Sierra Designs Lightning 2 Review


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    Height – This tent is six feet high, so you don’t have to crouch over while inside.
    Great all-rounder
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    Maintenance – You can easily hand-wash this tent, let it air dry, and then pack it up again
    Outstanding comfort and weight distribution
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    Weight – Weighing in at just over three pounds, this tent is easy to carry in your backpack
    Doubles as a daypack


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    Gear Closet Doors – These are handy, but they could stand to be a bit larger for easier access
    Extra padding makes the Aether super comfortable but also heavier than some packs
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    Design – This tent is designed so your head is near the door, which some people may not like

​Sierra Designs Lightning 2 Review: When you need to be able to set up a tent in a hurry, the last thing you want to worry about is one that has a double-wall construction. But, at the same time, you also want to know that a single-wall design is going to protect you from the elements, and that is going to be large enough to accommodate at least two people.

We know exactly what you mean, and we have a found a tent that we think will meet all of your requirements, and then some. Today we are going to take a look at the Sierra Designs Lightning 2 FL Tent.

Want more options? Check out our best backpacking tents buying guide.

​Sierra Designs Lightning 2 ​Review - Key Features

Sierra Designs Lightning 2 FL Tent Features

​We can’t say enough about the design of this tent. It is a cool combination of a single-wall and a double-wall tent, with all of the benefits of a double-wall and the easy setup of a single-wall. It’s only a partial, double-wall tent, and the end near the foot is single wall. This ensures that you get protection from the elements, without the weight of a tent that is completely double-wall, which is great for keeping out condensation. Other features include:

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    One Pole – There are just three poles for this tent, and they all connect together with swiveling hubs, so technically, there is only one pole to worry about.
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    Easy Set-Up – Setting up this tent is fast and easy. Attach the poles externally with the quick clips, and it all comes together at a ball joint.
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    Large Entry – You don’t have to stoop, as the entry is 6’3” high, and wide enough for two people to stand side by side.
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    Closets – Keep your gear out of the way with closets that you can access from inside or outside of the tent. There is one on each side, so both of you have storage space.

​Sierra Designs Lightning 2 ​Review

Sierra Designs Lightning 2 FL Tent Review

​One of the coolest things about this tent is its design, which is rather unique when compared to other two-person tents. You have the option to stake it down with DAC J stakes, or use it as a free-standing tent when you are in a rocky location where you can’t drive the stakes in. Let’s take a look at the main features of this lightweight tent.


As we already mentioned, this tent weighs a little over three pounds (3.7 pounds to be exact). So, if you are going to be backpacking, this might be a good option for you, especially if you’re taking on a thru-hike.. The body is made with ultra-lightweight, 20-denier nylon, No-See-Um ultralight mesh, and the floor fabric is 40-denier Ripstop 238T, PU 3000 mm, FR nylon.


​Another thing that makes this tent ideal for backpackers is its size. It is plenty large enough to accommodate two people, measuring 86 inches long and 56 inches wide in the front and 44 inches wide in the rear. It has an interior area of 30.5 square feet, and the internal height at the peak is 42.5 inches. There is a 15-inch overhang, and the awning height is 36 inches. Now, you might think that a tent this large would need a huge bag – but because it is so lightweight, it can be easily folded up so it is compact enough to fit into your backpack.

Weather Protection

​This tent may be made with an airy mesh nylon fabric, but this doesn’t mean that it isn’t waterproof. You can even set it up in the rain without getting wet, thanks to the hybrid double and single wall construction. The fly stays on the top while you are setting it up. Even though it is a lightweight design, it is durable enough to stand up to wind and rain.

If you want to watch the view without getting wet, there is an awning rather than a vestibule, so you can sit comfortably in the rain. If you do find yourself getting cold, the Lightning 2 door has a mesh upper, along with a fabric panel that you can cover it with to keep the wind out. Or, you can open the door and foot area to vent the tent and create a nice cross-breeze.

You can even protect your gear from the elements, without having the take up room inside the tent. The two zippered side areas act as closets. There is one on each side, so two people can have their own space for their gear, and not have to crawl over top of the other in order to get to it.


​The Lightning 2 is made from lightweight yet durable materials. We love the look of this tent, and the unique design offers features that you don’t often see in other tents, including the side “closet” sections. You can pretty much stand up while inside, and there is plenty of room to move around. We love that the design makes this tent easy to set up in just a few minutes.


​The poles are made from high-quality aluminum, and the fly is made with a 20-denier polyester ripstop that has polyethylene coating, making it more UV-resistant and less stretchy than nylon. The sturdy stakes are made from 7001 aluminum, and there are also four guy lines for added security in windy weather.

​How Does It Compare?

How Does It Compare?

​We have compared the Lightning with a couple of other popular tents to see how it stacks up. First we looked at the Big Agnes Copper Spur backpacking tent. This is another lightweight tent, but it seems like it is not nearly as easy to set up as the Lightning. Also, the Big Agnes tent has no closets for your gear.

We also compared the Lightning with the Kelty TN two-person tent. While the two both seem lightweight and easy to use, the Kelty tent looks like it would be a lot more difficult to get in and out of, because you have to crouch over.

​Trail End

Trail End

​If you are going to be doing any amount of hiking and camping, you need a tent that is going to have plenty of room, and one that is also lightweight and easy to set up. The Sierra Designs Lightning 2 is definitely an option for you to consider, because it meets all of these needs, and then some. It has loads of room, and even “closets” for your gear. The awning will protect you from the rain, so you can sit in the wide doorway and watch everything that is going on around you without getting wet. We recommend this tent for backpackers. =ZIP=

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