Sierra Designs Hyperlight Tent REVIEW

Spacious, durable, wind-stable 4.5 lb tent - while very light for its size, it still can't match the area to weight ratio of our highest rated double wall tent.

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by Alan Dixon and Alison Simon | 2006-04-11 03:00:00-06

Overview

Sierra Designs Hyperlight Tent REVIEW - 3

The Sierra Designs Hyperlight is the roomiest two-person lightweight tent we reviewed. It has more usable area than other tents considered to be spacious, like the MSR Hubba Hubba. The Hyperlight’s large asymmetrical floor plan, optic white tent walls, and mosquito netting create a huge, bright and pleasant living area - an antidote to tent-bound claustrophobia from long periods of rain or heavy bug pressure. (Tent pictured at right is under siege from formidable Maine mosquitoes in high summer.)

What's Good

  • Roomy - largest floor area of lightweight two-person tents reviewed
  • Our highest rated large durable tent - reflects an excellent balance between weight, durability, weather performance and usable space
  • High area to weight ratio for a tent with durable fabrics and materials
  • Asymmetrical floor plan increases usable space over traditional rectangular tents
  • “Jake’s corner,” a short third tent pole, is one of a number of low weight features to increase wind stability
  • Durable floor hold ups well to field abuse

What's Not So Good

  • Lower area to weight ratio compared to the very lightest (but less durable) double wall tents
  • Single door
  • Long side of tent (body and rainfly) could use an extra tie out or two in high winds to reduce sidewall deflection
  • Asymmetrical floor plan may not suit all tastes
  • Included tent stakes are heavy

Specifications

  Year/Model

2005 Sierra Designs Hyperlight

  Style

Freestanding double wall tent

  Fabrics

Floor: 70d taffeta nylon, 1800 mm PU (polyurethane) coating; Body: 40d nylon ripstop; Fly: 40d 1.94 oz/yd2 (66 g/m2), 246 thread, high tenacity nylon

  Pole Material

Aluminum - DAC Featherlite sectional poles of 7001 aluminum. Two main crossing poles and a shorter “Jake’s corner” pole.

  Weight Full Package
As supplied by manufacturer with all included items

4 lb 12.9 oz (2.24 kg) measured weight; manufacturer's specification 5 lb 1 oz (2.30 kg)

  Weight Manufacturer Minimum
Includes minimum number of items needed to erect tent

4 lb 12.1 oz (2.16 kg) measured weight

  Weight Backpacking Light Minimum
Same as Manufacturer Minimum but with 0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes and 0.004 oz/ft (0.37 g/m) Spectra guylines

4 lb 8 oz (2.04 kg) measured weight

  Area

Floor area: 37 ft2 (3.4 m2)
Vestibule area: 8.4 ft2 (0.8 m2)

  Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

0.51 ft2/oz

  Dimensions

Length: 115.5 in (293 cm)
Width: 87.5 in (222 cm)
Height: 40 in (102 cm)

  MSRP

$269.99

Performance

The outstanding feature of the Sierra Designs Hyperlight tent is its large floor area. We found the asymmetrical floor plan to provide plenty of room for two sleepers while leaving enough extra room to store all our gear. The yellow fly and white optic tent canopy let lots of pleasant light in. The tent has a single oversized door and vestibule. There are numerous pockets to hold hard-to-keep-track-of items. Although there is no attic for the tent, we found hanging a line from the loops in the tent ceiling sufficient for our needs.

 Sierra Designs Hyperlight Tent REVIEW - 5
The spacious asymmetric floor plan of the Hyperlight.

The Hyperlight has an exceptional area to weight ratio for a full-featured tent with a durable 70-denier floor and a strong 40-denier fly and body. Its area to weight ratio is comparable to some very light tents using silnylon floors, mesh tent bodies, and silnylon flies, like the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2.

For a large and relatively light tent, the Hyperlight is strong enough to withstand substantial wind. When kayaking along Florida’s Gulf Coast we were surprised by a sudden overnight cold font. The winds shifted to blow straight off the gulf onto our exposed beach campsite, hitting the tent broadside. By the time we realized it, the winds were too high to allow re-pitching of the tent with the foot into the wind or to find a more sheltered spot. All we could do was guy the tent out as best we could and wait. The strong winds persisted and we were forced to wait for a day, as we couldn’t launch off the beach in the high surf. The Hyperlight survived 30 hours of constant 45 mph broadside winds with some higher gusts. Many lesser, non-mountaineering tents would have flattened. Our only gripe with the Hyperlight was that the windward sidewalls deflected in particularly strong side gusts.

 

The Hyperlight uses a number of innovative features to stabilize and strengthen the large tent without adding too much weight. These include a short third pole called “Jake's corner” and a “Clip Loc” at the intersection of the two crossing poles. The Clip Loc creates a rigid non-slipping joint where the two main poles cross.

 

 Sierra Designs Hyperlight Tent REVIEW - 2
The yellow arrows point to the “Jake’s corner,” a short, third “V” shaped pole that stabilizes the end of the tent and reduces pole rotation that can lead to tent collapse. The Jake’s corner weighs less than a full sized pole and has the added benefit of spreading out the end of tent for more foot room.

 Sierra Designs Hyperlight Tent REVIEW - 6
The Clip Loc is a simple idea. It uses tightly wrapped shock cord to create a rigid non-slipping joint where the two main poles cross, significantly adding to the structural rigidity of the tent in strong winds.

Pitching ease on the Hyperlight is about average. There are faster and more innovative pitching systems out there. In defense of the Hyperlight, its focus is on tent strength, where it has an advantage over many tents in its class. With its strength, high fabric walls and a minimum of mosquito netting, the Hyperlight could be pushed to a 3+ season tent.

The two main poles are in a standard crossing X pattern with clips attaching the tent body. The Hyperlight has a few more pitching tasks than a traditional two pole, rectangular X tent. There is wrapping the Clip Loc at the pole intersection, attaching the Jake’s corner, and the asymmetrical floor requires six stakes instead of the normal four for a rectangular tent. The tent comes with eight 6-millimeter diameter aluminum shepherd’s crook stakes. While the stakes work reasonably well, the aluminum can bend and they are heavy at 0.55 ounce each. The shepherd’s crook stakes are much easier to palm into the ground than the sharp-ended stakes provided by many tent manufacturers.

Attaching the fly is easy with snap buckles and color-coded webbing. The webbing is substantial with excellent tension adjusting buckles. There are two pole grommets on each body stakeout webbing to allow for stretch when the tent is wet.

The Hyperlight provides good rain protection with its high catenary cut, and well-tensioned bathtub floor. The high sidewall fabric provides good protection from rain blowing in under the fly. We had no problems staying dry in the tent. There are no vents on the tent fly, and limited amounts of mesh in the tent body. The Hyperlight depends on wind under the gap between fly and ground to ventilate the tent and reduce condensation. In use, we did get condensation on the inside of the fly on cool, humid and windless nights. Little if any of this condensation found its way into the tent proper. A peak vent in the fly would lessen condensation.

 Sierra Designs Hyperlight Tent REVIEW - 7
High fabric sidewalls (white fabric under yellow lines) on the Hyperlight provide warmth and wind protection giving a potential for 3+ season camping. Most tents now use considerably more mesh in the tent body. The high fabric walls limit views and ventilation compared to tents with mostly mesh bodies.

 Sierra Designs Hyperlight Tent REVIEW - 4
The high catenary cut bathtub floor and high sidewall fabric provide good protection from wind and rain blowing in under the fly. Well guyed out, the tent weathered 30 hours of constant 45 mph winds hitting it broadside.

Even so, an extra stakeout loop for the tent floor/body (arrow A), and two guyline attachments at the lower edge of the fly (yellow arrows B and C), instead of the current single guyline attachment (seen in the middle between B and C), would reduce deflection of the tent body and fly in high winds. Linking the tent body to the fly at guyline attachment indicated by arrow D would also help with tent body deflections.

After extensive field testing in a variety of environments, the Hyperlight has shown no durability issues. We’ve used it on rough mountain ground with too many rocks and sharp sticks to clear, and in unforgiving rocky beaches with sharp shell fragments, coral pieces, and other floor damaging detritus. The floor is still intact. The tent also survived substantial wind and rain with aplomb.

At $269.95 the Hyperlight is very price competitive with the MSR Hubba Hubba ($299.95), the Sierra Designs Lightning ($249), the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 ($299) and other tents in its class. The Hyperlight’s advantage over many of these tents is substantially more room, an excellent area to weight ratio, and more durability compared to silnylon based tents like the Big Agnes Seedhouse. The Hyperlight provides good wind stability and storm protection. If you want a large tent and don’t mind it being a bit heavier than the smaller tents then it is a good value.

What's Unique

My wife and I like the asymmetrical floor plan of the Sierra Designs Hyperlight tent. There is plenty of room for the two of us in the middle. The storage area remaining in the corner area of the tent is huge. In mosquito infested campsites we could bring all our gear into the tent and even spread out a bit without feeling cramped.

The Hyperlight has good wind stability without adding too much weight: the “Jake’s corner” does a good job of stiffening-up the 9.5 foot long side of the tent without the weight of a full sized pole. It also spreads out the terminal corner for more space. A “Clip Loc” (a fancy term for a multiple wrap of shock cord) binds the intersection of the main poles into a rigid non-slipping structure to improve the tent's stability with minimal increase in weight.

The Hyperlight has a very high area to weight ratio for a durable double walled tent. It uses 70-denier fabric in the floor where it is most needed, combined with lighter 40-denier tent body and fly fabrics, an asymmetrical floor plan, and a number of lightweight solutions to increase tent stability and strength.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Two doors is fast becoming an industry standard for two-person tents. Fortunately, the Hyperlight’s single door is large and at the head of the tent so you don’t have to crawl over your tent partner to get out. But with a second door you’ll always have a lee exit even if the wind changes, or for campsites with access to only on side of the tent (assuming you want to keep the rear of tent pointing into the wind).
  • The single vestibule may be small for two people. This applies only for storing wet and muddy gear. There is plenty of room in the tent for dry gear.
  • High fabric walls (non-mesh) on tent body reduce ventilation and limit views when the rainfly is off. (It does however, provide warmth and additional splash and wind resistance for the lower edge of the rainfly.) A peak vent in the fly would vent moisture via convection and reduce condensation.
  • A few extra guyline attachment points on the tent body and fly would help reduce wind deflection along the tent’s 9.5 foot sides (this is especially true if the wind shifts to hit the tent broadside). Attaching the tent body to the center of the fly on the longer sides would help with sidewall deflection as well.
  • Window(s) or some other option to see out of the fly would be nice.
  • Include lighter stakes with the tent

Citation

"Sierra Designs Hyperlight Tent REVIEW," by Alan Dixon and Alison Simon. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/sierra_designs_hyperlight_tent_review.html, 2006-04-11 03:00:00-06.

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