We're always searching for that idyllic shelter in the woods -- one that offers superior room, excellent ventilation, star-gazing through mesh ceilings, and security from stormy weather should it roll in.
While still not nirvana (we're still searching for that frankly), the Electron, an upgrade of Sierra Designs' popular Gamma, comes quite close to ideal where balancing weight with roominess is concerned.
Most notable is that the SD Electron Tent features two doors, each with its own vestibule, for relatively easy entry and egress on both sides of the tent. Aside from more vestibule space, and individualized storage of gear (perfect when your tent mate is a slob), two doors on opposite sides of the tent means no more clambering over your tent mate or unpleasant views of your tent mate's butt passing in close proximity to your face on his or her way out to pee.
For those who are weight-conscious, the Electron features a Fast Pack footprint, meaning you can leave your tent body at home, take just the rainfly, poles and footprint, and shave ounces.
All fabric is treated to reduce the build-up of mildew -- useful only if you tend to stow your tent when it is wet, which is a no-no, but we all do it at one time or another.
Our testers found the tent, used in over three continents in everything from tropical downpours and high winds to cloudless starry nights, to be highly weatherproof while still offering up more than adequate ventilation. Durability is superb. Pitching and stowing the tent is extremely easy and efficient, thanks in large part to the clip system. Reflective guy-outs increase nocturnal visibility, ensuring that you won't trip over the tent unless you're stumbling around without a light and with your eyes closed.
Nifty add-on features include a coffee sling (yes, that means you can have your coffee inside the tent with little fear of spillage) and a portable attic. Our testers did find that with the attic in place, headroom was greatly reduced so more often than not, it stayed home.
A universal quibble, and it is one we find with many tents of this size and design -- open up the vestibule and you expose the tent floor to the elements, meaning when you have to go in and out during a rainstorm, you'd best be nimble or you'll let the rain in every time you unzip.
Tent dimensions: 54 square feet of useable space, including 34 square feet of tent and two 10-foot square vestibules. Peak height: 42 inches. Stuff sack dimensions: 6 inches x 24 inches. Average Packed weight: 5 pounds, 11 ounces.
Rating: 4.5 hands clapping.Â (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested retail: $179
For more information:www.sierradesigns.com, 800-635-0461