Landing in the middle of the pack, we particularly liked the high sidewalls on the bathtub floor during a rainy spring night, and the peak height was comfortable for a 5'10" person to sit and move about. Interior storage space was adequate and we enjoyed the fact that you could keep the fly's "wings" deployed for excellent ventilation and star-gazing on mild nights. Weighing in at 3 pounds 14 ounces, then tent is suitable for backpacking but also makes a solid car-camping option. Read below to see what we liked — and didn't like — while testing Clip Flashlight 2 from Sierra Designs.While the Clip Flashlight was one of two tents to receive our Best Buy Award, it scored slightly lower than the other awardee, the REI Half Dome 2 Plus. The Half Dome took the only score of "10" for comfort in the entire review, thanks to its super-roomy interior (38.1 sq. ft. of interior space and an additional 10.2 sq. ft. of vestibule space). In comparison, the Clip Flashlight offers 30 sq. ft. of interior space and 8.8 sq. ft. of vestibule space. While the Flashlight is less roomy, it is lighter weight, weighing in at an impressive 3 lb. 14 oz. compared to the Half Dome 2 Plus' 5 lbs. 7 oz.
Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 Review
Cons: Poor-quality tent stakes, heavy material, moderate price
Manufacturer: Sierra Designs
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Clip Flashlight 2 offers excellent ventilation and an easy set-up for casual backpacking and camping trips. This updated version of a tried-and-true favorite weighs in at a trail-ready weight of 3 lb. 14 oz. and features a mesh "bug netting" inner tent that clips to two collapsible tent poles. This design ensures excellent ventilation between the inner tent and the fly, minimizing condensation and protecting from any wind. While the fabric of the tent fly was thicker than we would like to see for a high-performance backpacking tent, it did keep the rain off and did not wet out in continuous rain. The fabric was moderately loud and "flappy" in brisk wind and we wished it were a bit less crinkly and noise-making.
The tent is designed for the occupant to sleep with their heads at the entrance to the tent, and on mild evenings, this set-up means backpackers can take advantage of the mesh door for star-watching. The tent fly is conveniently designed to roll back for full star-gazing capabilities while still keeping two "wings" deployed for nominal wind protection.
Interior features include deep, roomy side pockets near the head on each side, and we found the tent roomy enough for two adults to lay comfortably while also allowing room for daypack-sized gear storage. The built-in "Night Glow" lantern serves as a light-dispersing pouch for headlamps, illuminating the tent in soft, natural light.
Sleeping with one's head at the doorway (the higher end of the tent) alleviates any concerns over claustrophobia.
Interior measurements are 52 inches wide by 89 inches long, offering plenty of room for two average-sized hikers and a bit of their gear. With 30 square feet of interior space, the Clip Flashlight is slightly larger than many of our highest-scoring tents, including the Big Agnes Copper Spur and Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO, both of which come in at 29 square feet.
The all-mesh inner tent provided excellent ventilation, and the fine gauge of the 15D no-see-um Nylon mesh kept out pesky spring bugs without banning the cool breeze.
The 8.8-square foot vestibule are was on the smaller side of all the tents we tested, and we wished for a little more storage space when cuddling into the tent for the night. The outer fly over the door does roll back while two small "wings" remain deployed, offering increased ventilation and quality star-gazing opportunities when the weather allows. We found the two smaller wings did a good job of keeping off-side breezes and light rain out of the tent while allowing a fresh-air feel in mild weather. This was our favorite feature of the tent.
While the one door is situated for fair access at the head of the tent, we missed the convenience of two doors on either side and did find the feeling of sleeping with our heads on the "exposed" side of the tent a little odd. It also lost points due to the fact that if you're inside and it's been raining, you're going to get wet when opening the tent. There's no way to circumvent the dampness in the door design.
Ease of Set-Up
The Clip Flashlight 2 was easy to set up with just one person. The inner tent clips easily to two collapsible tent poles — no annoying sleeves to run poles through. Four stakes are required, one for each corner, and we found the stakes supplied with the tent to be of poor quality — bending easily when we used anything but our hands to place them. (And, in anything other than soft soil, you'll be using either a mallet or a nearby rock to drive the stakes into the ground.)
The fly attached easily, clipping onto the rear stakes with Jake's Foot snap clips, but requires three more stakes — one for the rear vent and two for the front door wings. In windy conditions or if you desire more airflow, two more stakes can be used to deploy the side stabilizer guy lines on either side of the tent. This is not a freestanding tent, something to bear in mind for trips in rocky or rough terrain. If you're looking for a tent Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO | suited to rocky ground conditions, we'd suggest the Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO or the NEMO Galaxi 2.
While testing on a drizzly spring weekend, we strongly appreciated the high-walled bathtub floor of the tent, which helped keep pooling water from entering the tent body. We found that the tent fly fabric was thicker than you'd find on a high-performance backpacking tent, but it did an exceptional job of keeping the rain off, keeping us dry in a continuous rain storm.
The fabric was moderately loud and "flappy" in brisk wind, and we wished it were a bit less crinkly and noise-making. Another tent we reviewed with loud fabric was the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2. In contrast, we were impressed with the quietness of both the Hilleberg Anjan GT and the REI Half Dome 2 Plus in windy weather.
We feel like this would be a tent that, with proper care, would last for years to come. While the 68D 190T Poly Taffeta fly has a heavy hand-feel and is a bit loud, it gets the job done and holds up well. The floor of the tent held up well to the paws and antics of a Bernese Mountain Dog, and while we wished the DAC aluminum poles felt a bit more sturdy, the performance of the tent did not suffer.
Other tents that we found were particularly durable were the Anjan GT 2 Person, the Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO and the NEMO Galaxi. If you plan on getting out often and in various conditions, consider tents that will allow for such adventures.
Weight and Packed Size
With a 3 lb. 14 oz. trail weight, this tent scores towards the top of the totem pole. We'd consider it an acceptable weight for moderate length backpacking trips or shared between who hikers for longer duration backpacking trips. The fly is made of 68D 190T Poly Taffeta, and we wish it was a bit lighter; the hand feel is noticeably heavier and thicker than other tents we tested. If you're looking for an ultralight backpacking option, the Big Agnes Fly Creek weights 2 pounds 5.6 ounces and is the lightest tent in our reivew. The Tarptent Double Rainbow comes in at 2 lbs. 15 oz., and the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 at 3 lbs. 1 oz.
This tent packs to a size of 6" x 18" in its included stuff sack. The sack itself is very simple, crafted of heavy fabric and offering no compression. We'd recommend purchasing a true stuff sack with cinch straps to compress the load further and save valuable space on longer trips.
Contenders that packed down the smallest in our review are the Tarptent Double Rainbow and Big Agnes Fly Creek HV.
The Clip Flashlight 2 is best used for short to moderate backpacking trips where the open doorway and light may be appreciated — fun trips where weight and true storm capability is not a concern. It would also make a comfortable car-camping tent.
Coming in at $200, the Clip Flashlight 2 offers a good value for people seeking a tent that is comfortable for weekend campground trips and short jaunts into the mountains. We feel like the tent overall is a solid prospect, and it's one we would recommend to friends looking for a casual camping tent, especially those introducing their children or significant other to the great outdoors — friendly features such as the light diffuser and the ease of star-gazing making this a vehicle for a friendly first outdoor to intermediate experience.
The Clip Flashlight is a tent we would recommend to casual outdoor friends who wanted a shelter with a wide range of applications. It's lightweight enough for backpacking trips (especially when spread between two people) but offers easy set-up and enough comfort for a relaxed weekend of car camping as well. The light and the ease of star-gazing from the door also make this a great choice for those seeking the first tent for their children.
— Jess McGlothlin
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