SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – April 2009

Editors' Choice 2009: Sierra Designs Lightning XT 4 Tent

Four is not a crowd in this family-size featherweight.

by: The Backpacker Editors

Sierra Designs Lightning XT 4 (Steve Howe)
Sierra Designs Lightning XT 4 (Steve Howe)

video iconVIDEO REVIEW
Gear Editor Kristin Hostetter shows you why this tent made the Editors' Choice cut.

MORE EDITORS' CHOICE WINNERS
See more gear that made the cut in our 2009 awards.

Through the summer and fall, this shelter won plenty of fans on test trips from Colorado to Vermont. But then came the clinching moment in Wales. In a rain- and hail-blasted camp high on the Glyders–a sharply rising 3,000-foot range in Snowdonia National Park–with 40-mph gusts that knocked testers off their feet, seven staffers sat comfortably in the Lightning, playing cards and toasting the creation of an all-new tent category: ultralight and ultra-large.

At just under seven pounds, this three-season, freestanding shelter is as light as some two-person tents, yet it legitimately fits four adults (and offers palatial digs for two parents and kids). With a 49-inch peak height, even our tallest tester (6'6") could sit up–in a camp chair, no less–while we rode out that storm in Snowdonia.

To trim weight without shrinking interior space, Sierra Designs developed an innovative hubbed pole configuration that yields a stable structure while using fewer inches of aluminum (it's a cinch to pitch after one practice round to master the asymmetrical design). But it's not size alone, as they say, that matters. Fully guyed, the Lightning survived gusts that would've shredded lesser shelters, and it didn't leak a drop in driving sleet and puddling rain. The 20-denier nylon all-mesh canopy saves ounces and enhances ventilation, making condensation a non-issue–even when we packed it full to capacity in humid conditions. Two big doors ensured fuss-free exits on that overcrowded game night. The two vestibules (totaling 27.5 square feet) proved spacious enough for cooking and storing boots, but backpacks stacked there blocked the entrance–our only gripe. $450; 92-by-95-inch floor; 6 lbs. 13 oz.; sierradesigns.com

gear finder



Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
niles
Mar 26, 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmyUc3XT8i0&feature=share&list=UUeWKaLsk9Z6TwWgPv3VGPnA

Anonymous
Aug 02, 2012

This tent is such a worthless piece of garbage that I cannot even describe it. Me and 2 of my friends spent two weeks in New England's backcountry, and even though we staked down our rain fly, put our tent on elevated ground, kept our boots out of the tent, and closed the doors, we were completely soaked. A huge puddle of water began to pool on top of the tent's FLAT roof, and it sagged down halfway through the tent, dripping water on the floor. We all had to take turns holding the poorly designed roof up with our hands so it would not collapse in on us. Puddles soaked right through the floor, and the tent took forever to set up, due to it's strange design. Overall, this tent is a festering, oozing pus encrusted hunk of rat bile that should never see the light of day. By the end of the trip, I wanted to riddle our tent with a minigun, throw it to a horde of rabid gremlins, and then burn it's torn remains before feeding them to a crocodile and shipping his excrement off into the darkest depths of space, where it would be swallowed by a black hole and blasted farther away then the dark side of the moon. This tent is a monstrous beast that hunts children in the night, smuggling them from their cradles and whisking them off into the woods, blood gleaming on it's tent poles. BEWARE!! THIS TENT WILL SCAR YOU FOR LIFE!!

Anonymous
Aug 02, 2012

This tent is such a worthless piece of garbage that I cannot even describe it. Me and 2 of my friends spent two weeks in New England's backcountry, and even though we staked down our rain fly, put our tent on elevated ground, kept our boots out of the tent, and closed the doors, we were completely soaked. A huge puddle of water began to pool on top of the tent's FLAT roof, and it sagged down halfway through the tent, dripping water on the floor. We all had to take turns holding the poorly designed roof up with our hands so it would not collapse in on us. Puddles soaked right through the floor, and the tent took forever to set up, due to it's strange design. Overall, this tent is a festering, oozing pus encrusted hunk of rat bile that should never see the light of day. By the end of the trip, I wanted to riddle our tent with a minigun, throw it to a horde of rabid gremlins, and then burn it's torn remains before feeding them to a crocodile and shipping his excrement off into the darkest depths of space, where it would be swallowed by a black hole and blasted farther away then the dark side of the moon. This tent is a monstrous beast that hunts children in the night, smuggling them from their cradles and whisking them off into the woods, blood gleaming on it's tent poles. BEWARE!! THIS TENT WILL SCAR YOU FOR LIFE!!

Art
May 03, 2010

Last month I purchased a Sierra Designs Lightning XT4 from HumbleOutdoors. I'm happy with it, it stood up to a late spring snow in NH's White Mts. Came with a free footprint and free shipping.

Mic
Dec 16, 2009

I live/hike in WA and I, too don't care for the all mesh tents that are so prevalent. Because rain and mud is easily splashed up inside through the mesh. And, my wife is a cold sleeper. She insists on more nylon, less mess. How about a "Best 4-season tent" catagory.

Jason M
Dec 12, 2009

Amanda: The Kelty Gunnison 4.1 is fairly light weight (under 8 lbs), quite waterproof and usually can be found on sale somewhere under $200.00. I often hike with someone 6ft 6in and we can sleep 3 men comfortably on the long dimension; or 4 shorter(ordinary) persons can sleep oriented the other way.

Amanda
Sep 17, 2009

I am still looking for the perfect intersection of low price, light weight and waterproof. I still can't find more than two out of three.

Nimbo
Sep 10, 2009

So basically, everything you happened to bring to Wales this year is an Editor's Choice.

p carr
Aug 07, 2009

Looking for your impressions, the article with this spoke how well the tent performed in adverse weather. I am seeing more and more tents going towards nearly all mesh sides seemingly for improved ventilation and weight saving. I have experienced that rain during heavy winds is blown up under the fly and that mesh in that area allows water in (v/s nylon), does anyone else note this as a major problem? Thx for the input.

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
What Year Did You Get on the Information Highway?
Posted On: Jul 21, 2014
Submitted By: Ben2World
The Political Arena
Religion confuses children about fact and fiction
Posted On: Jul 21, 2014
Submitted By: Drift Woody


Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions