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Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 Tent – Gear Review

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Going to wild places with Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 Tent.  When solo camping, I prioritize light weight. For the past couple of years, though, I have compromised on weight by bringing a two-person tent. With most one-person tents, I find myself struggling to sit up even half way comfortably. Sierra Designs has addressed that compromise backpackers oftentimes make with the innovative design of the Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 tent.

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Basic set up on the Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 Tent

Design

The Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 Tent is as unique in design as tents get. It has a rectangular base with a diagonally-sloping top. At its peak, the tent stands at 45 inches tall, allowing for ample room to sit up in that half of the tent. The tent has one door and 3.5 ft2 vestibule. There are three poles, one for the door, one for the ventilation window, and one for the footbed. Five guylines situated at the front, rear, and sides of the tent keep the tent erect and taut. The tent is single-walled, so the rainfly is built into the frame of the tent. Combined with the Polyester Tafetta fly fabric and 20D Nylon body fabric, the materials are quintessential ultralight.

The Test

The Sierra Designs Flashlight 1-Person Tent accompanied me during two trips. The first was an overnight, car-camping trip in Pike’s Peak National Forest, Colo., in mid-September, and the other was a 13-day backpacking trip in Glacier National Park at the end of September through mid-October. As is custom to September in Colorado, the weather during the first test was dry with low temperatures around 45 degrees. During the second test, the weather varied from a dry 45 degrees, a snowy 10 degrees, and a rainy 50 degrees.

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The Sierra Design Flashlight 1 is highly packable leaving you space for the other essentials.

Ventilation

During my first test of the tent and the dry days in Glacier National Park, I experienced little to no condensation on the inside of the tent. In Colorado, this is normal with any tent because of the aridity of the air, but I was pleasantly surprised in Glacier National Park. When the humidity increased, the inevitable ventilation disadvantage of a single walled tent was on full display, and the walls were coated with dew. That being said, when I took out the tent that night to set it up at our next campsite, the condensation had not saturated the tent even though I packed up the tent without having fully dried it.

Usability

Even though the non-freestanding design of the Flashlight decreases its overall weight, it also restricts the type of surface on which the Flashlight can be used: without a surface in which stakes can be hammered in, this tent will not work. Additionally, the ability to make the tent taut depends heavily on how well suited the ground is for stakes. In areas that had very silty or shallow soil, the pull of the guylines coming down from the apex of the tent would either dislodge the stake from the ground or compromise the tautness of the entire tent. Although the guylines work sufficiently in fair weather, rain or snow more easily pooled at areas where the tent had begun to sag.

The vestibule is also very small. Neither my 75 L pack nor my 45 L pack could fit in the vestibule without leaning on the vestibule or tent doors. Although I left my pack outside the vestibule with a pack cover on and my belongings in trash bags, this was not ideal when inclement weather hit.

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Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 Tent tested in unexpected snow.

Set up

The other issue with the Flashlight 1’s non-freestanding design is that it made it difficult to set up alone, which, for a 1-person tent, is a problem. I found myself trying to hold up one of the tent poles at the apex while trying to stake in its corresponding cord. Oftentimes, I would have to re-stake the corners or change the tautness of the top guylines after finishing the initial set up. The inclusion of the 5 guylines does make adjustment substantially faster and more precise.

Final Thoughts

The Flashlight 1 tent is perfect for lightweight trips in dry areas. As someone living in Colorado, I would use this on any late spring, summer, and early fall trip, even if light flurries were in the forecast. It is light, packable, and durable enough to handle any length or trip intensity. The tent is not suitable, though, for wet trips because of limited vestibule space and poor ventilation. Additionally, the tent cannot be set up in places without ground suitable for stakes or populated with heavy rocks or logs to tie-off to.

The only other consideration when buying this tent is about height. I am 5’ 6” and fit comfortably in this tent. My partners on the Glacier Trip are both 6’2” males and did not fit comfortably, especially when there was a lot condensation at the front and rear of the tent.

 

Sierra Designs Tensegrity 1 Elite Solo Tent Review

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Tensegrity

Over the past year, Sierra Designs has become one of my favorite outdoor gear companies. Why? Because they’re designing gear smarter than the other guys. And that ‘s exactly what the Tensegrity 1 Elite solo tent is: smart. It’s not your momma’s single person tent, and it doesn’t act like it. But it has what you want in an ultralight solo shelter – and a lot of what you didn’t know you needed – and cuts what you don’t.

First, let’s talk about the material. The Tensegrity is made with fully Siliconized Nylon fabric, meaning it’s water repellent without needing a rainfly and incredibly lightweight. It’s made to be so lightweight, in fact, that it doesn’t meet the FR standard CPAI-84 that limits your exposure to FR chemicals. This isn’t an issue for me in Washington, but it does mean that the tent can’t be sold or shipped in California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey or New York. The fact that this fabric allows the tent to weigh 1 lb 11 oz is enough of an incentive for me, but I also think it’s kind of badass to have a tent that’s illegal in seven states. The fabric also stood up to my durability tests despite feeling incredibly soft and thin.

Tensegrity

The Tensegrity 1 Elite is the lightest tent Sierra Designs makes, which is partly thanks to a design that replaces tent poles with trekking poles. The only tent pole the Tensegrity uses is down by the foot box; the rest of the structure stands with two trekking poles and a few stakes. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, this setup creates an ultralight, extremely roomy, totally stable shelter. But, I will admit, it takes a while to master the setup process. Keep the directions with you for the first few outings, because the tent needs to be setup in a pretty specific order for it to stand properly. For the first few trips, it took me about ten minutes plus to setup the Tensegrity by myself. Now that I’ve gotten the system down, it goes up in a flash.

Tensegrity

Once you’ve gotten over the learning curve on the setup, you’ll realize how smart the tent’s design truly is. The Tensegrity can be used with both fixed length and adjustable trekking poles due to an adjustable grommet system on the bottom of the front panel of the tent. After you have the tent staked down and the trekking poles are erecting the tent, the Tensegrity’s guylines and stake out cords are easily adjustable to fine-tune a perfect setup. The Tensegrity has a large front vestibule panel that creates a “gear closest” in the front of the tent. You can store your gear there to keep it out of the elements without blocking the tent door, and a mesh panel allows easy access to your gear from inside the tent. The tent’s one door is easily accessible since there isn’t a vestibule over the door, and the way the trekking pole leans over the door prevents rain from coming in even with the mesh venting completely exposed.

Because you control whether the Siliconized Nylon fabric or the mesh venting fabric is over the door and lefthand ventilation panel while inside the tent, you can batten down the hatches in a storm or open up all of the panels for crazy good ventilation. The mesh on my tent is showing some minor pilling, but no holes have appeared in three months of use.

Tensegrity

Perhaps the coolest part of the Tensegrity is the amount of room you have inside the tent. Usually with one-person shelters, you either have a relatively roomy tent that makes you feel it with weight, or an ultralight shelter that makes you feel like you’re suffocating the entire time you’re inside. Neither is true with the Tensegrity; because the trekking pole design creates inverted side walls, the shoulder and head room in the tent is significantly wider than the floor space. TensegrityI was able to sit up more than comfortably in the tent, open up the ventilation panels and actually hang out inside the Tensegrity – no other one-person shelter has made me want to hang out inside of it.

Sierra Designs bills the Tensegrity 1 Elite as a tent for “expert users,” and I would agree with them there. The tent’s setup process doesn’t allow for any laziness: no bad staking jobs, no poor spot locations, no sloppy guyouts, which can take time to get yourself in the habit of. The Tensegrity also doesn’t come factory seam sealed, so if you want to seam seal the tent, you’ll have to do it yourself – not a difficult process, but a day’s work at home.

A few gripes I had with the Tensegrity: because the tent is non-freestanding, it’s pretty hard to brush dirt and sand out of the inside. I got sand inside the Tensegrity on one trip and had to live with it for a few days, as I couldn’t easily shake out the tent like with freestanding tents. Speaking of sand, I found in nearly impossible to setup the Tensegrity on the beach by myself. I think with a really expert beach staking job, you may be able to do it, but I gave up and moved to the dirt.

Bottom Line:

This shelter is hyper-functional and ultralight. Sierra Designs is just doing things smarter.

Tech Specs:

MSRP: $399.95

Availability: Available Now

Capacity: 1 Person

Minimum Weight: 1 lb 11 oz

Packed Weight: 2 lbs 1 oz

Interior Area: 17.10 ft2

Internal Peak Height: 41 in.

Length 88 in.

Width: Front – 30 in. Rear – 26 in.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed Review

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Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed

At first glance, the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed looks way different than any other typical sleeping bag. The most obvious and notably difference about this bag is the large opening and comforter. It looks like a down blanket which you pull up over the torso as needed for warmth or left down in warm temperatures. This allows the user to easily and quickly adjust the amount of covers you need without fumbling with zippers as on typical bags.

The next thing I noted was the very large space at the head and torso of the “bed.” In the field, this turned out to be one of those things you always wished for, but never had in a traditional bag. In this bed, you can truly stretch out, and it allows you to place your pillow inside the bag so it doesn’t slip away from you during the night. I typically use an inflatable pillow along with a small fabric one on top of it for comfort and separation from the inflatable one. With the Backcountry Bed, both stayed in place inside the hood of the Bed under my head and didn’t move even as I moved throughout the night.

The very large oversized torso portion of the Bed is so big it allows you to sleep comfortably on your back or tummy with your arms on both sides of you. Most Mummy style bags feel cramped in these positions. The overall feel is truly more like a bed than a bag.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed

The Bed also has an opening at the foot box which allows you to put your feet out the opening if weather is too warm to comfortably keep them in. Some people who typically feel cramped in tight foot box bags may feel less restricted if they push them out through the opening.

The bag I tested was a 20 degree, 3 season, 800 Fill Dridown unit, but the manufacturer also has lighter options for those seeking a more ultra-light bag. I’m from the Pacific Northwest, and our climate is often rainy and has high humidity. We all know how down can lose a lot of its loft, and therefore insulating ability, if it becomes wet either from rain or dampness condensing on the walls of a tent. This product is made with DriDown insulation. This is a treated duck down, which both resists getting wet and dries faster if it does.

On the underside of the Bed there is a sleeve that allows you to insert your sleeping pad inside of it. It was a tight fit for my pad, but I did manage to get it tucked in. Sometimes during the night we all feel ourselves slipping off the pad, especially if we aren’t on flat smooth ground. This sleeve keeps the Bed and pad directly under you even on a cross slope. No doubt this will help retain heat on cold damp nights as you won’t wake to find yourself laying half on and half off of your sleeping pad.

On my first outing with this sleeping bag, I found it was quite comfortable. I like how easy it is to get into and out of as opposed to slithering into a regular mummy bag. This is especially true if you need to get up in the middle of the night and don’t want to disturb those camped close to you… less sleeping pad rustling noises or grunts and groans struggling in and out of the bag. It got down to about 40 degrees that night, and I was quite comfortable and even didn’t fully cover myself with the comforter portion of the bag. It’s nice and easy to adjust from a warm evening to a cool night with the comforter, because you can just throw it off or pull it up as the temp changes. The comforter even has hand pockets to assist in pulling it up over you and to provide extra warmth for the hands in colder weather.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed

In cold weather, closer to freezing, my head was a bit chilled inside the hood. It didn’t seem to wrap around and enclose the head very well, which may have something to do with the pillows inside the Bed. I did pull up the comforter and tuck it around my head as much as I could, but still felt some drafts. I plan on taking a balaclava along to better insulate my head on future outings with this Bed for those chilly nights early and late in the season. My plan is to bring along an ultra-lite down sheet or down sweater to use when the colder weather sets in and use this bag most of the year.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed

If you like lots of room in a bag, this works very well. It definitely will perform well in Summer, early Fall and late Spring just as it comes from the store. I will likely use this as my regular bag because it is so comfortable and versatile. You can stick your feet out of the bottom and leave the torso uncovered, or even sleep on top of it if it is really hot. In some ways, it’s like a down sheet style bag. This is definitely a 3 season bag, which can be a little cold in those coolest evenings in shoulder seasons, but – with a little extra gear – it performs well down below freezing. I like the roominess at the hood so that I can put my pillows inside the bag. Its weight is well within reason for such a large bag. It stuffs down to an easily manageable size that fits inside your pack. Damp weather doesn’t inhibit its usability with the DriDown technology. Even when it got a little water on it, it shed the moisture off and, when I got it really damp, it did dry quickly and lost very little loft.

Bottom Line:

I would definitely recommend the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed sleeping bag for any backpacker looking for a versatile bag that really ups the ante in terms of comfort.

Tech Specs (Regular Size):
EN Limit (Men) 20 degrees
Company posted Weight 2 Lbs. 8Oz. (Regular Size)
Actual weight with Stuff Sack 2 Lbs. 7.8 Oz. (Regular Size)
Fill Weight 20 Oz.
800 Fill Duck Dridown
Sleep Pad Max. Width 20”
MSRP: $400.00

Sierra Designs A.S.A.P Bivy and Tarp

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The Sierra Designs A.S.A.P Bivy and Tarp combo is the ultra-light backpacker’s solution to staying dry, keeping the bugs at bay, and having room to stretch out, cook, and sort gear without sacrificing weight penalties or taking up too much room in your pack. While there are many great things about this ultra-light shelter setup, there is one important thing to be aware of.

First, lets go over the pros:

  • Tipping the scales at one-pound nine-ounces (according to my scale), Sierra Designs A.S.A.P. Bivy and Tarp is not only light but it also packs down to 10x6x5 inches.

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  • The tarp is quick and easy to set up once you have figured out how to do it. Do not let the first time you set this up be in the dark and cold – practice setting it up once or twice in your backyard. I found that moving the staked corners was necessary to properly tension each “wing” of the tent. Also, I set my trekking poles at 140mm to get a good pitch. Of course, you could go shorter, but then the tent will require a bigger footprint and less head room.

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  • The bivy sack has bug netting! No longer will you have to worry about bugs crawling into your bag with you to keep warm while sleeping. It also features a stretchy cord loop so that you can string the net up away from your face, which will keep the mosquitos off, too!

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  • There is plenty of head room, which means you can cook inside if the weather is bad. There was also enough room to keep a pack inside as well.

Now, what about that one thing I mentioned that you should be aware of?

  • While testing during a rainstorm, I noticed that water began pooling on the bivy sack that was extending outside of the rainfly. In one hour, the storm rained about 1/4 inch. This left a sizable puddle of water on top of the bivy sack that eventually overflowed, soaking my sleeping bag. Sierra Designs built a rain gutter into the bivy sack but it laid down flat, which allowed the water in. If you are going to be camping in inclement weather and are a fidgety sleeper, then your movement may keep the water from pooling too much and therefore overflowing and soaking your sleeping bag.

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Tech Specs

Manufacturer: Sierra Designs

Date available: Currently Available

MSRP: $189.95

Listed Weight: 1lb 1oz

Actual Weight: 1lb 9oz

Materials: 20D Nylon, 1500 mm

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Sierra Designs Mojo 2 Person Ultralight Tent

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I have several mini missions in life. One of them is to find the perfect ultralight backpacking tent. My latest find is the Sierra Designs Mojo 2, and I’ll tell you why it works for me. I don’t do tarps or sleep out in the open simply because I am mosquito bait. I require walls and preferably a rain fly because I live in Seattle and usually camp near Seattle where it’s usually raining.

If I don’t have to look at the instructions the first time I set up a tent, I am a happy camper. Living room set up number one was pretty successful and I pitched it in less than five minutes only checking the instructions once. The second time was on a mountain at 8500 feet and was even more slick, so the intuitive design gets high marks!  With two poles and 13 stakes, the Mojo 2 is a one piece design, meaning it has no separate rain fly. Instead the fly is built onto the tent itself, which facilitates pitching as well as minimizing weight. I was a little unnerved by the position of the rain fly though. If it doesn’t come to the ground, it inevitably lets rain in, especially in our neck of the woods. This is a three-season tent and  I wouldn’t take it in a deluge, but it would certainly outlast a simple tarp and be far more comfortable.

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The Mojo 2 went with me to Mount Adams. I pulled it out of my backpack and set it up in the field in about three minutes. Sierra Designs is taking steps to make a greener product in the Mojo 2. The poles and stakes are “green anodized” which means fewer resources were used in the process that strengthens the metal. The materials are light and strong. In standard mountain wind, as long as it is staked down, I had no concerns that it would blow down or be damaged. It’s solid and stable. Head room is ample to sit comfortably and even crawl around.

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It has a tapered foot area, thin floor and mostly mesh walls, all of which help this tent weigh in at less than three pounds. I weighed it twice. A complete tent under three pounds is a beautiful thing.

Pros:

  • Under three pounds! I am jumping up and down.
  • Easy and intuitive to set up
  • Priced reasonably for UL gear
  • Single piece design
  • Lots of useful netting, reducing weight
  • Plenty of stake out points

 

Cons:

  • Rain fly doesn’t come all the way to the ground
  • A little cozy for two reasonable sized people
  • It also comes in a three person model in case you like the extra room and a little more weight.

Click to Purchase the Sierra Designs Mojo 2-Person Ultralight Tent
 

Technical Details:

Manufacturer: Sierra Designs

Capacity: 2

Season: 3
Trail Weight: 2 lbs 11 oz / 1.22 kg
Packed Weight: 3 lbs 2 oz / 1.42 kg
Interior Area: 26.50 ft/ 2.46 m2
Vestibule Area: 7.00 ft2 / .65 m2
Peak Height: 38 in / 97 cm
Packed Length: 17.5 in.
Packed Diameter: 5 in.
Number of doors: 1
Number of poles: 2 hubbed

MSRP:$399.95

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