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Biggest Loser: Putting the High Route Tent on a diet

It was tedious, but I weighed every piece of the High Route Tent, even cord tensioners and cleats. The Fly weighs 611 grams with six cord tensioners but no cord.

It was tedious, but I weighed every piece of the High Route Tent, even cord tensioners and cleats. The Fly weighs 611 grams with six cord tensioners but no cord.

The Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1FL is not a featherweight. That’s the cost of a full-sided, extremely liveable double-wall tent that is made of 20d and 30d coated nylons, not a Dyneema Composite Fabric (aka Cuben) at twice the price, or 7d and 15d nylons at a fraction of the durability and waterproofness.

The specs on our final pre-production sample unit:

  • Minimum weight: 36.2 oz (1027 grams)
  • Packaged weight 40.5 oz (1148 grams)

The minimum weight includes the fly, inner tent, and guylines. The packaged weight includes these same items, plus eight stakes, a stake sack, and a storage sack.

By removing extraneous parts and replacing a few items with lighter alternatives, how much weight can be realistically stripped from the High Route without compromising its performance? By my estimates, only about 2.2 ounces (63 grams) for the packaged weight. If you need a lighter shelter, sorry, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Overview

A breakdown of the starting and finishing weights of the High Route’s pieces:

The full list of modifications, below. 1 ounce = 28.3 grams.

Fly

If you are willing to use my guyline system — which is lighter, simpler, and more versatile than any hardware — then you can remove the:

  • Four corner line tensioners (using pliers)
  • Two line cleats in the apex guylines, and
  • Two line cleats in the mid-door guylines.

I would discourage removal of the line tensioner on the left panel of each side door (two total). Whereas this tensioner can be operated from inside the shelter when the doors are porched, you’ll be forced to go outside to make adjustments if you use my guyline system. That will seem like a chore if it’s raining or cold.

Finally, absolutely do NOT remove the netting panels underneath the peak awnings. The netting is structural — if you cut them out, the door and awning will lose some tension and look flappy. For the sake of airflow, I know that “nothing is better than nothing,” but we at least used a netting that is more porous than standard no-see-um netting.

Inner Tent

If you enjoy the convenience or ambience of the Night Glow, keep it. But otherwise it’s easily removable via two micro clips. This is the easiest and single most effective weight-savings effort, a whopping 18 grams, or 0.63 ounces.

As with the Fly, the four corner line tensions can be removed entirely with pliers, so long as you’re willing to commit to my guyline system.

Guylines

Unless you expect high winds or snow loading, remove and do not replace the guylines at the mid-doors. But keep them available when for you partake in the TGO Challenge or go winter camping.

At the four corners of both the Fly and Inner Tent, replace the stock reflective 2.5-mm guylines with Kelty Triptease ($20, 1.3 oz for 50 feet) or Mountain Laurel Designs LiteLine ($12, 0.7 oz for 40 feet). For 3-season use, I recommend 3- foot lengths for corners.

You may remove and not replace the Inner Tent’s stock 2.5-mm corner guylines. (My numbers assume these guylines were replaced.) However, by doing so you give up the option of using the Inner Tent independently on dry nights, unless you insert the stakes through the remaining nylon loops. In camps without uniformly soft soil, that seems risky.

Without corner guylines on the Inner Tent, you also can no longer tension the Inner Tent’s floor against the Fly. It can only be suspended from the apexes. As a functional matter, when you place your sleeping pad and other equipment inside the Inner Tent, the floor tensions just as well, so I don’t see this as being a fatal downside.

Stakes

A small loop of cord is attached to each stake, to make easier removing them from the ground. Personally, I find that these loops get in the way, and I cut them off. To pull out a stake, I wrap the notched head with some line, then tug.

The High Route includes eight stakes. Six are required, but I recommend all eight. For high winds and snow, use the two extra stakes to pitch out the mid-door guylines. In 3-season conditions, use them to porch the doors for improved airflow. But because little tension is placed on them by this pitch, they can be replaced with titanium round stakes ($13 for a 6-pack).

The stock storage sack weighed only 7 grams (0.2 oz) more than a $30 Cuben model of a similar size. That does not seem very cost effective.

The stock storage sack weighed only 7 grams (0.2 oz) more than a $30 Cuben model of a similar size. That does not seem very cost effective.

Storage sack

The storage sack is intentionally oversized, so that the shelter can be easily stuffed back into it, even if it’s covered in liquid water or frost, and even if you have cold fingers. It’s made of the same 20d coated fabric as the Fly.

It could be replaced with a Dyneema Composite Fabrics stuff sack, but I struggle to recommend a $30 expenditure for a 0.2-oz (5-gram) weight-savings.

If you really want to save weight here, I would instead recommend using a smaller stuff sack that is only large enough for the Inner Tent, which is the more delicate of the two pieces. The Fly can be stuffed directly into your pack to fill voids. If it’s wet, you wouldn’t want to contaminate the Inner Tent anyway. Instead, put it inside your pack, but outside the pack liner; or store it in an outside pocket.


Disclosure: I co-developed the High Route Tent with Sierra Designs. This post contains affiliate links, which helps to support continued content.

4 Responses to Biggest Loser: Putting the High Route Tent on a diet

  1. Jimmy January 12, 2017 at 6:47 pm #

    Whew, that looks like a lot of legwork…glad I don’t have to go through all the weighing myself. I actually find the Night Glow (0.7oz) to be a better and cheaper alternative to Big Agnes’ mtnGLO (2oz).

    And I’m surprised to find that the apex guylines are made of Kelty Triptease, which you’ve talked about in previous posts. Mine was almost cleaved in half and I have no idea when it happened — I’m generally quite careful with my gear. Good thing there were 2 extra guylines that came in the package. Have you had any durability issues with the Triptease?

    • Andrew Skurka January 13, 2017 at 8:24 pm #

      I misspoke about the Triptease — the stock line is unremarkable 2 mm and 3 mm, not Triptease. Thanks for reminding me to edit this post.

  2. Jimmy February 15, 2017 at 10:20 am #

    For anyone who is interested, I did some simple math to figure out how much fabric is being used for the fly and what it would look like if it were replaced with another material. Luckily the geometry of the tent is quite simple so my calculations show a total fly area of 10 square yards.

    Using a comparable 20D silnylon/PU fabric with a 1500mm HH (1.24oz/square yard), the fly material should weigh about 12.5oz. For this calculation, I ignore the weight of the awning mesh and the marginal increase in surface area from the silnylon awning vent as compared to no vent.

    That means the remaining ~9oz is due to the zippers, buckles, stitching, seam tape, reinforcements, velcro, metal stays, straps, and plastic hardware.

    If the silnylon was replaced with a 0.51oz/square yard cuben fiber, it would shave off 5oz but would cost $290 retail to do so (from Ripstopbytheroll.com). That means your marginal cost to save 1lb is $637. Yes, this calculation ignores any potential increases/decreases in weight in the other components as a result of using cuben fiber.

    I’m professionally trained in finance but it doesn’t take a degree or experience to figure out that you should look at your gear as a collective system — why pay $600 to save 1lb on your tent if you are able to save 1lb with other items? There are substantially diminishing returns on your money as you try to push the boundaries of pack weight.

    Unfortunately, it is rare to maintain the same level of performance while exchanging money for weight savings. The performance aspect must not be overlooked — going from silnylon to cuben fiber has its benefits and drawbacks besides the monetary factor. Another example: going from hard-anodized aluminum to titanium also yields different performance. This is not a message to Andrew and what he has done in this post, but rather just as a reminder to the rest of you who are reading this.

    (Source: https://i1.wp.com/hikingnerd.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/img_3582.jpg)

    • Jimmy February 15, 2017 at 2:53 pm #

      Oops some math error with the prices from RBTR. Since they sell cuben by the half yard and 4.5′ wide, it comes out to ~$500 to save 1lb using 0.51oz cuben. But you guys get the point!

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