Sierra Designs Velox 2

The Sierra Designs’ Velox 2, a two-person, three-season backpacking tent, packs in plenty of features that out of the box make it seem downright snazzy. However, a few flaws left us feeling the tent needs just a bit more refining.

The Sierra Designs’ Velox 2, a two-person, three-season backpacking tent, packs in plenty of features that out of the box make it seem downright snazzy – loads of organizing options, plenty of weight-shaving materials, Tent Guard with Ultra-Fresh treatment to help eliminate odor-causing mold, fungus and mildew to extend the tent's life, and an eco-friendly and dye-free white canopy to keep things bright inside the tent. And with a modified A-frame design, it’s a solid construction. However, in testing on a river trip, a few flaws cropped up that left us feeling the tent needs just a bit more refining before we’re ready to pack it up and head out on another trip with the Velox 2 again.

First, the good news: The Velox 2 was plenty roomy, with 28.5 square feet of interior space, plus and another seven square feet in each of two vestibules. One tester even fit a Paco Pad inside without crowding her tent mate. Testers appreciated the double-vestibule design and quiet zippers, which allowed midnight bathroom runs with minimal disturbance to the other sleeper.

The tent weighed in at 4 pounds, 2 ounces, which is reasonably light considering its capacity and double vestibules. If one is into going ultralight, and you purchase an optional footprint, the weight with just fly, poles and the footprint dips to just under 3 pounds. With two crossing poles connected by a grommet and color-coded stake loops, the main body of the tent was a cinch to put up, even for first-timers. The color-coded stake loops were a little difficult to make out under the light of a headlamp, however. While the body of the tent went up quickly, the fly proved difficult – even for one of our testers, an experienced river guide. A three-foot-long top pole threaded into a sleeve on the fly made the vestibules roomier, but we struggled when fastening and unfastening the pole.

It was because of the tent design, focusing on maximizing ventilation, that we arrived at our biggest gripe however. On a windy night camping on a riverbank, strong breezes whipped under the fly and into the tent, covering sleeping bags in a layer of sand. Even when staked down as tightly as possible and reinforced with rocks, the wind still was able to drive fine sand into the tent and all over the inside. The fact that the tent floor only rose about six inches from the ground and the tent walls were primarily mesh didn't help matters. It should be noted, however, that the mesh wall design did make for a pleasant lack of condensation inside the tent, which made us smile.

We certainly appreciated a number of nifty design features, including the internal gear-organizer pockets and dye-free canopy, which allowed plenty of light inside.

In short, the Velox 2 has many admirable qualities, but Sierra Designs will need to address the troublesome top pole at the very least. Also, consumers should be aware that while the tent fly coverage and tent body design provides a high level of ventilation, it also reduces the tent’s ability to prevent wind-driven sand and dirt from intruding.

SNEWS® Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $299




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