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Kelty Discovery Shade Shelter Review

Very sturdy and reliable, this shelter takes a while to set-up, but offers multi-day protection.
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Price:  $130 List
Pros:  Color coating for easy set up, strong structure, good sun protection, stable, additional wind-wall
Cons:  Long set up time, difficult push tabs
Manufacturer:   Kelty
By Michael Wood ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 28, 2019
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70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Livability - 25% 7
  • Ease of Setup - 25% 6
  • Wind Resistance - 20% 8
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Portability - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Kelty Discovery Shade Shelter is a beach or camping canopy tent that relies on a house-like a frame to provide sun and wind protection. One of the slower models to set-up, once erected the wind wall, guy-lines and stakes allow for impressive stability and sun protection. This shelter is large enough to fit over a picnic table and will house up to five people. Its framing system gives this shelter a sense of excellent quality while increasing its weight. It can, however, be carried and set up by a single person in any condition. We recommend this shelter for a myriad of different environments, including beaches, parks, and campgrounds.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


On a calm summer day  our testers could opt out on using the guy lines on this sturdy camping and beach canopy.
On a calm summer day, our testers could opt out on using the guy lines on this sturdy camping and beach canopy.

Livability


The Discovery Shade Shelter offers 100 square feet of floor space and is large enough to cover most picnic tables. The only tent tested that comes with a removable side-wall, this option allows for even more flexibility and sun/wind protection. The max height is 6'6" so there's head space for most folks. The two sides are easy access points, but the other two sides are lower, which increases sun and wind protection, but limits accessibility. The legs have miniature stakes built into the foot, which limits the use to areas with soft ground, which increases the stability but prevents set up on concrete.

Pitched sides limit accessibility somewhat but increase the shelter's protection.
Pitched sides limit accessibility somewhat but increase the shelter's protection.

Ease of Setup


Although easy to set up with color coating and angle inscriptions, the Kelty Discovery takes time to erect. The house-like framing system requires each of the 11 poles to be inserted into their designated plastic joints. Once the frame is erect, you must go to each leg to attach the canopy. The structural design, however, allows for single person setup, which took on average 6 minutes, even in windy conditions.

The set-up is more difficult due to the framing system and narrow push-tabs  but in the end  this frame is what gives this shelter its impressive durability.
The set-up is more difficult due to the framing system and narrow push-tabs, but in the end, this frame is what gives this shelter its impressive durability.

The aspect of setup we were most disenchanted with is the push tabs for inserting each pole section. The tabs are small metal rings which are neither easy nor comfortable to push in. That aside, this tent is rather easy to install.

Narrow push-tabs are difficult and sometimes painful to use.
Canopy Tents

Wind Resistance


Guy-lines and thick, durable stakes allow for increased stability. The fabric is a 68-denier polyester and connects to the frame with velcro loops as well as at each leg through a metal ring. These velcro traps limit the movement of the canopy in the wind, which cuts down on wear and tear that comes from the fabric rubbing against the wind. These velcro straps also increase the shelter's stability in the wind by limiting the movement of the canopy.

Guy-lines provided to increase the stability of this already impressively stable shelter.
The thick stakes on the Kelty model help stabilize the heavy steel legs  creating a stable and durable combo.

Durability


One of the few beach or camping tents that utilizes steel poles. Each steel pole is 19 mm in diameter and the framing system is durable (although also adding time to set it up). The combination of the steel poles and the "house-frame" design create a stable and durable shelter that should withstand some pretty rough weather conditions. The canvas comes with tie downs which attach to the frame, decreasing friction between the canvas and frame in windy conditions. This addition should increase the longevity of the canvas.

Canvas tie downs help keep the canvas from moving too much against the frame.
Canvas tie downs help keep the canvas from moving too much against the frame.

Portability


At 20.5 lbs, this is far from the lightest of the beach or campings tents. However, it is not the most difficult to transport. The carrying case (which isn't of incredible quality) comes with a shoulder strap which makes transportation much easier while leaving you with free hands to carry the rest of your camping gear. When dealing with these tents, we found that shoulder straps often make the difference in whether or not a tent is easy to transport.

The carrying case comes with a shoulder strap which helps with transportation  but the overall quality of the case could certainly be improved.
The carrying case comes with a shoulder strap which helps with transportation, but the overall quality of the case could certainly be improved.

Best Application


The Kelty Discovery shelter is best used at campgrounds or parks, though it can be set up at beaches as well. Its durable and easy to construct frame makes this tent accessible to a single person while providing protection for up to six people. We would recommend using the Kelty in mild to inclement weather for great and adaptable protection.

Value


At $130, the Discovery is a wallet-friendly beach or camping tent, which will provide shelter and stability in even inclement weather. The addition of the detachable wind wall is a significant bonus.

Conclusion


The Kelty Discovery Shade Shelter is a strong and sturdy tent designed with camping or the beach in mind. It is relatively easy to set up and with the addition of the detachable wind-wall, this shelter offers exceptional protection at a relatively small investment. The $130 price point makes this tent accessible to those on a budget while not compromising on durability or stability.


Michael Wood