What’s small, light and shaped like a cube? You guessed it – Kelty’s new TN2 tent from the TraiLogic series. Kelty brought all of their design expertise to play to produce an innovative lightweight backpacking tent at an affordable price. I’ve been testing the TN2 throughout a spring full of unpredictable weather and I’m happy to say that the tent has easily weathered the abuse.
Kelty TraiLogic TN2 Tent Features:
- DAC pressfit poles with color-coded clips
- Taped seam floors
- Internal mesh pockets
- Unique stargazing fly
- Dual welded clear windows
- 40D nylon for floor and fly
- No-see-um mesh tent body
- Packaged weight: 4lb. 9oz
- MSRP: $249.95
TraiLogic TN2 is a backcountry palace for two
The driving theme behind the TN2 was definitely comfort — this tent is absolutely palatial. With 27.5 square feet of floor space and an airy 42 inches of headroom, this is the sort of tent that you’d like to be cooped up in for long periods of time during a storm. Besides that, it also offers a lot of the technical features that we see on more minimalist tents. The result is a well-balanced, highly functional package for backpackers who don’t mind carrying the extra bulk into the backcountry.
The tent is way more than a backcountry palace for newbies who don’t care about weight — rather, it’s actually a reasonably lightweight solution for summertime adventurers who need good design at a good price point. At just $249.95, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Kelty chose to include DAC pressfit poles with the TN2. DAC is, in my opinion, the premier source of tent poles today – it’s awesome to see their innovation being applied to a tent at this price point. The TN2 benefits from DAC’s unique ‘Jake’s Foot’ pole attachment at each corner of the tent. These are strong plastic sockets that are shaped to guide the pole end in for a quick, secure fit. The fly, as shown in the picture, also easily hooks onto these connectors for fast set-up in stormy conditions. I was impressed and very pleased to see that Kelty color-coded the pole corners, so it’s easy to get the right setup under all conditions. You don’t usually see that on tents at this price point – way to be, Kelty!
As the tent is only meant for summertime, it’s acceptable that it has a fairly weak pole configuration. There’s a large, offset X which forms the main structure while a separate short buttress pole lifts the wall and ceiling mesh high and away. The design creates a big area for puddles to form on the fly in a rainstorm, but that’s OK – the main result is a huge, airy tent that certainly feels roomier than any other two-person tent that I’ve tested. The twin doors and full mesh walls are lifted very close to vertical so as to avoid any impression of limiting space – I keep repeating myself, but I was actually pretty shocked when I first got in the TN2 and realized how roomy it is.
Roominess aside, the TN2 has plenty of other, more creative, things going for it. You’ve doubtless heard of Kelty’s unique Stargazing fly. This clever design is a two-vestibule fly (doors on either side) that you can unhook from the corners of the tent and roll up, all while staying happily inside of the tent. Mind you, you do have to open the doors and reach around the outside of the tent. It’s an easier process with two people but I accomplished the feat just fine on my solo testing trips. The fly also features two small, clear windows. Incidentally, the fly brings me to one of my significant quibbles with the TN2: quality control. The vestibule zippers have a storm flap which is secured by Velcro patches. One side of the fly is fine, but the other side only has the scratchy side of the Velcro — the corresponding patches weren’t sewn onto the fly. It’s nothing more complicated than old-fashioned lousy quality control.
The TN2 also has two enormous doors, making it a breeze for backpackers of all ages to enter and exit. The doors are well-placed within the wall of the tent and there are no tight spots or slack that prevents the zipper from sliding easily. Overall, I like the atmosphere in the tent – the green fly can make you feel like Kermit if you’re in the tent for a long time, but the sheer roominess of the tent makes it a pleasure to stay in. There is a diminutive mesh pocket, but I relied on the generous twin vestibules to store my gear. One of the many benefits of a side-mounted door is that it’s a breeze to just unzip the door and have your gear right at hand.
The tent’s main body is 100% mesh and all of seams on the floor are taped. Condensation never proves an issue, largely due to the generous airflow that the mesh facilitates. The tent is easy to ventilate and you can easily establish a crossbreeze thanks to the twin permanent vents on either side of the fly. And, of course, just leave that stargazing fly up on clear nights and you won’t have to worry about a thing. My real experience, though, is that wet tent walls is a bit of a non-issue because there’s so much room that you don’t even need to go near a tent wall.
Painting the big picture
As we’ve said before, the aim of Kelty’s TraiLogic series was to produce a set of gear that performs with excellence on its own or in conjunction with the rest of the TraiLogic series. We’ve so far talked about how the TN2 does on its own but it’s just as important to Kelty’s designers that the tent functions like a champ when used with the rest of the system.
The most obvious trait of the TN2 is its unique packed shape – Kelty designed it with especially short sections of DAC poles so that it’s easier to pack into its modest little cube-shaped stuff bag. The cube is, in all honesty, a little bit tricky to pack right. I found that I needed to roll the body and fly very carefully into bundles of appropriate length to get them to fit smoothly into a svelte package – more often than not, this Spring I was cramming the bundles in with cold fingers and wound up with quite a mess. It takes care to pack away properly and I have my doubts that the ‘cube’ is any easier than a stuff sack.
The cube itself is designed to slot squarely into place on the PK50’s stretchy outer pocket. That’s neat, but it places a significant block of weight in the middle of the pack when it would really be much better placed right up against your body. Moreoever, the cube design itself limits how you can pack the bag – there’s really no versatility with this system. If you were to put it within the main storage compartment of the PK50 it would occupy almost all of the available packing space. So, you’re stuck with the outer stuff pocket and that’s just that. That said, the TN2’s square design did feel nicely adapted to being carried inside of the two huge 80L packs that I’m testing this summer – perhaps that’s the real value of this square tent package.
- Excellent materials for the pricepoint
- Pole layout creates a very roomy feel with near-vertical walls
- Two generous doors for easy nighttime entry and exit
- Stargazing fly is a hoot – tons of fun and simple to make use of
- Color-coded pole corners are unusual at this price point, yet very handy
- Tremendously roomy atmosphere. Have I mentioned that yet?
- Pole design creates a bit of a pond on the fly during rain
- Poor quality control on the fly
- I’m not sold on the usefulness of the cube-shaped stuffsack
The Bottom Line
Overall, this is a stellar tent for the pricepoint. The tent is light enough for any backpacker to carry but its slate of features make it highly desirable for people who are in it for the fun and views rather than pounding out 20 mile days. I love how spacious the tent feels and I was impressed by the amount of ingenuity and plain-old excellent design the TN2 exhibits, but I suppose that’s par for the course from Kelty. The quality control issue is a bit of a niggle, but overall the TN2 is the crown gem of the TraiLogic collection.
Buy Now: Available from REI.com