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Kelty Tallboy 4 Review

A classic lightweight 4-person dome tent that gives a little extra headroom and has a few nice features
kelty tallboy 4 camping tent review
Credit: Kelty
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Price:  $150 List | $149.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Simple, quick to set up, lightweight
Cons:  Cheap poles, bad door zippers, small footprint
Manufacturer:   Kelty
By Rob Gaedtke ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 4, 2022
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 16
  • Space and Comfort - 35% 6.0
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 7.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7.0
  • Family Friendliness - 15% 5.0
  • Quality - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The Kelty Tallboy 4 is your classic dome tent, built with just enough options to keep it in the running for those looking for a budget 4-person tent. Simple and quick to pitch, this tent goes up fast thanks to the attached guylines with tensioners, sturdy stakes, and color-coded fly. With only 57 square feet of floor space, the Tallboy will be tight if you bring the entire family; storage may be a struggle with no vestibule and only four small pockets. Quality is also just good enough, with sticky zippers, fiberglass poles, and questionable seems. These issues aside, this tent has plenty of positives, and thanks to the inexpensive price tag, it comes at a great value.

Compare to Similar Products

 
kelty tallboy 4 camping tent review
This Product
Kelty Tallboy 4
Awards  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award   
Price $149.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$350 List
$350.00 at REI
$270 List
$201.93 at REI
$160 List
$117.31 at Amazon
$200 List
$176.33 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Simple, quick to set up, lightweightSuper light, very quick to pitch, amazing views with and without the fly, multi-use capabilitiesSpacious, easy to pitch, great views, inexpensiveSuper easy set up, good views, very nice priceGreat fair weather vestibule, spacious interior, neat concept
Cons Cheap poles, bad door zippers, small footprintSmall square footage, guyline stakes not included, very low ceilingFiberglass poles, small pockets, lack of ventilation with the rainfly onLow headroom, poor overall constructionHard to setup, doesn't do well in rain, poor quality
Bottom Line A classic lightweight 4-person dome tent that gives a little extra headroom and has a few nice featuresA simple tent just big enough for car camping but arguably light enough for the occasional backpacking trip tooWherever this tent falls short in quality, it makes up for it in size, features, and overall valueThis tent is fast, easy, and inexpensive, though it falls short in some key areasWhile this tent looks good in photos, it performs poorly in weather resistance and general use
Rating Categories Kelty Tallboy 4 Mountain Hardwear M... Kelty Wireless 6 Coleman 4-Person Ca... Coleman Evanston Sc...
Space and Comfort (35%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
Weather Resistance (25%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Ease of Use (15%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
3.0
Family Friendliness (15%)
5.0
7.0
8.0
3.0
7.0
Quality (10%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
3.0
Specs Kelty Tallboy 4 Mountain Hardwear M... Kelty Wireless 6 Coleman 4-Person Ca... Coleman Evanston Sc...
Weight 11.0 lbs 7.1 lbs 17.2 lbs 18.2 lbs 20.9 lbs
Max Inside Height 5' 10" 4' 0" 6' 4" 4' 11" 5' 8"
Floor Dimensions 7' 1" x 8' 7' 6" x 5' 8" 9' 10" x 8' 10" 8' x 7' 10' x 9'
Floor Area 57 sq ft 42.5 sq ft 86.9 sq ft 56 sq ft 90 sq ft
Seasons 3-season 3-season 3-season 3-season 3-season
Windows Mesh top Mesh top Mesh top 3 2
Pockets 4 5 6 2 2
Number of Doors 1 2 2 1 1
Room Divider No No No No Yes
Vestibules 0 2 2 0 1
Vestibule Area (total) N/A 37.5 sq ft 28 sq ft N/A 40 sq ft
Packed Size 24" x 7" x 10" 7" x 25" 27" x 8" x 8" 39.5" x 8" x 8" 27.4" x 14.8" x 10.31"
Floor Materials 68D Poly 1200mm 68D ripstop polyester 68D poly 1800mm 150D polyester WeatherTec
Main Tent Materials 68D Poly 1200mm, 40D No-see-um mesh 40D polyester mesh, 75D ripstop polyester 68D poly 1200mm, 40D No-see-um mesh 150D polyester Polyguard
Rainfly Materials 68D Poly 1200mm 68D ripstop polyester 68D poly 1200mm Polyguard 2X Polyguard
Number of Poles 3 2 3 4 4
Pole Material Fiberglass DAC Pressfit Fiberglass Aluminum Fiberglass
Extras Lightweight Fly rolls back and secures halfway for stargazing, footprint included Pole pockets for easy setup Integrated rainfly protection Covered vestibule with floor

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Kelty Tallboy 4 is a down and dirty classic dome tent built for the minimalist camper. This tent is super fast to pitch, comes with great stakes, and the pre-attached guylines with tensioners keep it securely planted to the ground. Weighing in at only 11 pounds, the Tallboy could also be hiked farther out from the car without too much effort. Kelty did cut some corners with the fiberglass poles, thin storage bag, and clunky zippers, but overall, this tent is a solid value pick.

Performance Comparison


kelty tallboy 4 camping tent review - this classic shaped tent brings simplicity and rigidity to the...
This classic shaped tent brings simplicity and rigidity to the campsite.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

Space and Comfort


When it comes to space and comfort, you won't find much of that here. At only 57 square feet, the Tallboy is pretty small to bring car camping for a family of four. That said, the four pockets on the bottom sides of the tent are helpful with storage, and the 5' 10" max height does allow for many to stand and change. The open mesh top and two mesh sides also help make the space feel larger when the fly is off.

kelty tallboy 4 camping tent review - it's in the name, and yes, this tall boy confirm the name is fitting.
It's in the name, and yes, this tall boy confirm the name is fitting.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

Weather Resistance


The Tallboy faired well against our tests here. The dome shape and included guylines held up to the wind, and the double-walled door and fly kept the inside dry. When it comes to fair weather, the open roof and sides allow for good airflow. The same is true when the rainfly is on and properly staked.

kelty tallboy 4 camping tent review - the attached guylines are well made and ready to go.
The attached guylines are well made and ready to go.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

Ease of Use


Thanks to the simplicity of the Tallboy, the tent pitched in just 5 minutes 44 seconds. The color-coded fly clips and pre-attached guylines help with the speed. Kelty is one of the few brands that color-code only one clip, a genius and simple option we are surprised more don't do.

kelty tallboy 4 camping tent review - color-coded rainfly and fantastic stakes make this tent super fast...
Color-coded rainfly and fantastic stakes make this tent super fast to pitch.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

Family Friendliness


It's hard to give a small four-person tent a good score in this category, especially for car camping, where weight and size aren't as much of a barrier. That said, we managed to cram four people and two dogs into this tent. As mentioned before, storage is limited, and with no vestibule, your only other option is to keep extra stuff in the car. However, as the name implies, the additional height of the Tallboy does give it a little extra space.

kelty tallboy 4 camping tent review - the top view shows the classic dome shape and nice colors to boot.
The top view shows the classic dome shape and nice colors to boot.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

Quality


Quality tends to take a hit when you get into the cheaper tents, and the Tallboy is no exception. Several of the seams and stitching looked poorly done, and our zipper stuck and was clearly made from cheaper material. The poles are fiberglass and heavy. The stakes, however, are surprisingly awesome, as is the mesh used on the sides and ceiling. For the price, we were decently pleased.

While not the best, the four floor pockets are a nice addition for...
While not the best, the four floor pockets are a nice addition for better organization.
The zippers are rough and get stuck far more than most.
The zippers are rough and get stuck far more than most.
While this was probably just on the tent we received, the mesh and...
While this was probably just on the tent we received, the mesh and sides did have a few snags and stains.

Should You Buy the Kelty Tallboy 4?


The Tallboy is as simple as it gets for a four-person tent, offering adequate weather resistance and exceptional value. If you are looking for an inexpensive camping tent you can maybe even lug on a short backpacking trip, this is certainly one to consider but it is not one of our top-rated camping tents. This is also a great budget option to have around as an extra for visitors or festivals.

What Other Camping Tents Should You Consider?


While the Kelty Tallboy 4 is a good value, its bigger brother, the Kelty Wireless 6 is a far better bang for the buck and handles a family much better. And if you are looking for a step up in quality all around, you might consider the The North Face Sequoia 4.

Rob Gaedtke
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