Kelty Late Start 2 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lighter weight, easy to set up, lots of mesh for stargazing
Cons: Single side door, pole structure pinches under fly tension
Compare to Similar Products
Kelty Late Start 2
|Price||$119.96 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
$159.00 at REI
$159.00 at REI
|$158.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 3 sellers
|Pros||Lighter weight, easy to set up, lots of mesh for stargazing||Lots of headroom, large vestibule, easy to pitch||Two side doors, easy to pitch, large vestibules||Headroom, large tent doors, ventilation||Setup with fly attached, flexible vestibule configuration, below average price|
|Cons||Single side door, pole structure pinches under fly tension||Poles pinch together under fly tension||Heavy, not so stable in high wind||Heavy, unsteady in high wind, cheap stakes||Single door, can't remove fly while keeping tent pitched|
|Bottom Line||A lighter tent with some innovative features that is easy to set up||This inexpensive tent is just a good as a 1P as it for two||This basic tent is easy to set up and provides comfortable nights of camping on a budget||This spacious tent makes the most of its dimensions and offers plenty of features that will have you camping in comfort||The unique design and really reasonable price of this tent have us finding new ways to enjoy it again and again|
|Rating Categories||Kelty Late Start 2||REI Co-op Passage 1||REI Co-op Passage 2||The North Face Stor...||Slumberjack Nightfa...|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Ease of Set-up (10%)|
|Packed Size (10%)|
|Specs||Kelty Late Start 2||REI Co-op Passage 1||REI Co-op Passage 2||The North Face Stor...||Slumberjack Nightfa...|
|Measured Packaged Weight||4.50 lbs||4.21 lbs||5.23 lbs||5.89 lbs||5.68 lbs|
|Floor Area||29.5 sq ft||20 sq ft||31 sq ft||30.5 sq ft||31.4 sq ft|
|Packed Size||7 x 16 in||7.5 x 17 in||8 x 18 in||7 x 22 in||6.5 x 21 in|
|Dimensions||85 x 54 x 40 in||88 x 36 in||88 x 52 in||87 x 50 x 43 in||85 x 52 x 39.5 in|
|Vestibule Area (Total)||7.85 sq ft||9.5 sq ft||19 sq ft||19 sq ft||9.3 sq ft|
|Peak Height||40 in||40 in||40 in||43 in||39.5 in|
|Number of Doors||1||1||2||2||1|
|Number of Poles||2||2||2||4||3|
|Pole Diameter||9.0 mm||8.5 mm||8.5 mm||Not provided||Not provided|
|Number of Pockets||3||1||2||4||2|
|Pole Material||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum||7001 aluminum|
|Rain Fly Material||68D polyester||Polyester||Polyester||68D lightweight polyester taffeta, 1200 mm PU||68D polyester|
|Inner Tent Material||68D polyester||Polyester||Polyester||68D polyester taffeta, 1500 mm PU coating||40D Polyester No-See-Um Mesh|
|Type||Freestanding||Freestanding||Freestanding||Two door, freestanding||Freestanding|
Our Analysis and Test Results
This tent is quick to pitch and has a straightforward design. It cuts down a bit on weight, which is something that many budget tents miss out on. However, we have some concerns about the interior volume under the tension of the fly (or high wind for that matter). The Kelty Late Start 2 misses out on comfort and weather resistance, two big metrics that leave it at the bottom of the pack.
This tent has dimensions that are consistent with other budget models. Its 85" length is the shortest in this review, but it still provides enough room for a six-foot sleeper. The 54" width is actually more generous than most other models, and it doesn't taper either. The prevent poles make it easier to sit up, but there is no cross pole to expand the area around the head. The peak height is sufficient but didn't wow us.
We think that the single side door is just inconvenient with two people. If the person on the far side has to get out or access their pack (in the vestibule), they have to shuffle over or around the other person. The pockets are generally sufficient. There are personal pockets, one on each side and another one overhead. The vestibule offers just under 8 square feet of space, which as far as space for two goes, is pretty limiting.
We do like the mesh canopy that makes for relatively obstruction-free stargazing.
Ease of Set Up
We found the tent portion easy to set up with the fly offering a little more resistance to the perfect pitch. The Late Start 2 comes with sleeves at the corners to insert the pole ends into (as opposed to grommets or metal clasps). We found this feature was helpful when our fine motor skills were limited by cold (it may also be easier for children to set up), but generally, its two-pole design was no more or less difficult than other budget models.
This tent loses some ground because of its rainfly. It is easy enough to orient correctly, but the single-stake triangle vestibule never quite seems to tension properly, leaving us frustrated and making the tent susceptible to pooling water.
Mostly owing to issues stemming from the fly, the Late Start 2 leaves us wanting more from its weather resistance. We found the fly challenging to fully tension. When it was taut in one area, it was loose in another. When we did manage to get it right, we noticed that it pinched the poles together, causing a significant amount of sag in the tent canopy and decreasing the livable space.
There are no additional external vents beyond the fly door, so if the vestibule has to be closed, it can get damp.
We have found in general that budget tent long term durability is lower than more expensive models. This is the case primarily because of polyurethane-coated fabrics that degrade and stitching that doesn't quite seem to be as tight.
Here, the Late Start 2 is about as good as other tents in this review. The nobendium hexagonal hook stakes are an improvement over standard hook stakes that come with most budget tents. As an additional high tension area beyond what most tents have, we could envision the easy pitch pole sleeves starting to come undone over time as well.
Weight & Packed Size
Coming in at 4 pounds, 8 ounces, the Late Start 2 keeps the rest of the pack honest. It is one of the lighter models in our review, and we found its 7" x 16" packed size to squeeze down better than budget behemoths.
It wouldn't be the most comfortable night's sleep, but the carry split between two people wouldn't be so bad.
This tent is about average for this budget review. There are a handful of other award-winning models that cost the same amount and offer more comfort for two with increased weather resistance. With that in mind, we think that this tent is a fair price but not necessarily a high-value purchase.
The Kelty Late Start 2 is a relatively lightweight tent that is quick to pitch and has a straightforward design. It has some unique features that make life easier but sometimes misses out on the basics, like a sturdy pole structure. It could perform in the backcountry or as a car camping option, but we would opt for any of our award winners first.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch
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