Home / Best Tents / Kelty Salida 2 Person Tent

Kelty Salida 2 Person Tent

Kelty Salida 2 Person Inner Tent
Kelty Salida 2 Person - Inner Tent

The Kelty Salida 2 Person tent is a great value at a great price (MSRP is $160, without footprint.) As a freestanding tent, it is very easy to set up and comes with standard features, like a gear loft, that other manufacturers  make you pay extra for.

However, it’s a bit heavier than I thought when I bought it, weighing 4 pounds 6 ounces rather than the 3 pounds 12 ounces Backpacker Magazine said it weighed (they gave the tent an Editor’s Choice Award in 2011), making it a better choice for car camping or short overnight hikes, rather than backpacking trips, even if you split the weight out between two people.

Here’s the Backpacker Magazine review which misquotes the tent weight. I expect the error occurred because Kelty supplied the information to the editor and Backpacker didn’t bother to fact check the manufacturer. If there’s a moral to this story it’s that you should double check manufacturer weights, if you care about them, and only buy products from retailers with a no-questions-asked return policy.

Tent Components

The Kelty Salida 2 is a two person, free standing tent with a separate inner tent and a rain fly. The inner tent has a PU coated bathtub floor but is almost completely made out of bug netting, with a large side door that opens into the vestibule. The rain fly drapes over the inner tent and provides a front vestibule and two doors which can be guyed out separately. The fly can also be pulled out a bit at the back of the tent to provide additional ventilation, but it is not accessible from inside the inner tent. While the fly is fully fully seam taped for better water resistance, the floor seams of the inner tent are not taped and should be seam sealed or used in conjunction with a footprint when camping in wet weather.

Old School Tent Stakes
Old School Tent Stakes

The total weight of the Kelty Salida 2 is 4 pounds and 6 ounces.

  • Tent Stuff Sack: 1.3 ounces
    • Inner Tent: 1 pound 8.6 ounces
    • Rain Fly: 1 pound 4.5 ounces
  • Tent Pole Stuff Sack: 0.4 ounces
    • 2 Tent Poles: 15.9 ounces
  • Accessory Stuff Sack: 0.2 ounces
    • 10 Tent Stakes: 5.7 ounces
    • Guy Lines: 1 ounce
    • Gear Loft: 0.5 ounces

If you want to shave the weight of the tent down immediately, you can eliminate most of the tent stakes, unless you plan on camping in high wind, or replace them with much lighter titanium sheep hooks. The stakes provided by Kelty are quite heavy, old style steel stakes.

Open Rain Fly
Open Rain Fly

Pitching the Tent

The Kelty Salida 2 is a free-standing tent making it very easy to pitch quickly. It includes two collapsible aluminum tent poles connected using shock cord which you expand and connect cross-wise to hooks on the inner tent body. After that, simply drape the shaped rain fly over the inner tent, connect it to the corner clips on the inner tent and you’re mostly done.

The beauty of free standing tents is that you can wedge them into tight spaces in the forest, set them up on frozen ground or on rock. They’re pretty quick to set up in the rain and you don’t need to spend an extra 30 minutes fiddling with guy lines. They can be heavier because you need to use collapsible tent poles, instead of re-using your trekking poles as tent poles, but they are very convenient for people who want an easy tent pitch.

Inner Tent

The inner tent is spacious with ample room for people and their sleeping bags. The side inner walls are quite steep which adds to the feeling of spaciousness. The inner tent floor is also long enough to lie in a 6 foot sleeping bag without touching the end walls.

There are plenty of internal gear loops to hang lighting inside the inner tent and Kelty provides a gear loft with the base Salida 2, a very nice feature, particularly for drying out gear or wet clothing at night. Most tent manufacturers charge extra for a gear loft, so this is a very nice added feature.

Tent includes a Gear Loft
Tent includes a Gear Loft

In addition, the inner tent has mesh pockets sewn into the corners (you can see one above) which I like because it’s a good place to store my glasses or my watch when I want to wake up early in the morning. You’d be surprised how many manufacturers don’t include pockets like this inside of tents and it’s a detail I always look out for.

Rain Fly

The Rain Fly on this tent is mediocre at best. It has a very distinct dome-like shape that is cut to fit over the inner tent like a second skin. Unfortunately, this guarantees horrible internal condensation if you have to sleep with the doors closed in rain or cooler weather.

There is a small vestibule area in front of the inner tent door, but I found it difficult to get a taught pitch with it due to the shape of the fly. Further securing the fly using the optional wind guy-outs didn’t improve the internal ventilation either and I woke up with a wet sleeping bag when I slept in the Salida with a closed rain fly.

Ketly Salida 2 in Button Down Mode
Ketly Salida 2 in Button Down Mode

The rain fly is also the heaviest component of this tent, weighing 24.6 ounces. If you want my advice, get rid of it and replace it with an 8 ounce 8′ x 8′  silynylon tarp, or a piece of Tyvek with grommets in the corners.  If you pitch the  tarp or Tyvek  as an A-frame over the inner tent using trekking poles or trees, you can save yourself a pound of gear weight and preserve the fantastic ventilation provided by the inner tent.

If it doesn’t rain and you can sleep with the rain fly doors open and rolled back, then internal condensation will be less of an issue. But if you’re backpacking with this tent, you’ll probably have to contend with rainy weather at some point.


For $160, the Kelty Salida 2 is really an awesome bargain for a lightweight car camping tent or for short backpacking trips in good weather. If you plan on hiking in arid conditions, then the internal condensation issues caused by the skin-tight rain fly will be less of an issue because you can sleep without it or keep the doors open. However, if you plan on camping or backpacking in a rainy climate and expect to sleep in rainy weather some of the time, I’d recommend you find tent with a better ventilated rain fly or replace the rain fly with a tarp that to preserve the excellent ventilation provided by the Salida 2’s inner tent.


  • Gear Loft included
  • Lots of mesh ventilation
  • Very easy to pitch


  • Lots of internal condensation due to close fitting rain fly
  • Not enough vestibule storage
  • Too heavy

Specifications (per manufacturer)

  • Seasons: 3
  • Number of doors: 1
  • Number of vestibules: 1
  • Capacity: 2
  • Minimum weight: 3 lb 12 oz / 1.70 kg
  • Packaged weight: 4 lb 8 oz / 2.04 kg
  • Floor area: 30.5 ft2 / 2.83 m2
  • Vestibule area: 10 ft2 / .93 m2
  • Length: 88 in / 223.5 cm
  • Width: 55 / 45 in / 139.7 / 114.3 cm
  • Height: 43 in / 109.22 cm
  • Packed diameter: 7 in / 17.78 cm
  • Packed Length: 22 in / 55.88 cm

Disclosure: SectionHiker own this tent and purchased it using his own funds.This post contains affiliate links.

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  1. Boy, I hate it when the weight gets misrepresented. This is often the case with Backpakker's reviews, though. I don't trust them enough to ever buy based soley on their review. (Based on a bad experience with an old tent, very similar to yours.)

  2. I always go by the packed weight rather than the minimum, since it more accurately represents what is actually needed to bring.

  3. Thx very much for the thorough review!

    I'm in the market for a free-standing tent, looking for the lightest & most functional I can find…

    I'm a recent convert to a tarp/bivy system, but I've found it's fussy, taking a toll on my patience. A free-standing tent would be a better option in the next hiking season as I'll be in rocky territory sometimes.

    This Kelty is bigger than I need, but it might be in the running (I'd also replace the rain-fly for sure!).

    Can anyone point me to a good/great free-standing tent for solo use? 18-28 sq ft floor area preferred…thanks!

  4. Marco – besides the weight issue, it's also interesting to note that Kelty claims that the inner tent floor seams are taped. Not on my tent, they're not. If I could get paid for it, it would be amusing to fact check all of the specs cited by manufacturers and Backpacker Magazine. This is sloppy work in my opinion – bothersome. People should take more pride is being accurate.

  5. Another bad feature is this is a two man and only has one vestibule. If you are the guy in the back, you'll have to crawl over your buddy and a vestibule crammed full of gear to go pee. I would never buy a tent like this unless it was light enough to use for solo trips.

    I have a Kelty 4 person Dome for car camping and its a great tent but in all my research they don't make many great backpacking tents.

    I never thought about using a tent with a light tarp, that's a good idea.

  6. Granted – but you get what you pay for. To be honest, I like to use 2 person tents just for the added space – when I'm in a tent that is, so that wouldn't be a showstopper for me.

  7. Thanks for a thorough review of a tent for the casual backpacker. My nephew is a cub scout and my brother asked me for a recommendation for low cost but good quality gear so this was very timely.

  8. I was thinking about this as a good Scout tent too, Tom. It's not that expensive and probably good enough for the semi-car camping style used by many scout troops. I like it a lot more than Eureka's tents for example, which are about the same price point

  9. Great review……but for an even better tent of same quality….brand…..size……but the price will make you think twice. Look into the Kelty Zenith 2 at your local Target 49.99 everyday low price. It's a no brainer…..same tent sold to big chain company with a little heavier poles and you can save yourself a quick 100.00 bucks. I am going to take mine on the PCT 2012 Just my 2 cents. Now….Have yourself a Pain Free Day. DIP

    • Dadinpain, Love that you found a much cheaper big-box near equivalent to the Salida 2. Too bad this was 4 years ago, and the Zenith 2 isn’t available any more. Any recommendations on any current models?

  10. Great review. I like the easy set up, but the lack of decent vestibules is a dealbreaker. I love this site and the info I learn from the responders.

    I used to be willing to go a little heavier on tents if they assured roomy 2-way vestibules, which I relied on to keep mud, dirt and water out of my tent. I've always beena bigger guy who also used a 2-man tent even if alone. But now, even heavier and older, I'm looking for ways to pare down weight all around, though I try to worry only on items over 8 oz, though I'll make an exception for water bottles, thanks to earlylite's suggestions about ditching nalgenes for bladders.

  11. Earlylite,

    Yeah, Backpacker, and Marketing people have this "thing" going on. They often quote the MINIMUM weight for an item. Not the usual or packaged weight. I too can carry a 1/4 pound 6 man tent if I don't bother to carry the fly, mesh, poles, or stakes. Corse, the logo is a little hard to set up without the fly, which is a little hard to set up without the mesh inner, which is a little hard to set up without the poles…

    No tape on the floor??? After saying it does, hmmm? Crappy quality controll?

    Yeah, I guess you could make a living at a dime per "not quite". "I am glad Backpacker has so greatly lived up to my expectations" said one salesman to another."Yess sir! They sure did!" said the other. …wow…. GOOD salesmanship… I have this gold brick…

  12. This is a "me too" tent. There are plenty of tents at this weight, quality and price out there. As far as entry level tents go it's somewhere in the middle of the pack. I used to take Backpacker in the 80's and 90's but found my mileage on products they reviewed differed greatly. I visit your site because of the great tips and reviews I have come to trust. Please keep it up.

  13. Thanks Rick – that means a lot to me.

  14. I haven’t done much camping lately because I’ve been in the need for a new tent. Based on this revue it seems that this one is in the neighborhood of what I’ve been looking for. A two person free-standing tent would be perfect for me because I do like to camp alone, I do find the extra room to be quite nice to house all my camping gear, HD TV, and my Tailgater portable satellite TV system from DISH Network. Because I do work for DISH and have two children, finding time to get away with only myself can be quite relieving. Once I get to my destination I don’t like to spend hours making my tent and based on what I see here I like how making it very easy to pitch quickly with two collapsible aluminum tent poles, shock cord which expands and connect cross-wise to hooks on the inner tent body. It seems like a great place to sleep.

  15. It's hard to believe that those stakes are actually steel. Does a magnet stick to them?

  16. I’m looking for a freestanding tent (not into tarps). For me, spec wise this tent is almost just right, but not quite. 1) I wish it were 55″ wide the whole length. I use a LW sleeping pad and would like to be able to fit 2 26″ wide each. 2) While I don’t mind fashioning a new fly, would prefer something simply ‘right’ from the manf. 3) I don’t do long strenuous hikes and not much through camping. 4) I need a ton of other stuff so every dollar I spend on one item is deducted from another.

    Based on this and using the Salida 2 as the measuring stick, what other tents can you recommend that fix the Sailda’s faults while being closest to this tent in pricing?

  17. “Unfortunately, this guarantees horrible internal condensation if you have to sleep with the doors closed in rain or cooler weather.”

    Have you tried this tent or just going off what you know from previous experiences with tents having similar features? I’ve owned the Salida 2 for about a year now and have used it as a car camping and backpacking tent in just about all conditions possible. Condensation has never been a problem with this tent even during days of constant rain.

    • I bought the tent – be assured I slept in it. I actually use the gear I review, even when it’s not the most comfortable experience. Different people will have different experiences with gear – that’s why I’m a big proponent of try before you buy. I rely on comments like these to refute my experiences and round out the review. Where did you camp with this tent, if I might ask? New England’s humidity, where I live, tends to bring out the worst in tents.

      • I figured you had. I’ve only had it a year so most of the use has been in the midwest and out west. Missouri at Mark Twain National Park, lots of rain experienced there and no condensation build up even with the doors closed. Arkansas at several parks, mostly during the hot summer and it vented decently in light of the 100 degree weather. Colorado at Rocky Mountain National Park, experienced some freezing nights there. ice crystals formed on the inside of the fly, but no problem with wetness actually in the tent. Wyoming at Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park, pretty average nights there maybe around 40ish. South Dakota in Badlands National Park, stormy night, but with little rain and no condensation build up. You are correct I haven’t tried the tent in an extremely humid environment except perhaps in AR during the hot and humid summer, so the performance can definitely be different. I always make sure to pull the corners of the tent tight before I stake it out to assure the fly is off the tent body and always stake the back of the tent out.

        Someone mentioned the Zenith, which is a Target version of the Salida 2, it’s close to it, but not really the same. I went on a Sierra Club outing with a girl that had one and she had nothing, but problems with it. One of the problems with it is the fly has no attachment on the side opposite of the doors to guy it out so she had to punch a hole through it in order to get it set up properly. Salida 2’s go for $130 these days and are pretty decent for the cost and weight IMO. I mainly use it for a solo tent though, but now that my girlfriend is going to be joining me on trips car camping and backpacking I’m going to have to upgrade to something with double doors and vestibules for the gear space.

        Earylite, I really enjoy your site. I’m relative newbie to backpacking and currently shifting to more of a lightweight and your knowledge has been very helpful.

      • Thanks Brandon – for $130 this is a good deal. I’m glad it’s worked out well for you. I think the gear loft is awesome – not something you find on most tents in this price range.

  18. I just ordered this tent. Locally it was 159 plus tax. Got it from backcountryedge for 149.00 for the tent AND the footprint. Part of this was a one time first order 12%discount.

  19. Hey There,

    Very interested in how you set up a A frame with the sil nylon? Any way you could show a picture or was this just a theoretical statement? I have been trying out different shelters and am looking for that freestanding, room for a 6’5″ guy that is free standing and not too heavy… I know, I’ll keep dreaming.

  20. Great review, thanks. FYI, tents usually are quoted at two weights, minimum weight (tent, poles, and rainfly only) and then packed weight, which includes everything. Pretty standard, and when only one weight is quoted you can count on it being the minimum weight.

    Adding up the weights you got for the tent, poles and rainfly comes in at 3lb 13oz, so pretty much spot on what Kelty and Backpacker said.

    Other 2-person tents I have seen in this price range are over 4lbs *minimum* weight, so many of them get over 5 lbs with everything.

  21. I just bought this stateside cause they were so hyped about it. I do have a bomb proof Moss Outland. Bought that in 95. But it is pretty close in there and was looking for more room the same weight range. Then I saw the MSR Hubba Hubba NX, 2 person… with the duty and delivery, should have just bought the MSR here in Canada.

  22. This tent is clearly too heavy especially if you factor in that has only one door and one vestibule. I really like the mesh inner wall though. It is a shame that condensation is a problem with this tent.

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