Sierra Designs Lightning


Page Type Gear Review
Object Title Sierra Designs Lightning
Manufacturer Sierra Designs
Page By Aviprk
Page Type Aug 8, 2005 / Aug 8, 2005
Object ID 1387
Hits 4214
Backpacker Magazine Editors' Choice 2004 Award winner. Easton FX Carbon poles and a silicone-coated rain fly help to make this our lightest freestanding shelter for two.



Viewing: 1-6 of 6

Bignick - Aug 24, 2005 2:34 am - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
I recently purchased this tent for four day backpacking trip where I would be sharing it with my son. My son at 6'3" found the tent to be workable but when stretched out a little too snug with either head or feet getting wet from condensation. For me at 6' it was better but still tight. I am not complaining as it is a trade off for light weight. For some reason all the gear I buy weighs more than what the manufacturer claims. This is a light tent but heavier than advertised. I have a certified NCR digital scale and weigh all my gear. This tent weighs 1.86 lbs., fly 1.49, poles .82, pegs, pole and peg sack .034, for a total as packed without the tent carry bag 4.51 lbs.

This is about a half pound heavier than I expected, but all my gear is heavier than anyone selling it claims. The tent weight splits up nicely between two people for packing and sets up very fast in a couple of minutes, We found the small vestible to be useless for our medium sized back packs and left them out covered with gargage bags. We did put our boots outside under cover as there was virtually no room inside without cramping us more. The ventilation is good as is the tub floor. Overall this tent is very well thought and is very good quality. There are some things I would like to add but come at the expense of added weight so I would not change anything. I would buy it again.

mtndonkey - Jul 20, 2007 2:25 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Message
I have used this tent for 3 years now and it is a perfect 3 season tent. It is extremely lightweight and comfortable for two "average sized" people. I can see if you had 2 people over 6 feet it could be tight, but fortunately I am not.

I've used the tent in the rain and snow and found it to work very well and has very good ventilation. In the summer I typically just bring the fly and footprint for a very light option. The vestibule is on the smaller side but you can fit your trail shoes and cook in there as well. As mentioned above, it has all the features I expect to be able to have such a light tent.

delmarco - Mar 8, 2008 1:06 pm - Voted 5/5

Sweet Tent!
Great tent. I bought mine in '04 and been happy with it ever since.

PROS: Easy set up, light and durable.

CONS: One door (two would have been so much better), awkward and wide vestibule area leave alot exposed.

Product Features
Material: [Floor] 70D taffeta nylon; [Body] 40D nylon ripstop [Fly] 40D HT nylon ripstop, PU / Silicon
Freestanding: Yes
Poles: 2
Pole Material: DAC Featherlite NSL
Doors: 1 Stash Door
Clip/ Sleeve: Clip
Floor Space: 31sq ft (2.8sq m)
Interior Height: 3ft 4in (102cm)
Vestibule Space: 9sq ft (8361sq cm)
Packed Size: 25 x 7in (63 x 18cm)
Seam Sealed: Yes
Ventilation: 20D No-See-Um mesh
Weight: 3lbs 15oz (1786g)
Recommended Use: Backpacking
Manufacturer Warranty: Lifetime
Country of Origin: Angola

ShinLV - Feb 8, 2011 1:28 pm - Hasn't voted

Light weight 3 season tent
I have used this tent for couple of years. Its weight only 4.5 lbs and great for any backpacking trip for Summer season.
I used it at Buckskin Gulch, Grand Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, Death Valley and more...

It is very simple 2 pole tent that makes easy to set up and clean up. I can set up and clean up in 5 minutes even in the dark.

I have never get any trouble with using this tent. Only the minor problem (?) is opening/closing zipper. Because of the tent shape, sometimes its not easy to open/close the zipper. But its not a big deal.

delmarco - May 21, 2011 7:46 pm - Voted 5/5

This tent is so good 8 full years went by before I realized...
...that I have been using the same tent since 2004 and I have had no issues with it. Plus it still looks brand new. My Lightining has held up in all types of weather in the USA, NE region to as late as December and as early as March.

The reason I bought this tent over others at the time was because the floor is a light brown color which makes it easy for managing, packing away, cleaning and locating any potential mold early on.

It has been 8 full years and I'm only now getting an itch to start look for a new tent simply because I now desire a double door and a little more room for a third passenger in a baby seat (wink) in the future. I guess I will be looking at the 3 person 2011 version of the Lightining since the design is pretty much unchanged, for a good reason, over the years.

I may sell mine on eBay since the thing is well used but looks damn near new.

PROS: After 8 years what can I say. This tent will outlast most of your other gear and even hiking partners and even possibly a few marriages before you realise you want a new tent. I say "want" because the Lighting leaves you needing nothing.
Jokes aside, this tent is very easy to set up, break down, pack and carry. The design holds up well in all sorts of bad weather and the color is easy to manage. Very roomy for a two person tent and it is a very light tent. I grew up using various Eureka and North Face tents as well as Outward Bound Tarps, even a Dana Design pyramid tent and this was by far the best tent I'd ever owned in terms of carry wieght-to-function, packabilty, managability and interior space.

CONS: Even though it is a roomy tent with a huge single door I wish this tent had two doors. The accessories were expensive at the time.


Capacity: 2 person

Usage: 3 Season

Floor area: 30 sq ft
Vestibule area: 10 sq ft
Peak height: 40" (102 cm)
Packed size: 6" x 24" (15 cm x 61 cm)
Fly, poles, footprint: 2.4 lbs
Tent, fly, poles: 3.9 lbs
Tent, poles, fly, stakes, stuff sack, guy line: 4.1 lbs
Number: 2
Pole diameter: .355 inches- Outer Diameter
Pole material: DAC Featherlite NSL Poles
Stakes needed for set up: 4
Number of doors: 1
Number of Clip-Locs: 1
Suggested number of Inter-Locs: 0

xpda - Aug 14, 2011 5:32 pm - Voted 5/5

Excellent Tent
It's very sturdy, lightweight, and quick to set up. Like most 2-person tents, it's a bit tight for two people. The big door is nice. I prefer that over two doors, especially since it's lighter that way.

I've use it about three years without a ground footprint and the bottom is in good shape, and waterproof. The rain fly could use a bit of seam sealer, as it has a slow drip in heavy rain, but that's expected since I haven't sealed it since it was new.

I have used it in the snow with no problems, but a 4-season tent with closable vents is a bit warmer.

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