The Kelty Dirt Motel 2 surprised us with its thoughtful features and design. We love the two large side doors and the airy mesh canopy and there is a surprising amount of headroom and vestibules on each side that are large enough for a pack and footwear. Our primary issue with this tent is that it is just heavy relative to what you get. The dimensions and livability are not that different from other higher-rated models, but it weighs almost a couple of pounds more. We also struggled a bit with the fly; we found that the zippers are not waterproof and the geometry can sometimes be difficult to get right. However, we are really happy overall with this model given its price point.
Kelty Dirt Motel 2 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Two large side doors, two large vestibules, fly rolls back halfway for star gazing, inexpensive
Cons: Heavy, small fly vent, fly zipper not waterproof, small side pockets
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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, but 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.
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.
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.
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.
All in all, we found that this model is straightforward, and one person was able to pitch it fully in less than five minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch