Hands-on Gear Review

Sierra Designs Summer Moon Review

Price:  $190 List | $179.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, light diffuser pocket, lightweight
Cons:  Single side D door, fly difficult to attach
Bottom line:  A lightweight, budget tent with a couple design flaws that hold it back.
Editors' Rating:   
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Measured Weight:  4.00 lbs
Floor Area:  29.2 sq ft
Packed Size:  6 x 18 in
Manufacturer:   Sierra Designs

Our Verdict

There are a handful of things to like about the Sierra Designs Summer Moon. It's inexpensive, and very lightweight especially considering its pricetag. And though this tent includes a couple other thoughtful design features, its downfalls are the single, side D-door, and a head-scratching fly design, that left our reviewers twisting in the wind.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Last Updated:
Monday
April 16, 2018

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The Summer Moon earns a high mark for its packed size, which is especially surprising given its weight relative to other even more compact tents. We thought it was comfortable enough, but it lost out on some points for its single door. The tent itself was actually one of the easier ones to pitch night in and night out, but the poor fly design ultimately meant that we were left a little frustrated when the wind and rain rolled in.

Performance Comparison


A budget tent for fair-weather trips.
A budget tent for fair-weather trips.

Comfort


This tent felt roomier than we expected. Though none of its dimensions are off the charts, the Summer Moon 2 doesn't skimp anywhere either, offering enough room for two people to sleep comfortably. It also does not taper, adding to its spacious-feeling interior.

It includes an overhead Night Glow light diffuser, which makes a headlamp shine just a little softer throughout the tent. The diffuser cord doubles as a convenient clothesline for small items.

Light diffuser in the foreground with extra 'clothesline' and storage pockets in the background.
Light diffuser in the foreground with extra 'clothesline' and storage pockets in the background.

This tent's primary drawback is the single, side D-door, which drives us just a little bananas. It's large, which is nice, but you are inevitably forced to play leapfrog with your tentmate to get out if you are on the far side of the tent. The design is especially problematic during rainstorms; if someone is trying to enter when another person is already in the tent on the near side, there is typically an inconvenient doorway shuffle that means water is going to drip inside. We also found that someone trying to get out in the middle of the night usually bumped or stepped on the other person on their way out-- a non-issue with other door configurations.

The side D-door is large  but getting out from the back of the tent is inconvenient.
The side D-door is large, but getting out from the back of the tent is inconvenient.

Ease of Set Up


The tent itself was easy enough to set up. It comes with two identical poles that cross at the apex, with clips on the tent body that snap in place. Simple.

This tent has a classic and intuitive two pole setup.
This tent has a classic and intuitive two pole setup.

The fly is a whole other matter. There were times during testing that we questioned whether or not it was the right size for the tent. It doesn't come with grommets or clips like most other tents. Instead, it has guy lines at the corners that loop around the stakes. Set up goes pretty well with two people, but without someone holding tension on the lines, the loops slide off immediately.

Even with a lot of patience  it's tough to get the fly on correctly.
Even with a lot of patience, it's tough to get the fly on correctly.

The first time we set it up in a consistent breeze, we staked, unstaked, tightened, loosened, and adjusted. After about 10 minutes of working on it, we got to a place where it was serviceable, but there was still slack in the vestibule and the geometry was pretty funky. If you are trying to set this thing up in the wind, it can get very frustrating, very quickly.

It is difficult to get the fly taught in all the right places  which means the gear inside the vestibule ends up playing a supporting role.
It is difficult to get the fly taught in all the right places, which means the gear inside the vestibule ends up playing a supporting role.

Weather Resistance


We didn't love the Summer Moon when it came to protecting us from the elements. Though the tent itself is sturdy enough and comes with a fair amount of extra guyline to secure it in inclement weather, there is a massive gap between the ground and the fly, which means when it's raining, your gear will pay the price. Water drips down and underneath the vestibule and the other set up issues with the fly geometry and fit mean that this is a poor choice for using in climates that see a lot of rainfall.

There is a huge space between the fly and the ground that enables precipitation to drip and blow into the vestibule.
There is a huge space between the fly and the ground that enables precipitation to drip and blow into the vestibule.

It's a decidedly unstealthy azure blue, but we found that it was well-ventilated, and the mesh canopy made for some solid stargazing on clear nights.

Durability


Despite its issues with weather resistance, the Summer Moon proved its durability. We pitched it in a New England noreaster to see what would happen. Despite rapidly accumulating snow, high winds and falling debris, its 68 denier body and fly took it all in stride. We don't blame it for not staying upright, but the materials looked no worse for wear. It does come with nine hexagonal stakes. They are sturdy and won't bend under most circumstances, even if you use your feet to sink them into the ground.

Nine sturdy hexagonal stakes included.
Nine sturdy hexagonal stakes included.

Weight and Packed Size


We were pleasantly surprised by the size and weight of the Summer Moon 2. At four pounds even, it is very manageable for two people to take it backpacking for an extended adventure. It is lighter than most of the tents we tested, which is a big plus, especially considering its dimensions and price.

Best Applications


This is a good starter tent for the weekend warrior looking to dip their toes in the backpacking game, though we would recommend it to people who will be doing the bulk of their backpacking in more arid conditions. Split its weight between two people and it's easily light enough to take into the backcountry for a few days.

Value


This is an inexpensive tent and comes as a good value for those who prioritize low weight and low price.

Conclusion


The Sierra Designs Summer Moon has its moments. We won't call it 'cheap', but it does need some attention to the design of the fly and placement of the door. It's a decent, inexpensive, lightweight and relatively comfortable option, but we would prefer spending the extra money for the NEMO Dagger.
Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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Most recent review: April 16, 2018
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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