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Published on June 24th, 2014 | by Greg


Sierra Designs Flash 2: A Comfortable Backpacking Tarptent

Tarptents! It’s a category we aren’t too familiar with, and the model we’re looking at today is an interesting hybrid design that allows you to quickly and easily pitch, then easily get inside while staying dry. This means that it’s a pretty hardy tent that’s easy to set up, but meant for use on fairly level, flat ground and not truly rocky terrain. Stake the corners, and set up the ‘single pole’ and ten clips, two of which attach at the top and swivel. There’s no rain fly to worry about!

A two-door, freestanding tent with an available separate footprint, the award-winning Sierra Designs Flash 2 comes in both a basic and an ultra-light model, which shaves about nine ounces from the pack weight but adds around $100 to the pricetag. As tested, you’re looking at about 4 lbs, 12 ounces to carry, which isn’t bad in this category and it does pack up small and tight. The best part is that this is a comfortable shelter, perfect for two people, capable of sleeping even a six-foot tall individual head-to-head or head-to-toe with a partner. The doors are super-wide as well, allowing easy access, and the ceiling is pretty high as well- you won’t feel cramped, even sitting up on a higher mattress or sleeping bad and pad (we tested with the comfortable, if seasonally heavy Backcountry Bed 600 and Zissou 6 because they were handy) . And there is enough space on the sides to stow some of your belongings and keep them handy, though no lofts.

We’ve seen plenty of Sierra Designs gear before, though mostly sleeping bags. It turns out that, no surprise, they make quality tents as well. This one doesn’t have the gizmo whizbang eye-catching qualities of, say, the inflatable Kelty Mach 4. And we wouldn’t recommend it for serious alpine climbs, or use in a serious weather conditions. But regular rains and winds shouldn’t be an issue, though only four guy points do make it a bit restricting and limited in terms of adaptability to terrain. As everyone knows, you generally get what you pay for- and though there are many cheaper tent options available, they tend to fall apart after a single outing or blow apart in a breeze, exposing your gear to rain and being the surest way to result in a terrible trip.

Those looking for a comfortable tent with plenty of room and who don’t mind an extra pound will be find themselves very happy with the Sierra Designs Flash 2. Great airflow and ventilation, plus awnings over the entrances make for a great option for three-season camping.  Available now, online and in stores, expect to spend around $300.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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