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Teaser: Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent

In August 2014 I drew the first sketches of the Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent. In the ensuing 18 months, we made up four prototypes, and I tested the design extensively in southern Utah and the Rockies.

In designing the High Route Tent, I wanted a single shelter that I could use on all of my solo trips. It had to be:

  • Suitable for harsh 3-season conditions and moderate winter weather;
  • Optimizable for the full range of 3-season conditions: hot and cool, humid and arid, bugs and none;
  • Acceptably light for friendlier 3-season conditions.

I also wanted to solve several problems common among shelters that use trekking poles for support. By offsetting the poles and making vertical the side doors, we created a shelter with:

  • Steeply angled side walls, for more usable interior space;
  • A sleeping area that is not dissected by poles, and doors that are not blocked by poles;
  • Phenomenal ventilation, without compromising rain protection.

Finally, I was willing to sacrifice some weight-savings for living space. If you you’re a big person, if you find that “ultralight” shelters are coffin-like, or if you sometimes get caught in weather that pins you down for an extended time, you probably will love this shelter.

We’re very excited about this shelter and did not want to wait until Spring 2017 to release it. Instead, in early-August we made available a small batch — just 110 units — that can be ordered now directly from Sierra Designs.

Color correct sample, as of May 10

Color correct sample, as of May 10

The fly and tent body can be pitched together or individually.

The fly and tent body can be pitched together or individually.

Key specs & features

  • Double-wall. The fly and tent body can be pitched together or independently.
  • Fly: generous 4- x 9-foot rectangular footprint, with a 4-foot minimum peak height
  • Body: 30- x  90-in footprint
  • Requires adjustable trekking poles with 48-inch minimum length
  • A simple, intuitive, and fast pitch. View the pitching instructions and video.
  • Two full doors on both the fly and tent body
  • Both doors can be “porched” for more living space and greater ventilation
  • 20d sil/PE fabric with taped seams on the fly, and 30d on the floor
  • Requires six stakes; to porch the doors or guy-out the door seam, two additional stakes are needed.
  • $299 MSRP
  •  Weights
    • Tarp: 22 oz
    • Nest: 14 oz
    • Minimum weight: 2 lbs 4 oz
    • Includes eight stakes, guylines, and an oversized stuff sack, because squeezing a frost-covered shelter into a tiny stuff sack is the worst.
    • By putting the HR1 on a diet, I was able to drop 1.5 oz from its minimum weight.
The Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1FL perched at 7,500 feet on the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park (undesignated camping). It was designed for such conditions, but it's acceptably light for milder trips, too.

The Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1FL perched at 7,500 feet on the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park (undesignated camping). It was designed for such conditions, but it’s acceptably light for milder trips, too.

Originally posted April 18, 2016

58 Responses to Teaser: Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent

  1. Alex April 18, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

    I’d be interested to hear more on how this compares with TarpTent’s Stratospire 1, which also has offset trekking poles and looks to the casual observer to be a very similar design, at almost literally the exact same weight. (I own a stratospire 2 and love it). One difference I can see is that the stratospire 1 has nice big vestibules at each door, while this tent opts for purely vertical sidewalls and thus seems to have no vestibule area unless it’s opened up with guylines. What’s the point of that?

    • Andrew Skurka April 18, 2016 at 3:47 pm #

      I know of TT’s Stratosphires, but I don’t have one and I’ve never had a client come on a trip with one. We (embarrassingly) learned of the Stratosphire about halfway into the design process, and I agree the resemblances are interesting, despite them being designed independently.

      As you pointed out, the biggest difference is the HR’s vertical doors versus the Stratosphire’s vestibules. Our first prototype had vestibules, but the design had two flaws. First, it did not pitch easily. By going with vertical doors, we created a perfectly rectangular footprint that pitches more like a MLD SoloMid: stake out the four corners tightly at 90-degree angles and then go vertical with the poles.

      Second, ventilation and rain protection were mutually exclusive — if it was raining, the doors had to be closed to protect what was in the vestibules. That was a terrible tradeoff, because you need ventilation the most when it’s raining. Again, we solved that problem by going with vertical doors. In calm rain, you can porch both doors fully or half-way (there is a buckle to relieve stress on the zipper) while the entire living area (which at 4′ x 9′ is big enough for you and a lot of gear, or two people) remains fully covered. In stormier weather, the door can remain open at the top using the double zipper; it remains protected by the 5-inch awning vents.

      The High Route’s living space is easy to calculate, 36 square feet (4 x 9), plus some if you porch the doors. I think the Stratosphire is note quite 3.5 feet wide (under the tarp) and about 8.5 feet long. So it has a smaller living space, but probably about the same total area if you include the vestibules.

      • Dan Durston May 11, 2016 at 11:19 pm #

        Nice to hear about the perfectly rectangular floor. I have a Stratospire 2 and the floor isn’t just a hexagon but a slightly elongated hexagon (because of the struts at some corners) so it is fiddly to pitch, which is my biggest dislike. Whether that’s worth losing vestibules I’m not sure. For more info on the SS2’s pitch see my long winded review here:
        https://intocascadia.com/2015/11/30/long-term-review-tarptent-stratospire-2/

        “if it was raining, the doors had to be closed to protect what was in the vestibules. That was a terrible tradeoff, because you need ventilation the most when it’s raining. Again, we solved that problem by going with vertical doors. ”
        I don’t quite follow this one. Vestibules can hold gear or optionally be left empty and opened for ventilation (when raining). I think you’re saying the vertical walls “solve” the dilemma between these mutually exclusive choices by only providing the latter choice, so I don’t see how this is better. Easier to decide, yes.

        • Andrew Skurka May 12, 2016 at 8:39 am #

          Read your whole review. Long-term reviews should be the standard (not regurgitation of press releases), so thanks for contributing to that niche.

          Re: ventilation in a storm. Many shelters — notably conventional mids and dome tents — have this problem, whereby ventilation is reduced during a storm by the need to shut down the shelter to keep occupants and gear dry. The Stratosphere’s living space is never vulnerable to precip, but the vestibules are when the doors are open. Of course, you can keep the door open AND keep your stuff dry by only using the corners of the vestibules, but that represents a loss of some usable space. At least the Straosphere is better than a single-apex mid, where up to half the living area could be made vulnerable by keeping the door open when it’s raining. This was a chief complaint of mine with the MLD SoloMid. Tradeoffs…

          The entire 9 x 4 footprint of the HR1 is protected by the roof, because of the vertical sides, and never vulnerable to precip even with the doors wide open. (This protected space is equivalent to the living area of the Straosphire). By porching the doors, you essentially create vestibule space, giving you 36 square feet + whatever area is beneath the porched doors.

          Let me be clear: I admire TT and by all accounts the SS is a nice little shelter. I don’t care to get in a pissing match over which one is better. We simply made some different decisions in the design, which leads some different performance advantages and disadvantages. In this case, we sacrificed vestibules (and therefore 2-person capacity) to achieve an easier pitch and slightly better ventilation.

  2. Jason April 18, 2016 at 6:00 pm #

    I was really hoping this tent wasn’t going to be so good. I thought the last setup I bought was going to be it forever. But this tent looks to address the little complaints I’ve found with the other systems I’ve used. And the mid July ship date should get it here to Australia by late August in time for my next vacation.

    Would you recommend using a ground sheet? Or not necessary if you’re careful with your campsite selection?

    • Andrew Skurka April 18, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

      Sorry for the inconvenience.

      Unless you are really counting grams, I recommend a plastic film groundsheet like heavy-duty trash bags or Gossamer Gear Polycryo. This will improve lifespan of the floor, and give you extra waterproofness for really soggy ground. We went with a mid-weight floor (not super light but not heavy either) and with extensive use it will lose its waterproofness, as will all coated fabrics.

  3. Jason April 18, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

    What I meant to say was congratulations on a well designed shelter.

    I’ve slowly been reducing how big into grams I am, and the results have been pleasing.

    And I think the colour looks good as is.

  4. Albert April 18, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

    I like the design – a fantastic display of tent origami. Love how spacious it looks. How will the big vertical door surfaces do under windy conditions?

    • Andrew Skurka April 18, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

      It has not been wind tested, but we expect it to fare about as well as most mids (because most of the panels are similarly sloped) and the Tensegrity (with which it shares the vertical side doors).

      The Tentsegrity did well in the wind tunnel, withstanding 45 mph: https://vimeo.com/121422790.

      Another thing to consider is that the side door is reinforced by the trekking poles (which are inside). The door is anchored to the pole tip with an adjustable grommet strap, and we’ve included some Velcro tabs so that the door and pole stay together (although it will generally stay put due to the apex pocket).

      • Matt June 30, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

        Andrew have you tried Tyvek (what they wrap new houses in)? You can buy it as kite repair material by the yard and cut it to size. You can pick it up from the kite store down on pearl street mall.

        • Andrew Skurka June 30, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

          Try it for what? I know it’s been in use by backpackers for years, but I was disappointed with the weight of a groundsheet that I made out of it (a half-pound or so) and have never tried to make anything of it again.

  5. James Wyatt April 19, 2016 at 8:59 pm #

    This looks like a great shelter concept, looking forward to seeing more, especially the wind test. It’s great to see SD getting into a project like this, and I really can appreciate the goal of easy pitching.

    I’m curious, why not go straight sil on the whole thing? Or is just the floor/nest portion PE (is that polyurethane?) ?

    • Andrew Skurka April 19, 2016 at 10:20 pm #

      Sil cannot be seam taped at the factory and cannot be shipped to several states due to a lack of fire retardant, including biggies like CA and NY. I don’t know how cottage brands get around this rule, but Exxel Outdoors (parent company of SD) has decided to abide strictly by it.

      A sil version might eventually happen, but until interest is proven we wanted to offer just a single style (fabric, color, sleep capacity).

      • Gygago April 21, 2016 at 1:58 am #

        Regarding the Sil taping: Vaude does since 2013. I can confirm that their method works and the tapes/seals have never been a problem with three PowerLizards I own or see regularly on trail.

        However their product manager comfirmed that this is what makes their PowerLizard so expensive. It is by far not as “easy” as with PU.

        • Andrew Skurka April 21, 2016 at 9:26 am #

          Correct. It can be done, but it requires a lot of extra production time. And it still does not address the fire retardant issue. Of those two limitations, the FR is the bigger one.

  6. John Ross April 20, 2016 at 4:34 pm #

    I know TarpTents sends out their tents with seams unsealed, and offer a kit for purchase, separately. They also have an instructional how-to video on the topic. I’ve often wondered why they didn’t seal their seams prior to purchase. Know I know.

    • Andrew Skurka April 20, 2016 at 5:24 pm #

      Yep, that’s what’s going on. Sil can’t be taped. Whenever you see a taped shelter, you can conclude that it’s made of nylon coated with PE or PU on at least one side. SD normally uses a fabric that is sil on one side and PE on the other, which is stronger and more waterproof than a pure PE/PE or PU/PU, while still being fire-resistant.

      SD is working on a sil coating that could be taped and that meets FR standards, but we’re not there yet.

  7. David April 20, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

    I’m in. I assume you can squeeze two in there given the generous floor space. Regardless, if you can get it to me by Mid June, I will buy it right now! Nice work Andrew!

    • Andrew Skurka April 20, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

      The shelter will not ship until mid-July, though we’re hoping for a little bit earlier. It will not ship in June, sorry.

      It is big enough for two, yes. And there are doors on both sides, which is convenient. However:

      * Because of the offset poles, the optimal sleeping position is head/foot, not head/head. This arrangement may work if you’re with a buddy, but could be disappointing for a significant other. That said, the shelter is 108″ long, so a shorter person may be able to tolerate the lower-angle wall at their head.

      * The interior bug netting is only 30 inches wide. If you had two nests, or the nest and another bivy, it would both give you protected sleeping space.

      * To store gear, you will need to keep the side doors open. They can be porched fully, or from about halfway. In strong winds, this would not be a good scenario.

      • David April 20, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

        Thanks Andrew. How long is the inner net tent? I assume the 108″ is for the outer. I am pretty excited about this, especially the vertical nature of the outer walls, which is ideal in rain. I use a Mid now and that is one of its shortcomings (usable length too) for me.

        • Andrew Skurka April 21, 2016 at 9:29 am #

          The interior nest will be 30″ x 88.” I sized it to be a “sleeping area,” not so much of a “living space.” In addition to saving weight, this decision also leaves open a lot of floor space for gear and utility, e.g. cooking dinner. One of our prototype nests was nearly 40 inches, and this left barely any space inside the shelter, so everything (including my rifle and wet gear) had to be brought inside the nest.

      • Shawn K. April 21, 2016 at 7:50 am #

        I’ve been watching SD’s site for more on this tent. Thanks for the update.

        Given your familiarity with SD’s other tents, how would you say the HR1 compares to the rest of their models? Are the HR1 fabric specs similar to Tensegrity 1 Elite or one of their other tents? I know it’d add some weight, but has SD considered offering the option of a slightly larger nest to accommodate two?

        SD’s tensegrity forms make a lot of sense from a usability standpoint, especially if trying to squeeze two people into something like the HR1. Congratulations on seeing this design through to production.

        • Andrew Skurka April 21, 2016 at 9:25 am #

          1. The fabric for this initial round of production will be similar to the FL models, i.e. sil coating on side, PE on the other. The Elite models are made with pure silnylon, which can’t be seam-taped and which can’t be shipped to important states like California and New York due to lack of fire resistance.

          2. This is designed as a 1-person shelter. It can fit two, but there are some problems, as explained in another comment. If we proceed with a 2-person model, we will want it to have a similar story to the 1-person, particularly in regard to its spaciousness.

          3. An important distinction: the HR1 has vertical walls, whereas the Tentsegrity has overhanging walls. This latter design makes the interior feel bigger. At 9 x 4 with vertical walls, I don’t think the HR1 will feel cramped, however.

          • Shawn K. April 21, 2016 at 10:36 am #

            Thanks for the reply.

            I remember some comments in the SD video series about the tent market pursuing lighter weight at the expense of usable space, and it’s good to see them bucking that trend while still keeping weight reasonable. When my solo tent is due for replacement, I’ll definitely give SD’s options a look.

  8. Gygago April 21, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    My major concern with the HR1 is ventilation. For I own a Tensegrity (Tensegrity users might be interested in my super-fast 3-stakes-setup: https://vimeo.com/159638492) I love the Tensegrity for it’s absolutely superior ventilation options: 4 ventilated sides, overhanging side walls.

    Can’t imagine how the HR1 with it’s side walls only ventilation can compete with the Tensegrity Can you please elaborate on the ventilation compared to the Tensegrity?

    • Andrew Skurka April 21, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

      Overall, the HR1 will not ventilate as well as the Tentsegrity. But not far off, and it’s much better than traditional mids or A-frames. In fact, I consider ventilation one of HR1’s strong suits, not a weakness.

      In calm conditions, the Tentsegrity can have four open panels: two side doors, the screen beneath the canopy, and the foot panel tucked under the awning. In comparison, with the High Route you would “porch” the two side doors (fully or halfway), or you could roll them back and secure them with the toggle. Look at the included photo from the Winds, to see how I porched one of the two side doors. By porching both side doors, in essence you just created an open-ended A-frame tarp, and ventilation should be fantastic. The HR1 can also be perched a few inches off the ground, and has 5-inch awning vents, though in this scenario that is almost irrelevant.

      In light rain, the Tentsegrity can remain as is (because its mesh doors are protected by the canopy and overhanging awnings). With the HR1, you will want the doors porched, not rolled back (since this would only give you 48 inches of protected width. Same result: both shelters have great ventilation.

      In windier conditions, less venting is needed because the wind is accelerating airflow. With the Tentsegrity, you’d need to close up both doors, leaving you with the canopy and foot vents. Still pretty good. With the HR1, you might be able to porch the doors halfway, using the side-release buckle to relieve tension off the zipper. If it’s too stormy for that, you’ll still heave the bottom perimeter and the 5-inch apex awning vents. Also, because we put double zippers on the doors, you can open the doors from the top, creating a 6-, 12-, maybe 18-inch linear opening that remains protected by the awning just above.

      The HR1 performs better than traditional mids or A-frames. In calm rain, these shelters need to be sealed shut and cannot be vented besides through small awning vents and bottom perimeters. Meanwhile, the HR1 has porched doors. In stronger winds, mids and A-frames still need to be sealed shut, while the HR1 retains a few venting options (though, to your point, not quite as good as the Tentsegrity).

      • Gygago April 21, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

        Thanks for your fast and detailled response. I use to pitch my Gatewood Cape with fully or half way “porched” doors. Even I always pitch it higher than standard setup and the GWC has a huge top vent (through the head), it performs well but still shows by far more condensation than the Tensegrity.

        From what you wrote, I’d sort the HR1 somewhere in between those two.

        • David April 21, 2016 at 3:38 pm #

          I can deal with condensation. What I can’t deal with is wet gear in my vestibule and this is why I haven’t gone the Tensegrity.

  9. Andrew April 21, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

    Awesome looking tent Andrew.

    I understand you have been working on a pack with Sierra Designs as well. Will there be any upcoming info on that?

    • Andrew Skurka April 21, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

      The backpack is about 6 weeks behind the shelter, so you’ll soon be hearing more about that, too. A color correct model should arrive in late-June, and we expect the first production run to arrive in late-August. I know, that’s late, but we figured that having it available ASAP was better than forcing you to wait another 6 months until Spring 2017.

      The backpack has even greater appeal than the HR1 Tent (which is not free standing). 2.5 lbs, great load-carrying ability (I hauled 69 pounds of elk meat + gear in it on my elk hunt last October), durable fabric throughout, easy access to the pack body via a toothy zipper instead of a roll top-type closure, easily accessible side pockets, built-in water bottle pocket on the shoulder strap, and finally a volume adjustment system that affects the pack uniformly rather than leaving bulges and narrow spaces. MSRP is going to be $200-230. Three unisex sizes (S, M, L) to start; I think a woman’s version will be available in the spring, but I can’t remember where that piece is at.

      • joanne April 23, 2016 at 9:25 am #

        So pleased to hear a women’s version of the backpack proposed above is on the way!! So many gear designs use the term ‘unisex’ with no thought given to female proportions. Thank you Sierra Designs!!!

        • Andrew Skurka April 23, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

          Thanks for your patience on the woman’s pack. We were able to get the men’s/unisex pack developed more quickly because our prototypes were in men’s, so that I could wear test them. Early on we were more focused on the pack’s features, and we judged it not to be worthwhile in developing a women’s version about which the very same feedback would be given. However, this gave the men’s sizing a head start, since we naturally were revising fit issues for every prototype iteration.

      • Lynn McDougal May 12, 2016 at 9:34 pm #

        Ok, wow! Didn’t know you had a pack in the works! Been hotly researching all the lightweight options (Gossamer Gear, Six Moons, ULA et al) and still fence sitting. I would be willing to wait out the launch of yours! Sounds pert near perfect and the unisex is fine tho I do love S-straps…any pics available? Also, is it more of a flush with the back design or is there some airflow? So excited!!

        • Andrew Skurka May 13, 2016 at 6:49 am #

          I will post a teaser by late-June with a color correct sample.

          The back pads are fairly conventional. Lumbar + two scapula pads, thick enough so that the pack sits off the user but much lighter than the trampoline style.

      • Jeremiah July 17, 2016 at 10:43 am #

        Any updates on the pack?

        • Andrew Skurka July 17, 2016 at 11:06 am #

          It’s not going to be launched early like the tent, at least very unlikely. Here are the details:

          The Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 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. This multi-day pack features a unique “Y-FLEX” suspension that’s designed to be as lightweight as possible, allowing redundant materials to be removed without sacrificing comfort or stability. The pre-bent vertical stay transfers the pack weight into the waist belt, while providing space from the back for maximum 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

    • Gygago April 22, 2016 at 1:12 am #

      OT: I see your point and was doubting the tent, too. But this should not prevent you from using a Tensegrity. I attached two additional attachment points at both vestibule corners. Additonal weight: 2 grams. With that done, you can close the vestibule fully on one side or both sides and the tent looks more like the Flashlight and offers full gear protection.

  10. Gordon May 11, 2016 at 8:34 am #

    Not sure I want a “bug nest” in my tent!

  11. Bryan May 13, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

    Regarding Elite version of the HR, are the specs the same as FL, with exception to weight? Do u have a proposed release date for Elite model. Would home application seam sealing be required?

    • Andrew Skurka May 13, 2016 at 8:46 pm #

      I would not hold your breath for an Elite version. It wouldn’t be available until at least later in 2017. Yes, seam-sealing would be required, unless we can figure out how to do that quickly at the factory, which is a process not yet available.

  12. A Cranky Guy May 16, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

    Hi Andrew-

    I had several old school Sierra Design tents back in the day. Circa 1980s Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight and Sphinx 2. I was one of the cool kids. Just got back into backpacking and discovered my very light (almost) 2 person tents where way outdated.

    So I went shopping.

    One I was disappointed I could not go to Oakland to check out the tents anymore.

    And two, I was not wowed by SD selection a year ago, and was disappointed that a company that was so cutting edge in the 80s seemed to have lost it’s edge. SD was my go to for tents even though iI was a poor student I got the SD tents.

    All I saw was a bunch of single walled tents that just looked like moisture catchers. And the colors, yikes!

    I am a fan of freestanding tents (I picked up an MSR Nook) – but have been looking at trekking pole tents. And this is almost there I think. But give me some vestibule on 1 side so I can boil in the rain and lose the grey ! My gosh the tent looks Orwellian! The old blue and white scheme was such a recognizable trademark. You would walk by a camp and go yah – that’s a good tent, just by looking at the color. Now they look like you are advertising 7-up.

    Andrew- I am holding you responsible to make me want Sierra Designs stuff again.

    Thanks for listening to my rant

    • Andrew Skurka May 16, 2016 at 4:25 pm #

      I understand your perspective on SD. We’re trying to become iconic again. It’s not that easy.

      I think the SD tents that launched in 2014 have a lot of good qualities. Chief among them, they ventilate well even when it’s stormy, which is when you need ventilation most. Double-wall tents protect the user from condensation, but unfortunately too many designs take this as a reason to not address ventilation at all.

      Shelters that rely on trekking poles for support definitely entail a sacrifice versus pole tents. With poles, you can make so much better use of interior space (because of steep wall angles) that it nearly offsets the weight penalty, especially given how light poles are now. With the offset pole position, we retained the weight savings of trekking pole tents, but without sacrificing so much interior space.

      I think you might be surprised at how much space is in the High Route. I have cooked inside it multiple times, plenty of room; in fact, I have cooked dinner inside it with my rifle laying next to me. It’s 4 feet across with the doors closed. You’re probably 2 feet across with your knees crossed. That leaves two feet of clearance for your stove between the tent wall and you.

  13. Matt June 6, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

    What is the advantage of this over the other 1-person double wall options out there? There are several from mainstream companies around 2lbs such as Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1, Nemo Blaze, Nemo Hornet. I guess vertical sidewalls are an advantage over Fly Creek style tents, but the Nemo Blaze has nearly vertical sidewalls. This is probably better in wind than the Blaze since trekking poles are extremely strong. If it’s wind tunnel tested like the rest of the SD tents then that is an extremely good selling point. I can’t think of any other company that publishes wind tunnel tests for their tents.

    • Andrew Skurka June 6, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

      I’ll speak to two differences. There are obviously many more if you want to dig deeper.

      The HR1 will generally have MUCH more protected space than conventional 1P tents. The Fly Creek has 22 sq ft + 5.5 (vestibule); the Blaze has 18 + 6 (vestibule). The HR1 has 19 (nest) and then another 17 under the canopy = 36, or about 30 percent more than the Fly Creek and 50 percent more than the Blaze. The Fly Creek’s sides are sloped, so its 22.5 square feet won’t feel quite that big. The Blaze has vertical sides, but its vestibule is truly that.

      When you consider the applications for which the HR1 was designed (harsh 3-season conditions and moderate winter weather), the extra space makes a lot of sense. It will give you more room for gear, more room to cook and remove wet layers, and more room to avoid claustrophobia if you ever have to hunker down for a day or two. I expect this shelter to also appeal to people who normally use a 2P tent for solo trips.

      The HR1 will also generally have better ventilation, especially when it’s raining or snowing. With most dome-style shelters, they must be closed up when stuff starts falling from the sky, at least to protect what’s in the vestibule if not also the inner tent body. That leaves ventilation only along the bottom perimeter. This is the case with the Fly Creek and Blaze. With the HR1, the doors can be porched open (partway or fully) without leaving any of the 36 square feet exposed.

      • Tom June 9, 2016 at 2:26 pm #

        Thanks for the response, I’m having the same considerations about the HR1 and double wall options.

        My main concern is being able to sufficiently stake out in terrain that is either very rocky (high sierra) or sandy (pacific coast). I’ve only used freestanding tents but have experience difficulty getting a taught pitch of the vestibule / rain fly. Granted this is not unique to the HR1, but can you give some advice about difficult areas for staking?

        • Andrew Skurka June 9, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

          As you pointed out, the HR1 has a lot of company on this issue.

          I’ve only used non-freestanding shelters, and have spent a lot of time in the Sierra and in southern Utah. Tricks in the Sierra:

          1. Campsite selection. If it’s so rocky that you can’t get stakes in the ground, I might ask why you decided to camp there. Your back probably won’t like the rocky any more than your shelter does.

          2. Long guylines. Refer to my post from 2012-ish about my guyline system. With longer guylines, rocks are less likely to be problematic.

          3. Tough stakes. Throw those Ti skewers away. When you’re camping in areas with consolidated ground, use stakes that you can pound into the ground with a baseball-sized rock. I have used J- and Y-shaped stakes with good success.

          In really sandy environments, the tips are different:

          1. Natural anchors. If you can tie off the critical points to natural anchors (e.g. trees), that is huge.

          2. Extra weight. After you have buried the stake, drop a basketball-sized rock on top of it.

          3. Stakes with surface area. Again, get rid of those skewers. Even the Y-stakes struggle, but they are better, especially with a rock on top.

          4. Vegetated or consolidated ground. The roots help hold the stake. And when you punch the stake into consolidated ground, don’t loosen it up by using your hand or foot — use a rock.

          Of the two environments you mentioned, I find a much stronger case for freestanding shelters in sandy environments, not the High Sierra. I’ve never struggled to pitch my shelter when I’ve needed to, but you have to weigh the time-savings of a freestanding shelter against the time sink of all these tricks to get a non-freestanding shelter to work in this environment. Honestly, in southern Utah I most often just sleep in a bivy sack, because I don’t need to tension it out, and it rarely rains there. When I really do need my shelter, it’s less annoying to set it up, versus having to do it every night.

  14. Johnny June 14, 2016 at 5:04 pm #

    Are trekking poles absolutely required or will we be able to get optional poles such as the flashlight series offers?

    • Andrew Skurka June 14, 2016 at 10:19 pm #

      You’ll be able to use the Tentsegrity Pole Set, https://sierradesigns.com/tensegrity-pole-set-pair/. It will probably be renamed in Spring 2017, to be less tent-specific.

      • Johnny June 15, 2016 at 7:06 am #

        Thanks for your reply! I’m really glad there is a pole set option.

  15. Tim September 1, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

    How much wind have you experienced with the HR1? I like to hike into the late fall in the S. Sierra and have had to sit out a few nasty storms with brutal gusting. Assuming the wind was coming steadily from the same direction, which way would you pitch this? It seems that the long sloping sidewalls on the short end of the rectangles would be the obvious choice to put into the wind, but there is no guy line there to solidify the pitch.

    I like that the footprint is smaller then “similar” tents…; not always possible to find the large, flat place to pitch up high in the alpine.

    • Andrew Skurka September 1, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

      I have a draft post on this exact subject, but I need some imagery before I post it. I’m going to send the text to you via email — I think you’ll understand it even without the photos.

      In short, you want the guyline to be parallel to the wind direction, not perpendicular to it. This puts the “right” corner of the shelter into the wind, as seen from a side view. The left half of this corner is the door, which is reinforced with the trekking pole. The right half slopes away from the wind. The seam in the middle runs to the apex, which is supported by the trekking pole.

  16. Tim September 1, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

    Thanks! Yes, please post imagery when you can!

  17. Kevin November 15, 2016 at 8:00 am #

    I love the new design and just about everything on the tent, but I use fixed trekking poles at 120 cm. Will that work with the tent? I love these poles and I am not ready to change them out for a tent.

    • Andrew Skurka November 15, 2016 at 8:08 am #

      That’s too bad, because 120 cm is a few inches too short. You won’t be able to get adequate tension on the side doors — they will always have slack.

      If you are looking for a pair of inexpensive adjustable poles, I know of a pair for just $30 at Costco, or $45 on Amazon with free 2-day shipping. http://andrewskurka.com/2015/cascade-mountain-tech-quick-lock-trekking-poles-review/

      • Kevin November 15, 2016 at 8:32 am #

        Thanks for the info, I will still be considering this tent, but I love my Black diamond carbon Z poles. 10 oz. I have abused them beyond their limitations and still like new.

        • Kevin November 15, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

          On another note, do you have a good recommendations on 3 season down sleeping bags, 15 degree or less? Or direct me to another appropriate blog that you have?

          • Andrew Skurka November 15, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

            A bit off-post but I’ll indulge.

            When nights are regularly below freezing, I trade out my quilt for a mummy. The draftiness and lack of head insulation of a quilt becomes unacceptably noticeable. I have a very nice Western Mountaineering bag, rated to 10 degrees I think. I use it in the fall, winter, and early-spring. It’s an heirloom piece of gear, but it was damn expensive.

            Mummy bags are not rocket science. With the exception of WM and Feathered Friends, both of which make their bags in the US, all of the other brands outsource the manufacturing to a handful of suppliers in Asia. There are subtle differences in designs, but it generally comes down to down type, amount of down, shell fabric, and dimensions. With the EN ratings, we now have apples-to-apples data to compare the warmth of bags, which is useful context when looking at spec weights and sizes.

  18. Kenneth shaw June 10, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

    I’m a little late to the party I feel, but in all honesty I’m looking forward to using this tent. While I love mids and so on they do have there limitations. Ordered the tent for a few of my longer trips this year and think if I were to design a tent from scratch, it wouldn’t be too far off from this one.

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