Sierra Designs Nightwatch 2
- Very easy first time set up
- Lots of ventilation
- Vertical walls creates lots of livable space
- Small floor area
- Feels fragile
The tent designers at Sierra Designs packed a lot of utility and smart design features into a lightweight and simple package. The minimalist design lends itself to lightweight missions and experienced campers in fairer weather conditions.
Lying down, testers felt like sardines. But with a high ceiling and steep walls the elbowroom feels generous sitting up. Two good sized storage areas and a large door added to a feeling of spaciousness even though the 30-square foot tent area is average for a two person tent.
At about five pounds it’s not among the lightweights, but it’s respectable. The integration of fly and body reduces bulk, making it quite tiny when packed, especially relative to its weight.
The simple pole design and integrated fly and tent body made set up about as fast and easy as possible. First try, with no instructions, we had it up minutes faster than our buddy with his trusty tent. It helps that SD supplied a stuff sack system that keeps all the bits and pieces—poles, pegs, tent—separate and organized.
The Nightwatch stood strong against three days of hard PNW rain. The fly and tent body are integrated. Beyond speeding set up, it kept the tent body dry setting up and taking down in the rain, a nice feature. To shave weight SD replaced the fly around the foot area with a waterproof tent body. It didn’t impact the weather shedding. The rest of the tent is mostly mesh and felt breezy when camped in an exposed spot in blustery conditions. But the mesh was ideal on hot and sticky nights, ditching daytime heat quickly. The vestibules are not part of the door. Instead, they are at the sides with zip access from the inside. It’s great for staying organized but creates a conundrum for storing footwear, especially when it’s raining. The awnings over the doors protects interior from dripping rain. And the lightweight fabric and poles feel on the fragile side—definitely a tent to be treated with care.
While minimalist in feel, SD did not skimp on smart design touches. The two side doors are wide and easy to climb in and out of. The vestibules, too, are roomy and offer plenty of storage room. The cut out on the fly cuts weight without damaging performance. And little things count too, like the integrated fly and body and the compartment for the pegs, rather than a different bag, keeping them found, not lost somewhere in the tent stuff sack.
How We Tested It
The tents in this test were used over five months—they were soaked in Pacific Northwest storms, baked in the Baja sun, shoved into sea kayak hatches, and schlepped to the Himalaya. The most important factor was weatherproofing. Everything else is secondary to how a tent performs in the wet and wind. The testers honed in on other factors that take tents from good to great: weight, packability, ease of set up, features, creature comforts, and lay out.
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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