• Comfort 70% 70%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 70% 70%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Price: $259.95

Weight: 4lbs 13oz (2.18kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 28sqft

Vestibules: 2 (8.9 + 8.9sqft)

Number of Poles: 3

What We Like: Easy Setup

What We Don’t: The Fly Needs Some Work

The Kelty Dirt Motel is a simple yet very effective tent without all of the bells and whistles that are starting to pop up on the market. The interior is spacious thanks to pre-bent poles, and the setup is a breeze thanks to color-coded poles and webbing. Unfortunately, the tent’s rainfly impacts the overall airflow throughout the tent with its size and limited ventilation. The Dirt Motel is an excellent starter tent that is easy to set up, spacious, and user-friendly. However, it is heavy, and the rainfly creates an enormous amount of interior condensation. For the price of $259.95, we like it as a car camping tent or a tent to take exploring in the backcountry.

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Kelty has me cracking up every time I read the name of this tent. There is something so visual and (almost) poetic about calling a tent a dirt motel. They’re sometimes inexpensive, often set up in the dirt, and offer one of the key human needs: shelter. The Dirt Motel is Kelty’s remodeling of their popular TN2, and it doesn’t seem to be filling the shoes of its predecessor. So what does the new and improved Kelty Dirt Motel have to offer? For a start, it comes in 2-, 3-, and 4-person variants.

Comfort

The Kelty Dirt Motel is most closely related to the REI Half Dome SL 2+ in terms of price, but with the Half Dome, you get 7 more square feet of interior space. At 29 square feet, the interior space of the Dirt Motel is modest. The Dirt Motel does have the most headspace of the tents in our list—42.5 inches—leaving lots of room to sit up or play cards with your tentmate. The pre-bent poles help to increase the vertical space throughout the tent for a more livable area. The doors are massive and offer easy movement in and out of the tent, plus the dual doors will keep you from waking your partner in the night.

 

In terms of accessories within the tent, there are few. The Dirt Motel has two small pockets inside the door near the head of the campers, which seems to be a slight afterthought. There is a slightly larger pocket on the ceiling that can store some other small essentials or a headlamp.

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Ease of Setup

Kelty has color-coded the end of their poles with the webbing attached to the gusset for easy orientation of the tent. The metal feet at each corner of the tent are slide-to-lock, which will ensure a strong attachment to the pole. The fly also has color-coded adjustment tabs that correspond with the correct corner. These all come together to create a package that is both organized and easy for a camper to set up alone.

 

Weatherproofing

The weatherproofing on the Kelty Dirt Motel is simple and effective. The rainfly runs low to the ground, adding a strong layer of protection to the whole tent. The rainfly itself is siliconized nylon to shed water and improve the waterproofing. Near the top of the fly door is a vent with a kickstand to offer ventilation and airflow even in the rain, though it could be larger.

 


Condensation does seem to be a major problem with the Dirt Motel; the limited ventilation and very low rainfly make it difficult for airflow to clear the tent of condensation. This condensation has been a larger problem for some campers, leaving sleeping bags and gear inside the tent wet from moisture. If the fly construction were improved, this would be an excellent budget tent, but at the moment it doesn’t seem up to the task of handling moisture outside or inside the tent.

 

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Durability

The Kelty Dirt Motel has been built like a nylon tank. It uses 70-denier nylon along the floor of the tent and a 40D siliconized nylon ripstop fabric for the fly. These are some hearty numbers when it comes to fabric that should stand up to the classic wear and tear of camping and accidentally pitching the tent on top of a pine cone.   The new hubbed pole setup could run into issues if it is torqued too much, but it seems sturdy enough. The tent stakes are shovel-shaped and sink into the earth well. Overall, the durability of the tent was one of our favorite parts. It does impact the weight—the “heavier” the material the heavier the tent, but for a one-night mission or car camping it wouldn’t be noticed too much.  

Weight

Sitting at a moderate 4lb 13oz (2.18kg), the Kelty Dirt Motel is 8 ounces lighter than the REI Half Dome SL 2+. It doesn’t have the features of the Half Dome yet has 7 fewer square feet of interior space, so the weight difference makes sense. The design of the Dirt Motel is very similar to several of the other ultralight tents on the list, but it uses thicker materials that increase the overall weight.

 

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The Bottom Line

The Dirt Motel is a great tent if you camp in a fairly arid climate that won’t get too much severe weather. If you have a wet climate and spend a lot of time in it, we suggest you expand your search to something more weather-ready. The price tag of $259 does make it a bit more attractive and makes sense given the weight and lack of features. If you do plan to spend lots of time in a tent we suggest spending the extra $20 on the REI Half Dome SL 2+. You’ll get some extra floor space and more thought-out features.

 

All in all, the Kelty Dirt Motel is a great starter tent if you are thinking about getting into the backcountry more often. It isn’t the lightest or most functional on the market, but it has an easy setup and is spacious enough for a comfortable night.

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We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!