User Review: Sierra Designs Vapor Light 2
Price Paid: $200
First off.... context. I was looking to replace my old Walrus hoop tent that is similar in design to the Clip Flashlight. It was a single person shelter and I've hiked thousands of miles with that tent, half the AT, Alaska, Washington, California, 500 mi of the PCT, Georgia, North Carolina, etc.. etc.. That tent has been everywhere with me and it was a sad day when I put it down.
I was looking for a tent that would primarily be used as a solo tent (most of my use) but I take kids now and then so I thought a small 2-man tent would be idea. Weights have come down since I bought my last tent so I was hoping to either lose or at least not gain weight compared to my Walrus.
I'm not a big guy... about 5'7" so I didn't need a long tent and often I find a smaller tent is easier to find a spot for so I didn't even consider any of the bigger 2-man options.
I looked at and almost bought the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2. It was big enough, weight was in-line with my old tent and it had happy owners. I liked the ridge pole design that should be good for shedding snow and wind.
I didn't like the way it had to be guyed out from the sides. I thought the Vapor Light was an improvement in that regard due to the spider pole design up front that gives you more headroom and seems to better support the fly away from the inner mesh. I could have probably been happy with either though.
The Vapor Light 2 is a true 3lb. 6oz. pack weight (fly, poles, tent body, guy lines, 6-stakes) and I don't carry the footprint (I've never used one with any tent).
The space compared to my old solo tent is cavernous. I can easily sit up and move around in the tent without touching the walls. I can sit up in the center near the rear and I think I could get two more people my size in the tent up front for a game of cards. It has a lot of vertical headroom and the walls of the tent are all very steep.
I've only been out two nights in it but it was November camping... 35-40 deg. with drizzle and I had little or no condensation to speak of. With two people and slightly different conditions I can see getting some but it should stay on the fly. Two people with twin 20" sleeping pads will fit side-side but that is all the room you are going to have. This is a snug two person design.
The length of the tent may be an issue for tall guys/gals but it is absolutely no problem for me. I was concerned based upon the measurements and reviews with many people going for the XL version. I'm glad I got the shorter one because the weight is more important than the extra length.
Negatives? I am suspicious of the longevity of the Jakes foot. It works fine now but if one of those plastic feet break I'd have to cut a hole in the connecting nylon to do a quick fix in the field. I guess only time will tell how they hold up.
The front entrance could have been better thought out. It is plenty big but the fly door overhangs the inner door and some people are concerned with rain or water getting in when entering/exiting. My old tent was like this too and I found that in real life it is almost never an issue. I'd much rather have water drips at the front of a tent where I can wipe them up rather than down the length of my down bag.
If I had to re-design I'd make an option for a fly that had a front porch using a hiking pole support that would give better coverage in front. Not a big porch but slightly bigger with adjustable vertical space (use telescoping hiking pole to adjust) that gave full coverage for the door and would allow cooking (they can still make their disclosure about NOT cooking in a tent) in the rain.
Since this is a snug 2-person the extra porch space would make the design more usable for two, better cover the door and I suspect not add much weight (use lighter materials if necessary to keep weight down).
The other thing I'd change is I'd make the design such that you set up the pole-fly structure first then climb inside and snap the inner in place. That way you could set it up in a drizzle without getting the inner wet. A zipper down the apex of the mesh would allow you to clip the inner to the four corners then clip the top clips and zip it closed. It wouldn't have to be easy and it would be the secondary way of setting up but it would allow for a dry tent when setting up in the rain.
Overall though I'm very pleased with the tent. I have much more space than my old tent, free-standing and it is within 2oz. of my old solo shelter. Life is good.