Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 Review
Cons: Limited headroom, not enough stakes, single door
Manufacturer: Sierra Designs
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 scores big for low weight. It also has a decent packed size, however, its comfort score and set up pull down toward the bottom half of this review.
Overall, we have to say this tent has a cozy feel. It has average or slightly above average dimensions; its 89" is sufficiently long for six-foot sleepers. At 52" inches wide at the head, it also offers enough shoulder room, and the 42" peak height is also right on par with what we would expect in a budget tent. However, to keep the weight so low, this model has to taper pretty dramatically from head to toe. There is a narrow plane near the door where you can actually sit up comfortably.
The single head end door is large, but it isn't as convenient for two people as the double side doors that you can find on some award-winning models in this review. The vestibule space can accommodate two packs, but it won't leave a whole of room for getting out of the tent.
This tent's namesake feature — the flashlight holder at the head — is fine, but it sort of feels like it is included just because. It's nice to the extent that having a holder for your headlamp or flashlight overhead is a good convenience feature, but the design of the pocket itself with the opening on the bottom makes directing the light more of a hassle than it needs to be. One thing that we did appreciate, though, is the extra cord that holds up the flashlight pocket. This can be strung through the loops at the top of the tent to make a clothesline.
There are two decent-sized pockets near the door, one on each side. We do really like the vestibule awning that can be pitched with a couple of trekking poles. It dramatically increases ventilation and creates a space for cooking or organizing outside of the tent.
Ease of Set Up
This tent is easy to pitch, but it is not freestanding. Two poles horseshoe around the head and the foot to create the structure, and the corner stakes provide the tension to volume it out. The fly and tent have a color-coded corner, so you know everything is oriented correctly, and then the fly clips into place. There are a variety of points to stake out the tent. The bummer is that between the four corners of the tent and the seven stake points in the fly, we were left a couple short with the nine stakes that the tent came with.
The Clip Flashlight 2 has decent weather resistance for a non-freestanding model. The fly keeps moisture away from the tent body when it is properly tensioned, but we found that it was difficult to get to that point. The front vestibule is long and sloping, so there is just a lot of fabric that can sag and flap in the wind. Because of the vestibule door design, if the fly is wet, you are almost certainly going to get wet getting in and out of the tent. There's just not a good way around it.
The amount of mesh makes for good ventilation, improved even more by the roll-up vestibule. However, there are no external vents, and the vestibule side flaps can really whip if they get caught in a crosswind.
The hex-shaped hook stakes are certainly sturdier than the typical silver hook stakes of many other budget tents, but since so much of the weather resistance of this model relies on its ability to stay staked out, we would consider upgrading to some shovel stakes that offer more gripping power.
The 68D polyester floor and 70D nylon fly are a unique combination of materials for a tent. We think that with the regular care this tent can last for years to come. This tent does have a high proportion of mesh, which is great for ventilation; it also just increases the probability of snagging it on something and starting a run.
Though not explicitly about durability, we aren't huge fans of the circus tent feel that the fly colors and pattern bring to the table. They are just decidedly not stealthy.
Weight & Packed Size
Coming in at 3 pounds, 14 ounces, the Clip Flashlight 2 is the lightest tent in this review, making it a nice option for the backcountry. Split between two people, each is carrying less than two pounds each — a very reasonable load for a budget tent. You will need a couple of extra stakes, though, if you want to tension out every point on the fly, which will nudge up the weight.
It has a packed size of 6.5" x 19.5", which is also smaller than most of the other tents in this review. We usually ditch it when we go on an adventure, but for what it's worth, it has a unique frontloading tent bag with compression straps that make it easier to store than the typical model.
This tent is one of the pricier models in the budget category. With that in mind, we think it is a fair, but not exceptional value.
The Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 is a lightweight non-freestanding tent. It's a good inexpensive backcountry companion. It lacks some of the comfort features of many other less expensive (albeit heavier) models. It doesn't offer a huge amount of versatility, but it may just meet the needs of a couple of backpackers who want to keep it fast and light on a budget.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch