My Sierra Designs Flashlight UL 1 arrived at Christmas last year. Somehow, my family knew just what I wanted. I didn’t drop any hints or anything, really. Of course, the UL version of this tent has now been replaced by the FL version, which is a new and improved, lighter version. (In case they’re reading this)
Sierra Designs has introduced a lot of innovation lately, and their Flashlight series of tents have a few features that go against the norm. They did away with a vestibule and replaced it with a gear closet. I had trouble buying into this idea at first, but this change has some advantages. First, vestibules tend to be a little difficult to enter. Second, I never liked reaching way out and low to grab the zipper of the vestibule while keeping my back off of the condensation that generally forms under the rainfly. Eliminating the vestibule takes away these difficulties altogether. Another function of the vestibule is to keep rain out of the shelter when you enter. Sierra Designs took care of this issue by covering the door opening with an 8” awning. I have had this tent set up in the rain on a few days now and have never had any water blow in. And the gear closet offers all the space I need for my gear outside the tent.
Note that the Sierra Designs Flashlight tents are not free-standing, and require 3 poles to set up. A curved pole is needed at the foot end of the tent. Two straight poles are provided to hold up the peak of the tent, but the Flashlight tents can be set up with trekking poles. If you are like me and use trekking poles anyway, go ahead and save some weight and leave the regular tent poles at home. Six stakes are needed for setup. Three more stakes are used for guy lines and vents. Setup is straightforward and fast.
An advantage of their design is that the Flashlight tents offer a lot of headroom. I am about 6’1” tall, and can sit comfortably with headroom to spare. Because the foot end of the tent slopes, using a thicker sleeping pad can cut down on the usable length. When lying down, my head is a close to the head end as I can get it still feels like my sleeping bag touches the roof at my feet. This hasn’t been a problem for me though.
Ventilation in the Flashlight tents is excellent. Windows on both sides of the tent can be opened to use large screen openings. A vent is provided at the foot end of the tent as well. A small amount of condensation usually formed in the tent overnight, but there was never enough condensation to cause troubles with a wet sleeping bag. In winter months I expect to have no problems.
The Flashlight UL 1 weights just over 2 pounds, 15 ounces with all the included poles, stakes, and bags. To get down to the minimum weight of 2 pounds, 4 ounces, you will need to leave everything but the tent and the pole for the foot end. The floor dimensions are 90 inches long by 32 inches wide at the head end. The foot end tapers down to 28 inches wide. The height of the peak is 46 inches. The packed size is 5.5 x 11.6 inches.
Overall, I like this tent very much. The headroom is excellent and the tent offers a good amount of floor space for an ultralight single person shelter. I do enjoy the advantages of the gear closet and awning. Click here to go to Sierra Designs website to see their current offerings and prices.