Sierra Designs Convert 2 Review
Cons: Respectable size and weight for how spacious it is
Manufacturer: Sierra Designs
take on lower elevation winter camping or multi-day ski trips or summertime mountaineering in mountain ranges throughout the lower 48. The Convert will particularly appeal to summertime mountaineers and ski tourers who want a bigger mountain tent, but still want it to be lightweight, and but don't necessarily need an extreme 4-season shelter.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sierra Designs Convert isn't your classic 4-season tent for expedition climbing, but it will still work for several 4-season applications while offering a little lower weight than those traditional 4-season fortresses. Geared for more moderate 4-season uses like spring ski traverses, mid-winter snow camping, and summertime mountaineering, this tent will take a moderate snow load and fend off a fair amount of wind. It also offers enough versatility to make it a reasonable product to take on a purely backpacking type trip.
The Convert boasts a spacious interior and is one of the widest and tallest models we reviewed. Its 43-inch interior peak height was nearly the highest we tested, and its 30.3 square feet of interior space ensured it would be one of the models we'd reach for if we were forced to spend much time in a tent.
Its vestibule (included and removable) weighs around a pound but adds significantly to the livability. The vestibule is massive and offers the ability to stow two large packs with enough room to still easily crawl past them, even if they are already stowed inside.
Its fabric, rear ventilation, and double-wall design help deal with condensation during wet storms or lower elevation camping.
The Convert offers slightly lower-than-average storm resistance. It's still a 4-season tent and is appropriate for use in an alpine environment, but not anywhere where truly harsh weather is a possibility. It repels rain well as well as moderate snow loading but isn't ideal for higher alpine or expedition use. For example, it is a poor option for something like Denali or even lower elevation use in places like the Ruth Gorge.
Instead, it's perfect for multi-day ski traverses and spring and summer mountaineering in places like the North Cascades, Sierra, and Colorado Rockies. It's 2-3 pounds lighter than a number tents that are for burlier use; for folks looking to save weight and planning to use it in mountains closer to home, you'll find it offers a fair amount of versatility.
The Convert offers average durability. Part of how Sierra Designs is able to save weight is via lighter weight fabrics and lower gauge zippers. While these designs help save weight, they do sacrifice some durability.
It isn't designed to withstand being in the sun for a month at a time. For most people, this won't be a problem, especially if using in less extreme environments. If using for the applications recommended, we'd welcome the weight savings for subtle decreases in longevity.
Ease of Setup
This tent is slightly easier than average to pitch; it has one pole connecting the arch poles at each end, with rotating hubs and a second golden arch pole place in the middle. All of the poles attach at the base via an easy-to-use metal clasp and are held in place by basic but effective plastic clips.
The fly pulls over the top and is attached to the same metal clips that attach the poles.
This model has a packed weight of five pounds, 12 ounces (2.61 kg), a minimum weight of five pounds three ounces (2.35 kg). If you leave the vestibule behind, you'll find yourself carrying four pounds two ounces (1.87 kg). While this isn't ultra heavy, especially if you consider this model's overall versatility and that you can split up among two people, there are lots of lighter weight models, with several of them offering specific advantages.
For versatility across moderate 4-season use and 3-season backpacking, there are only a handful of models that blend weight, adequate 4-season storm worthiness, and 3-season breathability as well as the Convert. In addition to using it for lower elevation snow camping, spring ski-touring, or spring and summertime mountaineering in the lower 48, you can bring it along for 3-season low elevation use while backpacking.
This model isn't great for traditional expedition climbing or use in harsh alpine environments. It will handle moderate snow loads and offers respectable resilience against the wind, but isn't the tent you reach for to go to Antarctica or the Alaska Range. It's perfect for someone who wants a tent that they can take into the mountains while backpacking. It's breathable and well ventilated enough for mid-summer backpacking but strong enough for moderate snow camping and spring and summertime mountaineering in the lower-48 and Southern Canada. It also makes a superb spring ski mountaineering tent, as it balances weight and livability with its sweet vestibule (which allows you to store gear and cook in).
This tent is one of the better values in our review. It costs less than most of its direct competition and provides a fair amount of versatility. It was a strong contender for our overall best value but was barely edged out.
The Sierra Designs Convert 2 is an exceptional, versatile tent that truly blurs the lines between three and four-season models. It fills a nice niche for the type of tent that many people are after and fills it well. It isn't strong enough for most expedition use but is more than adequate for summertime mountaineering, multi-day ski tours, and lower elevation snow camping, which is what the majority of folks will venture on. It's breathable and light enough to take on pure backpacking trips, and we certainly appreciate its price tag.
— Ian Nicholson