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Sierra Designs Alpha CD

rated 4.0 of 5 stars

The Alpha CD has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best 3-4 season convertible tents for 2024.

Did someone say ZIPPERS?


  • Room
  • Conversion roof
  • Solid build


  • Zipper enigma
  • Door mesh not facing outside

My goodness, this is long winded.

I agree on the zipper enigma arrangements and too damn many of them with different colored grab loops and a combination code in what direction to zip them. It's the most overkill I have seen in a tent. Like I want to puzzle my way out of my tent in the middle of the night to relieve myself.

Along with the mesh being on the inside and not out, it does not make sense!! You have to open the mesh first to open or close the door for venting as the mosquitoes are waiting just outside to feast.

Yes, seal the seams around the Velcro stays and attachment points under the fly or rain water will start to flow along the poles. This worked on my three-day rain condition test (read down).

The front vestibule of this size and design on a three-person tent is a reach to the bottom zipper loop to open to get out. I have long arms and upper torso and even I have to hang over halfway out of the tent to grab the lower zipper and if it has water on it or raining your stuff and yourself are getting hosed.

But by myself most of my dry gear is inside with me except for food stuff, so I don't worry about wet gear.

This works on the Omega two-person tent with a shorter vestibule using a little more material, and an extra loop pole like on the Trios would make this a house, but then the extra weight is added.

How I solved this issue was making a longer and stiffer string zipper loop. This way I can ether reach it easily or grab it with my hiking stick and get it started to the point that I can reach it with my hand.

One small issue, but this is an issue on most tents, tightening the guy lines. If it's been raining a lot you're going to need to guy out this big fly as it sags fast once it gets wet touching the tent body and pooling on the very top concave of the fly. You will be tightening the lines a few more times than your average two-person tent but once they are set with long pegs and taut as in my three-day rain test it stays in place with no issues.

Am I done? Yes, but the above issues mainly door and zippers caused a couple rating stars to fall!!

Now for the good stuff: it is big for two big 6'3" people as my height, but three no, maybe three average people if you're close friends. (Oops! one extra peeve.)

I bought mine used but had no footprint. I use a tarp under it. Can't find a footprint for this big beast anymore.

I have had no wet issues with this tent. I sealed mine and gave it the once over with tent silicone spray and left it set up in my yard for three days in the rain and not a drop came into or on the tent, passed the used tent test.

I bring this on long motorcycle trips when I intend to live in it for days in one or two locations, comes in handy when you're stuck a few days in rainy conditions, grab a book and food, water and you're great and don't get stir crazy (the orange or yellow fly material helps).

It does get a bit chilled with one person on a cold night with all the air space. I just zip it up, light a UCO candle and hang it and bundle up.

I like the conversion roof panel I have two SD Night Watch tents and I have never looked back on tents with solid roofs, great for warm weather and star gazing.

This does make extra weight, but if you break this tent down to two packs it can be done.

I consider this a base camp tent, not something you're going to hump around day in day out.

Sooo is it the perfect tent?

I haven't found one yet. The word is seldom used when it comes to tents, except by the folks who pay huge money for life or death situation shelters (mountaineering). It has to be damn near perfect as your life is depending on it. But even then one bad stitch can cause an emergency situation.

I have too many tents and I have been reading and studying the evaluation of them since I was in my early 20s. Why are they getting skimpy and smaller?

It has to do with the weight factor, maybe my weight Lol!

We don't have Sherpas hauling stuff for us so it boils down to weight and lighter materials.

To be honest, if I am hopscotching daily from camp to camp or state to state on a motorcycle I bring my Night Watch or a one-person tent like my Eureka one-man combat tent, heavy, but packs down small and roomy with a large rear vestibule. In hot or desert conditions I bring the little known and underrated early Canadian company Quest two-person Starlight tent with lots of mesh.

Call me old fashioned but I am intrigued with the tents of old. The Moss tents are one of the tightest tents I have ever seen and beautiful designs a la Bill Moss, but they are getting up in age and finding a perfect example is going to cost more than it was new these days.

The days of geodesic seems to have faded into the past. How many times have you read "I wish they still made this model".

Good luck and happy camping.

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $85

I bought this tent as I wanted something lighter than the 4+-person 20-pound family car camping tent that I humped on our last backpacking trip that my two small boys and I went on. I also wanted something versatile enough for planned future winter camping/mountaineering trips. At 8 to 8-1/2 pounds, the convertible Alpha CD, 3-person tent seemed to fit the bill.

I’ve never owned a 4-season tent before so I wondered about the design of the doors. The screen is on the inside, the storm flap on the outside and each has its own separate zipper. I understand that this is probably the best design for winter, but in the summer the space between the two tends to collect sand, dirt, leaves, etc. Other than that this is an awesome tent. It’s light, roomy enough for my two boys (ages 9 and 6) and our two small dogs (poodle and a whippet). I would caution however that it would be a tight fit for three adults, but it would be entirely doable.

The zip out panel on the top provides excellent ventilation in hot weather, just as good as any three-season tent I’ve been in, even with the fly on. It has a fully vented door on each end, so the rather small vestibule is not a real problem as one could stack gear in the vestibule and use the other door for entry. The clip-on design of the poles really works well, no threading poles through sleeves and getting them stuck halfway through. I can put the thing up in five minutes by myself. It hasn’t seen severe weather yet (or even a heavy rain), but the fly fits very snugly and I think that it would hold up well. I highly recommend this tent as a versatile, relatively light 4-season tent that could accommodate three adults if needed.

Design: 3-4 Season Convertible
Sleeps: 3
Ease of Setup: Really easy, 5 min by myself.
Weight: 8 to 8-1/2 pounds
Price Paid: $320

Highly versatile as advertised. Wonderfully crafted, with straight stitching, quality clips and poles. My brother and I set it up our first try without directions--very easy.

The open panel on the top near the head of the tent makes for lovely star-gazing, and then seals up with the zipper when the wind really starts to howl and chill.

It is a 3-person tent only if your pads and bags are mummy style and you are small people. We are/had neither.

My only change would be to have the mesh door on the outside so that the solid door doesn't unzip onto the ground and get dirty or caught on something abrasive (or sharp like my son's trekking-pole tip...).

The weather on this trip was dry and clear (and cold) so we left the fly at takes the weight well in excess of 8 lbs when included. With the 6 pt. tie down we employed, wind-flap was non-existent, even with gusts to 30mph.

Headroom is ample. Get aftermarket stakes, as these are inadequate needle style with loops. These stakes would not hold up in bad storms or snowy conditions.

My brother in-law (owner who loaned it to us) has camped in the snow in Norway using this thing and swears by its robust construction and versatile design. I came away impressed and pleased myself.

Design: 3-4 season convertible free-standing
Sleeps: 3
Ease of Setup: very w/out fly
Weight: 9lb packed, we were just over 8 w/ footprint
Price Paid: borrowed

Best tent I have ever used.


  • Quality
  • Ease of setup

My father used this for about 20 years sparingly before giving it to me last week when he found out I was shopping. I doubt I could have found one I liked as much as I like this tent.

Great quality tent! Easy to set up, very stable, and held out amazingly during a very strong thunderstorm. Everything is easy to use and the roof ventilation is great for keeping things warm or cool.

Plenty of room for two people and some gear. Easy to dismantle and clean, packs away with room to spare in the stuff sack. Doubt I will ever need another tent now that I have this one!

Source: received it as a personal gift

Not sure if it's the very best tent on the market, but this is a very good one. I've slept through 35-degree rains and stayed warm and dry, and in summer it converts to a very breathable shelter.

My only real negative is the zipper setup on the solid doors—not the most user friendly.

I would buy another. Also, I've had good experiences with Sierra Designs' customer service.

Price Paid: $299

I love the tent in all conditions. My only gripe however, I wish it had an extra pole option for the vestibule. There are times I wish it had a little more headroom within this area.

Design: 3-4 season convertible
Sleeps: 3
Ease of Setup: you can set this tent up in no time,even alone
Weight: 10lbs
Price Paid: $299

I absolutely loved this tent until it rained. This tent is great, but it is absolutely horrible in the rain. It is not waterproof in the slightest.

Sleeps: 3
Price Paid: 550 CAD

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Price Reviewers Paid: $85.00-$320.00