Kelty Wireless 6 Review
Cons: Fiberglass poles, small pockets, lack of ventilation with the rainfly on
Compare to Similar Products
Kelty Wireless 6
|Price||$270 List||$369.95 at Backcountry||$299 List|
Check Price at REI
|$159.99 at Amazon||$69.99 at Amazon|
|Pros||Spacious, easy to pitch, great views, inexpensive||Large vestibule, simple, excellent weather resistance, classic design||Spacious, lightweight, quick to pitch||Super easy set up, good views, very nice price||Simple, very cheap, lightweight|
|Cons||Fiberglass poles, small pockets, lack of ventilation with the rainfly on||Low ceiling height, could use more interior storage||Uses a hub pole system, not wind friendly||Low headroom, poor overall construction||Too simple, cheaply made, not durable|
|Bottom Line||Wherever this tent falls short in quality, it makes up for it in size, features, and overall value||This is a high-quality tent with a simple design that will be familiar to experienced campers||This spacious and user-friendly tent is a feature-rich option that is very fairly priced||This tent is fast, easy, and inexpensive, though it falls short in some key areas||A starter tent that works for those looking to get into camping on the cheap|
|Rating Categories||Kelty Wireless 6||Marmot Limestone 4||REI Grand Hut 4||4-Person Cabin with...||Coleman Sundome Dome 4|
|Space And Comfort (35%)|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Family Friendliness (10%)|
|Specs||Kelty Wireless 6||Marmot Limestone 4||REI Grand Hut 4||4-Person Cabin with...||Coleman Sundome Dome 4|
|Weight||17.2 lbs||11.3 lbs||13.7 lbs||18.2 lbs||9.8 lbs|
|Max Inside Height||6' 4"||5' 3"||6' 3"||4' 11"||4' 11"|
|Floor Dimensions||9'10" x 8'10"||8'4"x7'2"||8'4" x 7'2"||8' x 7'||9' x 7'|
|Floor Area||86.9 sq ft||59.7 sq ft||59.7 sq ft||56 sq ft||63 sq ft|
|Number of Doors||2||2||2||1||2|
|Vestibule Area||28 sq ft||21 sq ft||35 sq ft||N/A||N/A|
|Packed Size||27" x 8" x 8"||27.5" x 10"||24" x 10" x 10"||39.5" x 8" x 8"||6.75" x 6.75" x 23.75"|
|Floor Materials||68D poly 1800mm||150D polyester||150D coated polyester||150D polyester||Polyethylene 1000D-140g/sqm|
|Main Tent Materials||68D poly 1200mm, 40D No-see-um mesh||40D polyester/mesh||Mesh||150D polyester||Polyester mesh 68D|
|Rainfly Materials||68D poly 1200mm||68D polyester taffeta||75D coated polyester||Polyguard 2X||Polyester taffeta 75D|
|Number of Poles||3||4||1 hubbed||4||3|
|Extras||Pole pockets for easy setup||Hidden key/phone pouch on fly||Ceiling zippers to reach top clips||Integrated rainfly protection||E-Port|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Kelty Wireless 6 can be fully pitched, staked, and guylined in just over 6 minutes with a partner. And, thanks to some clever pole pockets, you can pitch this tent in a little over 7 minutes when solo. The classic dome shape provides stability in the wind but still gives 6’4” of headroom in the center — plenty of height to change and stretch without ducking. Solid fabric covers just over half the way up the sides and provides solid privacy. The rest of the way up is a fantastically clear mesh. This is truly the best mix of openness and privacy in our lineup. The biggest pitfall with the Wireless is the poles. While thicker than most budget tent poles, they still are fiberglass and clunky to connect. Another pitfall is the lack of storage space. But rest assured, these flaws are easily overlooked once you see the price.
Space and Comfort
Space, indeed. Comfort, mostly. With a 6’4” height profile, a floor plan that rivals all of the top contenders, and dual vestibules, this tent has loads of space. It easily sleeps a family of four with room to spare. A twin mattress with two small sleeping pads leaves plenty of room for luggage, dog beds, and more. The dual teardrop doors are smooth to open and give almost total ventilation paired with the full mesh top.
However, with only six pockets, four of them quite small and made from much less durable mesh than the tent, you might need to keep your gadgets and small accessories in your personal bags. The two larger pockets found higher up on the tent have a translucent material made to help diffuse a headlamp or flashlight to provide more ambient light. A nice bonus should you forget your hanging lantern.
Where comfort was a little lost was in the vestibules. They are plenty large enough for storage or animals but don’t plan on fitting a human in there. A small table fits perfectly and allows for morning coffee should you find yourself stuck in some bad weather. And if you are lucky enough not to need the rainfly, laying in an open tent on a nice air mattress, staring up at the stars is about as comfortable as you will get with any tent.
The Wireless 6 has hot days dialed. The full mesh top with two huge doors allows air to fly through this tent. A fully covering rainfly with included guylines and a great dome shape make this tent a solid contender in both wind and rain. That said, it only has two ventilation ports on the rainfly, and because the guylines are on the four corners of the tent, not much airflow comes in from the sides of the fly. Needless to say, if you find yourself in warm, rainy weather, be prepared to be a little toasty inside.
Because of the dome shape and well-angled vestibules, the tent didn’t seem to catch light wind. However, the placement of the guylines on the corners with nothing to stretch out the middle does give some concern should heavy winds pick up. Add to that the weaker material of the fiberglass poles and you may want to avoid any serious weather.
Outside of a major wind storm, the Wireless 6 is a well-made tent with the tools to keep your family happy in the elements. All of the seams are taped, so water coming in from the ground isn’t a likely scenario. The included stakes are sturdy and handled the tough Sierra Mountain ground without bending or tweaking.
Ease of Use
A major selling point of the Wireless 6 is a feature they call quick corners. Basically, a sleeve you slide the poles into on all four corners versus the more common slot or pin to hook into. This is one of those features that every manufacturer should consider. It really does make pitching the tent with one person a breeze.
Kelty has also used side release buckles for decades on their rainfly’s, and while one can argue they are a weak point, they make connecting the rainfly literally a snap. Another feature unique to Kelty is the color coating of just one corner for the rainfly. There is no way to go wrong or second guess if you have the right side with only one clip color coated. There is, however, a pretty large flaw in the tent's setup. This tent is over six feet tall in the center, and the recommended method of erecting the tent is by putting both poles up first and then clipping the center clip. Easy enough in concept, however, you might have to lean in pretty far or get a child on your shoulders to clip that center. But once clipped, the twist connect attachment points go very fast, and the rest is simple enough to finish.
Teardown is nearly the same; unbuckling that top clip is the hardest part, and you might not want to have any witnesses while you flounder to get it undone. Rolling up the tent is fairly easy, though it does hold air a bit like a lot of cheaper tents, so take your time. Everything fits into the Shark Mouth bag well (we guess they call it that because of how wide it opens), even without a super tight roll. And while trivial, the carry strap has a handy adjuster helping it fit on your shoulder quite comfortably. The total weight is just over 17 pounds and packs down very well for a six-person tent.
Kelty is well known in the market as being one of the best in the budget category. Their tents are quality made without going over the top. Outside of the fiberglass poles and cheaply crafted corner pockets, the Wireless 6 is no different. The floor and fly are both made from 68D PU-coated polyester material; the walls are also a 68D polyester and 40D No-See-Um Mesh. Sound materials, all taped at the seams for added protection and durability. The included stakes handled a rock beating quite well, the guylines have included plastic lockers, and the bag is cleverly built and ready to get thrown in and out of the car a zillion times.
The Wireless 6 isn’t going to beat out the top brands in our review for quality, but it stands well above the lower pack and should handle the beatings of nature and families. If you are worried that a budget tent will leave you high and dry, this tent will correct that notion and restore faith that you don’t have to buy the best to get good quality.
Bring them all. Two adults, two kids, and two dogs will have plenty of room on a weekend campout. You can even pack an additional friend if they don’t mind sharing a twin. If you ditch the twin air mattress and just go with sleeping pads, both kids could bring a friend. However, because the vestibules are not large enough for a chair or proper cooking, getting stuck inside during a rainstorm wouldn’t be ideal and might lead to some ex-best friends. But if the sun is out and the rainfly still packed in the bag, a gaggle of friends or a large family will love the Wireless 6.
The walls of the Wireless 6 were clearly made to maximize privacy while changing and still minimize view obstruction. We love this, but keep in mind that storage is a little light for a family larger than four. With only six total pockets, four of which are pretty small, this tent could really use a few more storage options. On the other hand, the dual vestibules allow you to not only enter from both sides but shake off clothes and ditch dirty shoes before entering.
This tent is all about value. Where it lacks in quality and features, it easily makes up for in price. You get good, sound materials and a tall, weather-ready body with all of the basics you need. Kelty even tosses in a few industry-leading options like the quick corners, the "shark's mouth" bag, and the single color coated corner.
The Kelty Wireless 6 is a great value pick for someone looking to get a six-person tent without breaking the bank. With amazing views and airflow on hot days and solid coverage in the rain, this tent is ready for three seasons of car-camping adventures. As with any value buy, there are some limitations. The most notable downfalls are fiberglass poles, a shortage of storage, some ventilation concerns, and a complication for shorter people in pitching. However, when you look at this tent’s overall performance matched with the price point, you will be hard-pressed to find a better 6-person budget tent.
— Rob Gaedtke