Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Outdoor Gear Review; Sierra Designs Zeta-3 & Zia-3 tent

I purchased this tent a month or two before my Green River trip with the intent that I'd have enough room for myself, and enough room to get all my gear inside and out of the weather. Worked beautifully in that regard.

The tent is very comfortable and dry and performed exceptionally in a significant rainstorm that occurred in the middle of my trip. It rained heavily for about 8-10hrs and the inside of the tent was dry as a bone. It's well ventilated as well so the humidity was easily purged once the rain stopped and on warmer nights it remains comfortable and not at all stuffy.

The tent features two doors and two vestibules so entry & exit are easy at night without disturbing your tent-mate. One vestibule is much larger than the other which allows for ample room for keeping boots or packs out of the weather and out of the tent as well. There is more than enough room in the larger vestibule to cook if need be in heavy weather, though for obvious reasons this is discouraged by Sierra Designs. There is plenty of room and ventilation though in my opinion. I'd do it if the weather conditions demanded it.

The setup is a bit tricky the first time through. The instructions are not particularly well written as they don't identify the parts of the pole system well. Once I'd done it a time or two I found it not at all difficult to assemble. I am able to get the tent out of the bag and fully set up in less than 5min even in a pouring rain.

My only issue was with some of the footprint-to-tent & rainfly-to-tent connection hardware which didn't perform very well when exposed to sand/grit. I was camped on sandbars most of the time on the Green River so it was a bother, but not a major one if I was diligent in blowing the sand out of the fittings before connecting & disconnecting them. It hasn't been an issue at all when camping in places where I was not on sand. Other than that minor nit-picking, I've been really pleased with it. 

Sierra Designs has apparently discontinued the model, but has replaced it with the "Zia-3" which appears identical in every respect save for the addition of a gear loft and footprint as a standard features where they had to be purchased separately on the Zeta.

An excellent value at $250 MSRP & available for much less at some of the online retailers such as which as of this writing has it for $170. I purchased mine at REI for roughly that sum. However, REI seems to have dropped the Sierra Designs brand. A bit of a bummer as I've been pleased with a number of their offerings.

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