Our latest coverage of Kelty gear was their innovative TraiLogic system.  These pieces of gear were light, techy and very unusual.  The Outfitter Pro is decidedly on the other end of the spectrum; it’s a classic dome tent built with heavy-duty materials to withstand the harshest abuse that people can mete out on a tent.  I mercilessly shut the tent in a locked room with a whole herd of kids this summer and the Outfitter Pro came out of it alive.

Kelty Outfitter Pro 3 Features:

  • DAC Pressfit poles
  • Color Coded Clip Construction
  • Taped floor seams
  • ArcEdge floor
  • Mesh wall panels
  • Internal storage pockets
  • Noiseless zipper pulls
  • Field repairable zipper
  • Fly vents
  • Noiseless zipper pulls
  • Guyline storage pocket
  • Wall material: 75D polyester; 40D mesh
  • Floor material: 210D nylon 3000mm PU
  • Fly material: 75D polyester 1800mm PU
  • Packaged weight: 7 lbs 14 oz / 3.57 kg
  • Floor area: 46 ft2 / 4.28 m2
  • MSRP: $309.95

tents (2 of 3)

Your tent for the next zombie apocalypse

When I first started talking to Scott Kaier (Kelty’s PR miracle man) about a bombproof tent that would really be able to stand up to heavy use, he pointed me towards the Outfitter, which I then proceeded to beat up in Washington’s North Cascades.  In a lot of ways, there’s really nothing to screw up with the tent; the classic dome design could be set-up by even the most inept young tenderfoot and the material choice is decidedly in favor of durability.  It occurs to me, too, that some tents are designed to be bombproof against the elements and others are designed to be bombproof against human use; this one is built for the latter.

Kelty built the Outfitter with generous D doors that have absolutely tremendous zippers; they’re field-reparable ( if by remote chance they ever break).  A solid polyester panel rises roughly halfway up the tent body and provides quite a bit of privacy; the 40D mesh upper takes care of airflow for the tent and allows a view out to the stars.  I was interested to see that Kelty chose polyester for the Outfitter’s body; I still tend to think of polyester as being the ‘cheaper’ alternative to nylon, but the reality is that polyester has some important performance benefits.  It’s naturally more hydrophobic; this is important on a tent like the Outfitter, which doesn’t necessarily have a whole lot going for it in the way of ventilation.  In theory, the walls will dry out a little faster from condensation than their nylon counterparts.

The floor is another testament to Kelty’s direction with the tent; it’s 210D nylon with a big fat 3000mm PU coating on it for water repellancy.  One of Kelty’s features is what they call their ‘ArcEdge’ floor, which keeps the taped seams up and away from the ground to increase longevity.  Overall, I was impressed by the performance of the tent; it came with me and a Peak 7 Adventures trip up to Sahale Mountain where we were absolutely pummeled by rain.  The existing campsites up there quickly turn into swimming pools in the rain, so all of our tents were in for a thrashing.  Naturally, moisture was going to get inside of the tent but the Outfitter handled it with the most aplomb; we could poke the floor of the tent and see it ripple on top of all of the water it was sitting on.  Pretty insane, really, but the 210D weave and PU coating kept the worst of it out.  It certainly beat out every other tent on the trip.

Photo Sep 28, 11 37 33 AM

The twin vestibules feel somewhat petite, probably because the fly slants so sharply down to the ground to create a space that feels small.  They’re protected by a large storm flap over the zipper which pulls easily for quick entry out of the rain.  The large double doors are definitely a blessing in a three-man tent, so it’s pretty easy to escape for a nighttime leak.  Additionally, the large zippers pull easily and don’t have the annoying high-pitched whine of their smaller counterparts.

Bomber weather protection, but lacks ventilation

Overall, ventilation is not one of the Outfitter’s strongest points.  The mesh upper half of the tent can’t quite keep up with three people’s breathing, and the fly is decidedly full coverage.  So, those two little pop-up fly vents and whatever comes up from between the body and the fly are responsible for bleeding out all that moisture, but it really doesn’t do it well.  Admittedly, the two vestibule doors can be opened from the top and I suppose that you could create a heck of a crossbreeze that way, but you’re stuck if it happens to be raining or otherwise flinging down moisture.

I mentioned that the pole design is a straightforward dome, but the frame still has a few neat tricks.  For one, the DAC Pressfit poles are large and strong to take lots of abuse and to help shrug of windshear.    Additionally, Kelty included the neat little DAC clips that twist on and off with just one hand.  They take a little getting used to, but now I can use them single handed for a nice, quick setup.  Kelty also chose to include color coded webbing on the fly attachment, so it’s pretty straightforward to get the fly oriented correctly on the first try.  Naturally the Outfitter comes with a full sweet of guyout points and the four pole points have cord included in a neat little pocket that can be packed and repacked.  The guyouts absolutely saved our life on Sahale, where the poor little dome tent was absolutely throttled by gusts.

Photo Sep 28, 11 38 05 AM

How does the Outfitter Pro compare?

When it comes to sheer interior square footage, the Kelty Outfitter Pro 3 is right up there vying for the top.  The winner of the bunch is the Big Agnes Lone Spring 3 that has a palatial 47 square feet of interior space; the similarly cavernous Kelty Outfitter Pro 3 clocks in at a whopping 46 square feet; the Sierra Designs Flash 3 has a comfortable 41.2 square feet; the MSR Elixir 3 is the smallest tent with just 39.5 square feet of space.  The Kelty also has two fairly small vestibules to supplement the overall space for gear storage.

This Summer we tested four different three-man tents and the Outfitter was right at the bottom of the pack.  When it comes to weight, there’s really no getting around its heft.  The Sierra Designs Flash 3 clocks in at 6lbs. 3oz, the MSR Elixir 3 comes in at 6lbs 13oz and the Big Agnes Lone Spring 3 comes in at 5lbs 13oz.  So, at 7lbs 14oz the Outfitter is a decidedly hefty tent.  When it’s split up between three hardy young backpackers, though, the weight is not as much of an issue.  And, let’s be honest, no one is buying this for its light weight or small pack size: this tent is built to last, and that requires a certain sacrifice in weight.

Color-coded webbing makes it a breeze to get the fly on right

Color-coded webbing makes it a breeze to get the fly on right

The Good

  • Excellent overall construction – it aims for durability and it nails it!
  • Large zippers are field-reparable and very quiet
  • ArcEdge floor is strong and the taped seams promise many dry nights
  • Color-coded webbing  makes for quick, simple fly setup
  • For a dome tent, the Kelty does well in the wind when guyed out

The Bad

  • Condensation is tough to avoid with this design
  • It is decidedly heavy

The Bottom Line: Kelty Outfitter 3

The Outfitter is strong.  The Outfitter is durable.  The Outfitter is the tent that I would send my kids out in for their first backpacking trips.  It survived the rigors that my Peak 7 clients put it through, and that basically means that it can take any human-caused abuse imaginable.

Buy Now: Available from Moosejaw.com

About Author

Kevin Glover is an outdoorsman living, climbing and biking in Spokane, WA. Originally from the Nevada high desert, he moved to the PNW for its mild winters and allergen-free summers. He has guided throughout the Cascades and Enchantments for Peak 7 Adventures.

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