Kelty Tallboy 4 Review
Cons: Cheap poles, bad door zippers, small footprint
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|Pros||Simple, quick to set up, lightweight||Spacious, great layout, durable, very family friendly, high value||Spacious, easy to pitch, great views, inexpensive||Super easy set up, good views, very nice price||Great fair weather vestibule, spacious interior, neat concept|
|Cons||Cheap poles, bad door zippers, small footprint||Not the easiest to pitch, only one door, odd bag||Fiberglass poles, small pockets, lack of ventilation with the rainfly on||Low headroom, poor overall construction||Hard to setup, doesn't do well in rain, poor quality|
|Bottom Line||A classic lightweight 4-person dome tent that gives a little extra headroom and has a few nice features||This tent has one of the best uses of space we have ever seen, a great choice for families or campers with lots of gear||Wherever this tent falls short in quality, it makes up for it in size, features, and overall value||This tent is fast, easy, and inexpensive, though it falls short in some key areas||While this tent looks good in photos, it performs poorly in weather resistance and general use|
|Rating Categories||Kelty Tallboy 4||The North Face Wawo...||Kelty Wireless 6||Coleman 4-Person Ca...||Coleman Evanston Sc...|
|Space and Comfort (35%)|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Family Friendliness (15%)|
|Specs||Kelty Tallboy 4||The North Face Wawo...||Kelty Wireless 6||Coleman 4-Person Ca...||Coleman Evanston Sc...|
|Weight||11.0 lbs||21.9 lbs||17.2 lbs||18.2 lbs||20.9 lbs|
|Max Inside Height||5' 10"||6' 6"||6' 4"||4' 11"||5' 8"|
|Floor Dimensions||7' 1" x 8'||10' x 8' 6"||9' 10" x 8' 10"||8' x 7'||10' x 9'|
|Floor Area||57 sq ft||85 sq ft||86.9 sq ft||56 sq ft||90 sq ft|
|Windows||Mesh top||2||Mesh top||3||2|
|Number of Doors||1||3||2||1||1|
|Vestibule Area (total)||0 sq ft||44.7 sq ft||28 sq ft||0 sq ft||40 sq ft|
|Packed Size||24" x 7" x 10"||9.5" x 16.5" x 25.5"||27" x 8" x 8"||39.5" x 8" x 8"||27.4" x 14.8" x 10.31"|
|Floor Materials||68D Poly 1200mm||150D polyester||68D poly 1800mm||150D polyester||WeatherTec|
|Main Tent Materials||68D Poly 1200mm, 40D No-see-um mesh||150D polyester||68D poly 1200mm, 40D No-see-um mesh||150D polyester||Polyguard|
|Rainfly Materials||68D Poly 1200mm||75D polyester||68D poly 1200mm||Polyguard 2X||Polyguard|
|Number of Poles||3||4||3||4||4|
|Pole Material||Fiberglass||14 mm aluminum||Fiberglass||Aluminum||Fiberglass|
|Extras||Light weight||Internal dry lines, hang loops, Velcro lantern loop||Pole pockets for easy setup||Integrated rainfly protection||Covered vestibule with floor|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Kelty Tallboy 4 is a down and dirty classic dome tent built for the minimalist camper. This tent is super fast to pitch, comes with great stakes, and the pre-attached guylines with tensioners keep it securely planted to the ground. Weighing in at only 11 pounds, the Tallboy could also be hiked farther out from the car without too much effort. Kelty did cut some corners with the fiberglass poles, thin storage bag, and clunky zippers, but overall, this tent is a solid value pick.
Space and Comfort
When it comes to space and comfort, you won't find much of that here. At only 57 square feet, the Tallboy is pretty small to bring car camping for a family of four. That said, the four pockets on the bottom sides of the tent are helpful with storage, and the 5' 10" max height does allow for many to stand and change. The open mesh top and two mesh sides also help make the space feel larger when the fly is off.
The Tallboy faired well against our tests here. The dome shape and included guylines held up to the wind, and the double-walled door and fly kept the inside dry. When it comes to fair weather, the open roof and sides allow for good airflow. The same is true when the rainfly is on and properly staked.
Ease of Use
Thanks to the simplicity of the Tallboy, the tent pitched in just 5 minutes 44 seconds. The color-coded fly clips and pre-attached guylines help with the speed. Kelty is one of the few brands that color-code only one clip, a genius and simple option we are surprised more don't do.
It's hard to give a small four-person tent a good score in this category, especially for car camping, where weight and size aren't as much of a barrier. That said, we managed to cram four people and two dogs into this tent. As mentioned before, storage is limited, and with no vestibule, your only other option is to keep extra stuff in the car. However, as the name implies, the additional height of the Tallboy does give it a little extra space.
Quality tends to take a hit when you get into the cheaper tents, and the Tallboy is no exception. Several of the seams and stitching looked poorly done, and our zipper stuck and was clearly made from cheaper material. The poles are fiberglass and heavy. The stakes, however, are surprisingly awesome, as is the mesh used on the sides and ceiling. For the price, we were decently pleased.
Should You Buy the Kelty Tallboy 4?
The Tallboy is as simple as it gets for a four-person tent, offering adequate weather resistance and exceptional value. If you are looking for an inexpensive way to get into camping and want a tent you can keep around and maybe even lug on a short backpacking trip, this is certainly one to consider. This is also a great budget option to have around as an extra for visitors or festivals.
What Other Camping Tents Should You Consider?
While the Kelty Tallboy 4 is a good value, its bigger brother, the Kelty Wireless 6 is a far better bang for the buck and handles a family much better. And if you are looking for a step up in quality all around, you might consider the The North Face Sequoia 4.
— Rob Gaedtke
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