The Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1FL has a unique but straightforward pitch. After one or two backyard practice rounds, you probably will be comfortable with the basic configuration, especially if you have previously pitched an A-frame tent or tarp, or a pyramid tarp with a square- or rectangular footprint, or both. Of course, practice makes perfect.
Once you are proficient, you should be able to set up the entire shelter in about five minutes at a casual pace — figure three minutes for the Fly, and two minutes for the Inner Tent.
Out of the box
The High Route Tent is best described as a non-freestanding double-wall tent, even though it was more inspired by modular tarp systems. Hence, I will use the associated terminology when describing its pieces:
1. Fly. It’s made of waterproof 20d nylon. The exterior is coated with silicone; the interior, with polyethylene, so that the seams could be taped and so that the fabric complies with fire-retardant regulations. The panels are gray and orange.
2. Inner Tent. It has an orange floor made of 30d waterproof nylon, and is otherwise made of 15d no-see-um nylon mesh. The Night Glow can be strung inside the Inner Tent for nighttime ambiance and visibility, or left behind for a 0.6-oz (18 gram) weight-savings.
3. Guylines. The High Route is equipped with generous lengths of cord, which makes setup much easier in rocky ground. For most conditions, you can remove the guylines (one on each side) located halfway down the diagonal door seam. Keep them if you expect high winds or snow.
4. Stakes. The basic pitch only requires six stakes, but we’ve included eight so that the side doors can be “porched” in mild or moderate conditions, or so that the mid-door guylines can be employed in stormy weather.
5. Stake sack. It weighs almost nothing and will prevent dirt from contaminating your pack and shelter.
6. Stuff sack. I hate having to squeeze a dew- or frost-covered shelter into a stuff sack that is barely big enough, especially when my hands are cold. You’ll notice that the High Route’s stuff sack is intentionally over-sized to avoid this scenario.
The High Route is supported with trekking poles. I highly recommend adjustable trekking poles such as the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork or Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Poles. Alternatively, use fixed length poles or aftermarket pole sets (e.g. Tentsegrity Pole Set) that are at least 50 inches long (125 cm), although 52-inch poles (130 cm) would be even better. With shorter poles, it may be difficult to adequately tension the High Route, the peak height of which is a minimum of 48 inches (122 cm).
A tent is only as good as the campsite where it’s pitched. Since a night of sleep depends on it, go out of your way to find a quality camp. Ideally, it should be relatively warm, dry, protected, and bug-free; and have a soft, porous, flat, and level sleeping area. At least try.
Before setting up the shelter, lay down on the ground and decide where you will sleep. Mark the location of your heat and feet with rocks or sticks so that you can pitch the shelter over this exact area.
1. Unfurl the Fly. Everything else, save for the stakes, can stay out of the rain for now (if it’s raining). Confirm that the side-release buckles at the bottom of the doors are engaged, to keep tension off the door zippers. The zippers can be opened or closed.
2. Stake out the Fly as a rectangle. For a textbook pitch and optimal tension, the corners should be at 90-degree angles; the corner guylines, at about 45 degrees. If your angles are off, it’s best to fix them now.
Tip: Corner sequence. By staking out two length-side corners first, you are most likely to end up with the tent centered over your sleeping area.
Tip: Tent height. The High Route has a minimum peak height of 48 inches. To achieve this height, place the stakes as close to the shelter as possible, and pull the guylines tight. But for extra height and perimeter ventilation, increase the distance of the guylines, and leave some slack in the lines.
1. Adjust two trekking poles to 48 inches. This is just a starting point; the poles normally will need to be lengthened again later.
2. Support the first apex. Unzip one door and insert the pole into the shelter, right-side up. Wedge the pole grip into the reinforced apex cup.
Tip: Pole insertion. Since you’re immediate goal is to get the pole grip into the apex cup, you might be tempted to insert the pole through the door with the grip first, and let the tip end follow. With this sequence, I find that the tip snags on the Fly perimeter, and actually recommend the opposite: tip-end first, grip-end second.
3. Secure the pole tip. Place the pole tip into the grommet, located at the end of a tensionable webbing strip that is anchored near the bottom of the door.
Tip: Abrasion. To handle abrasion from mud and snow baskets, we added an abrasion-resistant panel near this grommeted webbing strip. Even so, I still recommend removing mud baskets — they don’t do anything except snag on brush and tangle with rocks.
4. Create tension between the apex and the bottom of the door. Tighten the grommet webbing or lengthen the trekking pole, or both.
Tip: Door tension. By tightening the webbing, you increase storm-resistance by reducing the gap between the ground and the Fly’s bottom perimeter. By lengthening the pole, you get more height and perimeter ventilation. Select the best option for the conditions.
5. Stake out the apex guyline. The ideal angle is parallel to the ridgeline, perpendicular to the tent side, or in between. Tension the first side until the door is vertical.
6. Prop the peak awning vents. The loose end of the 6-inch prop stick attaches to the small hook-and-loop patch (aka Velcro) to the right of the door zipper. In extremely high ends, these vents can remain loosely closed.
Note: We used a particular type of hook-and-loop material that will snag less on the awning mesh.
7. Secure the pole with the Velcro cuffs. To prevent the pole from slipping out of the apex cup, and to keep the door positioned with the pole, engage the three hook-and-loop cuffs on the inside of the zipper. This step can wait until later, too — in fact, it’s more convenient if you are already inside the shelter, like when connecting the Inner Tent. The uppermost cuff is the most important.
8. Repeat Steps 2-7 for the other door.
9. Increase the ridgeline tension. Don’t be wimpy about it.
Tip: Ridgeline tension. If the ridgeline looks saggy despite the apex guylines being very tight, back up. Loosen the ridgeline guylines some, and then lengthen both trekking poles, tighten the grommet webbing, or tighten the corner guylines, or all of the above. To finish, re-tighten the ridgeline. To avoid this readjustment next time, do a better job at Step 4.
10. Stake out the mid-door guylines. This is unnecessary if you are not expecting strong winds, torrential rains, or snow. Prop the line with a stick for even more tension (not pictured; refer to the porch photos at the end for a similar example).
1. Unfurl the Inner Tent inside the Fly. The Inner Tent has no dedicated “head end” or “foot end.”
2. Connect the Inner Tent’s corners to the Fly. You’ll find plastic hooks at the ends of the Inner Tent’s corner guylines, and mating plastic loops in the Fly’s corner guylines.
Tip: The Inner Tent tensions best when it is centered precisely under the Fly. But its corner guylines allow it to float to the extreme right or left, and/or fore or aft, in the event you wish to shift your sleeping position or consolidate open utility space between the perimeters of the Fly and Inner Tent.
Tip: I skip this step, and you might consider doing the same. When you insert your sleeping pad and other equipment later, the weight will splay the floor. And if you haven’t hooked the corner guylines, you can more easily shift the Inner Tent, and more quickly set up and break it down.
3. Connect the Inner Tent’s apexes to the Fly. You’ll find tension-able side-release buckles at the apexes of both components. Attach the apex on the “other” side first, leaving the near side for last.
If it’s not raining, and if it’s cool and/or dry, you can sleep with the doors closed. Condensation is unlikely to develop, and you’ll appreciate the trapping of body heat.
If it’s not raining or windy, and if it’s warm and/or humid, I recommend leaving completely open the side doors to increase airflow. This will lower the inside temperature and it will reduce condensation buildup (though it may not eliminate it entirely is worst-case situations).
If it’s raining, I recommend “porching” the doors to maintain some airflow. This also creates vestibule-like space, in addition to the palatial 36 square feet protected by the Fly.
1. Full porch. In calm conditions, unzip the door entirely. Pull the “left” side of the door away from the shelter, and tension it with a guyline and stake.
Tip: Porch height. To gain extra height (and thus extra airflow) on the porched door, prop it with a stick or tie it off to a nearby natural anchor (e.g. tree, rock).
2. Half porch. In moderately windy conditions, the doors can be partially porched. Engage the side-release buckle located halfway down the zipper. Use it — it takes tension off the zipper and will increase your tent’s lifespan. Repeat Step 1.