This tent has great promise with a couple of key improvements to make. It is just as comfortable in a lot of ways as many of our award winners. It is easy to set up and adds a little bit of fun with its star-gazing fly. It's got some good heft to it though, so if you are trying to lighten your load, there are other options like the NEMO Dragonfly and Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 that you should strongly consider. However, at a comparatively affordable price point, it just might be the right model for the right thrifty backpacker.
The Kelty Dirt Motel 2 holds its own against in terms of comfort but takes a big hit on weight, ultimately pulling it down the list.
As long as you don't have to carry it too far, this tent is ready for your next adventure.
This tent is a comfortable option with some nice features that separate it from others at a similar price point. The two massive side doors make entering and exiting the tent really easy. Though it skimps a little on the length (84"), the crossbar pole maximizes peak height and provides ample headroom. In fact, it has much the same design and interior architecture of the award-winning Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2.
The two large doors on this tent are a great feature.
We found that the vestibules provided ample storage space for a pack and footwear. The pockets on the inside are modest. Each side has a small one and there is a slightly larger one overhead.
It doesn't provide a lot of privacy without the fly, but the ability to roll back the fly halfway while still keeping it partially connected is a sort of convenience.
The star-gazing feature deployed. We like it as much for the ventilation it provides as much if not more than our ability to see the sky while lying down.
If you are all about comfort and like the price point, we would recommend the REI Half Dome 2 Plus. Another equally comfortable but much lighter model is the NEMO Dragonfly.
Ease of Set Up
This tent sticks with a hubbed pole plus crossbar design. The pole ends are color-coded with the tent and fly corner webbing so you know you are orienting everything correctly. The pole ends insert and slide-to-lock into a metal foot at each corner. The peak height of the canopy slides into the tent pole hub in the middle.
Two hubbed poles cross in the center and the tent body easily clips to them.
All in all, we found that this model is straightforward and one person was able to pitch it fully in less than five minutes.
A closeup of the pole hub and tent canopy connector.
This tent has average weather resistance. In addition to its weight discussed below, this is the other metric that brings its score down. The 40D ripstop siliconized ripstop nylon fly material is more than adequate. However, as with other tents in its price range the fly can be difficult to get taut all around. As a result, there can be some saggier areas where water collects.
The fly really hugs the ground which is nice for keeping out the elements.
Though the canopy itself is very airy, the fly runs low to the ground (which is generally good for rain protection) but the vent at the top of the fly is very small and doesn't do an adequate job of releasing condensation. This tent didn't leave us waterlogged but we wish the fly was as solid as the tent itself.
The vent on the fly is small and we felt somewhat ineffective.
For superior weather resistance, take a look at the Hilleberg Anjan GT 2 or any of the NEMO models.
We think that the Dirt Motel 2 will stand up adequately in the long run. The 70D nylon floor and 40D nylon fly are hearty. The pole hub connector may be an issue if it gets over-torqued and the black plastic attachment point on the tent is a high-tension spot, though it seems to be reinforced well.
A classic, simple pole clip design that stays put. We have no complaints.
The pole connector clips are a very standard design that we have never had issues with. The stakes are a useful shovel shape that helps slide into a grip soil easily. The canopy is entirely mesh so we could see getting some runs in it or snagging it on a tree branch in a close-quarters campsite but again, obvious issues from our end during testing.
This tent comes with ten surprisingly solid stakes and guyline.
For the ultimate in durability, the Hilleberg Anjan GT 2 can't be beaten.
Weight & Packed Size
This tent weighs in at a nudge over 4 3/4 pounds. It has the design of an ultralight with the body of a regular, heavy-ish tent. It's one of the heavier models in this review and its weight is a main contributing factor to its overall score. It actually packs down smaller than its heft would suggest but it leaves us a little confused about how a tent that seemingly embraces much of an ultralight aesthetic (minimal pockets, entirely mesh canopy, shorter length) can also be so heavy.
If you want a lighter model that you can go the distance with you, we recommend the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, the NEMO Dragonfly or the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2.
This tent is awesome for short distance overnights or car camping. Its weight keeps it from being ideal for longer backpacking trips but the star-gazing fly is a nice bonus that makes it a great choice for those staying put at their campsite.
At $260, the Dirt Motel 2 comes in at a nice price point. If the weight isn't an issue for you, then we think you will definitely get your money's worth. It's a comfortable tent with some nice features and materials that are thicker than more expensive (albeit lighter) tents. If you know you are in for some really wet weather, we would recommend looking elsewhere, however, for summer weekend adventurer that will go out multiple times a season, we think there is good value here.
The Kelty Dirt Motel 2 is a comfortable, livable tent. It comes in at a comparatively affordable price, however, it is by no means a lightweight. Its heft, along with a few concerns about its fly performance, is what ultimately hurt its overall score but if the prospect of toting this tent around doesn't phase you, we think it is worth serious consideration.
We like this tent for quick trips that are more about relaxing and less about the miles.