Sierra Designs was born in 1965 as one of America’s great entrepreneurs in the world of backpacking and camping. They’ve been through a lot and have literally grown up with the outdoor industry. Based in Boulder, CO, the brand remains a group of legitimate end-users who have taken some real chances on product for the backcountry, including pioneering the use of waterproof down, the zipperless sleeping bag, ultra-light tent design, and more.
In a nod to this relevancy, and reinforcing the importance of the ultralight backpacking category, Sierra Designs is introducing a limited edition collection developed with “Adventurer of the Year” Andrew Skurka (so named by National Geographic and Outside magazines). Skurka, 35 years old, is also a famed thru-hiker. He has hiked more than 30,000 miles – the equivalent of traveling around the world one and a half times – including the AT, the Great Western Loop, the Sea-to-Sea Route, Sierra High Route, Hayduke Trail, GC Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, Alaska Four-Range, Wind River High Route, and many more.
The iconic backpacking brand says these new products represent years of collaboration and fine-tuning between them and Skurka, utilizing his extensive backcountry experience to create something innovative that mere mortals can also enjoy.
Skurka himself critiques his new tent design on his blog, diving in with an analysis of many other similar tents on the market. “It’s not perfect, and — depending on your trip conditions, personal preferences, and recreation budget — it may not be the most appropriate shelter for you,” he says. “In a perhaps refreshing change of tone, I’d like to discuss real and perceived flaws of the Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1FL, and in some cases explain why they exist.”
Wouldn’t it be cool if every athlete and product designer provided this much information?
The High Route (1FL) is a single person shelter designed for full-range three-season conditions, while attempting to find a realistic balance between weight and space. (MSRP $299.95) Skurka wanted a single shelter that he could use on all of his solo trips, and as he explains on his blog, with its full-sided coverage, palatial interior, porch-able side doors, and removable bug nest, the High Route Tent excels in stormy, buggy, and/or hot and humid conditions, and can withstand moderate winter weather as well. Skurka found inspiration for this shelter from 11,000-foot campsites in the High Sierra, ravenous mosquitoes in Alaska, multi-day downpours in the Appalachians and Pacific Northwest, and below-timberline winter trips in the Rockies and Minnesota. At 2 lbs., 5 oz. for the fly and nest, the High Route is still acceptably light.
A non-freestanding pyramid-inspired design, catenary cut ridgeline, and pole-reinforced vertical doors make it suitable for moderate winter weather and steep wall angles create 36 square feet of usable interior space, which is in the range of some ultralight 2-person tents. Both side doors can be guyed out in calm conditions to improve ventilation and increase usable space. In stormier weather, 5-inch awning vents maintain ventilation. Doors can be opened from the top using two-way zippers, while remaining protected by the awning.
The tarp and bug nest can be used separately. Vertical offset poles do not block the entrances or split up the sleeping area, unlike most other pyramid and A-frame style shelters. Simple, intuitive, and fast pitch, the tarp should be set up first, which keeps the bug nest dry.
Also in the new collection, the Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor backpack features a unique gusset system that allows the circumference to quickly expand from 40 to 60 liters with the adjustment of a few straps, providing a more stable and comfortable load carry. It features a unique “Y-FLEX” suspension that’s designed to be lightweight with redundant materials removable without sacrificing comfort or stability. The pre-bent vertical stay transfers pack weight into the waist belt while providing ventilation. Other features include EVA foam padding, stretch mesh side pockets and a removable hydration sleeve. The Flex Capacitor will be available in 2 torso sizes: small/medium (17”-19″) and medium/large (19”-21″). (MSRP $189.95)
Here are the key tech specs on the new tent:
Number of Poles: N/A (Requires trekking poles or Accessory Pole Set, sold separately)
Fly Fabric: 20D Nylon Ripstop, Silicone/1500mm PE, FR
Floor Fabric: 30D Nylon Ripstop, WR/3000mm PE, FR
Body Fabric: 15D Nylon, No-See-Um Lightweight Mesh
Minimum Weight: 2 lbs 5 oz / 1.05 kg
Packaged Weight: 2 lbs 12 oz / 1.25 kg
Number of Doors: 2
Number of Gear Closets: Internal Storage
Gear Storage Area (Tarp Area – Nest Area): 17.3 ft2 / 1.61 m2
Interior Area (Tarp): 36 ft2 / 3.34 m2
Interior Area (Nest): 18.8 ft2 / 1.75 m2
Internal Peak Height (Tarp): 48 in / 122 cm
Internal Peak Height (Nest): 43 in / 109 cm
Awning Height: 38.5 in / 98 cm
Length (Tarp): 108 in / 274 cm
Length (Nest): 90 in / 229 cm
Width (Tarp): 48 in / 122 cm
Width (Nest): 30 in / 76 cm