Sierra Designs Light Year 1
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $115
I had this bad boy when I thru Hiked the Appalachian Trail back in '09. I loved this thing. Not only does it keep me dry, but it is also super light and easy to set up. This was a lifesaver a few times on those colder nights up in the mountains of Maine.
- Easy to use
I started with a Black Diamond Bivy tent on the AT, but quickly discovered it wasn't as waterproof as they had promised. I saw the Light Year 1 looking all pretty on display, and I knew it was love at first sight. This tent is one of my favorite tents I have ever used. I am using another SD tent on the PCT this summer.
Design: three season, needs two stakes to stand.
Ease of Setup: fast and easy. Open poles, insert in grommets, put in one stake, then the other. Done!
Weight: slightly under 4 pounds with stakes and my Tyvek groundcloth
Price Paid: $149
After more than a year of research, and two abandoned (gave away) tents, I finally bought a Light Year 1 for my solo trekking.
The Light Year is a near-perfect one person tent. It is much more roomy than any of the other one person tents I saw, used, or tried.
It sets up easily in a couple minutes. It is large enough for me and my pack. I use my pack as my pillow, and it's a bit tight. I'm almost six feet.
The abundant screening allows plenty of air, and I've experienced no condensation problems as I did with my two failed tarptents. The white nylon panel on the roof added privacy and a bit less breeze which I like over the all-nylon mesh type tents which are very drafty and public. The tent pitches taut and is quiet in the wind, unlike one of my tarptents.
I wish that the tent were symmetric so that my pack would better fit, but then there'd be no place for the vestibule.
The real clincher for me was the excellent service and repair Sierra Designs offers. They repaired my old two- and three-person SD tents quickly and with no charge.
Price Paid: $110
This summer I hiked near the crest of the Sierra with a few guys who had fancy, expensive tents. We were in a big storm with wind and pouring rain. They all got wet. I was snug in my inexpensive, light-weight tent.
Entry is easy. I just step in and squat down. I don't have to crawl inside as I do with my more expensive tent.
When the zipper failed on another, older Sierra Designs tent I own, the company fixed it for free.
This is my favorite one-person tent. (I have the earlier model with more nylon on top, which I appreciate.)
Design: non free standing
Weight: 2.9 pounds
Price Paid: $119
No respect intended to the individual giving this one star. Apparently after 5 years, the individual tried to use it and when they opened it, a pole was missing -- which SD replaced immediately. That is pretty good customer service. With all due respect, there was a version with carbon poles which was problematic.
That being said, for $119 this is simply the best solo tent you can get. I have used this on the Appalachian Trail and many other places. It's not free standing, but don't you stake down your tent anyway. Sure, if camping out west on rocks, there are other tents I'd choose. Like my North Face Roadrunner.
I have been in driving rains and stayed dry. All and all a true lightweight at under 3 pounds. The tent actually folds down to have the size of its bag. I actually wrap my sleeping pad (full length) over the tents, and it fits perfectly into the bag which is strapped to the bottom of my bag.
Design: three season hoop
Ease of Setup: easy
Weight: 3.3 pounds
Price Paid: $50
I'm doing an initial review after getting this on a supersale brand new at REI. So two things to keep in mind, I'm reviewing this after picking it up for cheap ($50) and I've only ever set it up in my basement.
So let's review the pros...
1. It set up easy. I don't have many guyout points in my basement but it still went up. I couldn't get it as tight as I might want but I think that as it was setup it would shed rain.
2. It's got headroom. I have always imagined that a one person tent would be tight. This one was pretty roomy, except for the foot box.
3. Everything seems pretty sturdy. The fly hooks up tightly. The tent seems sturdy, and I've always liked Sierra Designs products.
4. Light. It weighed 3 pounds 5 ounces on my scale, so it's about what they claim which I can appreciate. It stuffs down to about 5.5in by 18in. Much smaller if you pack the poles and tent separately.
5. The price. I had no intentions of getting a non-freestanding tent, but I couldn't say no to $50. Keep in mind, for another $50 I could order and retrofit a third pole that would make it free standing and have a cheaper tent than most 1 person freestanding tents.
6. Once I get the footprint, the fastpack option is light. Under 2 pounds.
The things that worry me...
1. Getting it guyed out tightly enough/ freestanding design. See point 5 above, it doesn't worry me too much.
2. $30 for a footprint sucks. I didn't get that yet. I will though.
3. My rectangular sleep pad doesn't fit as well as a mummy shaped one would.
Things I'll report back on...
1. Ease of pitching in the outdoors.
3. Fastpack option and what kind of protection it offers.
Design: three-season small tent
Ease of Setup: annoying since it's not freestanding
Weight: nice and light
Price Paid: $140
I bought this tent because of its light weight and reasonable price. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone though. It's kind of the worst of both worlds as a tent and a bivy.
For a tent it's barely more than a bivy. I'm 6'0" and I don't enjoy changing in it (stripping down outside in the cold and then jumping inside to the sleeping bag is quicker). In the morning, putting clothes on outside in the cold is preferrable to the yoga poses required to do it inside this tiny tent.
For a bivy, it's bulkier/heavier than the tripod/hoop bivies and doesn't offer much more space. I don't know how that 6'4" guy in the other review makes it work. Maybe he's skinnier and more flexible than I am...
It's not a freestanding tent. This makes setting up more of a pain in most places, and near impossible when the ground is hard to stake. It is pretty solid once all the stakes are in though.
It's not all bad (hence 3, not 2 stars). Ventilation is good, and I haven't had any condensation issues when it's below freezing outside. I think it would hold up well in a windy rainstorm, but luckily I can't say first hand. It is lightweight and well constructed.
After the pad and sleeping bag go in, there isn't a lot of space left over, but you can fit a good size pack in there if you're willing to snuggle with it. So it is slightly more roomy than a bivy. This could be better if the tent was symmetrical (like the rainfly). The part that is reserved for the vestibule would have been better used as additional tent in my opinion.
I guess it's just not the tent for me. I'll probably get a real bivy and a real tent to replace it. A tripod bivy for when weight/space matters, and a light 2-person tent for other times. That will cost more than twice as much, but I guess you get what you pay for.
Ease of Setup: relatively easy
I had this tent for five years before I used it, but I wanted to have one on hand for solo backpacking. When it originally came, it came minus the front tent pole. It took a couple of calls to the company, but they did send the missing pole.
Then five years elapsed and I had the opportunity to use it. The back pole snapped on the first trip out. I was impressed when they replaced the pole for free, even though the tent was five years old. The second time I used it the front pole snapped.
This time I am not asking for a replacement. It is not worth the risk. I will either use my heavy LL Bean tent that has served me well for over ten years, or buy an ultra light from another company.
I am surprised by the strength of the other reviews for this tent. Maybe this problem happened because the poles got old. In any case, I am not taking any more chances.
Design: Ultralight three-season
Ease of Setup: Simple and quick
Weight: Sub 2# or sub 3#, depending on configuration
This is an amazing tent for the price and weight. It's completed the AT twice, survived heavy snow and rainfalls and it's still kicking. It's been setup in pitch black with me being completely exhausted and still only took a few minutes. I've had it about 6 or so years and I'm considering buying the new model.
Other than a little trouble with the pole cords, it's been perfect. People do need to realize it is an ultralight tent, that means less material...smaller area, thinner fabric and pole wall thickness. Luxurious comfort and bomb-proof construction are trade-offs for less weight and good packability. I'm 6' and 185 and I think it's just as it should be.
Highly recommended for an experienced hiker looking for an extreme light-weight solo tent.
Design: Three-season solo
Ease of Setup: Quite simple overall. There are 6 stake out points on the tent body. Then, insert the two hoop-style poles in the grommets and clip the tent body on. One more stake on the rainfly makes a modest vestibule.
Weight: 3.5-4 pounds
Price Paid: $150
I'm a tall guy at 6'4". Most of the small, hoop style tents, especially solos, are too small for me. This one, however, did great for me all summer in New Mexico. There is adequate room for sitting up and changing in the tent. A small vestibule is big enough for wet raingear and muddy boots. The head end of the tent gets somewhat narrow, resulting your sleeping pad folding, but that's not a problem at all. It is a solo tent, after all.
Great weatherproofness. I did wish the fly extended further away from the tent body to enhance splash protection (minor deal) and ventilation. Most nights were dry for me, so I would often put the fly on but leave the door unzipped or rolled up. It's right there next to your head, so battening down the hatches only takes a couple of groggy moments.
Good tent. MUCH cheaper than a bivy, has more room, and only weighs a pound or two more.
Design: 3 Season
Ease of Setup: The tent is a breeze to erect. Two stakes, fore and aft, then the two poles which are clipped to the tent. The fly is pitched with two more stakes, and that's it!
Weight: 4lbs or a little less
Price Paid: $150
I used this tent this summer on the CDT for eight nights. Thunderstorms hit almost every afternoon and I'd usually have the tent up. No leaks. No condensation problems. What I didn't like was its length. I'm 6'1" and my 3500 ci pack fit in the v above my head, but I felt cramped. I could sit up, with a bowed back, and dress and undress with relative ease.
I also own a clip flashlight and decided that I couldn't tell the difference in weight when holding them in either hand and gave the lightyear to a poor friend. A good solo tent, but what happens when you meet someone in the wilderness and are hit with a thunderbolt of love???
Design: 3 Season Solo Tent
Ease of Setup: 2 pegs - very easy. Less than 1 minute.
Weight: 3 lbs
Price Paid: $129
Excellent 1-man tent that weighs a mere pound or so more than a confining bivy sack. Sets up very quickly and the small footprint allows this tent to be pitched in congested scrub and other areas. Tall enough in the front to sit up and get dressed, yet low enough to maintain a low profile in high winds. Very small vestibule for boots. A small 2-3 day pack can fit on the inside as long as you are under six feet. Great tent for the weight conscious backpacker who doesn't want the confinement of a bivy sack.
Ease of Setup: really easy
Price Paid: $129.99
This is a great tent...if you're short! I'm 5'3" and it works really well for me, but if you were much bigger you'd be having problems. I have plenty of room to sleep, store most of my gear, and even change. So if you're about my size then I would definitely get this tent!