Sierra Designs Flash 2 UL
- Dry pitch and take down with exterior poles
- Very compact
- Tons of interior room
- Huge doors
- Lack of vestibule space
One of the nicest tents to set up, take down and hang out in. It’s easy on the back to haul around, but lacks vestibule space, particularly somewhere convenient to store our boots.
The same width and similar height as the Kelty TN2, the Flash adds a couple feet of internal volume with three extra inches of length and truly vertical walls. The extra room may not seem like much, but it’s enough for an extra stuff sack or two and a little more room for moving around. The exterior pole set up makes the sidewalls vertical and only a minor slope to the sides maintains the head room right to the doors, creating impressive elbow and head room throughout the tent.
The hybrid single-wall-double-wall design eliminates the body of the tent from the roof and vestibule over the doors, cutting bulk and weight to a paltry four pounds. It’s light enough to schlep solo, though you may feel lonely with all that room at night.
The poles clip to the outside of the tent—no fly to wrestle with. It makes set up super fast and easy. In the rain it’s a lifesaver, not only because it's fast, but also because the interior of the tent is never exposed.
Despite not having vestibules over the doors we actually found this tent to be very weatherproof. The roof pitches towards the toes and head readily shedding water without puddling. The slight angle towards the doors keeps the entrances fairly dry and an awning—a section of pole that pulls the fly 15 inches beyond the door—meant we never saw a drop land inside when opening and closing. Of course, a wind can bypass the awning, so in nasty weather we had to use the leeward door, an inconvenience, but one that could usually be avoided with careful tent pitching. The doors themselves are totally dry. Overall, a very dry tent that dealt with the wind well too, despite its vertical sidewalls.
Our only real complaint about this tent is the lack of vestibule space. While it is nice to only have to undue one zipper to climb in and out, the lack of dry storage at the door presented a conundrum on wet nights: where to store our boots. There are two 3.5 sq. ft. vestibules at the toe and head accessible from inside the tent through a zippered port. That's handy enough for storing packs and accessing other gear when needed. However, with dirty boots it meant carrying them back and forth through the tent, never a tidy proposition. Our other concern was with venting a single-wall style tent. This turned out to not be a problem. The awning over the door made it easy to crack the doors, while still maintaining bug proofing and keeping rain out, to kick up decent airflow.
Definitely a pricier tent, but if you value lightweight, fast, dry set up we think this is a worthwhile investment.
How We Tested It
A small army of testers used and abused the shelters for a minimum of seven nights (and some much longer) on trips that ranged from car camping to a rain forest hike to a month long Baja sea kayak expedition. Then we set them up on our lawn and turned the hose on them, left them standing during a 40 mile per hour windstorm and released a pack of kids to test the zippers and run through them with their shoes on.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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