The Kelty Salida 2
Choosing the Right Backpacking Tent
If you have the time, I recommend watching this REI video for more info, if you are like me and are always pressed for time, then go ahead and glance over My Criteria list and go from there. I include links for your convenience, even though I might get a commission from them, it is more for your convenience and quick reference than for my profit. (I am not an affiliate with REI, or Hyperlite, I just think they have wonderful information and have great gear).
1. Use: What am I going to use it for?
If you have ever looked for a tent, you know there are an overwhelming amount of options. The first question you need to ask yourself is “what am I going to be using it for the most?” By uses, I mean: car camping, backpacking, mountaineering, family camping, and/or multi-seasonal camping. What kind of camping will you be using the tent for?
I am guessing if you are reading this website, we can automatically narrow the search down to Backpacking tents only.
So the next question is: “When will I most likely use the tent?” Are you only a summer camper? Do you like to get out in spring and extend it through summer, but fall and winter are too cold? There are seasonal tents for each, but typically you are the safest getting a 3-season tent as they can withstand a good summer rain as well as keep you out of the harsher elements of the other seasons if you decide to try a nice weekend in the fall.
If you have the means to get an ultra-light summer tent or multiple tents for different seasons, then I recommend you do so. Hyperlite Mountain Gear has some amazing tents and shelters that are the lightest out there with many options to mix-and-match and customize your experience with, so if you have the budget for it, check them out here. Always save yourself extra weight when you can. But if you’re on a budget or want the most from your money, getting a quality 3-season tent is your best option.
The next question I ask is: “How many people will be using the tent with me?” If you are looking to get a tent for solo backpacking and don’t mind a little extra weight, I recommend getting a 2-person tent. A 1-person tent is very small and I found it important while solo hiking to be able to fit my pack in the tent with me, especially when it rains. Or if you happen to get in a place infested with mosquitoes and are stuck in your tent for 12+ hours, you’ll want the space for your backpack and supplies.
For backpacking, and for limiting weight, I recommend getting a 2-person tent for every two people hiking. 3-4-person tents and up, start to get too heavy to be comfortable for any distance. If you have a very buff individual in your group who doesn’t mind carrying a larger tent, by all means, let them, less weight for you to carry. But if you are of average strength ability and fitness, I would highly recommend capping your weight to a 2-person tent. This brings us to the last question…
The last question I ask is: “What’s the packaged weight of the tent?” On any website or if you are in a store, you should find or ask for the specs of the tent. This will have the “minimum weight” and “packaged weight,” and you want to know the packaged weight because that’s what you’ll most likely be carrying.
If you’re in a very dry area and can get away with leaving behind the rain fly, or stuff sack and stakes, then the minimum weight might apply to you, but only if you plan to leave parts of the tent behind. Where I live, that just isn’t an option since it rains so often here, and living near the coast can make the weather very unpredictable. I need the whole tent.
I try to keep the packaged weight under 5 pounds. This allows for a big enough tent to put your gear in, but light enough for you to manage, and should also keep it within a tighter budget.
Also, I always choose a freestanding tent. The biggest reason is that stakes can loosen in wet ground and then your tent can fall down. If you trust the ground where you live to hold your stakes in place, then non-freestanding tents are fine, but where I live, the ground can get very soft or very clay-hard and neither offer the security I need.
2. Quality: Reviews.
Checking reviews is imperative as that will give you the most honest picture of the quality and durability of the tent you want.
Has anyone bought the tent? How many reviews are there? How many good vs. bad reviews are there? Are there any that mention failed zippers, or seam leakage?
These are all important to look at as they show the overall picture of the tents popularity and quality. If it is a well-made, well-designed and great functioning tent, it will be more popular and have more good reviews.
3. Price: Is It Worth the Price and Within Budget?
There are many decent quality tents out there that are fairly cheap and it’s easy to be lured into the sales at Target or a sporting good store for a cheaper brand or cheap tent. But after having several zippers break and water leak in the bottom of the tent, I found out getting the cheaper tents did not always mean a good camping experience. I decided it was worth spending over a hundred dollars on a better quality tent. Is it worth the price for you to have a comfortable experience?
If you can have a great experience regardless of comfort and like to “rough it” to the point of not having a tent door that closes or don’t mind waking up with a wet sleeping bag, then go ahead and risk it with a cheaper tent. I found out I didn’t like it.
Click on the link to get more information from Amazon.
I receive a small percent compensation as an affiliate with Amazon with purchases made. The link is for your convenience.
Number of doors: 1
Number of vestibules: 1
Number of poles: 2
Minimum weight: 3 lb 14 oz / 1.76 kg
Packaged weight: 4 lb 9 oz / 2.07 kg
Floor area: 30.5 ft2 / 2.83 m2
Vestibule area: 10 ft2 / .93 m2
Length: 88 in / 224 cm
Width: 55/45 in // 140/114 cm
Height: 43 in / 109 cm
Packed size: 13 x 15 in / 33 x 38 cm
My Favorite Backpacking Tent (so far)!
The Kelty Salida 2 is by far my favorite tent so far. I haven’t had many backpacking tents because this one has held up so well. It fits all my criteria and was around the $150 price when I bought it 4+ years ago. It has been since replaced by a newer model, but since this is the one I own and have used for nearly all my backpacking trips, I will share what I know and like and dislike about it.
It meets my criteria from above!
- 2-person (although there is a 1, 2, and 4-person versions of this tent too)
- Under 5 pounds
- Free standing
- More great reviews than bad
- Worth the Price and with budget
It has never leaked and I’ve been in several rainstorms. None of the zippers have failed me and it has withstood a lot of rough treatment in my ownership. I am not easy on my gear, am accident-prone and tend to wear things out quicker than the average person. This tent has withstood all my abuse, plus my daughters!
The side material is a bit thin. It is thin, which makes it lightweight, but it also can be a bit cold when camping in lower temps. I haven’t tried sleeping in it below 34℉ and even then I was shivering most of the night. It may have been my sleeping bag too, but if you plan to use it in temps below 40℉, I would definitely make sure you have a very warm sleeping bag and layer up.
The stuff sack isn’t really a “stuff sack.” It’s more like a bag that doesn’t compress. I bought a separate stuff sack I could compress the tent to fit in or on my pack.
The bottom of the tent is a little thin. Durable, but feels thin, so I used a small tarp as a ground cover underneath.
Do I Recommend The Kelty Salida 2?
Although there are a several Cons, I feel they are far outweighed by the Pros.
Would I Buy The Kelty Salida 2 Again?
Probably Not. I would buy the newer model now. The 2019 model is called the Kelty Late Start and because it is newer and new tech comes out every year and quality improves with time, I would invest in the Late Start if I didn’t already have the Salida. Also, after learning more about the newer 4-season tents, I will probably be saving up for a 4-season tent that has optional (zip up) ventilation. They are more expensive and a bit heavier for backpacking, but the newer models of 4-season tents have more options than ever before and are worth the higher price tag if you plan to use it in winter too.
What Do You Think?
Do you have a favorite tent? What do you like best about it? Please leave feedback in comments below, would love to learn from you too!
Thanks for reading!