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Sierra Designs Convert 2 Review

It converts nicely in both 3-season and 4-season conditions, and has a huge vestibule and spacious dimensions.
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Price:  $500 List | $499.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Versatile, handles moderate snow loads well, giant vestibule, roomy interior, easy to set-up, the vestibule is removable and can be left behind to save weight, handles condensation well
Cons:  Respectable size and weight for how spacious it is
Manufacturer:   Sierra Designs
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 1, 2019
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 20
  • Weight - 27% 8
  • Weather/Storm Resistance - 25% 6
  • Livability - 18% 5
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 9
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Versatility - 10% 10

Our Verdict

The Sierra Designs Convert II is true to its name as it converts well between 3-season backpacking and moderate 4-season use. It's spacious and weighs just over four pounds if you leave the vestibule behind (or just over five if you don't). Its weight is reasonable enough to take backpacking, yet it's robust enough to

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.


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Price $499.95 at Backcountry
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$729.95 at Amazon
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$990 List$479.99 at Backcountry
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$700 List
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Pros Versatile, handles moderate snow loads well, giant vestibule, roomy interior, easy to set-up, the vestibule is removable and can be left behind to save weight, handles condensation wellBomber, great durability, compact footprint, lighter than average weight, fantastic overall balance of strength, weight, and livability, best two pole model to get rained or stormed on in, ample guy pointsStormworthy, highly resistant to snow loading, pitches quick from outside, great ventilation, multiple setup configurationsVersatile, lightweight, double wall design works far better in rain than single wall models, handles condensation well, big vestibules, easy to pitchIncluded removable vestibule, ventilation system, innovative anchor point, robust, external poles clips are quick and easy to set up
Cons Respectable size and weight for how spacious it isPoor ventilation, slightly tricky setup, insufficient guylines includedZippers are small and slightly harder to grab, less headroom than other modelsIsn't as strong as other 4-season models, offers a good but not excellent packed sizeHeavy, ventilation system is sweet but the canopy fabric itself is not as breathable as other models, okay internal dimensions, average price
Bottom Line It converts nicely in both 3-season and 4-season conditions, and has a huge vestibule and spacious dimensions.All-around uses are this model's forte, but it's still robust enough for when the weather turns gnar.Built for the worst conditions but still light and packable enough to consider for summer mountaineering.This ski and summer mountaineering focused design isn't quite burly enough for full on expedition use but is perfect for any other trip you can dream up.A solid, lightweight model that offers more versatility than a majority of other 2-pole bivy-style shelters.
Rating Categories Sierra Designs Convert 2 Black Diamond Eldorado Hilleberg Jannu MSR Access 2 Nemo Tenshi
Weight (27%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weather Storm Resistance (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
8
Livability (18%)
10
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5
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
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9
10
0
9
10
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9
Durability (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
Versatility (10%)
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
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6
Specs Sierra Designs... Black Diamond... Hilleberg Jannu MSR Access 2 Nemo Tenshi
Minimum Weight (only tent & poles) 4.1 lbs 4.5 lbs 6.17 lbs 3.80 lbs 3.9 lbs (no vestibule)
Floor Dimensions (inches) 84" x 55 in. (at head) x 49 in. (at feet) 87" x 51 in. 93" x 57 in. 84 x 50 in. 85.1 x 48.1in
Peak Height (inches) 43 in. 43 in. 40 in. 42 in. 42.6 in
Measured Weight (tent, stakes, guylines, pole bag) 5.88 lbs 4.9 lbs 6.87 lbs 4.1 lbs 5.88 lbs
Type Double Wall Single Wall Double Wall Double Wall Single Wall
Packed Size (inches) 7" x 15.75 in. 7" x 19 in. 6" x 20 in. 18 x 6 in 16.2 x 9.1in
Floor Area (sq ft.) 30.3 sq. ft. 31 sq. ft. 34.5 sq. ft. 29 sq ft. 28.4 sq ft
Vestibule Area (sq ft.) 16.4 sq. ft. 9 sq. ft. (optional) 13 sq. ft. 17.5 sq. ft. 10.5 sq ft
Space-Weight Ratio (inches) 0.32 in. 0.38 in. 0.31 in.
Number of Doors 1 1 1 2 1
Number of Poles 3 2 3 2 3
Pole Diameter (mm) 9 mm 8 mm 9 mm 9.3 8.84 mm
Number of Pockets Side: 2 Ceiling: 0 Side: 4 Ceiling: 0 Side: 4 Ceiling: 0 Side: 2 Ceiling: 0 Side: 2 Ceiling: 1
Pole Material Yunan UL Aluminum Easton Aluminum 7075-E9 DAC Featherlite NSL Green Easton Syclone aluminum DAC Featherlite
Rainfly Fabric 20D Nylon Ripstop, Silicone/1200mm PeU 3 layer ToddTex Kerlon 1200 20D nylon ripstop
Floor Fabric 68D 210T Poly Ripstop DWR/2000MM PeU Unknown 70D PU coated nylon 30D nylon ripstop 40D OSMO waterproof/breathable nylon ripstop

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.

A superb tent for those looking for something a little more spacious but don't necessarily need the strongest of 4-season shelters for full-on expedition use.
A superb tent for those looking for something a little more spacious but don't necessarily need the strongest of 4-season shelters for full-on expedition use.

Performance Comparison



Livability


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.

It offers some of the most interior space and peak height  making it one of the most livable models we tested. It's a particularly good model for taller folks and even people who are six feet tall can sleep without their feet or heads touching the walls. You can see the inside of the Convert in this photo with two full sides sleeping pads.
It offers some of the most interior space and peak height, making it one of the most livable models we tested. It's a particularly good model for taller folks and even people who are six feet tall can sleep without their feet or heads touching the walls. You can see the inside of the Convert in this photo with two full sides sleeping pads.

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.

One of the main reasons this tent is called the "Convert" is because it has a removable vestibule that just zips on (or off) and can be left behind to save around a pound of weight.
One of the main reasons this tent is called the "Convert" is because it has a removable vestibule that just zips on (or off) and can be left behind to save around a pound of weight.

Its fabric, rear ventilation, and double-wall design help deal with condensation during wet storms or lower elevation camping.

This model's removable vestibule is HUGE and is one our favorites in our review.  You can see it in this photo with one 70 liter pack tucked into the front. It is easily big enough to cook and fit two full-sized packs - with room to sneak by.
This model's removable vestibule is HUGE and is one our favorites in our review. You can see it in this photo with one 70 liter pack tucked into the front. It is easily big enough to cook and fit two full-sized packs - with room to sneak by.

Weather Resistance


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.

The Convert is unquestionably a 4-season shelter; it just isn't on the stronger end of these types of tents.
The Convert is unquestionably a 4-season shelter; it just isn't on the stronger end of these types of tents.

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.

You can see the pole design on the Convert is great for creating livable space and offers respectable performance under moderate snow loading and 30-45 mph winds. However  strong winds and/or very heavy snow loads would dramatically increase the chances of breaking this tent; in a remote alpine environment  this is not ideal.
You can see the pole design on the Convert is great for creating livable space and offers respectable performance under moderate snow loading and 30-45 mph winds. However, strong winds and/or very heavy snow loads would dramatically increase the chances of breaking this tent; in a remote alpine environment, this is not ideal.

Durability


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.

We did find this model on the easier end of shelters to pitch. It utilizes clips to hold the poles in place and several of the poles "hubbed together"  which made erecting this tent quick and easy.
We did find this model on the easier end of shelters to pitch. It utilizes clips to hold the poles in place and several of the poles "hubbed together", which made erecting this tent quick and easy.

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.

One of the biggest advantages of models like this one (which use entirely clips to hold the poles in place) is they are a lot less susceptible to breaking while pitching the tent in the wind. This is because you can quickly clip the tent from the ground up  whereas models that use sleeves run the risk of a single pole turning the fly into a sail - while the pole is in an extremely vulnerable position.
One of the biggest advantages of models like this one (which use entirely clips to hold the poles in place) is they are a lot less susceptible to breaking while pitching the tent in the wind. This is because you can quickly clip the tent from the ground up, whereas models that use sleeves run the risk of a single pole turning the fly into a sail - while the pole is in an extremely vulnerable position.

The fly pulls over the top and is attached to the same metal clips that attach the poles.

The poles snapped into place with a simple but very secure system  with the pole tab inserting into the metal buckle visible in the picture and essentially "locking itself" into place with pole tension.
The poles snapped into place with a simple but very secure system, with the pole tab inserting into the metal buckle visible in the picture and essentially "locking itself" into place with pole tension.

Weight/Packed Size


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.

This tent sits in the middle of the road as far as weight goes. It is heavier than nearly all of the weight-focused single wall tents but not by lots and offers a lot more space. It is lighter than many of the more expedition focused models but it isn't as strong. So  it sort of sits between these two typical genres of tents but fills a rather large niche of users nicely. In this photo  you can see the back vent  which allows a pretty significant amount of airflow.
This tent sits in the middle of the road as far as weight goes. It is heavier than nearly all of the weight-focused single wall tents but not by lots and offers a lot more space. It is lighter than many of the more expedition focused models but it isn't as strong. So, it sort of sits between these two typical genres of tents but fills a rather large niche of users nicely. In this photo, you can see the back vent, which allows a pretty significant amount of airflow.

Versatility


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 lived up to its name and provided solid overall versatility. It handles condensation and rain well enough that it can be used across three or four season conditions.
This model lived up to its name and provided solid overall versatility. It handles condensation and rain well enough that it can be used across three or four season conditions.

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).

The Convert is perfect for most summertime mountaineering and spring ski touring trips   particularly for those wanting a little more space for short-term basing camping it (AKA not carrying the tent up-and-over a route). For trips where weight is of the utmost importance  we'd recommend a lighter tent; however  it strikes a solid balance of weight  weather protection  and comfort.
The Convert is perfect for most summertime mountaineering and spring ski touring trips, particularly for those wanting a little more space for short-term basing camping it (AKA not carrying the tent up-and-over a route). For trips where weight is of the utmost importance, we'd recommend a lighter tent; however, it strikes a solid balance of weight, weather protection, and comfort.

Value


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 Convert 2 isn't a do-everything 4-season shelter but it does work well for the types of trips a majority of people going on. It's far from our first choice for extended trips in extreme conditions but is perfect for moderate mountain objectives  and for those wanting a little more space and versatility - and are willing to carry a bit extra weight to get it. This model features spacious interior dimensions and a gigantic vestibule that can be left behind to save a pound and a half.
The Convert 2 isn't a do-everything 4-season shelter but it does work well for the types of trips a majority of people going on. It's far from our first choice for extended trips in extreme conditions but is perfect for moderate mountain objectives, and for those wanting a little more space and versatility - and are willing to carry a bit extra weight to get it. This model features spacious interior dimensions and a gigantic vestibule that can be left behind to save a pound and a half.

Conclusion


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