Review: Kelty Clark [ 2-man, 3 -season ultralight tent ]

Review: Kelty Clark  [ 2-man, 3 -season ultralight tent ]
Retail: $160, is offering this tent for only $89.95. (Limit time offer, expire soon.)

Product Description
The Clark is an incredibly sleek and light hidey-hole away from home. This tent is roomy enough to sit up in and offers an adequate vestibule for its size. The Vaulted Pole Pilot ensures easy set up and good ventilation. Can sleep two in a pinch.

  • 8.5 mm aluminum poles with low temperature shockcord
  • ArchEdge floor (lifts seams off the ground for dryness)
  • No-see-um mesh panels to secure essentials
  • Fly vent
  • 1.9 oz nylon taffeta walls
  • 2.3 oz nylon taffeta floor
  • 2.3 taped polyester flys
  • 17.8 sq. ft. interior
  • 3.8 square foot vestibule
  • 3 lb. 1 oz.

Retail: $160

Reviewed by: Erick Setterlund, a Backpacker from Brimfield, MA
Date Reviewed: 4/29/2001 12:54:18 PM

Overall Rating:

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 impressive.
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 just fine.
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.

Customer Service:
None needed

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)
-Eureka Backcountry
-TNF Cumulus

  Reviewed by: Erik, a Backpacker from Austin, TX
Date Reviewed: 3/19/2001 11:19:30 AM

Overall Rating:

Recently took this tent with me to Big Bend while hiking the Dodson trail. Both my wife (about 5'6) and I (6'1) managed to fit inside, although it was a rather snug fit. Set up is easy except that the smaller rear side pole can be very difficult to slide into it's fitting. The nights out at Big Bend were extremely windy and the rainfly would flap around heavily, even so it wasn't much of a problem if you tied it down. The tent could get a little stuffy with the rainfly on, but opening the vent hood can help a great deal with that, especially if there is a breeze. Overall, this is a great solo tent, but I don't recommend using it with more than one person even if you are extremely close.

  Reviewed by: FRANK MARTIN, a Backpacker from PAVILION,NY, USA
Date Reviewed: 12/31/2000 3:00:56 PM

Overall Rating:

Sleeps 1 and gear fine could sleep two if ya have to. The day I bought mine set up in living room and broke rear pole. Both poles fit very very tight. After had Kelty replace pole with no problem I used a tubing cutter and cut an inch off both poles fit fine now. Tent stakes bend to easy, I sent away and bought a set of titanium stakes. Withstands rain fine but set up in 3 inch deep water and seams leaked. Normally ya wouldn't set your tent up in these conditions but wanted to see how waterproof this tent is. A bit noisy in windy conditions.
Vestibule a bit small. One thing I look for in a single person tent is that I can sit up and you can with this tent,your head might hit top mesh if tent isn't tight or your tall I am 5'10" and can change inside also. This tent is hoop style tent not freestanding. All an all excellent solo tent for the money and weight. The only thing I would change is make door screen mesh so could see out.

Customer Service:
I broke a pole and when called Kelty they were excellent replaced with no questions

Similar Products Tried:
Kelty Zen

Retail: $160, is offering this tent for only $89.95. (Limit time offer, expire soon.)

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