Muir didn't mention the bug bites.
Sleeping under the open stars in a remote range free of light pollution may appeal to your inner naturalist, but bug bites and impending rain will undoubtedly make you scurry to the closest Douglas Fir for shelter at some point. If you love counting shooting stars but would still like to have protection from the rogue rainstorms and swarms of mosquitoes, you'd do well to consider the Kelty TN 4 4-Person 3-Season Tent.
Kelty designed this tent with a full no-see-um mesh canopy, so you can spot constellations without waking up with a swollen one on your face, and also gave it a Stargazing Fly that rolls up on one side of the tent and can be pulled down as soon as you start to feel a bit of moisture in the air. The Stargazing Fly is treated with a silicone coating and has fully taped seams to prevent water from working its way through, and it provides two front and back vestibules once it's been staked out, so you'll have plenty of space to store gear in a dry place. Once you're ready to pack up camp, the included Tent Cube can be used to store the tent, and its breathable mesh fabric lets the tent dry out a bit so you don't have to deal with sogginess when you set it up tomorrow.
- 40D nylon fly with silicone coating (1800mm)
- Fully taped seams
- No-see-um mesh canopy
- 70D nylon floor (3000mm)
- 2 doors and vestibules
- 4-person sleeping capacity
- Internal storage pockets
- Tent Cube carry bag
- Q & A
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
I used the Kelty TN 4 for our first family backpacking trip (my wife and our two girls, five and eight). Setup was a snap, easy enough I didn't have to look at the instructions. I'm not a fan of the two poles being permanently connected by a swivel as it makes break down a little more difficult (it's still pretty easy). That being said, it does make certain aspects of setup easier, so it's a wash. There's plenty of space for the four of us, although none of us would be considered big (I was the tallest at 5'9"). One thing to note, the interior is pretty much all mesh (obviously the floor is not). I don't plan on going backpacking in really cold weather, but I could imagine it would be a little drafty. It' s billed as a three season tent so it makes sense, but there's more mesh than other tents that I own that are three seasons. If you live someplace hot, I could see that being a big benefit. All that mesh does make it pretty light, about 6-7lbs. Price for weight seems really good which was part of the reason it caught my eye. The rain fly seemed a little noisy in the wind, but I slept fine so it wasn't that big of a deal. In the end, it seems like a great tent, might not be bomb-proof, but I think it will meet the needs of this family of four. I really wish Backcountry had half-stars, I'd rate it 4.5.