Sierra Designs Tensegrity 2 FL

This two-person tent’s innovative shape provides outstanding headroom and unobstructed views.
Tensegrity 2 FL Tent
Price $390.00

Specs

Ease of Setup 3 / 5
Weatherproofing 3.5 / 5
Ventilation 4 / 5
Living Space 4.9 / 5
Durability 4 / 5
Materials Floor: 30D Nylon Ripstop, WR/3000 mm PE, FR. Body: 15D Nylon No-See-Um Mesh. Fly: 20D Polyester Ripstop, silicone/1200mm PE. FR. Pole: DAC NFL
Shape Other
Free Standing
Single Wall
Capacity 2
Number of Poles 1

 

Diameter of Poles (mm) 8
Floor Space (sq ft) 29
Length (inches) 88
Width (inches) 50
Nonstandard Shape
Interior Height (inches) 41
Vestibule Front Area (sq ft) 10.5
Vestibule Back Area (sq ft) 0.5
Weight 2 lbs, 10 oz

Headroom

Most tents are narrower at the ceiling than at the floor (consider the classic A-frame pup tent). But the Tensegrity actually broadens toward the 41-inch peak: At the head end, its ceiling is a whopping 57 inches wide compared to 50 inches at the floor. Though that floor space measures just 29 square feet (which is adequate, not generous, for two occupants), the outward-slanting walls create unprecedented headroom. “Better than some four-person tents I’ve used,” one 6’2” tester says. The design also prevents water from dripping into open doors (the fly’s edge extends 12 inches beyond the floor).

Pole structure

The Tensegrity includes just one pole: A 48-inch aluminum arch that supports the tent’s foot end. The dearth of dedicated poles (along with compressible fabrics) makes this shelter smaller than a basketball when packed. Setup requires a pair of adjustable-length trekking poles and seven stakes—and several practice runs before the process feels efficient. “I wouldn’t say it ever became fast or easy, but we did get to the point where a two-person team could achieve a taut pitch in less than four minutes,” says a tester.

Front-porch storage

Instead of standard vestibules that store gear alongside the doors, the Tensegrity employs a separate “front porch” accessed through the tent’s head end. The result? Blissfully uncluttered entrances and exits. Staking the awning’s corners to the ground kept gear dry during rainstorms in Colorado’s Zirkel Wilderness. In fairer weather, testers used a second set of trekking poles to prop up the edges and create a sunshade big enough to sit under (as pictured).

Stability

Achieving a taut pitch requires solid stakeouts. The 20-denier polyester fly doesn’t sag when wet (as nylon does), so the pitch stays taut in soggy weather and keeps the big fabric panels from acting like sails. The design proved solid through howling wind and rain on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, and gear stashed in the “front porch” stayed dry.

Ventilation

A huge mesh panel at the head and two enormous mesh doors make for unobstructed views and an open-to-the-stars sleeping experience. “It feels open, like a tarp, but has the bug protection of a tent,” a tester said after three nights in Colorado’s Flat Tops Wilderness. Fabric panels zip over the doors’ mesh to seal in warmth and keep out wind. And compared to other single-wall tents, ventilation is above average: No condensation accumulated on 30°F nights in California’s John Muir Wilderness.

Upgrade

Campers who spare no expense when it comes to weight-savings can opt for the Tensegrity 2 Elite, which costs $490 but weighs just 2 pounds, 2 ounces (it’s made of ultralight silnylon, so you need to seal all seams).