First Look: Sierra Designs Tent Replaces Vestibules With "Gear Garage"

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Many tents have vestibules that extend beyond doors for gear storage and rainy weather cooking. The 2014 editions of the Flash line of tents by Sierra Designs eliminate standard vestibules in exchange for “gear garage” storage areas at each end.

I tested the Flash 2 UL — the lightest of four models — for three nights in dry conditions and liked the simplicity of a single zipper entry and exit. The gear storage areas at each end of the tent are large enough for a single backpack and shoes. They are accessible from inside the tent through a small zippered opening.

Without a full vestibule covering the doorway, getting in and out of the tent is a breeze: just one zipper and no gear to climb over. The two entrances include mesh screens and open directly to the outdoors.

I cannot attest to the tent’s rainy weather performance but it was well ventilated and sturdy on my recent campout. Setup was easy and fast. —Sean McCoy

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The Gear: Sierra Designs Flash 2 UL

Price: $399

Available: Spring 2014

Where To Test It: Remote campsites after a day of hiking.

Who’s It For: Backpackers and campers who will trade a traditional vestibule for “gear closets.”

Boring But Important: The symmetrical, free standing dome has room for two campers to sleep head-to-head or head-to-toe. I tested the Flash 2 UL, but the design is also available in three other models: the standard Flash 2 (4lbs, 1oz; $299), the standard 3-person Flash 3 (5lbs, 9oz; $399), and the ultralight 3-person Flash 3 UL (4lbs, 13oz; $499).

Important Specs: The interior measures 29.9 square feet with a peak height of 43”. It is constructed with a 40D nylon ripstop floor, 20D nylon and mesh body and 30D nylon ripstop attached fly. The tent uses DAC Featherlite NSL aluminum poles.

Made In: Vietnam

Killer! With no vestibule to open and close, entering and exiting the tent is quicker and quieter than traditional designs.

Flaw: While the entry points of the tent are covered by an awning, cooking in heavy rain could be a little wet without a traditional vestibule. Dog lovers beware; no vestibule means your canine friend may need to find somewhere else to sleep in heavy weather.

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Access to the gear garage from inside the tent

First Impressions: The Flash 2 UL is easy to set up, light to carry and comfortable for two people. During three days of testing it never rained, but the tent was well ventilated and produced very little condensation in cool weather.

Who Should Buy It: Hikers looking for a light tent that allows for easy entry and exit.

Contact Brand/More Beta: Sierra Designs

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Doors open directly to the outdoors

—Sean McCoy is a contributing editor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at GearJunkie.com. Photos © Monopoint Media LLC

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