Preview: Sierra Designs High Route 2.0 || Smaller, but now just 27 oz for fly + inner

The updated Sierra Designs High Route 1 will be smaller and 10 oz lighter than the original.

The Sierra Designs High Route 1FL was launched in fall 2016, and a second-generation will arrive in spring 2019. Its name will not change (i.e. not High Route 2.0 or High Route II), and the existing design will be phased out. MSRP remains $300.

Most notably, the updated High Route is smaller than the original. Instead of being an oversized one-person tent that can fit two, it’s now a true solo shelter.

Along with a few other tweaks, this downsizing translated to significant weight savings. The second-generation specs at just 1 lb 11 oz (27 oz; 765 grams) for the fly and inner, versus 2 lbs 5 oz for the original, a 10-oz reduction. More specifically, the fly is 16 oz and the inner body is 11 oz. These weights include guylines and tensioners.

The High Route requires a minimum of six stakes, and two more are included so that its doors can be porched open (+3.5-ish oz total). Stuff sacks add another ounce. SD is reporting the packaged weight, which includes everything, as 1 lbs 15 oz (31 oz; 890 grams).

On its own, the fly weighs 16 oz and requires six stakes, although I recommend eight so that its doors can be porched out in calm conditions to improve airflow and increase protected space.

In its slimmed down form, the High Route is much more competitive in its category. In comparison, it’s:

Each of these shelters (plus others like them) has unique pros and cons, and I’d recommend full consideration of each to better understand their advantages and tradeoffs (e.g. size, ventilation, materials, ease of pitch, price, availability).


I designed the original High Route from start to finish, with critical technical assistance from Sierra Designs. Due to a combination of personal and brand-related factors, I chose not to renew my contract with SD last January, after three years with them. My last project for SD was developing a plan to overhaul the High Route. I saw the second-generation High Route for the first time last week at Outdoor Retailer, and have no stake in its success or failure.


The original High Route has one major flaw: it’s relatively heavy, at 2 lbs 5 oz for the fly and inner. Unfortunately, there are many one-person, double-wall, trekking pole-supported, $300-ish tents that weigh 8 to 16 ounces less, and I think the High Route was a non-starter for many, especially those who don’t understand or appreciate the sources of that weight. In particular, the High Route offered massive interior volume, double doors and double door awnings, #5 double zippers, durable 20d and 30d fabrics, taped seams, and line-locks and ample cordage.

Otherwise, I thought the original High Route was a really solid shelter. Its poles do not block the entryways or dissect the sleeping area. It ventilates extremely well, even when it’s raining or snowing. Its vertical and steeply sloping walls maximize interior volume for the size of its footprint. Its most vulnerable panels (the vertical doors) are reinforced by sturdy trekking poles. It’s well built and reasonably priced. The pitch is very simple, and can be adjusted for the conditions. And it’s comfortable in crappy weather, on gear-intensive outings, and for larger backpackers.

With its generous dimensions and storm-worthy design, the High Route performs superbly in crappy weather.

With two (or now 1.5) doors, ventilation is excellent in the High Route.

Second-generation: What’s the same? What’s different?

The primary goal in redesigning the High Route was to reduce its weight, but without great compromises to its functionality or service life.

The basic geometry has not changed. But it’s smaller:

  • The new fly is 42″ x 102″ (width x length) with 45-inch peaks, which is a reduction of 3 to 6 inches in each dimension versus the original;
  • The new inner is 27.5″ x 87″ (width x length) with 40-inch peaks, which is a reduction of 2 to 3 inches in each dimension.

The fly is still 20d sil/PU-coated nylon, rated to 1200mm hydrostatic head. But the floor is now, too (instead of 30d). The bug mesh remains 15d. The seams are taped.

The colors and patterning was updated, so that it’s consistent with other SD shelters.

One door remains as-is.

Full door side

But the other side is now more of a “gear closet.” On the fly, the zipper is half length; the panel can still be rolled up or porched out. On the inner, a D-shaped door provides access to this vestibule space.

Instead of two full doors, one door has been converted to a gear garage. The panel can still be rolled up or porched, to vent or to create additional protected space.

The D-shaped gear port on the inner. Notice how the half-door on the fly can be rolled up.

Hardware, trims, and accessories (e.g. side-release buckles, webbing, Velcro tabs along the door, NiteGlo) that were over-sized (for gloved hands) or that proved unnecessary were downsized or eliminated. But it still has ample cordage and either line tensioners or line cleats on the four fly corners, two fly apexes, two fly doors, and four inner body corners.


The original High Route was generously sized and featured. But the market failed to appreciate it, because the market either doesn’t care enough or because we did a poor job in telling the story, or both.

The updated High Route is more consistent with market norms. It’s a true one-person shelter, not a 1+ or 2-person; it now has “just” 1.5 doors, rather than two; and its hardware is perfectly functional, but now less glove-friendly. With the resulting weight-savings, I suspect that more backpackers will give it serious consideration.

Questions or thoughts about the updated High Route? Leave a comment.

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40 Responses to Preview: Sierra Designs High Route 2.0 || Smaller, but now just 27 oz for fly + inner

  1. john smith August 1, 2018 at 12:08 pm #

    It’s a shame that they’ve whittled away at the product’s primary selling point (spaciousness) to lose a trivial amount of weight.

    Real one-person tents make for nice photographs and fantasies, but they always involve a degree of suffering and discomfort.

    Perhaps it’s the “beginning of the end” for an interesting product.

    • Andrew Skurka August 1, 2018 at 12:20 pm #

      “Trivial amount of weight”? It’s 10 oz, or a 27 percent reduction from the original. That seems pretty significant to me.

      Also, not sure that SD should get all the blame for this. Despite its spaciousness, people were not buying it. If left in its current configuration, it probably would have been dropped, because the units wouldn’t justify the basic admin time of keeping in stock.

      Most consumers don’t appreciate the subtleties of shelter design. They look at basic specs (price, weight, person capacity) and buy something. It takes another level of education to understand interior volume, fabric performance, ventilation, pitching configurations, etc. There’s really no other way to explain the success of products like the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL, which is coffin-sized, made of delicate fabrics, and spec’d with non-adjustable 1.5-mm guylines with fixed knots.

      • Mike August 1, 2018 at 12:37 pm #

        As someone who owns a HR, thanks for looking at those finer details.

      • Langleybackcountry August 1, 2018 at 1:44 pm #

        I think the FL1 had an identity problem in that I am not sure who it was for. Not light enough to be considered a “light” shelter, more complicated than a tent.

        I fully agree with this about the delicate fabrics. At some point the fragility is a diminishing return. That’s something that sets Tarptent apart from a lot of makers since they now use 30d, 3k hydrostatic materials (except for their 1 dyneema model). And their tents with pole structures and less complicated set-ups are in the same weight range as the FL1.

        Not crazy about the “gear door”. Seems like it’s just making it less useful while not saving much weight because of the zipper. For the same length zipper why not put in a low door that could at least still be used?

  2. CJ August 1, 2018 at 12:10 pm #

    As someone who dislikes silnylon (stretch and water absorbancy) I’d really like to see more lightweight tents made or offered in silpoly. Currently only two companies have made the jump to silpoly tents…Yama MG and SMD. I wish more companies would go that route, especially with good designs like this one.

    • Andrew Skurka August 1, 2018 at 12:13 pm #

      I looked into this, and we couldn’t find a poly that was acceptably strong. That may be changing, or have already changed, but I’m less in the know now.

      • CJ August 4, 2018 at 1:39 pm #

        With Yama Mtn Gear and Six Moon Designs, plus the X-Mid going the silpoly direction I think the stronger fabrics are now out there.

    • Dan Durston August 1, 2018 at 9:12 pm #

      There’s more poly tents on the way. Black Diamond chose poly for their new trekking pole shelter, my X-Mid is poly, several other companies have unannounced products in the works that are poly. I think the market will be 50/50 poly/nylon is 2-3 years.

  3. Mike August 1, 2018 at 12:24 pm #

    I hate it when companies don’t update a name with a product update. It makes searching google and talking online about the products difficult. I am interested to see if the new high route II sells, but I’m doing just fine with my high route.

    Andrew, thoughts on the gear storage portion? It seems like it will create a bit of hassle in regards to making sure the tent body is on correctly, while losing some of the adapability that 2 doors gave it.

    • Andrew Skurka August 1, 2018 at 12:40 pm #

      I think the changes are substantial enough to warrant a 2.0 or II, as well. I really appreciate when brands delineate the iterations this way, e.g. Lone Peak 3.0. But, I don’t have much sway there anymore…

      The fly + inner are now direction-specific, e.g. the full door on the inner must be on the same side as the full door on the fly. They color-coded one of the corners (red guyline, instead of yellow) to make it easier. Accessing stuff through the door garage is definitely not as convenient as a full door. I think you’ll want to use that side for anything you will NOT need at night, and for adjusting the half-door on the fly. You’ll want to cook and leave most of your things on the full door side.

  4. Rex August 1, 2018 at 3:06 pm #

    Sad to hear you’ve left SD. Is there other brand collaboration in your future?

    • Andrew Skurka August 1, 2018 at 3:25 pm #

      Not on the immediate horizon. Any relationship would need to be a perfect scenario, because I don’t “need” to work with a brand — I have plenty of options to make my threshold of income. What’s a perfect scenario? Fun team, fun projects, alignment of goals and stories, and fair compensation.

      As I see it right now, it’s probably more likely that I will strike out on my own than work with another brand.

      • Ying-Ju August 1, 2018 at 6:24 pm #

        Keep us updated, I really like my Skurka Series products and would love to add more!

      • Nathan August 2, 2018 at 8:03 am #

        Thanks for always keeping us updated! I’m a big fan of your style and I’ve learned so much from following your work!

  5. Bryan August 1, 2018 at 3:39 pm #

    The original High Route is a generously sized and featured shelter that I appreciate Andrew! Especially being a taller hiker. Thankful I own your first vision and not what’s to come.

  6. Tilo August 1, 2018 at 3:42 pm #

    Hi Andrew

    Are you at liberty to discuss why you did not renew your contract? Just curious.


    • Andrew Skurka August 1, 2018 at 3:57 pm #

      Yes, I am. I left on amicable terms, wish SD the best, and would probably receive a warm welcome if I swung by the office tomorrow unannounced.

      On my end, I wanted to free up some time so that I could invest it elsewhere, specifically my guided trip program, which is 2.6 times bigger than it was in 2017 and which may have bigger ambitions. It was part of a broader simplification effort, to focus on where my bread is really buttered.

      I was also frustrated with things that were happening with the brand. During my three years there, I worked with five brand managers (including one interim). A few months before I left, the entire Boulder team (Stephen, Casey, Candyce) scattered, to Kelty (also an Exxel brand) and Big Agnes. A brand story is ultimately told by real people, so there was a lot of uncertainty about what SD was (or would become). Also, progress on my pet projects stalled entirely, and I just wasn’t willing to be patient for another 6 or 12 months before the brand regained momentum (which appears to be happening under the guidance of the new BM, George).

      • Mike August 1, 2018 at 9:03 pm #

        Out of curosity, what would you do if you were in charge of SD?

      • Randy August 2, 2018 at 8:38 am #

        Do the stalled projects include the Flex Capacitor update tentatively scheduled for spring 2019? And even if it drops then, did you still have any new input? I guess you’d review it either way. I was waiting to see the changes before purchasing a new pack.

        • Andrew Skurka August 2, 2018 at 10:55 am #

          Yes, updates to the Flex are among the projects that were stalled. It won’t happen until spring 2020 at least.

  7. Jack Brauer August 1, 2018 at 4:52 pm #

    Just wondering, am I the only person who considers a blue tent a non-starter? Neutral color tents (like light gray) are so pleasant when you have to spend time inside during the day, and your eyes don’t go bonkers with color adjusting when you step outside again. Also you can still have a sense of what the sky is doing outside (like if it’s dark and stormy, or getting sunsety, etc.). If you must have a colored tent, at least a warm color like yellow or orange is preferred, I would think. But blue is just weird inside, as are dark colors like olive and such.

    • Andrew Skurka August 1, 2018 at 4:56 pm #

      Not disagreeing. The blue is a classic SD color, goes back decades according to the old-timers.

  8. asolthane August 1, 2018 at 5:21 pm #

    Is the HR still your go to shelter for 3-season mountain west backpacking? What do you think of the X-Mid?

  9. Dennis Blackerby August 1, 2018 at 7:55 pm #

    Really didn’t buy my tent because SD sold it, I bought mine because I relied on your expertise to guide me in the weird lite world of gear. Keep us updated on your involvement with other projects. I will always support a hustler who gives it his all. Thanks for what you do!

  10. Dan Durston August 1, 2018 at 9:15 pm #

    Nice to see the update Andrew. The much more competitive weight is great. That’s the single biggest thing the HR needed IMO. I hope it is well received.

  11. Dan Durston August 1, 2018 at 10:12 pm #

    FYI, the Yama Swiftline isn’t 1oz lighter than your revised High Route as your article states. Their headline spec is 25.9oz but that’s if you strip off all the guylines (which are needed to pitch it), clip the LineLoc’s, clips etc. The actual weight of the tent is 28.3oz – 1oz heavier than the HR.

  12. Pete Frederich August 1, 2018 at 11:31 pm #

    Well, I loved the first iteration of the High Route. Pretty darn light, super spacious, and has not let me down in some very wet conditions. And vents well too. Keep the current and call it a 2 person tent.

  13. Roman Sokolov August 2, 2018 at 7:02 am #

    This update looks nice they reduced original weight but it looks like thet have created a new problem. Now I can’t imagine where I should stuff all my gear inside such a small tent. Many pyramids have some sorf of island where you can put you gear and a vestibule but hear it looks like you MUST stake out one dore or there will be no space at all. I hope to be wrong because I like original tent very much.

    • Andrew Skurka August 2, 2018 at 7:19 am #

      The updated version is “smaller” but not “small.” If you have a lot of gear, if you’re a bigger person, if you sleep on an extra wide pad, or if you’re willing to carry an extra 10 ounces for 50 percent more space, the original version will be preferred — get it now before it’s gone. Otherwise:

      Square footage under the tarp is 30 square feet, assuming it’s all zippered up; if you have a door porched, you get more space. The inner is 16.5 square feet. The difference between the tarp and inner is 13.5 square feet, which essentially is your vestibule space.

      For comparison to “gold standard” 1-person tents:
      * BA Fly Creek: 20 square feet interior, 5 square feet vestibule = 25
      * Nemo Hornet 1: 21 square feet interior, 7 square feet vestibule = 28
      * MSR Carbon Reflex: 17 square feet interior, 7 square feet verstibule = 24

      Comparing tent sizes is always tough, because the sense of liveability is a combination of floor area and interior volume. Floor area is easy to measure. Volume, not so much. In general though, the steeper the walls and the wider the peak area(s), the better.

  14. Greg August 2, 2018 at 10:04 am #

    How significant is the drop from 30d to 20d with the floor? I know “significant” is a bit vague but it’s really tough to get a sense for where the line is between *too* delicate and durable enough without being a fabrics expert. Maybe one way to put this is to ask: at what denier point should one be brining a ground tarp or footprint (assuming good site selection, etc)?

    • Andrew Skurka August 2, 2018 at 10:54 am #

      A 20d floor will last a while (i.e. several years for someone who only gets out a week or two per year) before it needs to be supplemented with a groundsheet. Polycryo works great — UL, very waterproof for its weight, cheap/easy to replace, and shockingly durable.

      Thinner floors with minimum hydrostatic head ratings will need a groundsheet after less use.

  15. natasha August 2, 2018 at 3:38 pm #

    How I wish they went the other direction and made it in DCF. The first version is an awesome design, but yes, weight.

    Being an average-sized woman, I nonetheless can’t sleep in true one-person tents that feel like a coffin. My favorite tent is Stratospire but precisely for weight reasons I swapped it for a Zpacks Duplex.

    • Andrew Skurka August 2, 2018 at 5:28 pm #

      DCF was never part of the conversation. Takes too much manufacturing expertise and is beyond SD’s brand image.

      • natasha August 2, 2018 at 8:15 pm #

        I see. Well, with BA’s new tents may it become more mainstream.

  16. richard August 3, 2018 at 9:24 am #

    I like this tent compared to my SMD luna. I’d gladly give up the 4oz for the space… but I’m still a tarp and bivy user.

  17. Bill August 4, 2018 at 7:10 am #

    890kg seems a little heavy to me. I try to keep my shelters system below 800kg.

    “Stuff sacks add another ounce. SD is reporting the packaged weight, which includes everything, as 1 lbs 15 oz (31 oz; 890 kg).”

  18. Jeff August 4, 2018 at 6:08 pm #

    Any thoughts about making a true two person High Route? Seems like it would complete the line. If not, what are the limitations?

    • Andrew Skurka August 6, 2018 at 7:51 am #

      No, no plans for that.

  19. Jim August 5, 2018 at 8:21 pm #

    Hi Andrew – you mentioned the floor is now 20D, does it still hold the 3000mm hydrostatic head rating or is it 1200 as well?

    • Andrew Skurka August 6, 2018 at 7:47 am #

      It’s the same fabric as the fly, so it shares that spec. 1200mm HH.

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