Sierra Designs Stretch Prelude 4
Design: 4 Season Expedition Dome
Ease of Setup: Easy to Moderate
Weight: Approximately 10 lbs.
Price Paid: Approximately $600
After careful examination of multiple high quality 4-person, 4-season mountaineering tents I decided to purchase the Sierra Designs Stretch Prelude because it was the only tent I found that met all my criteria; quality craftsmanship, storm worthiness, can actual sleep four, weight, and price.
Over the last ten years I have purchased six tents, one of which is the Stretch Prelude. I have used the Stretch Prelude for almost two years in varied and sometimes extreme conditions and have to rate it as one of the most valuable pieces of gear I own.
The tent was used on a 12-day expedition to Rainier and Olympic Nation Forest were it accomodated four medium sized people comfortably. With proper seam sealing (extra care with fly seams around interlocks) this tent is totally waterproof. On multiple winter expeditions into the Rockies at sub zero temps. and 40-60 mph winds this tent lived up to the Sierra Designs claim for stability.
A few comparative highs and lows:
1. Can actually sleep four. However it is better suited for three on winter trips due to bulky bags and amount of time spent in the tent.
2. Huge vestibule. Accomodates lots of gear, nice place to remove wet gear before climbing in, and can be used for cooking during extreme conditions without fear of stove flare ups torching the tent.
3. Quality craftsmanship.
4. Storm worthy. This tent will provide reliable shelter in almost any condition.
5. Weight. Light weight for a double walled tent with superb stability.
6. Ventilation. When set up properly, ventilation is good. However I would only use this tent in cooler temps.
6. Price. A lot of tent for the money!
1. Floor material seems thin (compared to TNF). Although no signs of premature wear after extensive use.
2. Lack of zipper pulls. Only a factor if wearing heavy gloves.
3. Set up in some conditions. The fly sheet interlocks used to attach the fly to the tent can be a hassle in high winds or driving rain; it is an extra step not found on other tents. These interlocks are not necessary under good to moderate conditions but are integral to the tent's stability in high wind and should be used.
4. Packable Size. I can't say this tent consumes anymore pack space than any other tent in this category, but plan on purchasing a large compression sack for packing this big boy in your pack.
In conclusion I would highly recommend this tent for anyone looking for a reliable 4 person, 4 season tent. As with any tent, proper preparation before taking it into the field is a key factor in how well the tent will perform; thorough seam sealing, proper stakes for the condtions, guy lines etc.. Once in the field proper set up will provide the best performance; always anchor the tent taught, free standing or not, and pay attention to wind direction.
Design: 4 season expedition tent
Sleeps: 2-3 with lots of gear
Ease of Setup: Sets up fast, even with cold hands.
Weight: 9 lbs, 9oz.
Price Paid: ~$700
After two coats of seam seal on the inside of the fly, a significant amount of water wicked through the external tie-down loops and into the tent After talking with a local retailer, I switched to using "Seam Grip" brand seam seal. I put a third coat on the inside of the fly. I put a single coat on the outside of the fly only on the seams of the external tie down loops. My retailer gave me one tube of "Seam Grip" and four tubes of a brand I don't recall (Gore-tex approved). Sierra Designs says to not seal the outside of the fly, but it did the trick for me.
I recently had the tent out for 14 days. It stood up to rain, frozen rain, snow, etc. The last day out, I had to break ice off it. It did not leak, even after 8 hours of hard rain. It was stable in wind that brought mature trees down. I’ve not used it for winter camping, so I don’t know how it handles serious snow.
On my tent, the fly seems to have been cut a little too big. There is a "rain pocket" on the vestibule, no matter what I do. However, the cup or so of water that puddles there has never leaked through.
The large front door makes the tent easy to get in and out of and makes it seem even roomier than it is. (And it is a big tent.) A friend and I use it for late season canoe trips in northern Minnesota. It easily holds two people with lots of gear. I can’t imagine fitting four people into it.
I recommend it with a caution about sealing.
Design: 4 season expedition tent
Ease of Setup: Very easy set up, very taut!
Weight: 9 lbs, 6oz.
Price Paid: $650. Can, in Toronto
We really wanted to like this tent because it was comfortable, light and strong in the wind, but we were very disappointed in its performance in any rain. To make a long story short; the clips on the fly that hold it so well to the tent actually wick the water through the fly and onto the tent. The result is inevitable drips in about eight places and wet people and gear.
We tried two models that were both well seam sealed. In addition, the fabric of the floor where it rises to form the walls soon lets in horizontal rain. This tent didn't meet our standards for summer use, let alone fall, winter or spring use. In prolonged cold wet conditions this tent could contribute to serious hypothermia problems. We had one other minor complaint; in buggy conditions you must open the doors to the hoards in order to close the flys if rain comes in the night.
We feel that the Stretch Prelude has serious design and materials problems uncharacteristic to the Sierra Designs Company. I would really like to hear from other owners of Stretch Preludes, or tents of similar designs with or without these problems.
Design: 4 season
Ease of Setup: Very easy to set up
Weight: about 10 lbs
Price Paid: about $500 on sale
I've been very happy with my Prelude. It's called a 4-man tent but we only sleep 3 in it. Vestibule can hold 3 backpacks. Get some wetness at back of tent at bottom of fly in rainstorms, but didn't mind it much as we only go out for a couple days at a time. Also, other tents on trips usually do considerably worse...
Where to Buy
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