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Kelty Dirt Motel 2 Review

A budget tent with a lot of the same design and features of our award winners.
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Price:  $260 List | $259.95 at Backcountry
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
Manufacturer:   Kelty
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 2, 2019
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 17
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Weight - 25% 4
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 6
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Packed Size - 10% 8

Our Verdict

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. 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 the award-winning Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Kelty Dirt Motel 2
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  
Price $259.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$389.90 at Amazon$420.00 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$489.99 at Amazon$299.95 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Two large side doors, two large vestibules, fly rolls back halfway for star gazing, inexpensiveExcellent balance between weight and features, many storage pockets, large vestibulesTwo large double doors, good headroom, excellent balance of space and weightLightweight, good lateral headroom, large side doors, large overhead pocketGenerous dimensions, large vestibules, good balance between weight and durability
Cons Heavy, small fly vent, fly zipper not waterproof, small side pocketsTapered foot, pockets are high upDelicate fabrics require special treatment, expensivesmall vestibules, tapered footprint reduces interior spaceSmall doors, expensive, zippers don't always open smoothly
Bottom Line A budget tent with a lot of the same design and features of our award winners.A superior tent that balances light weight with excellent features.Our favorite tent for all your backpacking needs.A comfortable, lightweight tent great for a weekend or a week.A high-quality tent that strikes a solid balance between weight and comfort features.
Rating Categories Kelty Dirt Motel 2 NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 NEMO Dagger 2
Comfort (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Weight (25%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
Weather Resistance (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Durability (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
Packed Size (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
Specs Kelty Dirt Motel 2 NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Copper... Big Agnes Copper... NEMO Dagger 2
Packaged Weight 4.81 lbs 3.16 lbs 3.06 lbs 3.81 lbs 3.76 lbs
Floor Area 28 sq ft 29 sq ft 29 sq ft 41 sq ft 31 sq ft
Packed Size 15 x 6 in 19.5 x 4.5 in 19.5 x 4 in 20 x 4.5 in 19.5 x 6.5 in
Dimensions 84 x 50 x 42.5 in 88" x 50" x 41" 88" x 52" x 42 in 90" x 70" x 43" 90" x 50" x 42"
Vestibule Area (Total) 18 sq ft 20 sq ft 18 sq ft 18 sq ft 22.8 sq ft
Peak Height 42.5 in 41 in 42 in 43 in 42 in
Number of Doors 2 2 2 2 2
Number of Poles 3 3 2 3 2
Pole Diameter Not provided 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.7mm 8.5/9/9.6 millimeters
Number of Pockets 2 3 2 5 2
Gear Loft No No Sold separately Sold separately Sold separately
Pole Material Aluminum DAC Featherlite NFL DAC Featherlite NFL and NSL Aluminum DAC featherlight NSL
Guy Points 4 5 9 6 10
Rain Fly Material 40D Siliconized Nylon Ripstop 20D Nylon Ripstop Silicone-treated patterned double ripstop nylon with waterproof polyurethane coating proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating 15D Sil / PU Nylon Ripstop (1200mm)
Inner Tent Material 70D nylon 15D Nylon Ripstop [Body] Patterned double ripstop nylon/polyester mesh
[Floor] Silicone-treated patterned double ripstop nylon with waterproof polyurethane coating
proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating [Body] 15D Nylon Ripstop / No see um mesh
[Floor] 30D PU Nylon Ripstop (3000mm)
Type Freestanding Two Door freestanding Two Door Two Door Two Door freestanding

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 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.

Performance Comparison


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.
As long as you don't have to carry it too far, this tent is ready for your next adventure.

Comfort


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.
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.
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.
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.
A closeup of the pole hub and tent canopy connector.

Weather Resistance


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.
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.
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.

Durability


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.
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.
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.

Best Applications


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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.
We like this tent for quick trips that are more about relaxing and less about the miles.


Ben Applebaum-Bauch