Quick shade with the Kelty Cabana

Neither a tent nor a canopy, the Kelty Cabana is a lightweight solution when you need a temporary shelter. Although it may have been designed with festivals in mind, there’s no limit to it uses. From chilling at the park, to your kid’s sports, to day trips into the mountains, it’s got you covered.


Separating the Cabana from a tent is the very open design. The entire front wall is held in place by a few toggles. Same with the window covers. There are no zippers, and it’s not bug-proof. What it does offer is shade, and with the front wall and windows closed, a bit of privacy. But the default use for us was front wall open. This way you get some shade, but can still see out. With 45.5 square feet of floor space, 2-3 adults can sit comfortably, even in chairs. That’s also plenty of room for at least 6 active kids.

Kelty Cabana
Kelty Cabana, moments before being overrun by little kids


Depending on wind and soil conditions, it takes 5-15 minutes to set up and take down. Having to stake it in hard soil takes the longest, with soft soil or no stakes taking the least amount of time. Unfold it, assemble one of the shorter fiberglass poles, and thread it through, front to back. Do the same with the other shorter pole. Finally, take the longer pole, and thread it from side to side. While one person can do it, it’s much faster with two. Just take your time, as the metal connectors can snag the material, which is pretty thin. Included are loops for staking, stakes, guy wire, and even some basic sandbags.


Since we didn’t have a chance to take it to a Burning Man or Lollapalooza-type event, we settled for some more common outdoor fun. For our test run, we set it up at a family backyard BBQ. Once comfortable with setting it up and taking it down, we used it in the yard, at the park, and up in the mountains. It’s great if you need a little shade for your kids or dogs at the park. And after seeing how much my niece loved it just playing the yard, we took it to a weenie roast. Meeting with my co-workers outside of work, up in the mountains, many brought small children. They played in and around it for hours. That alone was worth the $99 MSRP to most parents.

Specs and other features

With protection from the sun and light rain, the Kelty Cabana is 3 season, day use. Total weight is 6 pounds, 5 ounces, and it’s 26 x 8 x 5 inches in the included carry backpack. Pack and fold carefully, or you’ll have trouble getting it into the backpack. Also note that the pack is designed just for the Cabana – there’s no extra room. For a nice breeze with less bugs, there are 3 large air-flo mesh windows. Color choices include Tundra and Deep Teal.


While we had plenty of adult chill time during our testing, it should be noted that the kids really had the run of it. This is important to note. Little kids, outdoors, running amuck, can be pretty rough on things. The window and front wall toggles probably got more use during those six weeks than the average Cabana will see in a lifetime. And there are no torn loops, no ripped seams, and even the flooring still looks good. For such a lightweight material, it’s held up pretty well. So props to Kelty for meeting a family-friendly price point while still making it last. Kelty.com

A special thanks to Kelty for providing their Cabana for this review.

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