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Kelty Grand Mesa 2 Review

Kelty Grand Mesa 2
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Price:  $140 List | $111.11 at Amazon
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Pros:  Small footprint size, streamlined profile makes it more weather resistant, inexpensive
Cons:  Heavy, small interior for weight, low quality stakes, not enough guy cord
Manufacturer:   Kelty
By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 22, 2015
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46
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Livability - 20% 5
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 6
  • Durability - 10% 6
  • Adaptability - 10% 1
  • Weight - 20% 3
  • Packed Size - 10% 3

The Skinny

The Kelty Grand Mesa is a good choice for someone looking for an inexpensive tent that they can use on multi-day backpacking trips. It is on the smaller side of the tents we tested, and we think it would work well for one person or two smaller people. Kelty provides quality, durable materials for the price point, and the Grand Mesa performs relatively well in moderate winds and rain.

The advantage that the Grand Mesa has over the Kelty Salida is that its single door is in the front instead of on the side, so if there are two people in the tent you won't have to crawl over each other to get out. The Grand Mesa is slightly bigger inside, but also slightly heavier than the Salida. Spending a few more dollars on the REI Half Dome 2 Plus will get you two doors and vestibules, higher quality materials, and a more versatile tent if you want something to use for car camping and backpacking. Check out our complete Best Backpacking Tent Review to see how the Grand Mesa compares to the 23 other tents we've tested.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The New Version of the Kelty Grand Mesa 2 vs. The Older Version


The Grand Mesa 2 is now available in a new color. Check out this quote from Kelty in regards to the newest additions to the Mesa 2.

"The Grand Mesa 2 has had minor updates in 2015, including color and styling. The tent body changed to all mesh, compact folding pole set, roll top cube carry bag, Kelty Hug Clip. Minimum weight 4 lb 1 oz."

-Kelty

See below for a side-by-side comparison photo, with the latest model pictured on the left and the older version on the right.

Kelty Grand Mesa 2
Kelty Grand Mesa 2

Hands-On Review


The Kelty Grand Mesa is easy to set-up, has decent quality materials, and is a good option for budget backpackers.

Performance Comparison


A storm approaches in the Golden Trout Wilderness  High Sierra - But we know we'll be OK in the Kelty Grand Mesa 2.
A storm approaches in the Golden Trout Wilderness, High Sierra - But we know we'll be OK in the Kelty Grand Mesa 2.

Ease of Set-up


The Kelty Grand Mesa is one of the easiest tents to set-up out of all the models we tested. Its simple, two-pole design and single vestibule are very straight forward and quick to assemble. The Grand Mesa only comes with four guy lines, but has 7 guy points. We wish it had come with additional cord to attach to the mid-wall guy points, which would keep the fly from touching the inner tent. The Grand Mesa also came with very low quality stakes — they bent almost immediately. We recommend upgrading the stakes and purchasing extra guy cord.

We bent several of the Grand Mesa's low quality stakes during the first few days of testing and would recommend replacing them with lighter  stronger stakes.
We bent several of the Grand Mesa's low quality stakes during the first few days of testing and would recommend replacing them with lighter, stronger stakes.

Livability


The interior of the Grand Mesa is a bit claustrophobic. If you are used to a tent with two doors and vestibules, the tapered, one-door design of the Grand Mesa will feel a bit cramped. For one person it will feel like a palace, but once you get two people inside, we hope you like each other!

The Grand Mesa's vestibule door only opens half-way, making it difficult to crawl in and out. The inner door zips almost entirely off, but this convenience is short-changed by the difficulty presented by the outer door.

The Grand Mesa's vestibule door only opens half way  making it difficult to crawl in and out. The inner door zips almost entirely off  but this convenience is short changed by the difficulty presented by the outer door.
The Grand Mesa's vestibule door only opens half way, making it difficult to crawl in and out. The inner door zips almost entirely off, but this convenience is short changed by the difficulty presented by the outer door.

Weather Resistance


We encountered a small rain storm while backpacking with the Grand Mesa. The low-profile shape coupled with the single door helps to make the Grand Mesa more resistant to wind, and it held up well to moderate speed winds and rain. Unfortunately, we did notice that a small amount of rain got into the inner tent when entering or exiting through the vestibule door. We also added our own guy lines to the side and back guy points to keep the fly from touching the inner tent and to improve ventilation.

The Grand Mesa only comes with four guy lines  but has 7 guy points. We wish it had come with cords to attach to the mid wall guy points to keep the fly from touching the inner tent.
The Grand Mesa only comes with four guy lines, but has 7 guy points. We wish it had come with cords to attach to the mid wall guy points to keep the fly from touching the inner tent.

Adaptability


The Grand Mesa is a double wall tent, so it can be pitched with or without the fly. We like that it has a relatively small footprint size and can be pitched on smaller tent pads than some of the tents with two side doors can.

The Grand Mesa is a double wall tent so it can be pitched with or without the fly. Jerri takes a break with the fly off at Guitar Lake on the John Muir Trail.
The Grand Mesa is a double wall tent so it can be pitched with or without the fly. Jerri takes a break with the fly off at Guitar Lake on the John Muir Trail.

Weight and Packed Size


Weighing in at 4 pounds 9 ounces, the Kelty Grand Mesa is in the middle of the pack in terms of its weight. Its packed size is also medium, at 7x20 inches. If you're looking to take your backpacking to the next level, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX has the same interior space but weighs more than a pound less and packs down smaller.

Durability


Durability is not a huge concern with this tent. It is made from decent quality materials which are definitely not ultralight, so you don't need to be too delicate with them. We think the bathtub floor is quite solid and the DAC poles are sturdy.

Limitations


Because of its cramped size and single door, we would not want to spend a lot of time in this tent, so it is not recommended for frequent car camping. The Mountainsmith Morrison 2 is one of the most liveable and durable tents we tested that can also function well when camping close to the car.

We bent several of the Grand Mesa's low quality stakes during the first few days of testing, and would recommend replacing them with lighter, stronger stakes.

Best Application


The Kelty Grand Mesa is a great tent for first time backpackers on a budget. It is moderately light, inexpensive, and its materials are of decent quality for the money. Use it for a few seasons of backpacking and then upgrade to something lighter like the Terra Nova Solar Photon 2, and you'll never look back.

The Grand Mesa 2 (Front) and the Mountainsmith Morrison 2 below Mount Whitney on the John Muir Trail.
The Grand Mesa 2 (Front) and the Mountainsmith Morrison 2 below Mount Whitney on the John Muir Trail.

Value


The Grand Mesa provides great value at $139.95. It ranks in the middle of the pack in all the categories we evaluated, but top of the pack for price.

Conclusion


One of the best tents for your buck, the Kelty Grand Mesa is a good all around tent for budget backpackers. It provides good weather resistance, especially when you add your own guy lines to all the points. It is very livable for one person, but feels a bit cramped for two. The single door gives it a low profile shape, but its half-zip vestibule door makes entry and exit a little difficult. At 4 lbs 9 oz it is a tolerable weight for short backpacking trips.


Jessica Haist