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Shelters The Shelters forum is for the discussion of backpacking shelters (tents, tarps, poncho-tarps, bivy sacks,...).


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  #1  
Old 05-04-2014, 06:27 PM
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Jeepin Jeepin is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 5
Sierra Designs Flashlight 2

Greetings. This is my first post here, sorry it's a long one. I had been looking at this tent since before it was officially released and finally decided to bite the bullet and buy it. So here is my review. I hope that someone can find it useful.

Size: Just right unless you are over 6'
When I first pitched the tent I was worried, the length appears quite small from the outside. The footprint of the tent in general isn't very large. Inside was a different story. Length is perfect for me. With the end of my sleeping bag near or just barely touching the foot end of the tent I have just enough room to store my backpack wedged between the tent wall and my air mattress. I'm 5'11" using 2.5" air mattress for reference. I have no real worries of touching the tent wall at the feet because it is double walled there, with a sizeable vent right above your feet. The head end is where you'd want to be careful especially when humidity is high, that part is single wall construction.
Width is just fine for 2 standard 20" pads with a few inches to spare on either side. Though, I don't think the foot end is wide enough to accommodate two sleepers on wide mattresses.
In height, you have all you need and more The vertical poles are 46" and you only lose a couple of inches in that from the catenary cut of the fabric at the peak. The foot pole also helps give you plenty of usable space in the foot area. I use a Exped Downmat and had no worries about contacting my bag with the ceiling in that part of the tent.

Vestibules: A bit different but work great
Space is not enormous but is enough to stand a pack up in and keep it completely out of the elements in its standard configuration. The gear closet (that's what SD calls it) can be used in three configurations. The "door" can be clipped back against the fly to provide easier access and more ventilation in calm weather. It can be clopped just to the side of the door to form a sort of right triangle. This is how it will probably be used most. There is also an option to clip the door section in so that it increases the space by blocking about a third of the door. The doors here are quite large so while not ideal, it isn't a huge hindrance for entry and exit.
Coming from a clip-flashlight style tent I can say that these vestibules are a vast improvement. I'll never miss trying to writhe my way across packs while avoiding a wet and dripping rain fly in a pitch black potty run.

Pitch: Quick and easy without any fiddling about.
Tent goes up quick and dry. Process is as follows: Spread tent out> Stake four corners> Install foot pole> Install one side vertical pole> Stake out vestibule> repeat on other side> stake out foot vent guy line> stake out head end guy line> adjust tension on stakeout points and guy lines
All stake out points use line locks and a very small diameter cordage making it easy to pitch in rocky soil where you might not be able to drive your stake in the exact right place. Included guy out lines also utilize the same cordage and the triangular micro tensioners. According to the instructions the guy-out at the head end is optional unless in strong winds. I plan to use it all of the time. The extra tensioning on that fabric panel and the extra headroom far outweigh the few grams I would save by leaving it at home.
I haven't had a chance yet to try pitching with my trekking poles yet, but I don't foresee any problems there. I do like that when using trekking poles the handles are up instead of in the dirt as with some other tents I've seen.
The only issue I could find was that there was some floppiness in the roof and in the overhangs on the door. All lines were tight and the ridges were tensioned, but I think with the amount of unsupported fabric on the roof, there’s just no way to keep it flap free. I don’t see it as a problem, but it is noteworthy.

Ventilation: Great though not yet thoroughly tested
My first and only test so far wasn’t exactly a difficult test of condensation resistance. New Mexico dry air with a slight breeze, though I was only about 15 feet from a small river. No signs of condensation anywhere. As mentioned previously, there’s a decently sized mesh panel right above your feet. Mesh continues along the upper portion of the side walls until you get to the door. The solid inner window leaves about a triangle of mesh about 4 inches in height exposed even when fully zipped up. The wall between the tent and the gear closets is just a big mesh panel. The windows can be zipped up for privacy or weather protection or down for maximum ventilation. Even with the single wall construction of the roof I don’t see condensation being a big problem here, there’s just too many places for humid air to escape.

Construction: Outstanding, especially for the price
Let get this out of the way first; this tent is not cuben and it’s not silnylon either. That pretty much removes it from the radar for a great number of people here. It weighs in a bit shy of 4 pounds. Not UL but not something I would call heavy either.
OK, now that that’s out of the way… There are a number of weight-saving, smart ideas in this tent. Small diameter cordage, line locs, and micro tensioners are used instead of fixed solid webbing. The gear closet clips with a very lightweight center release buckle. None of these things are generally found in a tent at this price range. I also like the small hang loop above the door at the peak on each side. This means you can hang a flashlight/lantern easily or even string up a clothes line.
The only place it feels like they skimped to save a few dollars in in the stakes. It’s listed to include their hex pegs but mine just came with standard thick aluminum shepherd hooks (think Kelty Nobendium). Needless to say they went into storage with the car camping stuff and were replaced with some old Moss branded Groundhog stakes. (You just can’t kill those things!)

Conclusion: A great lightweight tent at a great price
While I’ve only spent a night in it so far, I’m pretty pleased with my purchase. It fits my needs and my budget. I would certainly give it my recommendation to anyone who might be considering it, especially with the 20% off coupons available frequently through a couple of different retailers.
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  #2  
Old 05-08-2014, 08:20 AM
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Jeepin Jeepin is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 5
Pictures

I realized that in my review I wrote too much without posting any pics. So here are some pics to illustrate a few things I wrote about in my review:

20140503_063700.jpg
Here is the Gear Closet clipped open for full ventilation and easy access to gear.

20140503_063729.jpg
This is the guy-out point on the head end that puts tension on that panel and increases headroom.

20140503_063802.jpg
This is the gear closet clipped closed in the largest configuration, you can see how it covers part of the doorway here.


20140503_064148.jpg
This shows The foot end including all of the mesh venting around the sides and the fly guy-out to open up the vent better.


20140503_064158.jpg
This shows the head end, I wish I had brought a second second mattress to better illustrate the width you have here.
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  #3  
Old 05-08-2014, 01:21 PM
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Wildfield Wildfield is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 129
Good job on the review! Thank you for taking the time and for also posting photographs...that's awesome.

What is the weight of the tent?

Thanks again for posting your review and photos of this tent. I'm sure many will find this very helpful.
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  #4  
Old 05-08-2014, 04:44 PM
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Jeepin Jeepin is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 5
The only scale I have access to isn't exactly a model of accuracy but here is what it said:
Tent Body (including the 3 guys lines it came with and the stuff sack) 3lb 3oz
Poles (including stuff sack) 12 oz
Stakes not sure, like i said they got pitched almost as soon as I opened the tent. Just know you'll need 6 stakes for a basic pitch and 8 for a full pitch.

If you choose not to use the included vertical poles you shave off about 6.5oz.
While a touch heavier, this is all pretty well in line with the listing on SD's website:
"Packaged Weight:3 lbs 12 oz. / 1.70 kg (without 6 oz. vertical poles)"

Glad you enjoyed the review. As I said, I realize that this isn't going to be on a lot of peoples radar due to it's weight. But when you can find it for just over $200, it certainly makes that higher weight a little more bearable.
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  #5  
Old 05-08-2014, 09:25 PM
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GGervin GGervin is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Forums Moderator
Backpack: Gregory Shasta, Deuter ACT Lite 65+10
Sleeping Gear: REI ThermoPod +0 mummy, MH 3D +40 mummy
Shelter: SD Superflash, GoLite Hut 1
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: California
Posts: 436
I agree with Wildfield, that's a great review, and the click-able thumbnail photos make it even better. For something like this, your post is definitely worth the reading time. Thanks for the effort.

Nice to see the SD Flashlight series is still solid. My favorite tent of all time is my SD Superflash (a long discontinued 4 season clip flashlight).
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  #6  
Old 05-09-2014, 01:58 PM
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Jeepin Jeepin is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 5
Packed size

In an effort to provide all of the information that someone might want to know when determining if a product is right for them, I realized that how small something packs would be good to know. So here are a couple of pics to illustrate:

Packed Tent.jpg
Here's is the tent and poles all packed up and ready. The size of the stuff sack leaves a fair bit of room for the tent to expand again once it's packed. you could probably compress it down another couple inches. In fact I'll probably sew up a side-loading bag for it with some kind of compression system so it doesn't take up so much space. Crude measurements 16x6.5"

Poles and Stakes.jpg
Here you see the pole and stake bag. The openings for each are at the same place where the bag folds in on itself. It then clips together. This works great for me as I slip the poles through the side compression straps on my backpack. By clipping the folded over portion around the top strap it prevents the poles from slipping through and falling to the ground. My old school groundhog stakes fit perfectly in the stake portion (it has a velcro closure while the pole portion is simply open ended). If you have a stake longer that the groundhogs they probably wont fit. Length of this portion is about 17"

Glad you've enjoyed my review. I hope to do more soon on other gear.
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