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Backpacker Magazine – April 2009

Gear Guide 2009: Sierra Designs Zeta 3 Tent Review

Space and price align in the Zeta 3.

by: Kelly Bastone

Sierra Designs Zeta 3 (Seth Hughes).
Sierra Designs Zeta 3 (Seth Hughes).

Gear Guide 2009: More 3-Person Tents
Search through our extensive library for more reviews.

If you're more concerned with space (big) and price (small) than anything else, get the Zeta 3. There's no cutting corners on interior dimensions: One tester squeezed a family of four into the 43-square-foot Zeta and reported no fights. Two vestibules–one a cavernous 18.5 square feet–store gear away from the doors.

Puzzling together the hubbed-pole structure takes a practice run, and it's a tad heavy, but the extra ounces are justified by the extra space. Biggest drawback: Despite large mesh panels on the tent body and a vent on the fly, condensation accumulated in humid conditions, and the sides lack enough guy loops to keep the fly from flapping in the wind. $249; 6 lbs. 9 oz.

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Reader Rating: -


Paul C.
Oct 04, 2011

This tent is great! As noted in the Backpacker review... it is a tad on the heavy side. I'm 6'-3" tall and use this tent as a "two person" tent with my 14 year old son, whom is close to 6 feet. The two of use fit very nice with space to turn over and NOT be bum bumping.

Using the footprint I have never had moisture come in from the ground. As for rain - Brand new with taped seams I still put seam sealer on on exterior seams before the first use and I have not ever had a single drop of rain get it despite some serious down pours.

I've had minor issues with condensation. As the above review notes - there is a close-able vent in the fly which helps greatly; however I have had minor issues with condensation.

POLES: Odd at first, but after you've run through it once or twice tossing up this tent is a whiz. Large interior space, one HUGE vestibule and one small one. The fly has four attachment points to tether the fly in the event of excessive wind. These four anchor points offer good protection against the wind, but a couple more would have been nice.

A really sound tent... too bad Sierra Design is no longer making this tent.

Michael Smith
Jul 25, 2011

I have used this tent for two years. It holds up well to heavy rain on the Northwest coast and the room, well is wonderful. It took care of 3 moderate to large males for a 24 hour rain storm. After setting it up a couple times the poles are no issue, in fact become very easy. I plan to buy a Zeta 2 for when I don't need the space and have longer trips to haul it.


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