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Cuddle your wet gear? Never again.
As thunder rolls in the distance, it's reassuring to know you have a safe backcountry home like the Sierra Designs Lightning 2 FL 2-Person 3-Season Tent ready to go. If the storm's catching up to you quickly, the Lightning's freestanding, double-hub pole design lets you set it up anywhere in minutes, and the hybrid single/double-wall design reduces weight, making it easy to scamper off the ridge and find some cover. When the rain starts to fall, the treated nylon floor and and silicone-treated polyester fly will keep you bone-dry, while the mesh walls and covered foot vent will keep air moving so you don't have to sit in a stagnant pool of boot-stink and sticky air.
Along with its superlight hybrid wall design, the Lightning's defining features are the dual gear closets, which zip open and separate boots, packs, and smelly gear from the sleeping area, so you can spread out while keeping your gear close at hand. Since this eliminates the need for a vestibule, the door is extra-wide, with enough room to accommodate two people sitting side-by-side, and it saves weight compared to a standard two-door design, so the Lightning weighs in at under four pounds, fully packed.
- Nylon no-see-um ultralight mesh walls
- Nylon ripstop floor with DWR treatment
- Polyester ripstop with silicone treatment
- 3 DAC NFL poles with 2 swivel hubs
- 1 door
- Sleeps 2
- 3lbs 4oz trail weight
- Foot venting tunnel
- Freestanding setup
- Footprint sold separately
- 4 guylines
- 10 included stakes
- Dual side gear-closets
- Item #SDS003R
- Q & A
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
I got the Lightning 2 FL for my brother who has a few trips planned to backpack in the Adirondaks. Before sending it his way though, I had to test it out for myself!
First off, the tent is pretty lightweight and definitely fits within the packed size range I look for in a fully-featured 2P tent.
Pitching the Lightning 2 FL was a breeze with the "single" pole design and the integrated fly made it even easier. I hopped inside and was pleasantly surprised by the headroom, but as other people have written, this is a cozy 2 person tent when it comes to lying down. I love the double "gear closets" that keep gear protected, but out of the way.
The best feature though, has got to be the awning / door setup. It opens wide so it's very easy to get in and out of, and the lack of a traditional vestibule means there isn't a big piece of rain fly that you need to roll up to keep out of the way. No more getting soaked from condensation when you go do your morning duties!
The tent comes with nice aluminum v-shaped stakes instead of those heavy, dumb steel rods that bend the first time you use them.
I only used the Lightning 2 in nice weather, but it seems like it will hold up very well to mountain thunderstorms.
I'm really jealous that my brother is getting this tent. I might have to get another one for myself!
This is a really great tent. Incredibly easy to set up and breakdown even in low light conditions, and plenty rugged. The awning design makes it easy to enjoy morning coffee and breakfast right in the mouth of the tent. Ventilation is superb, and the gear "closets" are very convenient. The stakes provided with the tent are lightweight but seem robust. I have had no condensation or leakage problems with the integrated fly so far - just seems like a very convenient design.
I still find myself looking for an even smaller, lighter tent out of habit, but so far have not seen anything to rival this one's combination of weight, convenience, and protection. I got my on sale for ~$250 and have been nothing but pleased.
My favorite tent
Hiking JMT July 2015. Evolution Lake. This tent was great in the rain. It rained on me 5 times and snowed once during my 16 day hike. I was able to keep all my gear dry while setting up my tent. I just unrolled my tent and threw in my gear. Then I finished setting up my tent. It was great. I was the only one that could sit in their tent in the doorway when it was raining. Everyone else had to zip up their vestibule and sit and talk thru their tent. I was able to cook instead of waiting for the rain to quit. It seems bigger than a 2 person was the comment I kept getting. Everyone complimented me on the tent. It packs up bigger than my Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 but it's well worth it.
I've been an owner of many tents and have slept in many many more. This tent however takes the cake for 1 person.
I ordered this tent on sale, initially attracted by the weight and exterior pole design. The main test I put it through was a 10 day trip to Iceland in May where I camped every night with temperatures falling to freezing during the night as well as snow and a LOT, I say again, a LOT of rain and wind! Rain 24 hours a day with gusts of 40mph.
I did not expect this tent to fare well in the rain seeing as it is a partially single wall design and very open on top of being ultralight. Boy was I wrong.
I literally slept in puddles. While others were cowering away from their name brand tents, soaked, I slept dry. On top of that, the design lets you stake out the tent very tightly with no loose material to flap around in the wind. With all 4 guys lines out the wind did not phase my sleep. It is very well ventilated while still keeping you perfectly protected the elements. The awning works quite well and I very much enjoy the large window letting you observe the outside even in bad weather. The ventilation is very good and leaves very little condensation so the single wall part of the tent is not problematic.
On the flip side, it is too small for two people in bad weather. There is nowhere to put your wet gear as the dimensions JUST fit 2 people. You would need to leave your gear outside or put it at your feet and get your sleeping bag/pad wet. The main problem is the wedge shape that does not let you maneuver with a second person inside. Pumping a sleeping pad or trying to get your gear in order is a pain, even if the other person is only laying there. They need to act as a shelf. The two gear storage areas are slightly small. Each would only fit a small pack (35-40 litres) unless you stack stuff or your pack is near empty. No room for boots (not my size 14 anyway). If you're alone it's ok seeing as you have both at your disposal. If there is little wind the awning keeps the rain off boots left at the door.
Overall, I am very impressed at how solid this tent is. It sets up dry and super fast. Very steady in the wind. It keeps you dry. Light. Awesome for one person who likes some luxury space or two well acquainted individuals.
Best tent I have ever owned/slept in.
Ditch your vestibule: This is why
Awnings over vestibules in 3-season conditions.
Is this the 2016 model?