My very first tent was a two person Sierra Designs that I saved for months to buy. I was 15 at the time and for nearly a decade the tent served me well before I gave it to a buddy to start his backpacking gear collection. In testing the new Sierra Designs Flash 3 I was excited to see how Sierra Designs tents have progressed. I have slept in all kinds of tents from nearly every manufacturer, including North Face, REI, Big Agnes, Mountain Hardwear, Easton, and numerous others. In all of those tents I always experienced condensation build-up, from just a few drips to huge puddles that soaked sleeping bags. However, the new Sierra Designs Flash 3 produced zero condensation build-up due to the Advanced Ventilation Design (discussed in further detail below).

sierra design flash 3_1

Pros

  • This tent offers the benefits of a single wall shelter without the drawbacks. The ExoFusion technology allows Sierra Design to incorporate the rain fly into the tent only where it is needed. This effectively eliminates the need to carry a rainfly, significantly cutting down on weight.
  • The Flash 3 is quick and easy to set up. With only two poles I could set up this tent solo without any difficulties in a matter of minutes.
  • The Flash 3 is very light, especially considering that it is a three-person tent. Sierra Design spec’d the trail weight at 4 pounds, 13 ounces. I found this spec to be spot on, but only when eliminating the stuff sack and all but two of the stakes, which you need to secure the vestibules on either side (see more detailed weight information in the specs below).
  • The interior space is cavernous. With steep sidewalls and generous head room (43”, actually) there is plenty of room in this tent for three occupants.
  • There is lots of ventilation. Even on a beach camping trip with extremely high humidity and waking up to everything covered in dew and mist in the morning, there was zero moisture inside the Flash 3. In any of my other tents, the interior would have been quite wet. To get some more information I spoke to Frank Kvietok, the head of R&D for Sierra Design. Frank explained the testing process they put the Flash series tents through.

We placed temperature and humidity battery powered testers inside the tent called a puck. Then we place a cool mist humidifier into the tent that matches the perspiration output of two people, or two liters over 24 hours. We first observed that the humidity rises and then plateaus. We then noticed a huge difference in competitors level of humidity versus the Flash series tents. Where our relative humidity was around 30% we saw 20-50% higher humidity levels in our competitors tents.”

For a video explanation on the Sierra Design Flash 3 tent click here.

sierra designs flash 3 tent

Observations

  • The vestibules must be staked out properly as the un-removable rainfly doubles as both of the vestibules. Due to this design, you will need a very large spot to properly pitch the tent. On a ski mountaineering trip on Mt. Shasta I could only find a spot big enough for the tent but not the vestibules. Without proper tension on the vestibules, they will catch the wind and make quite a bit of noise and, because they are attached to the tent, there is no option to remove them in fair weather.

sierra design flash 3_3

Cons

  • The interior pocket storage areas are quite small. This is not a huge complaint, but when a pocket can barely hold a headlamp and an iPhone, it makes you wonder how much weight Sierra Designs cut down by putting smaller pockets inside…

Final Thoughts

The Sierra Designs Flash 3 is new for 2013 and is constructed using a hybrid design, which has been in the works for a few years. It is very light, features great ventilation, is quick to set up, and has plenty of room inside for three people and their gear under the vestibules. As long as the campsite is big enough to accommodate the large footprint, the Flash 3 is an excellent tent for your next camping adventure.

sierra design flash 3_4

Tech Specs

Manufacturer: Sierra Designs

Date available: Currently Available

Manufacturer’s Website: www.sierradesigns.com

MSRP: $389.95

Listed Weight: Trail Weight: 4 lbs 13 oz     Packed Weight: 5 lbs 4 oz /

Actual Weight: The same, further discussed above

Materials: 20D & 40D Nylon

Warranty info: Sierra Designs guarantees that the materials and workmanship in every product we make will stand up to the use for which it was designed.

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