Kelty Trail Ridge 4 Tent Review

Kelty is a manufacturer of high-end outdoor equipment based in Boulder, Colorado. Asher Kelty founded the company in 1952 and was the first designer to produce and market an external aluminum-framed backpack for civilian use. Exxel Outdoors, Inc. now owns Kelty, and they continue to make high-end backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags.

The Kelty Trail Ridge 4 tent is a sturdy, three-season, four-person cabin-style tent designed for weekend getaways, road trips, and car camping.

Here are the specs and features of the Trail Ridge 4:

  • Minimum weight: 9 lb 12 oz / 4.423 kg
  • Packaged weight: 11 lb 4 oz / 5.1 kg
  • Dimensions: 98 x 84 x 59 in / 249 x 213 x 150 cm
  • Packed Size: 27 x 8 x 8 in / 68.58 x 20.32 x 20.32 cm
  • Floor area: 57 sq. ft.
  • Two easy entry D doors
  • Two vestibules
  • Vestibule area: 14 sq. Ft. Ea.
  • Number of poles: 3 (aluminum)
  • Color-coded clip and sleeve construction
  • Freestanding design
  • Wall material: 68D Polyester / 40D No-See-Um Mesh
  • Floor material: 68D Polyester, 1800 mm
  • Fly material: 68D Polyester, 1800 mm
  • Taped fly seams
  • Taped floor seams
  • Guyout points
  • Fly vents
  • Kelty Connect system
  • Stargazing fly
  • Noiseless zipper pulls
  • Gear loft included
  • No-See-Um mesh wall panels
  • Internal storage pockets
  • Nightlight pocket

What we like

The Kelty Trail Ridge 4 cabin tent is a freestanding modified dome with three poles. The floor area is 8’2” by 7’, or about 57 square feet total. The rectangular layout makes efficient use of the available space, and we prefer it over a square design (like 7.5 by 7.5 feet, for example).

The maximum ceiling height of the Trail Ridge is 4 feet 11 inches, which is large enough for kids to stand up or adults to get dressed. The tent is also roomy enough to hold an inflated queen-sized air mattress with some extra room in which to move around.

The Trail Ridge 4 weighs in at 11.25 pounds, with a minimum weight of 9.75 pounds. It’s on the heavy side for backpacking, but cabin tents are for road trips, car camping, and weekend excursions. The weight of the tent is no problem if you store it in the back of your car, and it has durable construction and plenty of features to justify the poundage.

We like the three-pole modified dome design. It’s rugged, it looks nice, and it’s easy to set up. The color-coded clip and sleeve assembly are intuitive and straightforward. You should be able to set it up in about five minutes, on your first try, with two people.

The floor, walls, and fly are all made of sturdy 68D polyester. The floor and fly have 1800mm waterproofing, meaning the coating withstands 1800mm of vertical water over a square meter for 24 hours. The fly and floor seams are also factory-taped to help with waterproofing. The fly has guy out points to tie guy lines during turbulent weather.

The walls also have large sections of 40D No-See-Um Mesh, which allows for views (especially with the fly removed during good weather) and ventilation. The fly also has vents to help prevent condensation from forming overnight. The Stargazing Fly design allows you to see the stars on a clear night, even with the fly attached. Some users like to remove the fly altogether during warm weather for a panoramic view.

The Trail Ridge has two doors and two vestibules. In a four-person tent, having two doors means your camping companions won’t stumble over you in the middle of the night. The vestibules allow you to reduce clutter in the sleeping area, and they also provide an air pocket between you and the outside that can help insulate the tent during colder weather.

Each vestibule is 14 square feet, meaning you can store a significant amount of equipment there. 

Kelty packed the interior of the Trail Ridge with features we appreciate such as noiseless zipper pulls, a gear loft, four internal mesh storage pockets, and even a night light pocket. The silent zipper pulls are an excellent innovation we haven’t seen from any other tentmakers yet

What we wish was different

Although most users report great rain performance with their Trail Ridge thanks to the taped seams and 1800mm waterproofed floor and fly, a few reviewers online have gotten duds that leak. It’s a quality control issue that occurs with some manufacturers.

Those users did report that Kelty provided a refund or free replacement, but the take-home lesson here is to test your tent before you take it to the field. 

The Kelty Trail Ridge 4 used to come with an included footprint, and now it doesn’t. Of course, Kelty has to make a profit on their products, but some retailers still list the tent as coming with a footprint. It doesn’t, so don’t be surprised.

The instructions with the tent were wordy and didn’t have very many pictures. Setting up the tent is easy anyway, but we wish the instructions were better. 

What other customers say

KAV is extremely happy with the Trail Ridge 4 and will be using it on future trips. He and his family recommend it as a mid-sized tent. On a beautiful night, he likes to remove the rainfly for great views. 

Larry M. says the Kelty Trail Ridge is a great tent; he’s used it fifteen times, with no problems. It does well in rain and wind. He likes the curved rain fly, four internal storage pockets, overhead net, and roomy roof height.

Cory K. says his Trail Ridge 4 is the best of all worlds, and he’s found it to be very durable. He recommends it for car camping, festival camping, or casual backpacking.

Wrapping up

If you need a freestanding cabin-style tent for four people, we think you’ll love the Kelty Trail Ridge 4. The design and materials are excellent, and Kelty has outdone itself with all the innovative features.

 If you want a tent strictly for backpacking, you don’t want a cabin tent. Otherwise, we highly recommend the Kelty Trail Ridge 4 as your next choice for a three-season tent.

Kelty Trail Ridge 4 Basecamp 4 Person Tent
  • 4 person 3-season tent affordable, trail-worthy tent designed for performance on your next backpacking adventure.
  • Dual doors offer convenient access without having to climb over your partner; 2 vestibules provide convenient and protected gear storage
  • Freestanding design is easy to move around for ideal campsite placement
  • This is an affordable, trail-worthy tent designed for performance on your next backpacking adventure.

About the Author

Trey is a lifelong hunter and avid camper. He lives outside Denver, CO with his wife Kaci and their lab mix Ziggy. They spend as much time as possible outdoors - hunting, fishing, and camping.

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