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Backpacker Magazine – August 2011

Gear Review: Sierra Designs Zia 3 Tent

A three-person tent with 40 square feet of floor space.

by: Catherine Buni

Sierra Designs Zia 3 (Courtesy Photo)
Sierra Designs Zia 3 (Courtesy Photo)

> $239
> 6 lbs. 7 oz.
> 83” (long) x 70” (wide) x 45” (high)
Verdict
This tent was our family home during a summer-long road trip through the Rockies and Badlands, where it got pummeled by thunderstorms that collapsed neighboring tents. The 40-square-foot floor let our kids kick and thrash without waking one another and the interior felt airy thanks to mostly mesh, near-vertical walls. Setup is a cinch (our 9-year-old did it herself), with two arched poles over each of the two doors and one hubbed pole to stabilize the ceiling. Bummer: Small vestibules barely contained our boots and dry bags during a kayak trip on Lake Umbagog. sierradesigns.com

Best For
Basecampers and budget-minded backpackers

Tester Data
> Catherine Buni
> Duration July to Oct.
> Locales/conditions SD, WY, VT, NH; 100°F heat, thunderstorms, icy nights, screaming wind
> “It’s not the lightest option. But durability is excellent—careless kids and dogs had no effect—and comfort is superb.”

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READERS COMMENTS

Anonymous
Oct 14, 2011

After numerous days of research, my husband bought this tent for me for my birthday, 10/10/11 along with other awesome camping gear (Thermarest Neoair Trekker sleeping pads). So we tried it out as soon as he gave it to me a few days earlier. We live in Austin, TX and all of Texas has been in a drought for months and there have also been an abundance of wildfires throughout the state. So of course when we decide to go camping for my birthday the weather decides to get out of control. There was lightning, thunder, gusts of wind, and heavy rainfall all throughout the night. I kept hearing the Wizard of Oz tornado scene music in my head. I thought that surely we would have been blown away but we stayed intact and in the morning there was not a drop of rain or condensation inside of the tent. I was amazed. This was a big upgrade for us, switching from a no-air-flow condensation filled Timber Creek Academy tent. If you own a low end tent and have never been quite comfortable camping, then it's time for the upgrade my friend! This tent was put to the test and came out a winner. And it weighs less than my Chihuahua who happens to be the best camping buddy a girl could ever have!

Jaime
Oct 14, 2011

After numerous days of research, my husband bought this tent for me for my birthday, 10/10/11 along with other awesome camping gear (Thermarest Neoair Trekker sleeping pads). So we tried it out as soon as he gave it to me a few days earlier. We live in Austin, TX and all of Texas has been in a drought for months and there have also been an abundance of wildfires throughout the state. So of course when we decide to go camping for my birthday the weather decides to get out of control. There was lightning, thunder, gusts of wind, and heavy rainfall all throughout the night. I kept hearing the Wizard of Oz tornado scene music in my head. I thought that surely we would have been blown away but we stayed intact and in the morning there was not a drop of rain or condensation inside of the tent. I was amazed. This was a big upgrade for us, switching from a no-air-flow condensation filled Timber Creek Academy tent. If you own a low end tent and have never been quite comfortable camping, then it's time for the upgrade my friend! This tent was put to the test and came out a winner. And it weighs less than my Chihuahua who happens to be the best camping buddy a girl could ever have!

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