If you have the right gear and don’t mind dealing with frigid temperatures, Winter can be a great time to get outdoors and enjoy mother nature. It’s truly as easy as strapping on a pair of snowshoes, hiking a few miles out, and setting up camp. Winter is one of our favorite seasons. If you want to feel alone in the wilderness you simply can’t beat it. To get started you’ll going to need the right gear, and shelter is top priority.
For 2015, Sierra Designs redesigned their Convert series of tents with the goal of making them the most livable and functional winter tents available. When we were offered a chance to review the new 2015 model of the Sierra Designs Convert 2 four season tent, we thought there would be no better way to test these claims than to leave our heated homes and spend some time sleeping outdoors in the Adirondacks.
- Minimum Weight: 4lbs 9oz (tent and poles only, no vestibule)
- Packed weight: 5lbs 2oz
- Doors: 1
- Interior Area: 31.5 ft²
- Vertible: 12.4 ft²
- Peak Height: 39’’
- Floor Material: Water Resistant 30D Nylon Ripstop
- Body Material: 40D Breathable Nylon Ripstop
- Fly Material: 20D Polyester Ripstop
- Poles: DAC NSL poles
- 4 season tent featuring a hybrid double/single wall design that provides a quick, dry set-up and reduces weight.
- Large front door that can sit two people side by side.
- 15’’ integrated awning poles that help maximize the door opening and drip line without the weight of a support pole.
The 2015 Convert 2 tent is, as Sierra Designs calls it, a hybrid double/single wall tent. What this means is that the entire tent, with the exception of the door end and foot end of the tent, is a double wall design. The sides and top of the inner wall are made of a breathable canopy fabric, and both the door and foot sides of the tent have a fullzip waterproof window panel, which can be opened or closed to adjust ventilation and visibility. The exterior fly walls are made of 20D polyester ripstop with a waterproof rating of 1200mm. There is a single entry door, which is typical of most 4 season tents.
This hybrid approach reduces the overall weight of the tent. Compared to the old version of the Convert 2, the 2015 model has a pack weight of 5lbs 2oz and a minimum weight of 4lbs 9oz, while the old model has a pack weight of 6lbs 10oz and a minimum weight of 5lbs 5oz. The 2015 model is significantly lighter.
Storage inside the tent is limited. Each side of the tent has one small mesh storage pocket, but other than that, you are on your own. This isn’t a huge deal if you have the vestibule attached and are storing your gear there, but if you have many items you need to store inside the tent, know that you will need another way to keep things organized, such as storing gear in a compression sack, or even using the tent storage sack to keep small miscellaneous items together.
The vestibule portion of the tent is connected to the main tent via a zipper, allowing you to remove the vestibule if you don’t need it. This is a great idea, especially if you are aiming to pack ultra light and will be in conditions where you might not need it. Our only complaint with the vestibule area was that it was a little cramped when we stored gear for 2 people in it. It is an adequate size, and fit our gear, but depending on your gear load, things could get crammed quickly.
This tent was incredibly easy to setup. Like the previous model of the Convert 2, the 2015 model pitches entirely from the outside of the tent. However, unlike the old model, the 2015 does not require you to thread poles through openings on the outside of the tent. Instead, it uses clips that are common to most tent setups.
The pole system consists of two separate poles: 1 main pole, that has two cross sections for the door and rear of the tent, and one middle pole to add structural support to the middle section of the tent. The middle pole connects to the main pole through a locking mechanism, which was easy to connect and felt secure. If you choose to use the vestibule, there is one small additional pole that adds support to the vestibule.
Since we were camping in about 2 to 3 feet of snow, we pulled the corners of the tent taught and used winter tent stakes to secure the tent by digging a small hole in the snow, burying the stake, and covering the hole back up with snow. In some corners, instead of using a winter tent stake, we tied the corner lines to fallen down branches from nearby trees, and buried the branch in the snow.
There are a total of 6 guylines that you can use to adjust the tautness of the outer wall (there is one additional guyline for the vestibule if you choose to use it, which we did), which add stability to the overall structure of the tent. With the tent staked down and the guylines adjusted properly, the tent felt very secure.
The 2015 Convert 2 fit two people comfortably with all of our big gear stored in the vestibule. With the peak height at 39’’, there is plenty of room to sit up and move around.
On both nights that we used the tent, we were in a more wooded area and had virtually no wind. We had both vents open, one at the foot side of the tent, and the other on the door side. The temperature at night was in the mid to upper teens. Both my camping partner and I had 0 degree down sleeping bags, and we were very warm. When we woke up, we did notice some condensation on the inner wall of the tent. There was also some light condensation on the outside of both of our sleeping bags, but neither bag was wet. When we returned to the tent after snowshoeing for the day, this condensation was gone, but when we woke up the next morning, it was back.
The NSL poles feel very sturdy. We were not camping in windy conditions, but as I mentioned before, with the tent staked in and the guylines taught, the tent felt very secure, so I don’t imagine there being any problem. All of the clips seemed to be high quality, and did not feel flimsy or loose.
If you are considering using this as a backpacking tent in the winter, the Convert 2 offers a lot. Although there may be some extremely minimal, lighter tents available, at 5lbs 2oz pack weight, this tent is very manageable for all of the features that you get. Furthermore, this tent packs down relatively small. The separate pole bag that slides into straps on the exterior of the tent bag is a great addition. The tent packs down relatively small. To compare sizes, here is a picture of the Convert 2 (on the right) next to my 2-person three season tent (REI Quarter-dome):
Quartdome (left), Sierra Designs Convert 2 (right).
The Convert 2 has an MSRP of $569.95. For a tent that performs this well, has a pack weight of only 5lbs 2oz, and packs as small as some lightweight 3-season tents, this is well worth the value. Some other top of the line 4 season tents, such as the Hilleberg Jannu, cost as much as $885.
- Feels very secure when setup
- Packs down small
- Some condensation in the mornings
- More storage pockets on the inside would be nice.
- Vestibule area was tight with all of our gear