Three years ago the Sierra Designs Lightning 2UL won our Gear of the Year Award and this time around it’s the Flash 3FL’s turn. A larger version of the Lightning 2UL, the Sierra Designs Flash 3FL’s design is like no other. Livable, roomy, light, fast to set up and compact when put away, it’s the best 3 person tent we’ve tested. Period.
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
Sierra Designs products are known for their high quality and innovative designs. This is a company that's not afraid to take chances and this ensures that we the consumers are rewarded in the form of great products with unique design solutions. Sierra Designs Flash 3FL Tent embodies the essence of this creed, it’s not your average tent design and that’s what makes it so good. The Flash 3FL has two large doors which provide easy access, the built-in awnings keep rain and weather at bay even if the doors are not fully zipped. On each side is a spacious vestibule that can accommodate a large amount of gear and access is provide by a zippered pass through. The interior walls are almost all mesh so breathability is maximized, should you need more air-flow however, the opposed doors can be fully opened to create a cross-flow breeze. Inside the 41 square feet of space is at the high end of all three person tents we’ve reviewed so you can be assured there is more than enough room for occupants to sleep and spend a day inside should you get rained out. It has been popular with some companies to design 3 person tents where the middle person gets to sleep between two pairs of feet – not my ideal. In the case of the Flash 3, the interior space accommodates shoulder to shoulder sleeping, although the middle person is still left crawling over their companions to reach one of two doors.
Not only functional but the design is beautiful.
The Flash 3FL's durable design and tough fabrics make it a desirable purchase for those interested in a no-nonsense tent. A 20 denier fly keeps the rain out while the 15 denier canopy saves some weight. The 30 denier floor takes abuse as it should, but I would still recommend purchasing the drop sheet for an additional $49.94US as it’s 70D Nylon further improved the tents robustness in harsh environments and increases its longevity. At only 0.30 kg / 10.6 oz. it’s a minimal weight penalty for the protection it provides.
While some may balk at the $498 price tag of the Sierra Designs Flash 3FL, you can pick up the non-FL version for just $395CAN but you will sacrifice some of the FL’s weight savings, but gain much beefier materials at the same time. The DAC aluminum poles remain the same, one thing Sierra Designs doesn’t do is skimp on quality materials, have a look over the list below to see what I mean.
Light and compact enough to take SUP camping.
Plenty of interior space for three full sized people to sleep comfortably.
While the Sierra Designs Flash 3 FL isn’t the lightest backpacking tent on the market it’s still a respectable sub 2 kg tent, especially when you consider the interior space it provides. Most ultra light tents are so flimsy and small inside that it’s hardly worth saving the weight for the cramped interior living space unless of course, you’re on a long-distance trek that will see you spending minimal time in the tent. The Flash 3 FL provides a very roomy interior with the ability to sleep three big guys shoulder to shoulder and have adequate head height for sitting up.
The integrated rain fly works well for setting up in soggy conditions, but it also takes longer to dry out since the entire tent has to be aired out as one. It’s a very innovative design which is carried over from the Sierra Designs Lightening 2 UL Tent, which by the way won our Gear of the Year Award in 2014.
The weight of the tent is neither heavy nor ultralight, making for an all-around dependable tent best suited to weekend warriors and those who like to camp in comfort. The dual vestibules are ideally placed out of the way of the main entrance so access is not an issue. The built in pass-throughs in the mesh wall of the tent allows access to the vestibules and your gear contained within. This ensures you don’t have to go outside to retrieve items in the middle of the night or when the weather is inclement. From the exterior of the tent, you can easily unpeg the vestibule fly and retrieve your entire backpack with ease. I can’t say enough good things about this tent design and how livable it is thanks to how roomie it is and the friendly bright colours used for the materials. Note that the revised version for this season is now blue instead of yellow and also heavier at 5 lbs 6 oz. / 2.44 kg. All else seems to be relatively unchanged.
I tested the Flash 3 FL on several overnight camping trips, the most memorable being a SUP camping trip where light and compact was the name of the game. With gear strapped to the deck of two SUP’s we rogue camped along Kootenay Lake for two nights. While there was no rain on this trip the views were magical thanks to the big D doors and the cross ventilation was a welcome reprieve from the heat of the day.
Packaged Weight: 1.87kg / 4lb 2oz
Capacity: 3 people
Floor Area: 3.83sq m / 41.2sq ft
Vestibule Area: .65sq m / 7sq ft x 2
Interior Height: 111 cm / 44 inches
Number of Doors: 2
Number of Vestibules: 2
Packed Size : 48 x 14cm / 19 x 5.5”
|Interior Space 2/2
Quality / Price 1.5/2
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