Let’s be fair and honest up front, shall we? I only used this tent once whilst car camping in un-extreme conditions. But, once you read this review, you’ll see why that’s all it took to make me want to return the Ketly Buttress 4.
Its Intended Purpose
I was in the market for 4-man, 3.5 season tent for me and the two other dudes with tents (which no longer post jack squat) to go winter camping.Typically, unless you really like sleeping on top of each other (and we’re not that extreme), a tent is rated about one person too small. So, a 3-man will usually only sleep 2 comfortably, a 4-man, 3, and so on and so forth. This really becomes apparent when we’re talking about winter camping with bigger bags and bulkier gear.
The Appeal Value
The Kelty Buttress 4 really appealed to me because of the 4 person rating, first of all. Next, it was rated as a 3.5 season tent. A “3.5 season” tent means that it’s good for summer, spring, fall, and winter…provided you’re not above the treeline or expecting a huge snowmageddon-like dumping. This is typically the case in the Midwest.
The weight wasn’t too bad either. Heavier than high-end tents, that goes without saying, but it was right in line with some better brand tents. The nylon-to-mesh ratio seemed very fair. For winter camping, the more nylon on the tent, the warmer it will be, but you still need the mesh to keep yourself well ventilated to avoid condensation. No one likes a rain storm, in their tent, in the winter.
In the pictures, the rain fly appeared to completely cover the tent down to the ground and had a heeeyuge vestibule. I don’t use the vestibule to store much gear in the winter, mostly just boots, but it’s nice to have room to get yourself situated and take your boots off before tracking a bunch of snow into your tent. It also had two, variable vents to the outside world to, again, reduce condensation.
Last but not least, it was cheap. I remember once telling you that I’m a cheap bastard. This is still true (but definitely willing to pay for value).
What I Liked About The Kelty Buttress 4
It’s big! My girlfriend (Anh) and I used it on one of our many weekend camping trips, and that thing had room for 2 more and then some! We had our two bodies and all of our gear in there, and there was still room left over. I mention the gear because we were, admittedly, car camping and didn’t spare any luxurious, convenient camping equipment.
The vestibule….it’s big! Damn near big enough to stand up in. I think Anh was, actually. I also like the horizontal pole over the door to hold it away from the tent.
Nice materials. The nylon seemed strong and well treated. The poles were larger diameter but still relatively light.
Easy set up…but then again, what 2-pole dome tent is a real puzzle to figure out?
What I Didn’t Like About The Kelty Buttress 4
My biggest issue with the tent was the vents on the rain fly. When you open them fully, it causes the rainfly to contact the tent wall. So, any condensation that gets trapped on the inside of the rain fly would drain right to the inside of your tent. Pretty much makes them worthless, no?
Next was that the vestibule didn’t go completely to the ground. They chose fashion over function by having the rain fly curve up so that the Kelty logo on the tent wall is visible….rather than just putting the logo on the rainfly. Again, not so great in winter conditions when you want to bank just a little snow on the side of the rain fly to get a little bit of insulation and wind block.
No bathtub flooring. Sucks. I don’t have any bad experiences, but something about having the (untaped) seems along the bottom of the tent seems to just increase the likelihood of leaks. No thanks.
In Defense Of Kelty
In Kelty’s defense, they don’t heavily market this tent as a backcountry tent. The marketing is more towards family camping…but could be used in the backcountry. If I wanted a true 3.5 or 4 season, backpacking tent, they have those options available….for quite a big price increase. Again, I was looking for value. From the pictures descriptions, I thought I had it in this tent. However, the whole “vent touching the tent wall” thing really ruined it for me. By no means will this change my opinion of Kelty. They are still a great company with great products. They just narrowly missed the mark on this one.
Don’t Miss Your Chance
I was stuck in Corporate America for 9 years. I was miserable.
Then I took control.
You can too, and it starts right here.