m) Aircore 1 Spectra guylines.

8 stakes, 0 ft guyline
4 lb 0.7 oz (1.83 kg) 3 lb 15.8 oz (1.81 kg)

• Dimensions

  inches centimeters
Width 55 - 36 140 - 91
Length 90 229
Height 42 107

• Floor Area

Backpacking Light measurement
ft2 (m2)
Manufacturer's claim
ft2 (m2)
28.1 (2.6) 29.8 (2.8)

• Floor Area/Minimum Weight Ratio

0.44 ft2/oz (1.4 m2/kg) using Backpacking Light measured values.

• Vestibule Area

Backpacking Light measurement
ft2 (m2)
Manufacturer's claim
ft2 (m2)
11.5 (1.1) 12.5 (1.2)

• MSRP

$129

Features

Ease of setup

It is easy to get a taut pitch when setting up the Kelty Flight 2. As a single walled tent, the tent body and urethane coated, non-breathable fly are one piece. After laying out the tent body, the two primary poles are extended and inserted diagonally into grommets at the bottom corners such that the poles cross each other at the top. The tent body is pulled up to the poles and attached with plastic quick clips. Since the tent is free standing, it is not necessary to stake down the tent body until it is erected and in the proper location. Once erected, use stakes to anchor the tent corners, attached vestibule, and side vents as needed. At a minimum, and with good weather, only four stakes are needed to extend the vestibule and keep the side vents open.

The Kelty Flight 2 has an additional section of pole that goes across the top of the door to increase width at the entryway, which also increases headroom while sitting in the tent. Though this adds a step to the setup process, we found the increased headroom well worth the time.

The Kelty Flight 2 has small plastic quick clips to attach the poles to the tent body. The size of the clips tightly fit the poles. They are a bit cumbersome to use when compared to carabiner type plastic clips.

The Kelty has a small but functional vestibule. It requires two stakes to pitch securely, but can be held open by tying off to nearby trees or rocks. The vestibule is asymmetrical which improves access through the entryway, but is tricky to pitch tautly. We found it necessary to zip the vestibule door shut before staking.

Usable Features / Options

The Kelty has many of the features typically found in much heavier setups including full coverage no-see-um bug protection, weather resistant floor, vestibule, interior stash pocket, interior clothesline attachment loops, multiple vents, and zippered entries. It comes with extra stakes, guylines, and external tie outs on the tent body for use in heavy winds.

The Kelty Flight 2 has two zippered entryways. An outer weatherproof door on the vestibule and an inner door designed to eliminate bugs while permitting airflow. We did not experience any problems with the generic zippers used in the Kelty Flight 2. Slide action was very smooth and trouble free. In addition, the Flight's zippers never got caught in the tent fabric.

Everything comes with stuff sacks; one for the stakes, one for the poles, and yet another intended to hold the tent body and other stuff sacks. One noticeable quandary, the Kelty comes with a 23-inch long sack. Try to picture this packed in a backpack. The length necessitates packing the tent vertically, thus focusing the pack's weight and density down one side. Ideally, we would pack a tent or other similar volume item horizontally to even out the weight and control the internal pack density by its placement. We recommend Kelty resize the stuff sack. We put the tent into another stuff sack in order to pack it for field-testing.

It is certain the length of the stuff sack is directly related to the length of the folded poles for the Kelty Flight 2, which measure 19.5 inches. Compromises are made when making pole segments shorter, as each junction has to be reinforced to prevent bending which increases overall pole weight. Thus, we are not recommending a reduction in pole section length. There seems to be a mind set that when manufacturing and marketing a tent, everything must fit in the main stuff sack. We dispute this and recommend Kelty make a reasonably sized stuff sack for the Flight 2 while leaving the pole section length the same.

The Kelty uses DAC FeatherLite aluminum poles. Even with an additional short section (used to increase head room at the entryway), the Kelty Flight's DAC FeatherLite aluminum poles, weighing 15.1 ounces, save a couple of ounces over standard 7000 series aluminum poles.

Weight / Sizing

In tents, weight reduction is usually achieved by using thinner fabrics, replacing tent poles with trekking poles, losing freestanding capability, reducing convenience features, and/or reducing the overall size. The comparatively full-featured Kelty Flight 2 tent achieves weight savings by utilizing a single layer design and reducing interior size while only saving a nominal amount of weight through fabric selection.

Flexibility of Pitching

The freestanding design of the Flight 2 limits flexibility in pitching. All of the included poles are essential; it is not possible to substitute trekking poles. Stakes are only needed for the vestibule and side vents when climatic conditions will allow. Heavier winds will necessitate the need for the additional four corner stakes. There is some flexibility in pitching the vestibule, which can be fully closed or unstaked and opened wide to enjoy improved ventilation and expanded views. Fair skies are a must here as the nylon and mesh inner doors are not weatherproof.

Usable Space

kelty flight 2 tent - headroom
The Kelty Flight 2 has an extra section of pole that improves the headroom at the entryway. Also, the rain fly covering the large roof vent can be pulled back to expose views of the sky.

The quick rising, nearly vertical sidewalls and fairly steep ends, creates an efficient use of floor space. What minimal amount of wall slant exists is concentrated at the ends and is useful to store odds and ends of gear and clothing.

The Flight 2 has a pole across the doorway that helps increase headroom in the tent. This greatly improves usability of the space by providing room enough to change clothes or perform other feats of inner tent gymnastics.

Usable Vestibule/Porch

The Flight 2 has a small vestibule that hinders entering the tent during a rainstorm as the inner door is not weatherproof and the vestibule door provides minimal rain protection when open. Although leaving the vestibule door partially closed helps protect the inner door from rainfall, entry becomes impossible due to the already small size of the vestibule area.

Performance

Stability

The Flight pitches tautly and its trim profile reduces the surface area exposed to wind. It is stable in high winds with minimal flapping, particularly if pitched lengthwise into the wind to reduce the surface area. When wind direction is fairly constant, pitching lengthwise into the wind is the best method.

It does well in high winds with four guyline tie outs about midway up each corner edge. Being midway up is important. Guylines attached too high would cause the tent sides to buckle inward under high wind. Like a fulcrum, with the anchor point in the middle, the force of wind is even on both the upper and lower portions of the tent.

Storm Protection

kelty flight 2 tent - side vents
The side vents of the Kelty Flight 2 are small and contributed to noticeable interior humidity.

The Flight contains the necessary elements to prevent direct water entry - zippers are covered by storm flaps, the top and side vents are fully protected by canopy awnings, and all seams are factory sealed. We experienced a heavy, high-wind rainstorm during our testing that was unable to breach these entry points.

In the event of a mid-afternoon rainstorm, the Flight is an uncomfortable refuge for two occupants. There is only room enough for one person to sit up comfortably and contact with the condensation soaked interior walls is frequent.

One reviewer noticed some moisture movement through the floor of the Flight 2 when pitched on moist ground. In such conditions the use of a ground sheet under the tent may be desirable.

Ventilation/Condensation Resistance

The Flight 2 has a huge, super efficient roof vent that can be opened for stargazing. However, the small side vents are not effective ventilators.

Condensation occurs to some degree in almost all tents and generally occurs on the inside of the canopy. It is not a problem unless the occupants and associated gear get wet. With single wall tents, condensation problems are measured by the amount of condensation and the frequency of occupant contact with the inside walls. Overall, we found the ventilation design used in this tent minimized the amount of condensation; however, the interior dimensions are tight enough that frequent contact with the condensation occurs. Condensation did not occur to such a degree that water droplets formed, though the walls did feel damp at times.

Insect Protection

The Flight provides exceptional bug protection. All interior doors and vents are either nylon ripstop or no-see-um bug netting and the full nylon floors prevent the insects from entering from below. The main concern occurs in hot weather when the interior of the tent is too warm to make fully closing the doors an agreeable arrangement. Options (other than the ones mentioned above) to further adjust airflow, to cool down the tent, do not exist.

Durability Field Observations

The use of heavier fabrics, particularly in the floors, and reinforcements at all tie outs increase the durability of the Flight. During our field tests, we were unable to cause any serious damage above minor abrasion under normal use conditions (camping in red rock and cactus country with two kids!). Factory applied seam sealing tape added some strength to the seams by taking much of the load off the double stitching and distributing it across the fabric. We also liked the use of bar tacking at all stress points.

The top quick clip on the Kelty Flight 2 is of questionable durability. That clip is different from the other tight fitting clips as it is meant to attach to both poles where they cross in the middle. The Kelty's double clip flexes more than what we consider acceptable for its application. Should it fail in the field, a short piece of nylon cord could easily be fashioned as a replacement.

The implied durability stated here covers general three-season backpacking use. The Flight is not designed, nor would we expect it to handle, extreme winter travel. The relatively light fabrics, as compared to serious mountaineering tents, and two-pole design limit the Flight's resistance to tearing or folding under heavy snow weight.

Value

The Kelty Flight 2 is not particularly expensive. In fact, it would be difficult to find a decent two-person tent at the same price loaded with all the convenience features it has; other than its "cousin" the Eureka Zeus 2EXO reviewed here, that is. Both tents are slightly better than average, with the Kelty Flight 2 beating out the Zeus 2 by a hair due to more features, better weatherproofing, and more headroom.

Final Thoughts

Recommendations for Improvement

If weight is a concern, pockets could be left out, the fly could be constructed out of 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon, and the plastic quick release pole clips could be replaced with grosgrain webbing. Although these changes would decrease weight, not everyone will appreciate the reduction in convenience features and fabric durability.

The biggest problem any single wall tent encounters is poor ventilation and the resulting condensation buildup. Although this tent has a reasonable amount of ventilation, it would be improved if the side vents were increased in size. The top two-pole quick clip is a likely candidate for breakage. This should be replaced with a sturdier design.


Citation

"Kelty Flight 2 Tent REVIEW," by Jay Ham. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/kelty_flight_2_tent_review.html, 2004-10-07 03:00:00-06.

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