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Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review

The Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 uses a radical pole design to make a roomy two-person tent, but does condensation leave us all wet?

Overall Rating: Average

I really wanted to give the Strike an above average rating for the room and space provided by its interesting pole design and the relatively low weight for the space provided, but condensation issues hurt it. The inclusion of a high vent or two would enhance the value of this nice tent even more.

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by Ray Estrella |

Introduction

Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review - 1

The Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 uses a radical pole design to make a roomy two-person tent. The Strike is listed as the company’s lightest two-person tent and has the space to actually be usable for two to hang out in. I used it as a solo tent as well as with another sleeper in both three- and four-season conditions.

Design and Features

The Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 is a non-freestanding tent that is the newest addition to the company’s Ultralight Series of backpacking shelters. While they list it as being their lightest two-person tent, I found the actual weight to take it over their Vapor Light 2. As far as I can tell, my version is a retail unit, not a prototype, so maybe they just haven't updated the website.

The most distinctive aspect of the Strike is the new Eye Pole design employed. It drew comments every time I set it up. When the two poles are connected by way of hubs, they make an ellipse with two legs. Those legs go into Jake’s Feet attachment points in two corners, leaving the ellipse above the tent. The opposite corners of the tent must be staked, and the 22.5-ounce (638-g) inner tent clips to the poles by means of eight Ultralight Clips. The result is a very spacious interior.

As may be seen in the pictures, the space is asymmetrical with high ends at opposite corners. This lets two people share the same head room without being forced to sit cheek-by-jowl. The fact that the two mesh gear storage pockets are also at opposite corners makes it obvious that SD expects the tent to be used to sleep two foot-to-head.

Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review - 2
Top: The 3.51-pound (1.59-kg) trail weight Strike 2 uses an Eye Pole design to pull the side walls to nearly vertical in areas, making for a very nice two-person abode. The stated 50-inch (127-cm) width is accurate. Bottom: The rain fly fully encloses the tent and has two vestibules to provide plenty of covered storage.

Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review - 3
Top: The rain fly has two very spacious vestibules that allow plenty of storage while still allowing easy access to the tent. Bottom left: The poles go into Jake’s Feet anchoring systems, which also hold the fly. The fly tensions with a strap. Bottom right: On the non-pole corners, a stake pulls the tent out and anchors it. Fastex clips hold the fly to the corners and tension with nylon cord.

The 19.9-ounce (5640g) rain fly goes over the poles and attaches at the Jake’s Feet with a clipping hook. The other corners use good old Fastex clips. The two spacious vestibules are formed by pulling the fly away from the dual doors. Waterproof zippers sit in “parking garages” when zipped to the top to keep drips out. This is needed, as the top of the vestibule openings meet right at the top of the inner tent. The only way to get high/low air movement is by opening the top of the vestibule doors since there are no high vents in the fly.

Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review - 4
Sierra Designs send just enough DAC J stakes to peg down the corners and pull out the vestibules. To further guy out the tent, more stakes need to be buyer-supplied. They do send plenty of storage sacks. We get a large stuff sack that weighs 1.8 ounces (51 g), a 0.3-ounce (9-g) stake sack and an over-kill 0.7-ounce (20-g), 31-inch (79-cm) long sack to hold the 14-inch (36-cm) long poles. I never used this sack.

Performance

I was able to use the LT Strike 2 in California in great three-season conditions as well as at the end of winter in Minnesota. My son (who lives in Minnesota and spends a week with me each month) wanted to try spending a night in a tent in the snow. His twin sister had no such desire (must have got mom’s smarts...), so I set up the Strike right outside the living room window where Emma could see us. I set up on top of about eight inches (20 cm) of melting snow pack. Soon after we turned in that night, it started hailing, later turning to rain, forcing me to button up the vestibule I had left open to see the window. There was a pretty good wind blowing, but once I shut the doors there was nothing much making it inside. We experienced some severe condensation.

In California the rains were finally over, and I was able to use the Strike in my favorite manner: that of inner mesh tent alone. I spent a night solo at Fisherman’s Camp in the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness.

I was able to use it with another BackpackingLight member in the Sespe Wilderness. We stayed at Willet Camp at 2,600 feet (792 m) elevation where it got down to just above freezing. There was no wind on the night above the banks of Sespe Creek. I lost my camera (most likely during one of the twenty stream crossings we had), so have no pictures from this trip.

Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review - 5
Top: The Strike set up on rapidly melting snow at the end of winter. Bottom: Even with warm, puffy down bags, Raymond and I had plenty of room in the tent. Heavy rain with moderate wind never broached the Strike’s defenses, but the condensation did get quite heavy.

Assessment

I found the LT Strike 2 to be a pretty nice tent for two people. The pole design really works well to give a lot of interior room. In the Sespe Wilderness one of our group retired early, leaving the other two of us to sit up talking. The mosquitoes got pretty bad, so we decided to move the discussion inside the Strike. It had plenty of room for us both to sit up without crowding the other, and we were able to laugh at the frustrated whining horde on the other side of the mesh.

The actual 50-inch (127-cm) width of it let us sleep later without encroaching on the other’s space. In fact the Strike has room to use two large pads, should you need it. I would like to see Sierra Designs put a high vent or two on the fly. This would help a lot to move moisture out of the tent when the weather forces the vestibule doors to remain closed.

As a solo tent, this was a palace. With my little quilt inside, the Strike still looked empty. At Fisherman’s Creek I brought a book and some Scotch and read inside away from the numerous bugs, enjoying the afternoon in my spacious tent.

One thing that needs to be remembered is that this tent needs to be staked well. I have used rocks to hold stake points when above tree-line in the rocky Sierra Nevada, but the Strike’s design makes it hard to get the kind of support it needs in this fashion. Without the two pole-less corners secured well, any wind will cause the Eye Pole (and attached tent) to flip on its side.

While I used the Strike on snow, I would be hesitant to use it any time I expected snow to fall. The large flat area of the fly created by the Eye just begs to be overloaded by collecting snow, possibly leading to collapse. Heavy rain was not a problem at all though.

Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review - 6
The LT Strike 2 as a solo palace on a beautiful spring day in Cleveland National Forest. It just doesn’t get any better than this (and then the Swedish Bikini Team dropped in...).

Dare to Compare

Trying to compare tents with like attributes, I would say that the Strike stacks up to the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 and the Big Sky International Evolution 2. The Strike has more livable space than either with its steep sides, but it weighs more too. Both other tents use high vents to help control condensation, and I know from personal experience that the Copper Spur will handle all but the worst snow storms. With it carbon fiber pole option, the Evolution wins in the weight category, although that comes with added expense.

What's Good

  • Light weight.
  • Good floor space.
  • Great interior volume.
  • Large vestibules.

What's Not So Good

  • Vestibule doors don’t protect the inner if open at the top during inclement weather.
  • Because of same, condensation is more of a problem than it could be.
  • Flat area above Eye Pole will collect snow if surprised by a snow storm.

Specifications

Year/Manufacturer/Model 2010 Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Two Person Tent
Style Three-season, two-person, double-wall tent.
Fabrics Body: 20D nylon mesh
Floor
: 3000mm 70D nylon polyurethane coated
Fly: 1500mm 40D HT nylon
Poles and Stakes Poles: 8.5 mm DAC Featherlite NSL poles, total weight 13 oz (369 g)
Stakes
: 6 ea 6.25 in (15.9 cm) DAC aluminum J stakes, total weight 2.4 oz (68 g)
Dimensions Length Listed: 83 in (211 cm)
Width Listed: 50 In (127 cm)
Inside Height Listed: 37 in (94 cm)
BPL Verified Accurate
Packed Size 6 x 18 in (15 x 46 cm)
Total Weight Listed Weight: 3.69 lb (1.67 kg)
BPL Measured Weight
: 3.85 lb (1.75 kg)
BPL Trail Weight 3.51 lb (1.59 kg)
Protected Area Floor Area: 29 ft2 (2.7 m2)
Vestibule Area
: 18 ft2 (1.67 m2)
Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio 13.39 ft2/lb (2.79 m2/kg)
MSRP US $379.95
Options Footprint
Website www.sierradesigns.com
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.

Citation

"Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review," by Ray Estrella. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/sierra_designs_lt_strike_2_tent_review.html, 2010-09-14 00:00:00-06.

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Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review on 09/14/2010 14:26:51 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review on 09/14/2010 15:35:13 MDT Print View

Ray,
Any observations why this tent would have condensation issues while the Hubba Hubba did not?

Both button up pretty tight. It seems like they would perform similarly in similar conditions....

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review on 09/14/2010 15:53:35 MDT Print View

You mean the HP? It has vents in the fly I believe.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review on 09/14/2010 19:06:53 MDT Print View

Ah, yes. I see the HP Does have vents.

The old style Hubba Hubba does not.

I ask because on a recent trip with two Hubba Hubba tents, pitched within 50' of each other, one had serious condensation on night one and None on night two. The other Hubba Hubba had no condensation on either night.

So there must be weird variables that affect things.

I think a few more samples would be in order before rating this, or any, tent.

John Murtiashaw
(murda) - F

Locale: Ashvegas and beyond
dis tent on 09/14/2010 19:19:46 MDT Print View

I like the pole design. This has been my experience with SD gear as well; a good value but either clunky or with some notable issue.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: dis tent on 09/14/2010 22:31:11 MDT Print View

"This has been my experience with SD gear as well; a good value but either clunky or with some notable issue."

My experience as well! No quality issues, but:

1. consistently "optimistic" weight specs
2. heavy (clunky)
3. design issues

Two examples come to mind with SD tents:

1. SD Baku - Hybrid design that delivered the worst condensation performance of any tent that I've ever used -- even when tested in relatively dry southern Cal. Heavy too -- almost 2 whole lbs. heavier than the similarly configured Big Sky Mirage 2P!!

2. SD Solomente - Single wall 'breathable' tent. Simple and easy solo design -- but designed so short that one end or the other of my regular-size sleeping bag would touch the wall. A single wall tent should ALWAYS allow for space all around so bag won't come into contact with the wall(s) and get soaked!

But back to the SD Strike. The Strike strikes me as a tent for casual hikers who crave space (esp. headroom) -- and don't mind carrying a bit extra weight. Interesting design though.

Edited by ben2world on 09/15/2010 08:20:57 MDT.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 Tent Review on 09/15/2010 00:39:19 MDT Print View

I'd love to see SD redo this tent in 1.1 silnylon and nanoseeum.

Matt DeWitt
(tritan) - F

Locale: Midwest
Tent review on 09/15/2010 10:37:13 MDT Print View

Another great review ray.still waiting for that copper spur tho.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: dis tent on 09/20/2010 18:00:09 MDT Print View

Yeah, I agree that SD makes some good stuff, but they just haven't hit the sweet spot with their lightweight gear yet.

>So there must be weird variables that affect things.

Greg, I believe there are things you can do to minimize condensation, but there can be times where two identical tents pitched right next to each other can have completely different condensation issues. SO many factors!