The Kelty Trail Ridge 6 Person Tent Review

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Kelty Trail Ridge 6 Introduction

Kelty and the outdoors go hand in hand. From my experience with numerous pieces of gear over the years, their quality is always top notch at a reasonable price. The Kelty Trail Ridge 6 person tent is one of their larger options out of a wide variety of tents. With a few trips planned to the Collegiate Peaks Mountain Range in Colorado, I am looking forward to putting the Trail Ridge 6 to test. My initial take is that the tent appears to be a well-built piece of camping gear that will surely work its way into my weekend warrior lifestyle.

The bag. A small bonus here is that it is a bit larger. This allows you to stuff the tent back in without it having to be folded away as neat and tidy as first received.

Setting Up And Using The Kelty Trail Ridge 6

The Kelty Trail Ridge 6 weighs in around 12-15 pounds. It’s not necessarily lightweight, but we are talking about a 6 person tent here. I carried the tent for about half a mile to a slightly remote camp site, and the weight became somewhat noticeable. It didn’t help that I was loaded down with numerous other camp necessities. Could you take it backpacking? Probably not, unless you are with a group, and supplies are distributed accordingly.

What’s in the bag? instructions, poles, stakes, inner and outer tent, and footprint.

I would have liked to see a few extra stakes and ropes as those seem to always disappear or break.

I love this name, Nobendium. I have high hopes for these stakes

Kelty recommends a test run before taking the tent out into the wild. I totally agree with that sentiment as the arrival at a campground or dispersed spot can be hectic at times. At least it usually is for my family. Add in the fact that we generally don’t reserve a spot at an established campground. We usually try our luck at dispersed State Forest or BLM camping. Hence, I played around one relaxed Sunday morning to go through the steps. I am glad I did, because the subtle little nuances had me second guessing myself, and returning to the 1 page set up instructions. On a side note, I do wish they would make the instructions part of the bag in a plastic or water/tear proof version. I fear that my instruction piece of paper is going to disappear in short order.

Place your footprint in a flat spot with hopefully some softer dirt to make hammering in the stakes a bit easier. I decided to place 4 stakes in the corners, but not completely hammer them in. The two cross poles quickly assembled. There’s a bit of handy color coordination going on with the color coded clip and sleeve system. The poles are silver except for the end piece. It’s very nice as you simply lay out your poles to the side where the matching straps on the corners of the tent are.

Notice the green pole end, and the green tent strap.

I am usually the one setting up the tent which up to now has been rather large and cumbersome. The snap in system is pretty nifty because setting up a tent has now become a one man job. The poles slip in and lock into place which allowed me to get 2 poles in, and walk around to the other side to finish the job. That’s where the poles and fabric quickly turned into a tent.

At this point, I noticed a slight offset of the tent, its poles, and clips, and tried to readjust to no avail. Turns out, it’s supposed to be like that as the tent is not quite symmetrical. The clips on the tent that I had to fasten to the cross poles had two clips on the one side and only one on the other. Upon adding the final cross pole over the top, it completed the main tent cabin. Once it was all attached the tent took its final shape which was taut, tidy, and looked the part. Ready for the outer rain fly cover.

Poles assembly and crossover. A bit of extra padding allow the green pole to simply straddle the sleeved pole unit.

There is not much in the description about the stakes, but I am super excited about these. This may be a little over the top, but I have a real history with many bent and ruined stakes. In either case, the “Unbreakable” aspect had me truly wanting to see how they will handle my rubber mallet and those hidden rocks I am bound to encounter. They do sure beat the simple skinny soft metal stakes that I bend and have to beat back into shape to be of any kind of use.

I will preface that a total of 4 uses of the Kelty Trail Ridge 6 does not quite give it a complete and long endurance test. However, the tent has been exposed to heat, rain, a bit of frost, and a fairly good wind at an altitude of nearly 11,000 ft. The two things that usually go bust on me are the poles and the zippers. Be it user error or a quality issue. It’s just that those two elements just bear the brunt of the heavy use. In this case, the aluminum poles are relatively lightweight, and have some good heft to them which translates into tough and strong component pieces.

All buttoned up.

Features of The Kelty Trail Ridge 6

The 2 doors and vestibules on either end are nice.  It helps in minimizing the middle of the night disturbances when nature calls. The vestibules do allow for a little bit of gear storage, but it is somewhat limited in size. We usually have a tarp system strung up to create an outdoor living space, so it’s not a real issue in my eyes.

The quiet noise zippers are the bomb. Really! Not disturbing a sleeping child is critical to enjoying a good night of sleep for all, and the zippers were significantly smoother than any of my other tents. A big kudos to Kelty on that one. The factory taped seams help tremendously with performance and durability.

The star gazing fly is fun and depending on your camping spot will make for quite a memorable experience. Camping in Colorado is great because you can really get away from civilization and its accompanying light pollution.  We had the perfect spot sheltered by trees on one side, and an open view to about a million stars. The kids loved it, and are still talking about. The fold over flap of the Kelty Trail Ridge 6 is simple to use, and easy to close. We closed it after a bit because the temperatures dropped into the 30’s, but nonetheless a historic camping moment was captured. Unfortunately, my photos did not ‘capture’ the moment, but take my word for it. That is something everyone should experience.

Family of four with room for the dog, and some gear at our feet (which could be person #6)

The Kelty Trail Ridge comes in at roughly 82 sq. ft., and a height of 6’. It’s adequate space for my wife, two little girls, and a 70 pound dog.  Can you get 6 people into the tent? Sure! Will that be a tight squeeze? I’m thinking so!  It really depends on your intended purpose. We do need the tent to serve more than just a place to crash. We’ve been stuck inside with pouring rain, and the need to entertain and hang out does take up all the usable space. I’m not too concerned about the height, but most people can at least stand up to get dressed, etc.

There are numerous storage pockets which gives everyone a place to put their flashlights, keys, and glasses. The tent has a couple of air vents, and work fine to get a little bit of air flowing as the sun beats down on it during the day.

This twist and clip system is pretty nice, and no chance of coming lose with gusty winds.

A built-in Vent system works for some airflow, but for best results the complete stargazing opening works best.

Technical Specifications

  • 3 season tent
  • 2 doors
  • 2 vestibules
  • Sleeps 6
  • Minimum weight of 12 lb 3 oz
  • Packaged weight of 15 lb 10 oz
  • 82 square feet of floor area
  • Two additional 17 square feet vestibules
  • Dimensions: 120 x 98 x 72 in.
  • Packed size: 29 x 10 x 9 in.

Not completely foolproof….. I happened to step onto one that was partially in the ground as I was putting the tent up. However, I do need to mention that these stakes are much stronger than any I’ve ever used!

Materials

  • Number of Poles: 3
  • Pole Type: Aluminum
  • Wall Material: 68D Polyester / 40D No-See-Um Mesh
  • Floor Material: 68D Polyester, 1800 mm
  • Fly Material: 68D Polyester, 1800 mm

Final Parting Thoughts on The Kelty Trail Ridge 6

This is a great car camping tent that can stand up to a wide variety of weather conditions. I did not have the opportunity to put 6 full grown adults in this tent, and I would bet it might be a bit cramped. However, if you are entertaining the thought of this tent, you understand a few sacrifices do have to be made, or else you’d be researching more “Glamping’ options. This tent is after all, a home from away from home that gets one out into nature.

I would highly recommend the Trial Ridge to the growing family that doesn’t mind sleeping in tight quarters. I will seriously tout the fast and easy setup of the Kelty Trail Ridge 6 above any of the other great features. Being able to have a roof over our head in minutes is crucial to our camping experience. The Trail Ridge 6 is relatively lightweight, and the components are of high quality that will surely provide a safe and sound resting place for years to come. For more information on this and many other Kelty tent options please visit: www.Kelty.com or www.amazon.com/kelty.

Niels Oomkes: I am a multi-sport endurance athlete, and love to get out into the great outdoors to push the body to its limit. Most of my weekend expeditions, adventures, trips, or vacations are planned around running, biking, snowshoeing, camping, or anything else that will allow me to enjoy nature's exquisite beauty.
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