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Sierra Designs Polaris

The Polaris has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best 3-4 season convertible tents for 2021.

Specs

Price Reviewers Paid: $75.00-$450.00

Reviews

12 reviews
5-star:   6
4-star:   5
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

Excellent for trips where a tent with a little more room for two, vestibule for gear, and being solid in wind are important.

Pros

  • Great for two people with gear
  • Good in multi seasons
  • Good when in wind

Cons

  • Manufacturer support

Got this in excellent used condition a year ago. Has been on hiking overnights on the coast of Oregon, in the mountains, and on a 5-day trip on the John Day River in the high desert.

I love this tent! It is not an ultralight tent but a light for its size type of tent.  Best of all is that it is roomy for its size, has all the bells and whistles you would like, and can handle wind.  

We had 20+ mph winds one night and with it properly tied down and staked I slept like a baby. No collapsing sides, snapping material, sand blowing in, or rattling poles. Other folks in our party woke up blurry, sandy, and with comments about how their tents were collapsing on top of them in strong gusts.

Everyone is saying 5 pounds but just took mine out and weighed it in the shop and came up with 7.5 pounds.  Poles, stakes, tent, fly, and stuff sacks.

Easy to set up

Condensation is not an issue with fly set up properly

Good ventilation when needed but can be shut down if required in blowing sand

Great room for sleeper, gear at feet and head, more in vestibule, and can sit up in to get dressed easily.

Packs well, but I would distribute the load between two people as it is on the heavy side for backpacking.

Parts and features work well.

Experience

One year with this, but 30 plus years with backpacking and camping tents of this class.

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $120

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Welcome to Trailspace, Outdoor Dude! Thanks for sharing your first review with us. I hope you'll review more of your gear too. Do you have any pictures of your Polaris you'd be willing to show others in your review?


7 months ago

Why did SD stop making this tent? It's a great all rounder tent! I did a NZ /OZ trip and many other backpacking trips, have had about 300+- nights in it over the years—It's the "Bomb-ditty-bomb" of tents! SD needs to bring it back!!!!

Pros

  • Great all round tent!

Cons

  • Rain fly could use some help but not horrible either! ...ya just gotta be smarter than the fly!

Great tent! Does great in wind, rain. Ample room for two people and can get a tight three if needed...or gear.

Ventilation is wonderful with zip-off ceiling panel. Weight is a tad heavy but still not bad for the protection you get. Durable. Simple design without bells and whistles that holds up well for year of use.

I have been in other fancy expensive tents and this still kicks ass over those. Friends that had fancier tents were always jealous of this little gem. I have had it 25 years. I have made a few simple adjustments, repairs, modifications... but overall I would still take this over other newer models...this tent just works!!!!

I found a used one on Ebay a few years back that had little use and bought it as I knew it was going to be a keeper and the newer models just don't do it for me. So this is round II for me and the Polaris!!

I hope SD will bring this baby back with a few simple modifications that are ever so slight. This tent is a keeper!

Experience

Sierra Designs makes a good product. It has really held up well for me over the years, I trust it will keep the elements off me. Had the first tent for 25 plus years now, many-a-nights in this home away from home. On a scale of 1-5 I give it a 5+.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $425 / $45

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Welcome to Trailspace, Stever. Do you have any pictures of your Polaris you could show others in your review?


1 year ago

I just ordered this tent and the only trace of its existence on the INTERNET could be found here. Looks like a good tent. Ordered it from eBay for $75, but wow I can not believe that there is no trace of this product on the whole internet except for this forum. What's this about?? Very weird.

I haven't received it yet but will update once I receive it. But seriously why is it non-existent??

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $75

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Hi Brook, Sierra Designs seems to have briefly offered this tent back in the mid to late '90s. I hope you'll update us on yours with pictures and info once you get it. Good luck!


2 years ago

I'm very pleased with the tent overall, but displeased with the support from the company. The tent came with a lifetime warranty on the zippers, but for the past few years, I've been unable to get Sierra Designs to recognize that they ever produced a model called the Polaris.

Design: 3-season convertible freestanding
Sleeps: 3
Ease of Setup: Very easy

I bought this tent at a pawn shop around 1999 (?). I have used it a lot and it's a bombproof shelter.

After all these years, I'm still surprised at how big it is when I set it up. Plenty of space for two big dudes and the vestibule is nice, too. I rarely use the fourth pole, but the fly does fit a lot tighter with it. Either way, I have never been wet in this tent.

My only gripe is that it's quite a bit heavier than most newer two-man tents.

Design: 2 person, convertible
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: A bit tricky at first
Weight: Not sure, but I'd guess 7 lbs. or so.
Price Paid: $175

Bought this tent approx. seven years ago and absolutely love it. Got caught in a spring snowstorm in Alberta and was cozy warm and dry. Unfortunately Sierra Designs no longer makes the tent and to try and find poles to fit if you break or misplace them is a pain. Downside is no stuff sacks for poles/pegs.

Design: Polaris 2 person 3 season
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: simple
Weight: 5 lbs.
Price Paid: $450 new

This is one that you'd have to find used or on sale somewhere b/c they quit making it. Why I don't know. I love the tent, especially its ability to be three- or four-season. Its four-pole design can be reduced to three in better weather and with three it's still very sturdy.

It would have been nice to have had taped seams, but after sealing them myself it was water tight. One night I didn't put on the fly and the water pooled up in a flat spot on the ceiling, but it held kept it out. I've loved it and would recommend it to anyone.

Design: 4 season convertible
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: Very easy
Weight: 5lbs. 10 oz.
Price Paid: $150 closeout

I picked this tent up on sale without really doing much research on it. I just had to buy it and figure out if it was worth it or not later. So far it has been great. It is fairly easy to set up, even when it is pitch black outside. It keeps the rain out and still can keep you reasonably cool on a warm night.

I am 6'1" and still have plenty of room to move around. Headroom is sufficient to sit upright at the door and use the vestabule half zipped as a make-shift kitchen when it raining.

I do wish the poles were a little shorter to make packing easier, but I do not find that a reason to down the tent at all.

It handles gusts fairly well, but I have not yet had a chance to really test it out on a cold winter night with the wind howling. The vestibule and mid-rear points need to be staked to keep it flat, but I choose to just stake the entire thing down (family members got caught in a freak summer wind storm one night and flipped their tent over and trashed the poles, shook them up too). When it is set up and staked down, I call it the LITLLE BLUE BOMB SHELL. I am looking forward to testing it out this winter in the Carolina mountains.

Overall I give it an A. No complaints so far except that Sierra Designs stopped making that model.

Design: 4 Season Convertible
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: Even a liberal arts major can do it
Weight: 6-7lbs all included
Price Paid: $150 on sale

Combines the pluses of a dome and a hoop style tent. It's called a convertible, meaning the ceiling can be zipped out and removed along with a pole. Without the pole the rain fly is useless because it sags onto the tent in a bad way.

Ventilation is unbelieveable with the fly on. A little modification on setup can create a bomb-proof tent. A totally free-standing tent, no guide lines, even in the worst weather. It's a huge tent measuring 5'x8' and 50" tall. My backpacking partner and I are both 6'3". We have no problem fitting in this tent

Downsides. Pole design creates a dip in the roof that water pools in and a possible problem in snowy conditions. Occupants must push up on the ceiling every so often to let whatever has collected, run off.

This tent must have been a limited run because I have never seen it ever again, in catologs, stores, and out there. Sierra Designs didn't believe me that I had this tent made by them. I had called trying to find a footprint for it. I still haven't found one yet.

Design: convertible
Sleeps: 2+
Ease of Setup: setup under 4 minutes takes two trips around tent to connect poles then fly
Weight: just over 5 pounds
Price Paid: $300

Bought this tent two years ago. Very pleased. Extremely pleased. Cannot believe that SD took this one off the market.

Have been out in high winds, hard looong rains several times, and have yet to get wet. I did seal this thing super tight with Seam Grip. Easily large enough for two. I can stand on my knees due to great headroom. The vestibule is fair size, enough for a couple of packs. Very wind stable, easy to set up in the wind (relatively).

Hope to winter camp in it this year.

Design: 4 season
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: Peanuts
Weight: 5 lbs, 11oz.
Price Paid: $295

Excellent tent except it came without stuff sacks for poles and stakes. And the stakes bend if placed into anything harder than oatmeal.

Design: 4 season dome
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: very easy set up
Weight: around 6lbs
Price Paid: $330

This is a moderately large two-man tent (39.0 sq ft of floor space). Two people plus some gear fit inside nicely. Could work for three in a pinch. Clips make setup easy, although the poles are a little long and can be clumsy for one person.

Tent has a large zip-out panel in the roof (covering no-see-um mesh) and storm flaps for the front door and rear window. The door is large and side-hung, which is a nice feature (keeps you from stepping on the door every time you leave the tent).

Tent is tall enough in front for me to stand on my knees, and you can sit up everywhere inside except the very back. Fly attaches to the ends of the poles as well as to the tent and goes all the way to the ground. Front of fly forms fair sized vestibule (10 sq ft) that can easily hold two large packs plus muddy boots, or one large pack and a golden retriever. Tent is free-standing, but you have to stake the fly to get the vestibule. Stake straps are large enough to use a ski to stake it down in the snow.

I bought this tent because it was the most versatile model I saw anywhere. I plan to use it primarily for backpacking, but also for winter camping, car camping, etc. In good weather, you only need to use three of the poles. This tent is very solid and well worth the money. Only knock so far is that the seams weren't factory taped (no big deal).

Design: 4 Season Tunnel-Dome (taller in front)
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: Set-up is easy with four poles (Easton 0.340) and clips
Weight: 7 lbs, 2 oz
Price Paid: $335

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