Kelty Mantra 7 Camping Tent Review
I like the Kelty Mantra 7 camping tent. I have owned two. The best thing about it is the organic angles and unsquareness of the seams. We live and work in little boxes and one reason we camp at all is to be surrounded with less of that. The Mantra 7 is a joy to look at and live in inside.
At Assateague recently, we camped out 40mph winds after we watched the tent almost blow away when all the 12" sand pegs popped - the two long poles took a bend but we survived while all other tents around us flattened. Rebar spikes and rope run under the fly across the tent and well outward saved the day - have some 18"+ rebar spikes for sand!
I camp alone in this tent at music festivals and it is superb for guitar storage on one side and a double mattress on the other.
It is not difficult to setup alone if one follows a simple pattern of spiking the base, running the poles through the sleeves, then only putting the poles into the clips short lengths at a time, leaving out the last few sections of each pole until it is possible to push the tent higher.
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Because it is so large, some stretching must take place and often it is a few hours until the complete pole can be used. (wetting the fabric slightly can help.)
Here are the weak points that should be noted by anyone who is serious about this tent:
1) Complete lack of interior guy loops - no hanging up the wet socks, shirts, candle lantern - completely frustrating. Yes, there are mesh pockets, but the large one across the back is useless/too deep and the small ones in the roof are nice, but too small for anything but hats and socks.
2) This tent lacks useful exterior guy points for strong winds. It will withstand more than average tents though. There are two small ones on the front but they are weak.
3) Both older and newer designs have poor roof/through ventilation - the tent gets VERY hot under the sun and usually this can only be remedied by clamping the fly higher in the back and sides. Small pony clamps are essential with this tent for this purpose. I miss the zippers at the top inside in the new design, they were useful.
4) No covers on the mesh doors - the draft from the huge vestibule on chilly nights is only preventable by covering these doors, but with no guy loops or door covers, a challenge. Kelty could have even dodged using zippers and just sewn fabric roll ups. This is very very annoying.
5) The tent is about 3" too short for a 6' person to stand up in and then, only in the middle. This is a problem if one has used the room divider.
6) The included storage bag is delusional. Buy a bigger duffel bag, especially if you have the added floor. This is just stupid cruelty and deserving of the highest condemnation.
7) Kelty uses very sticky fabric for the pole sleeves which combined with the extreme length of these poles, can cause rips. Pushing, rather than pulling, the poles out of the sleeves is recommended.
The rest of my grumbling is due to necessary compromises; Height vs strength, full fly vs oven, long difficult poles vs interior charm and stability. The interior fabric is beautiful, light, and soft, but correspondingly fragile. The lower exterior corners are unprotected by the fly due to the design and require much attention with the silicone spray and seam sealer. The tent requires about two cans of tent spray per season in order to remain water resistant. Without regular touch-up, it will leak and is prone to UV degradation. (as are all tents, of course.)
All-in-all, this is a beautiful, huge, sturdy, yet somewhat frail tent.
Kelty could easily add some small design elements such as interior and exterior loops and door covers to improve its usefulness.
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