This Kelty Dirt Motel 4 review is about a lightweight and nicely packable tent with quality aluminum poles, which offers full protection from elements in a 2-3 season use.
Key features & benefits
- Lightweight tent.
- DAC aluminum poles.
- 2 Doors & 2 vestibules.
- Easy to use.
- Excellent packed size.
- Stargazing setup.
What this is about
This Dirt Motel 4 is the largest in the new series by Kelty which includes also the tents for 2 and 3 people. They all are available on Amazon on the same link given above. This series is supposed to replace their well-known TN series.
So this is a full-coverage fly semi-freestanding tent with 2 doors and 2 vestibules. The vestibules have to be staked to be functional and this is why it is not fully freestanding. But indeed the inner tent is fully self-supportive and you can move it around without the fly.
The structure is very simple and easy to use, with two main poles creating the dome, plus a shorter ridge pole that pulls the side wall up and makes the doors vertical. This adds lots of shoulder space and increases comfort. The picture below shows it without the fly.
The two doors and the two vestibules make it as much livable as possible for such a design. The peak height of 46 inches (116 cm) is not particularly impressive but this is more or less normal for such a tent.
The top picture above shows the tent in its stargazing configuration. So you have clips to keep the fly as shown, and you can quickly unclip it and roll down if the weather changes. The fly clips to the tent corners.
The tent includes Kelty’s Shark Mouth stuff sack which makes stuffing the tent in it easier.
Who is it for
Weight-wise, with its 6 lb 14 oz (3.12 kg) of weight, this tent is light enough to be carried on shorter tours assuming that partners share the weight. You will see in the comparison table below how it compares with some of its top competitors. I have added it to my list of best 4-person backpacking tents. But this is also a great car camping option for parents with one kid.
The packed size 16 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches (41 x 19 x 19 cm) is simply excellent for its size. It is very short when packed and this is achieved by its short segments in the shock-corded poles. So my rating for the packed size is very high, you will see this below.
Seasons-wise & climate-wise, they describe it as a 3-season tent. Regarding protection from elements, this is surely so. The tent is low and aerodynamic, with a full fly, and with quality poles.
But in view of its mesh inner tent, it is not the best option for a cooler environment. So I would say this is a tent for 2 seasons maximum.
Space-wise, they describe it as “ultra-roomy” and I find this quite exaggerating. In fact, the tent offers 55.5 ft² (5.15 m²) of the floor area which is small for 4 people because you have only 13.9 ft² (1.29 m²) per person. Two vestibules add 18 ft² (1.64 m²), so the total covered area is 73.5 ft² (6.8 m²) and this is not so bad, but this is far from roomy.
The poles & stakes
There are three of them and this is DAC Pressfit aluminum. So you have the best quality here and this is a hub construction. DAC invented Presfit in 1996 and they use a Japanese variation on 7001 aluminum alloy. Such poles are designed for 3-season and 4-season tents. The stakes are high-quality V-shaped aluminum.
The fly is a 40D siliconized nylon ripstop with 1500 mm waterproof rating. The inner tent is a no-see-um mesh. The floor is a 70D nylon with a 3000 mm PU coating. All seams are sealed.
The inner tent is all mesh so you will have air circulating in all directions. To fight condensation, they have added vents on vestibules. One of them is visible below, and you realize that it is a bit small and it is positioned low.
- Several interior storage pockets plus a ceiling pocket.
- Reflective guy lines.
- They have a custom-fit Kelty Dirt Motel 4P footprint which is sold separately.
Please see more in this short video:
- Declared capacity: 4 people.
- Seasons: 3
- Minimum weight: 6 lb 4 oz (2.83 kg).
- Packaged weight: 6 lb 14 oz (3.12 kg).
- Dimensions: 94 x 85 in (238 x 216 cm).
- Floor area: 55.5 ft² (5.15 m²).
- Floor area per person: 13.9 ft² (1.29 m²).
- Vestibule area: 9 + 9 ft² (0.83 + 0.83 m²).
- Total covered area: 73.5 ft² (6.8 m²).
- Peak height: 46 in (116 cm).
- Packed size: 16 x 7.5 x 7.5 in (41 x 19 x 19 cm).
- Warranty: limited lifetime.
Kelty Dirt Motel 4 Tent vs MSR Elixir 4 & Mountainsmith Morrison EVO 4
You might want to see this tent side by side with some of its top competitors. So I have chosen two highly rated tents with the same declared capacity and all are with aluminum poles.
As you see, the MSR Elixir 4 is much heavier but its floor area is a bit smaller. The MS EVO 4 tent is also heavier but it offers less area. There are big differences in prices so please follow the links to read more.
COMPARE PACKAGE FEATURES
Weight, lb (kg)
Floor size, sq ft (sq m)
Peak height, in (cm)
Packed size, in (cm)
Payable Every Month
16 x 7.5 (41 x 19)
Payable Every Year
22 x 7 (56 x 18)
Morrison EVO 4
Payable Every Year
20 x 9 (51 x 23)
Final thoughts, rating, pros & cons
So to summarize this Kelty Dirt Motel 4 review, they have built a reliable and quality tent and this is a great value for the money. The price may look steep but see some of its competitors below to realize that this is quite a normal price for such a tent. Fully recommended.
Please see how I rate this tent against my standard set of criteria. This allows for easy comparison with the other tents here in the site.
Please visit our page with tents if you need more options to check, you will find the top brands’ tents in the capacity range 1-4 people. You might want to check also this MSR Habitude 4-Person Camping Tent suitable for car camping.
Note that I am not paid by the manufacturer, and this is not a sponsored text. Please use the comment box below in the case of questions or comments. Have a nice day.