Jul 22 2013

Review: Kelty Carport (take 2)

Use the carport however you see fit - spare bedroom or covered kitchen.

Use the carport however you see fit – spare bedroom or covered kitchen.

The utility of Kelty’s Carport should seem obvious. Though made to create a vestibule to a car, for car camping, it also doubles for whatever you can make of a three-sided, lightweight roof. When you know what you’re doing, it assembles in about ten minutes. On my last kiting adventure it was used to create an awning to break the midday sun off the side of a trailer. After half the season Zeke still hadn’t put up his awning but he had a good excuse, Nathan had parked his adjacent trailer too close to make room for the awning, at least, not without his permission to use his trailer to secure two corners of the tarp.

Kelty Carport to the rescue. After experiencing the utility of a Carport I ponied up for the large version. It had been a few years since using it, but I figured it out by headlamp in ten minutes, but it took another hour to secure the mounting rod at the top to the roof of the trailers with some rope. A total temporary measure, but solid enough for the rest of the season, yet fast enough to be worth setting up for the weekend. It was delightful to take a nap mid-afternoon in the shade while the leaves rustled to a moderate breeze.

We set the carport up so it was suspended almost horizontal between the two trailers. The rounded shape resembled a wing and it lifted lightly with the heavy puffs that occasionally snuck through, but nothing too strong or even close to the sort of strain sails or kites must endure.

When it was time to take ‘er down the inherent weakness of the Carport system was impossible to ignore. One of the corners of the tent that provides an anchor point had torn from the reinforced webbing in the corner. The flaw was obvious to a sailor since the folded webbing only held the fabric with a simple, single stitch. To hold well a sailmaker would use a Z-stitch, over a larger area.

Lightweight is only good if it can also withstand moderate abuse. Kelty's Carport corners need more muscle.

Lightweight is only good if it can also withstand moderate abuse. Kelty’s Carport corners need more muscle.

I can certainly understand if this corner had torn in a big wind, but it was not subjected to that. The tear was inevitable if the tent was subject to the nominal tension of being deployed for more than 24 hours. Thus, while I love the concept and design of Kelty’s Carport, I’m less than enthusiastic about its durability since this isn’t the first time the 75 denier polyester skin has failed me. The last time it failed was because a squirrel threw a pine cone at it from sixty feet above and tore it in two. Now I honestly don’t fault Kelty for that failure since I had left it standing for an entire summer and the ultraviolet rays had weakened the fabric. Call it ultraviolet abuse as no fabric is truly UV proof in the long run, certainly not something that thin and supple. However, separating at the corners under normal tension indicates cheap manufacturing.

Until Kelty improves the seam stitching quality, my tactic will be to have a sailmaker repair and reinforce the upper corners that are under tension.

MSRP: $ 249

© 2013