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Kelty Vista 3

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Kelty Vista 3 three-season tent

Close to perfect for canoe camping in the Canadian wilderness. Forget Kelty's semi-apology to backpackers about weight. Roomy, very workable in difficult site situs. Fly clips to the Jake's feet brackets taut enough to provide OK protection with only vestibule staking-really nice when you're pitching on rocky ground.

Setup fast and intuitive. Zipper storm flaps on doors and hook/loop closeable storm flaps on the lower no-see-um mesh make it a versatile shelter in a wide variety of climates. And this tent has DRY ENTRY vestibules thanks to the volume boosting lateral roof-support poles-never a given even in high end tents.

In conclusion... Yowzah!! Rating written only from canoe tripping perspective—and it's about time we paddlers had a good tent.


  • Minimal fly stake-out needed-good for bare rock sites
  • Zoom-zoom setup-great when it's raining
  • Bona-fide dry entry vestibules. Thank you, thank you.
  • Roomy for two tired dirty wet paddlers
  • Great climate versatlity -storm flaps YES!!!


  • Maybe too big for some site situations/bushwacks etc
  • At 10 SF, vestibules are on the small side, but see above
  • Fly vents are not closable—maybe prob. in gusty rains
  • Factory stakes are pantywaist soft sand/peatmoss toys
  • 1 stake vestibule means 1 direction in/out

I said a lot in the summary. This tent is one of the best out there for serious wilderness canoe trippers .

I've spent a lot of time reviewing/sleeping in tents that were made for backpacking and were quasi-suitable for canoe tripping. Maybe Kelty accidentally made this tent without us paddlers in mind, but it really does fit the bill if you're planning a trip on the Upper Missinaibi this year or next.

Plenty roomy enough to throw the stuff around inside, and the vestibules will hold (barely) the wet paraphernalia that you don't want to bring inside. Who cares if it weighs an extra pound or two!

Just as important, the fly can actually be attached to the body and function adequately with minimal staking. No big deal? You've never camped on the Canadian Shield. Sometimes you have to forgo stakes and get the necessary fly tension by tying to the nearest alder bush. If you need two bush ties usually no problem— if you need 4 or 6...whoaaa!!! Only wilderness paddlers will appreciate that.

The zippered storm flaps on the doors and closable (hook-loop) lower mesh vents are a wonder as well. These used to be standard on 3-season tents years ago. Now they're only seen on HD, big $$$$s 4-season Mountain tents. When you're in central Quebec and that 70 deg day turns into 35 deg night, baby you want to close er up. The Vista lets you do that.

I want them to continue making this tent, so let me say that. Hey folks, this is pretty good for base camp or car camping as well. Very versatile!!

What could be done to make this even better for paddlers? I'd shave 6" off the width and add it to the vestibules. I'd make the fly vents a little more closable. Maybe add 2-4 more guy line attachments to the fly for wind. Maybe make the interior pockets a little more beefier. Maybe make the storm flaps on the lower vents zippered instead of hook/loop. Provide better stakes — suitable for rocky ground  use — not just sand and moss. The ones you get are palm grinders.

Still, it's a great all-round shelter. If you're a solo paddler try the Vista 2. It should make you happy too.

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