The High Side 1 tent is a new tent from Sierra Designs, a company that is known for innovative designs at a reasonable price. This one-person, non-freestanding tent is lightweight, compact and intuitive to set up. The packed size is smaller than most due to the short length of the included tent poles. This tent was rated one of the 12 best tents by Backpacker Magazine.
Right away, one can see that this tent is compact when packed with no tent poles jutting out. With other tents, I often end up separating the poles to carry in an outside pocket while stashing the rest of the tent in my pack. The neat package of the High Side includes the poles and is only slightly larger than my rolled up inflatable pad. I can put my sleeping bag in my pack, then place the tent and pad next to each other on top of my bag in an efficient use of space. Or the tent or pad can go in an outside pocket. Having two items of similar size makes packing easy.
The tent body walls are made of mesh, which provides good bug control and star gazing opportunities on warm summer nights. With the fly installed, the tent can feel closed in but the beauty of the design is that an awning can be set up on the high side. There’s the expected zipper on the fly near the head to provide an entry point but there is also a zipper near the foot. This allows the fly to be staked securely and still allow for visual openness and plenty of ventilation.
The tent consists of the tent body, fly, 13 stakes, 6 guylines and a carry bag. The minimum number of stakes required is eight.
I set up the tent once in the backyard and again on a recent spring trip to the California coast at Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Both times, the setup was intuitive and I needed no instructions. First, the tent was staked out at the four corners. The two tent poles snapped into position and were easily secured to the unique grommets on the sides. When fully assembled, the tent poles are asymmetric with a gentle curve on one side and a sharper bend on the other. I remembered that the name of the tent is the High Side so I knew the slightly higher side with the sharp bend went closest to the zippered door. The bend allows the tent to be a little higher on the entry side while keeping the overall profile low. Clips attached to the top and bottom of the tent hugged the tent pole in two arches. At this point, the tent was erect and secured in place.
The fly was attached using the four existing stakes as well as two additional stakes for the door and on the sides. There are Velcro loops that add additional places to secure the fly to the poles. There was a good amount of space between the fly and the tent. At Pt. Reyes we were in a designated group site so we didn’t have any flexibility as to location. Unfortunately, there was a great deal of moisture in the morning and all of our tents were soaked, inside and out. The High Side wasn’t any better or worse than any of the other tents—it was a very damp spot. I wouldn’t anticipate this type of situation in the Sierra so I look forward to testing it further.
Inside the tent, I put my inflatable pad and there was still plenty of room on the side for clothing, ditty bags, shoes and other assorted items. The vestibule on the entry side was wide enough for my pack and would have enough coverage to protect it from rain. The highest point was over my head and then it swooped down to just a few inches above my feet. I don’t mind this design, however, my head grazed the ceiling a bit and I’m 5’ 8”. With the awning attached to two tent poles, it felt open and airy, but when closed, I was unable to see out.
Compared to my Sierra Designs Tensegrity 1, this felt more confining due to the lower headroom and lack of visibility to the outside when the fly was completely staked out in the closed position. Compared to the Sierra Designs High Route, this tent is more intuitive to set up by a long shot and closer to a traditional tent design.
UPDATE: It’s been a year and I find that I don’t use this tent much, mostly because of how low the headroom is. I’d recommend it for people on the shorter size but for me at 5’8″ I don’t like the top of my head rubbing on the ceiling of the tent.
The Sierra Designs High Side tent represents a good compromise between weight and space with a low profile, roomy if low interior and intuitive setup. The 2-pound tent comes with poles and does not require trekking poles. The vestibule provides good protection for gear.
Sierra Designs High Side Tent +$280, available spring 2018
Author verified weight: 1 lb 11 oz for tent body (no fly), bag, stakes, extra cord;
2 lbs 6 oz for all components including bag, stakes, tent body, fly, extra cord
- Minimum Weight: 1lb 15oz / 0.88kg
- Packaged Weight: 2lbs 7oz / 1.11kg
- Number of Doors: 1
- Number of Vestibules: 1
- Vestibule Area: 7.7 ft2 / 0.72 m2
- Floor Area: 17.2 ft2 / 1.60 m2
- Peak Height: 32″ / 81cm
- Dimensions (L x W): 88 x 34 (head) x 26″ (foot) / 224 x 86 (head) x 66cm (foot)
- Packed Size (L x W): 13.5″ x 5.25″ / 34.3 cm x 13.3 cm
- Design Type: Semi Non-Freestanding
- Number of Guylines: 6
- Stake Quantity: 13
- Number of Poles: 2 poles
- Pole Material: DAC Featherlite Aluminum
- Fly Fabric: 20D Nylon Ripstop, Silicone/1200mm PeU, FR CPAI84
- Floor Fabric: 30D Nylon Ripstop, Silicone/1200mm PeU, FR CPAI84
- Body Fabric: 15D Nylon No-See-Um Mesh