Kelty Mantra

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At most campgrounds, the odds are high that the vast majority of tents there are roomy mushroom-like family camping domes. With the entry of Kelty's new Mantra 7 (available Spring '02), the company gives the large family camping tent a new, sleeker, mountaineering-like look. Mantra 7 looks for the world like a pumped-up version of a classic three-pole, two-person tent.

With 116 square feet of room in the tent plus almost 40 more square feet in the vestibule formed by the fly, this tent is roomy. In fact, it's designed to sleep eight but the "seven" designation must have sounded better to Kelty's marketing people. A privacy panel separates the tent into two sleeping bays. Each bay has its own door and, when the fly is up, its own vestibule area.

Trick internal features include staggered mesh storage pockets designed like magazine racks that hold a lot of extra gear and plenty of mesh panel overhead for star viewing. The wall and floor material is taffeta, and the fly material is taffeta/polyester. The poles are shock-corded aluminum.

The tent also stands up to strong winds, as we found out during three nights use. Even the tallest camper in our group had plenty of room to stretch out at night and stand erect to put on clothes before heading outside. At 23 pounds, the Mantra 7 delivers a lot of camping comfort.

SNEWS Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection.)

Suggested Retail: $400

For more information: www.kelty.com, 800-504-2745

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