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Sierra Designs Flashlight 2?
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Jesse Anderson
(jeepin05) - F

Locale: Land of Enchantment
Sierra Designs Flashlight 2? on 04/05/2014 23:10:57 MDT Print View

I know that there was recently an extensive thread on this tent where we even had one of the executives at Sierra Designs chime in and give some additional insight. I'm wondering if anyone has purchased this or the UL version and can share their thoughts and experience.

This tent seems to tick pretty much all of my boxes, but it's a big change from the tents I've purchased in the past. I'm on a VERY strict budget and with the REI 20% this tent is just barely doable for me. I understand that there are lighter tents out there, but for just over $200 is there another sub 4 pound tent i should look at? Also I already have a pair of trekking poles that I use and love, so I could shave the 6oz from the vertical poles.

I'd appreciate anyone chiming in with their experience with this tent. I would certainly consider another tent that is better/lighter but please don't throw out suggestions that don't fall in line price-wise with this one. Also, neither me nor my BPing partners are ready for tarps yet, I'll definitely be sticking with something fully enclosed.

Thanks!

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Sierra Designs Flashlight 2? on 04/06/2014 06:23:59 MDT Print View

Jesse,
I have done a LOT of purchasing over the years and found it doesn't make sense to buy something for packing that weighs between 3-4 pounds. Save your money for something lighter, even if it means making do with your current tent. Even the UL version weighs in at 3#2. A typical shelter for most UL hiker pairs is about 16oz per person. I typically use an 18oz (10x12) fly over a 16oz mesh tent(32sqft) for two people. This is around 18-19oz per person figuring stakes and guy lines. You say you have the treking poles.

http://www.yamamountaingear.com/bug-shelter-2-0/ makes a good two person net tent for about a pound (~15oz.) But, this is fairly expensive at ~165. With a fair lightweight tarp, this makes a good fully enclosed two person shelter. For now, probably the rest of the summer season, you can use a largish piece of plastic to cover it. This is around $40 which sort of breaks the bank, but you can get 5 tarps out of it, likely enough for this year. http://www.pbsboatstore.com/poly-america-4-mil-clear-plastic-protective-film.htm?feed=Froogle&gclid=CIa6tcnry70CFcyhOgodeTcALw

Later on (next year?) you can add a UL fly or a better, more durable tarp.

Jesse Anderson
(jeepin05) - F

Locale: Land of Enchantment
Using what you have... on 04/06/2014 06:58:22 MDT Print View

There's the kicker, my previous tent failed catastrophically on my last outing. It was an older tent and the fabric at the stake out points gave way. Long story short between the holes in the tent floor and a very bad campsite choice made in the dark my buddy and I were floating in a swimming pool rather that protected in a nice warm tent during a torrential downpour up in the Rockies. EDIT to say that an EXPED DM UL7 makes a terrible raft when your campsite turns in to a pond.

I understand that the Flashlight and it's ilk is not the ideal tent for many around here but not too far below this thread is one discussing the merits of the new REI quarter domes. The two person version of that model weighs exactly 3 oz less than the Flashlight, though that's before I ditch the poles on the FL2

As for the suggestion of the net tent, What size tarp would you recommend to go over something like that? I've done some sewing in the past and could probably handle MYOGing a tarp. It seems as though the new Argon silnylon might work and is at a price no one can argue with.

Edited by jeepin05 on 04/06/2014 07:09:14 MDT.

J Mag
(GoProGator)
Re: Using what you have... on 04/06/2014 07:15:18 MDT Print View

While I buy everything used off of Gear Swap now ever since I found it, (both a blessing and a financial curse,) I say if you want the flashlight go for it. Their return policy is great and the piece of mind it provides is often worth the expense (as long as it isn't being abused). Plus once you replace the poles you should have a light 2 person setup from a reliable source.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Sierra Designs Flashlight 2? on 04/06/2014 08:07:03 MDT Print View

I assume you want a 2 person tent ?The Sierra Designs Flashlight 2 is $208 with discount and 60oz and Sierra Designs UL tent with discount will be $288 and 56oz the Sixmoon Designs Lunar Duo - Outfitter is 57oz and $160.
The Tarptent Squall 2 is 34oz using trekking poles and is $259 and the Tarptent Double Rainbow is 41oz and $289, the Rain Shadow 2 holds 3 people weighs 42 oz using trekking poles and is $289 . Here is an Overview of Tarptents tents,obviously you can get lighter and cheaper if a 1 person tent will due.
I agree with James on the tarp net tent combo
Bear Paw has a 8x10 tarp for $105 14oz and the 10x12 is 24oz and $129 Flat Tarps
a 2 person net tent weighs 16oz and is $100 Net Tents
He will custom make to your specifications and is very reasonably priced.

Edited by annapurna on 04/06/2014 09:29:05 MDT.

Jesse Anderson
(jeepin05) - F

Locale: Land of Enchantment
Sierra Designs Flashlight Review on 05/04/2014 09:10:19 MDT Print View

Well I bit the bullet and purchased this tent. I thought much about what was said here and I realized that I'm just not ready to commit to the idea of a mesh tent and tarp. What I found was something that is relatively light and definitely fiddle free. So here is my review, I hope that it may prove useful for anyone looking at this tent or it's even lighter sister.

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 one of the frequently available 20% off coupons from REI or Campsaver.
BTW, thanks to everyone who chimed in on the OP. you gave me a lot to think about and consider as I looked for what would best suit my needs and wants.
flashlight 1
flashlight 2
flashlight 3
flashlight 4
flashlight 5

Edited by jeepin05 on 05/04/2014 09:16:17 MDT.

Chris Chandler
(chandler325i) - MLife

Locale: lost angeles
Updates after a year? on 04/12/2015 11:21:35 MDT Print View

Hey Jesse--

Wondering if you have any additional thoughts after owning this tent for a year? I'm considering one for pretty much all the same reasons you had, and between 20% off and my dividend, the price is very reasonable. To sweeten the deal, the 2015 FL version has dropped 10 oz over the 2014 UL by using slightly lighter fabrics, bringing the minimum weight (not counting stakes, or vertical poles) to 40oz. The overall design seems to be identical. I'd love to hear how it's working out for you, especially in regards to condensation building up on that single-wall at the head

Jesse Anderson
(jeepin05) - F

Locale: Land of Enchantment
Re: Updates after a year? on 04/12/2015 11:39:57 MDT Print View

Chris, Got your messages. Was happy to answer either way.

Still loving the tent, though haven't had a chance to use it as much as planned (work stole most of my weekends for a few months.) The FL version seems much more reasonable that the old UL version. before you were paying $100 to save something like 4 ounces, pretty crazy if you ask me. Keep in mind though that you can normally find the UL on S&C for $200 right now depending on where your weight/budget is that might be good.

The only thing I'm not entirely in love with is that I find it a bit difficult to get a truly taught pitch everywhere. Partly I think this just comes from having large flat panels in the roof. but the worst offender is that little bit of fabric on the head end below the guyline. I'm very seriously considering adding a second tie-out point there. the loose fabric means that you can lose a couple of inches of headroom. right now I just toss my pack above my head and use it to push out the tent wall and as a bit of a pillow.

The size is great, a small footprint for a spacious feeling tent. not a lot of wasted space. As for condensations, I haven't had it in prolonged rain yet, not too much of that in New Mexico. It's not something I have too much trouble with in any tent around here though. Keep in mind that right next to your head is a mesh panel that leads to the "Gear closet" I think it's a great design that will greatly reduce the condensation on that roof panel, but I can't prove that with humidity that rarely spikes above 30%.

I think it's a great design and don't regret it for a moment. Could I have paid more to go lighter, yeah, but that's not always an option.

Chris Chandler
(chandler325i) - MLife

Locale: lost angeles
Went for it on 04/13/2015 11:59:36 MDT Print View

I ordered the FL (2015, replaces the UL). With the sale and dividend, it was only $240 out of pocket. Will update once it actually arrives and I can measure real weights of everything

Chris Chandler
(chandler325i) - MLife

Locale: lost angeles
getting a better pitch on 04/23/2015 01:58:51 MDT Print View

Had a chance to test pitch the tent in a park nearby. If you have a second person with trek poles, or can find a stick, try staking out that flap at the head side this way instead of staking it down to the ground. Changing the angle really improved the headroom and tightened up that whole panel. And for anyone curious, mine weighs 38.36 oz no stakes or guy lines, and 42.23 oz with all 8 included stakes and 3 guy lines with the plastic line tensioners (which I'll be getting rid of) SD Flashlight 2 FL inaugural pitchtrek pole guy out

Edited by chandler325i on 04/23/2015 02:04:57 MDT.

Jesse Anderson
(jeepin05) - F

Locale: Land of Enchantment
Re: getting a better pitch on 04/23/2015 07:13:12 MDT Print View

Chris,
Thanks for the info, that make a lot of sense. I'll try that tomorrow when I take my scouts out for an overnighter. I'd thought about adding a second tieout between the current one and the ground but your solution is much easier and less destructive.

G Sticks
(VoiceOfSticks) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: getting a better pitch on 05/15/2015 10:05:57 MDT Print View

Chris, thanks for posting some of your insights. I'm actually considering this tent too - I live close to a few REIs but it's tough to find Sierra Designs tents in the wild to see them in person.

Are you happy with it still? You can swap out the trekking poles for normal poles, correct? Any pros/cons?

Chris Chandler
(chandler325i) - MLife

Locale: lost angeles
updated thoughts on 05/17/2015 00:37:44 MDT Print View

I've only done a couple of test setups of my tent, so Jesse is a better resource for actual feedback of the tent in the field. My girlfriend and I are taking it with us on a month-long Iceland traverse in June, so after that I'm sure to have boatloads of feedback about how it performed. I'm happy to share my experience thus far:

- I saw the Tensegrity 2 set up at a camping store. With the awning, that thing is HUGE. I'm very happy with having gone with the Flashlight in order to have a smaller footprint

- Yes, you can use either trek poles or the included vertical tent poles, but I honestly wouldn't set it up with the tent poles unless car camping or something. I already hike with adjustable trek poles, so I never even really planned on using the tent poles. I have set it up with both, though.
> trek poles provide a much stronger pitch and stability. MUCH stronger
> I have BD poles with ergo grips and they work fine. My girlfriend just got some BD carbon with a straight grip, which I suspect will fit even better
> tent poles are easier in terms of just being mindless, no having to set the height
> the tent poles will actually bow quite a bit if you really cinch down the tent
> you can adjust your poles after the tent is already set up if you want to raise/lower your peak a bit. i

- if you angle the bottom tips of the poles in slightly, it will deform your almost-rectangular tent floor but it will allow you to get a stronger pitch on top. Don't think you could do this effectively with the tent poles because of their fixed length and flimsiness

- Also, I've had a very positive experience communicating with SD in preparation for Iceland. I had my doubts about the tent's ability to withstand the 30+ mph winds we expect to face in the highlands. Those aren't the conditions that I bought the tent for, and fully expected to purchase something different for this trip. SD uploaded the full unedited wind tunnel video of the Flashlight (https://vimeo.com/126206289), and told me the tent handle it so long as we 1) use trek poles, not the tent poles, and 2) angle the head into the wind

- we've also figured out ways to add guy outs to the tent to reinforce it if need be, doing so entirely with the existing 8 stakes already in the ground. You can make the thing pretty darn sturdy

- I do think it needs a groundcloth. We're going to make a tyvek one. On my very first set up, I cleared out an area in the park of everything except a nice bed of pine needles. We set the tent up and climbed inside, and a pine needle was sticking straight up through the floor. I didn't have anything to mark the spot with, so now I have to locate this pinhole size puncture again and seamgrip it before we go

- The awning/gear closet setup limits your space to cook if the weather is extremely wet and windy. We are making a clip/extra line to run from the foot end of the tent (possibly from the bottom of the foot pole, not sure) so that we can clip the gear closet in more of an "obtuse angle" setup that would come partway across the front of the door. This will give me enough room to open half of the door and reach into the gear closet to cook with my jetboil. Small, lightweight zippers on the mesh in the gear closet would have been nice so you could open those and reach through to your gear without having to do it through the door.

That's what I've got for now, plenty more to come after the trip. So far, I'm very happy with how fast it is to set up, how small the footprint is because we don't use a bunch of extra space for our gear, and I can't speak highly enough about how responsive SD has been in addressing my concerns for this trip.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: updated thoughts on 05/17/2015 03:49:29 MDT Print View

The wind tunnel tests do not show this tent (or any of their awning tents) in good light and should never have been published, imo. The design of awnings that only catch wind instead of deflect wind is flawed, imo. Good luck in Iceland. I will be there in July and am trying to figure out what to do.

Skurka liked the golite shangri la 2 okay but blowing sand was an issue. I don't have the floor to go with mine but may use an event bivy. I am also looking into other shelters.

Edited by jshann on 05/17/2015 03:50:02 MDT.

Chris Chandler
(chandler325i) - MLife

Locale: lost angeles
Wind tunnel tests on 05/17/2015 18:19:14 MDT Print View

Yeah, we're resigned to the fact that we'll be getting blown sand through the vent under the awning near the foot end the most, and we're ok with that. As far as the wind tests not showing the tents in a positive light--that's what I like. If I wanted to see them in a positive light, I would check them out set up on a showroom floor. I want to see them getting the crap kicked out of them by wind before I buy one so I can decide whether I'll accept those conditions under those circumstances. We'll see how Iceland goes, either way I'm not that worried that I'll die, and I am more than confident that the Flashlight will be great for the US 3-season conditions that I actually purchased it for.

Have fun there in July! We are very excited but a little worried about going earlier in the season

Jesse Anderson
(jeepin05) - F

Locale: Land of Enchantment
Re: Re: getting a better pitch on 05/18/2015 09:57:25 MDT Print View

I'm still loving mine. I haven't had it in any super windy conditions yet to opine on blowing sand, though honestly anything short of a 4 season tent isn't going to do much against that. But then condensation becomes a bigger issue. Nearly every 3 season tent made is only going to have 3-4 inches of bathtub floor and then no-see-um mesh above that, That stuff may stop the bugs it it doesn't do anything for sand.

You can certainly use trekking poles, one thing that's nice is that it pitches handles up, if it's wet and muddy that makes a whole lot more sense to me. The only problem you might have with the trekking pole route is that if you like to pitch your tent and then go off on day hikes, you'll have to drop your tent to take the poles. Otherwise you get to drop an easy 6 ounces.

It does take 8 stakes to pitch but the stakes on the guy lines and the head end corners don't have all that much tension on them. you could probably get away with a lighter stake on those corners if you choose (and assuming you don't have pure sand like we see here in NM) I prefer bomb-proof over a couple of ounces and just use a set of old groundhogs, never had a stake pull out yet.