the lightweight backpacker




© Copyright 1999


Kelty Clark

From: Charles Lindsey, 05/25/99
Type of Gear: Shelter
Name of Gear: Clark Tent
Manufacturer: Kelty
Capacity: 1 Person + Gear
Weight: see Weight below
Cost: $134.95
Color: White
Reviewer's Height/Weight: 5'9", 170lbs

Kelty Clark

Packaged Weight (right outta the box):
Tent/Fly, Poles, all Stakes & Tie/Out Cords
3 LBS, 15.5 OZ

Tent/Fly, Poles, 2 Easton Monster stakes, 5 Titanium stakes:
3 LBS, 11.1 OZ

Tent/Fly, Poles, 2 Easton Monster Stakes, 3 Titanium stakes:
3 LBS, 10.25 OZ

Tent/Fly, Poles, 5 Titanium stakes:
3 LBS, 10.15 OZ

Tent/Fly, Poles, 7 Titanium stakes:
3 LBS, 11 OZ

Minimum Tent Weight (without any stakes) and incidentally, this is the weight that Backpacker magazine uses (they say 3,6):
3 LBS, 8 OZ

I cannot yet testify to long-term durability, but it appears to be well-made out of quality materials. I examined and tested the strength of the stitching, and it looks good.

This is not a reflection on the tent, mind you, but I recommend replacing its stakes with titanium pokers or your favorite, tried-and-proven pegs. I attempted to use the Clark's stakes in hard ground -- they now look like pretzels.

Only two poles which are "attached" from the outside (in other words you don't need to get inside the tent to set it up). The poles are easily threaded thru the tent pole sleeves which are attached to the main tent body. The ends of the poles fit into grommets attached to the tent-stake webbings (getting the second end of each pole into its grommet can be a bit of a wrestling match). Once that is done, it's just a matter of staking out the front and back in order to raise the tent.

The tent can use a total of 6 stakes and the fly an additional 3 -- a maximum total of 9.

I used 5 stakes -- 2 for the tent (one each front and back) and 3 for the fly (one in front and one for each side to eliminate slack. The remainder of the fly is attached to the tent via adjustable, plastic side-release buckles which are attached to the tent's stake webbing.

The entire process took me just a few minutes (I rarely read instructions, by the way). Just in case you are interested, setup time and effort was comparable to the Walrus Micro Swift.

Comfortably withstands moderate winds and heavy rain (tested in the nasty Pacific Northwest Winter of 98/99!!). I found it necessary to stake-out the sides of the fly, in order to increase tautness. This eliminates the sides flapping in the wind and also maximizes air intake for better tent ventilation.

I didn't get to test it in the snow, but just based upon the tent's design, I can conjecture that it would not hold much of the heavy white stuff without sagging in the middle. Whereas the Walrus Micro Swift has a storm guyline tie-out loop on its front-nose and tail-end which creates a taut, snow-shedding roof, the Clark does not.

However, the Clark does have the storm guyline loops on each side of the front of the tent as well as the two aforementioned loops on each side of the fly and a potential total of nine stakes, all which make it three-season stormworthy. I think the Clark would also be just fine in the occasional Summer snow storm, although you might have to occasionally knock the snow off.

The Clark's ventilation is very good. I experienced no condensation. Of course, as always, I take all precautions (i.e., don't block rear air vent, stake out sides of fly to maximize air intake, etc.). The Clark has a hooded upper air vent at the front of the tent and a lower air intake vent at the rear of the tent. It also has a 5 1/2 inch mesh strip at the top of the body which runs the length of the tent, large mesh lobes at the end of the tent, and a mesh section in front, which allows for less restricted air movement.

Making another comparison to the Micro Swift, the Clark has better ventilation -- primarily, I opine -- because its larger internal volume and the aforementioned usage of mesh enables better air movement.

COMFORT (Roominess, Convenience)
Very comfortable! One feature that sold me on this one-person-plus-gear tent -- even before I actually saw it -- was its height. Unlike many others in its category, it is tall enough for most folks to sit upright. A feature important to me, for sure !

According to my tape measure, the Clark is a full 36 inches at its internal apex -- a full 10 inches higher than the Walrus Micro Swift.

Unlike the Micro Swift, I have absolutely no difficulty getting into and out of the Clark. I do not, at any time, have to become contortionist to get in or out or to move around inside the tent. I can sit up without the slightest angling of my neck.

Like the Micro Swift, I felt that the Clark was best suited for a 72" sleeping bag. That would leave plenty of ventilation space at the rear of the tent as well as room at the top for water bottle and other smaller gear items. Your 78" bag will fit just fine, however, you just won't have as much room for gear storage.

There's also a small loop at the apex for hanging stuff. There's double zippers on the tent door as well as on the fly door. All zips have nice long, lightweight zipper pulls. Both doors can be secured open.

Color inside and out is white -- interior is very cheery and bright, even on dark, dank days.

It has a generous vestibule for gear storage (but a lightweight packer will have no problem getting gear inside the tent). Plenty of room in the vestibule for medium-size pack & boots plus cooking in inclement weather. You will notice in the picture above that I have a full Mountainsmith Mountainlight 3500 inside the vestibule. As I already mentioned, there is ample room inside the tent -- above the sleeping area and also along the sides for storing gear (at its widest, the Clark is 37" wide -- my Western Mountaineering Iroquois is 26" wide, at its widest).

The Clark has two long (17" x 5") mesh storage pockets, one on each side for storing TP, flashlight, writing gear, and other small personal stuff.

Not as light and compact as the Walrus Micro Swift, but a roomier, more comfortable tent (for me), yet only 4 to 5 ounces heavier.

Without reservation, I recommend the Clark as an excellent full-three-season, one-person-plus-gear, sub-4-pound shelter.

I've made a place for it in my own gear inventory.

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