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Editors’ Choice 2011: Kelty Salida 2 Tent

This sub-four-pound bargain brings ultralight shelter to the masses.
GG11_EC_phillips_Kelty_Salida2_445x260Kelty Salida 2 (Kim Phillips)

Tents tend to seesaw between weight and price: As one goes up, the other goes down. The light-load, low-cost Salida 2 turns that equation on its head. And there’s no tradeoff when it comes to a tent’s key function: weather protection.

The double-wall dome’s taut fly kept testers dry during storms on Vancouver Island’s notoriously soggy West Coast Trail, and the simple, sturdy two-pole support exhibited no ultralight shudders in gusty weather. And ventilation—sometimes a weakness in tiny tents—proved more than adequate, thanks to good airflow through the mostly mesh canopy. Testers reported only light condensation inside the fly after a night of wet snow in Capitol Reef National Park. The tough-enough 68-denier ripstop nylon floor withstood abrasive slickrock. And the Salida pitches fast—one tester did it for the first time in the dark.

So what’s the catch? To save weight without using expensive ultralight (or cheap and flimsy) materials, designers trimmed features and dimensions. There’s only one side door, which makes midnight exits a climb-over-your-partner hassle for one of you. Headroom and length are good for six-footers, but the 30.5-square-foot floor is cozy for two big guys. And the 10-square-foot vestibule, while big enough for a pair of packs and boots, leaves no space for sheltered cooking. $160; 3 lbs. 12 oz.; kelty.com

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