I bought this tent almost a year ago, in preparation for a 2 month
backpacking/whitewater canoeing trip in the woods of Maine and Vermont. I
was looking at buying this tent anyways, given its light weight and decent
size, when I found it on sale at REI for $99. I had gone there only intending
on climbing in and getting a feel for the Clark, but I walked out of there
with one under my arm. I also had the foresight to buy some extra stakes
for it: 4 Moss Groundhogs and another 4 DAC Featherlights, anodized gold.
I experimented with the stakes included with the tent, and discovered that
with a decent amount of effort, I could bend them (this isn't really a knock
against Kelty, the stakes were much better than I've seen on much more expensive
tents, but no manufacturer seems to be willing to ship high-quality OEM stakes
with their tents.
I got home and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to set the tent
up on my lawn in about 3 minutes, first time, without looking at the directions.
I did the sprinkler/garden hose test I do with all my new tents (leave a sprinkler
on it for most of the day, and give it the occasional blast with a garden
hose, aiming in particular at the seams. It weathered the storm well, and
the factory-sealed seams only let in a few drops of water, which was pretty
Over the course of the past year I've used this tent for about 30 nights
in total, a combination of backpacking and expedition canoeing, and it's
served exactly the purpose I bought it for- it gives me a dry place to sleep,
with plenty of room for thrashing around, and without a lot of setup to worry
about. The hoop-style design of the tent makes staking necessary, but that's
never been a problem- if the stakes won't go in, get some rocks and wrap
the guy lines around those, or around roots. The main advantages of the hoop
design, besides the light weight, is the way it shakes off the wind and rain
(its very aerodynamic when set facing into the wind, and the lack of seams
means less things to fail.
Other reviewers on this site, as well as Kelty themselves, have said that
this tent can fit two people in a pinch. This is true, but those two would
either have to be very small, or VERY comfortable together (wink, wink).
I personally don't even keep any stuff inside the tent except a pair of boots
and a water bottle in the vestibule (and that's all you're going to get in
there, trust me), and a headlamp in a side pocket. For those vestibule freaks
out there, this will be a hard transition, but just quit complaining, throw
a trash bag over your pack and lean it against a tree.
Ventilation is fairly good, with mesh panels running down the sides, and
a vent at the top of the door. The best strategy is to strap the vesibule
down tight, but leave the bottom of the vestibule door open a little (it's
a two-way zipper), and leave the door on the body of the tent open a little
at the top. This has gotten me through some sweltering, rainy Maine nights
I can't write a review about this tent without talking stakes- without
them, this tent would be a bad, oversized bivy sack. The stock stakes on
this tent are decent, oversized aluminum jobs, not bad, but great stakes
are too cheap to justify not getting them. The DAC Featherlights look exactly
like the Kelty stakes, save for the gold anodizing, which is surprisingly
durable. They are made of 6061 aluminum, which is considerably more durable
and stiff than whatever the Kelty stakes are made of. The real stars, though
are the Moss Groundhogs, beautiful red-anodized stakes, with a Y-shaped cross
section. They are made of 7074 aluminum, and that, along with the unique,
I-beam style cross-section, make them just about indestructable. I've pounded
these stake with rocks, hammers, an iron pan, and (amusingly enough) the
heel of a hiking boot. They absolutely refuse to bend, and when encountering
rocks on their trip down into the earth, more often than not, they break
them. After using these stakes, I ended up going out and buying a dozen more
(at $2 apiece) for my other two tents.
Overall, the Kelty Clark is a lightweight, inexpensive solo tent, and
a far better bargain than others in it's category. It gives nothing up to
overpriced copies such as the SD Light Year or MH Solitude. Kelty's been
making the Clark for quite a while now, and it continues to be one of their
best products, weathering the hype of the times with simple, functional performance
and a price any Subaru-driving, Ramen-eating backcountry bum could love.
Similar Products Tried:
-SD Light Year (borrowed a friend's for a 4-day trip)
-Walrus Micro Swift (feels like I'm in a body bag, bivys have more wiggle
room than this)