Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent

Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent Review

Used without the inner-nest, the Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent deserves a serious look as an innovative, 2-PERSON pyramid shelter. But if you frequently use the outer shelter and inner-nest together, you might consider other options. E.g. lighter 1-person shelters like the TarpTent Notch, or Mountain Laurel Designs Solomid XL; or roomier, freestanding 2-person “true-tents” like the REI Quarter Dome 2 or Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent. Even so, the outer shell alone is a very nice pyramid shelter and Sierra Designs and Andrew Skurka deserve a lot of credit for thinking outside the box.

Quick Spec’s

  • The High Route 1 FL is a one-person, two-part shelter. An outer shell (pyramid shelter) and an inner-nest (bug net and floor). When combined they are the equivalent of a double walled tent.
  • Shelter has no poles. It uses two trekking poles for structure.
  • 2 lb 10 oz for: Outer shell, inner-nest, 8 stakes, 2 stuff sacks and cordage.
    2 lb 5 oz min. trail weight (less stakes & stuff sacks)

What is the Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent?

The Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent is really “a pyramid shelter with an inner-nest option.” More specifically, it’s a 2-apex pyramid, meaning that two poles support the shelter at two “pyramid peaks.” A 2-apex pyramid (vs. single apex) provides more vertical walls and therefore more usable living area (in this case enough room for two people). If you want, you can attach the inner-nest, which gives you a floor and mosquito protection. The downside is that this reduces living area (down to 1-person), and significantly increases the time and complexity of setup.

Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent

Product shot that shows the integration of outer shell and inner-nest. The back of the “tent” is a mirror image of the front.

What’s Good

  • Used separately, I like the outer shell and even the inner-nest. A lot of thought went into their design.
  • In particular, the outer shell is an innovative pyramid shelter with lots of room. It could easily sleep 2 in a pinch. The vertical walls greatly increase usable room.
  • The High Route has one of the best implementations of using trekking poles to support a pyramid shelter. I really like that the poles are snug against the outside walls. This keeps them entirely out of the living area and door area. In addition it adds to the structural integrity of the vertical walls.
  • The dual doors and, two peak vents provide good ventilation.
  • Properly guyed out*, the High Route does well in strong winds. (*due to the vertical walls it’s a good idea to anchor the peak guylines with strong Y-stakes solidly in the ground)
  • It’s fairly easy to pitch due to its rectangular shape and using standard height trekking poles. (True only for the outer shell when used alone, i.e. no inner-nest.)
Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent

The inner-nest (floor and bug netting) for the High Route can work as a stand-alone, stargazing shelter. The picture also better shows the dual apex design of the shelter. Note how the trekking poles are completely clear of the doors and living area.

What’s Not So Good

The High Route is less attractive when you combine the inner-nest with the outer shell

  • The combination is heavy for a 1-person non-freestanding tent that uses trekking poles for support.
  • In fact, the 1-person High Route is comparable in weight to some 2-person freestanding dome shelters that have a lot more interior room than the High Route and are easier setup. E.g the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent or even the comparably priced REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent. (Both have a newer steeper walled design that improves living area.)
  • And there are lighter 1 person pyramid with inner-nest shelters like the 27 oz TarpTent Notch, or Mountain Laurel Designs Solomid XL with InnerNest.
  • The High Route inner-nest halves your living area and increases overall weight. It also leaves scant “vestibule” area between the inner and outer tents.
  • I found attaching the inner-nest a bit awkward, fiddly, and time consuming. There’s lots of clipping and then tension adjustments at every point, since no shock-cordage is used. All this is done crouched on your knees, many times reaching across the tent.
Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent

Oblique view of the High Route showing the near vertical front wall, and the two apexes of the shelter. The rear wall (not visable) is a mirror image of the front wall you can see. Due to the vertical it’s a good idea to stake out the front guyline to the apex (lower left guline in photo) with a solid Y-stake if you expect strong winds.

Summary

When used without the inner-nest, theSierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent is worth a serious look. It is an innovative pyramid shelter that would likely work for two people. It even has dual doors! It’s made roomier by vertical walls and getting the trekking poles out of the living area. At about 12 oz per person (body less stakes is ~24 oz), it’s a reasonably light option for two people.

It’s a shame that Sierra Designs doesn’t sell just the outer shell (pyramid shelter portion) separately like other manufactures, e.g. Hyperlite Mountain GearMountain Laurel Designs and TarpTent. But if you can get the High Route on sale at around $240, you could just buy the whole thing and leave the inner-nest at home.

But, if you think you’ll use the  High Route outer shelter and inner-nest together most of the time, you might consider another shelter. Either lighter pyramid shelter with inner-nest combos from Hyperlite Mountain Gear, or the 27 oz TarpTent Notch and Mountain Laurel Designs Solomid XL with InnerNest. Or just getting a 2-person, freestanding, double-walled dome tent like the  Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent or the REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent, which is the same price, sleeps two and is only ½ pound heavier.

Detailed Technical Specifications

My measurements

  • 2 lb 10 oz for: Outer shell, inner-nest, 8 stakes, 2 stuff sacks and cordage
  • 24 oz Outer Shell (pyramid), 15 oz Inner-Nest
    _____________________________________

* Technical Specifications (Sierra Designs)

  • Minimum Weight: 2 lbs 5 oz / 1.05 kg
  • Packaged Weight: 2 lbs 12 oz / 1.25 kg
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • Number of Gear Closets: Internal Storage
  • Gear Storage Area (Tarp Area – Nest Area): 17.3 ft2 / 1.61 m2 (more of a narrow area around the perimeter than a vestibule)
  • Interior Area (Tarp): 36 ft2 / 3.34 m2
  • Interior Area (Nest): 18.8 ft2 / 1.75 m2
  • Internal Peak Height (Tarp): 48 in / 122 cm
  • Internal Peak Height (Nest): 43 in / 109 cm
  • Awning Height: 38.5 in / 98 cm
  • Length (Tarp): 108 in / 274 cm
  • Width (Tarp): 48 in / 122 cm
  • Length (Nest): 90 in / 229 cm
  • Width (Nest): 30 in / 76 cm

* from the Sierra Designs Site, on the “TECH SPECS” tab

8 replies
  1. Blake
    Blake says:

    Great review, giving me a lot to think about. Im in the market for a new tent, something for all seasons, fit 2 wide sleeping pads, light enough that I can justify using solo, is somewhat budget friendly and can be pitched easily in rocky ground. I love my tarptent contrail when its in my pack, but Ive had several issues now- first, spending 45 mins in the rain trying to pitch on rocky ground when my stakes wouldn’t go in the dirt, and getting my down quilt completely soaked from side splashing amd condensation when it poured all night at 38 degrees. I do a lot of my trips in PA, harriman state park and the catskills region of NY. If I was getting another solo shelter Id go hammock, but my girlfriend will never come with me then. A lot of those double wall tents like big agnes, rei, etc… all taper to 42-44″ at The foot and we both have 25″ wide pads.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Blake, and sorry for the late reply. I am in the throes of packing for Patagonia. Leaving in just a few days. Alison and I really like the MLD DuoMid or even SuperMid. I just get a floor w not netting if it’s going to be wet. And just polycro sheets from Gossamer Gear if not. As you point out tents are just too confining and condensation prone. And they weigh more. As to staking out I would recommend heavy duty aluminum stakes like MSR Groundhog Y-stakes .5oz ea or their generic equivalents on Amazon. Pound them in with a big rock and be a bit creative about staking out (even using, trees, shrubs or large rocks to anchor) and it should work. Wishing you and your girlfriend a great year of hiking. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  2. Boyan
    Boyan says:

    The Copper Spur falls into the stupid light category. While it is fully water proof and will do well even with some snow (I own both the ul1 and ul2) I would not trust it in any kind of wind. The poles are fragile, and so is the fabric. And the near complete absence of guyout points is inexplicable. Exactly how much does a silnylon loop and associated reinforcement weigh? 0.5oz? For 2-4 oz more they could have had a far more robust shelter. The Hubba NX will supposedly take 40mph winds but it uses both slightly heavier poles and material, and as a result it has earned the scorn of the ultra light community. I would love to own one but unfortunately they also shaved 4 inches off the length and 2 inches off the height relative to the Copper Spur, and with my frame this gets into uncomfortable territory.

    The backpacking tent market seem to fragmented into 3 segments – the pyramid and tarps from the cottage makers for the masochistically inclined hard-core hiker :=), the hyper/crazy/ultra light stuff from the mainstream makers that appear to be designed by their marketing departments to sell at REI with little attention to durability or stability, and the bomb proof stuff that is too heavy for routine use (Trango, Fitz-Roy, EV2, etc)

    I would pay good money for a pole supported double wall design with steep walls and 40+ inch height, generous guyout points and good wind stabllility, enough of a vestibule for muddy shoes and wet outer clothes, some snow resistance, and a semi solid 90 inch inner. Make it under 3.5 pounds and the only question I will ask is where to get it. The HR1 hits many of these points but is not perfect. I have ordered one to see it in the flesh and am hopeful that the compromises are not of the type that annoy me.

    Reply
  3. Andrew Skurka
    Andrew Skurka says:

    Nice review, Alan, I think you nailed it. The High Route is exceptional as a fly-only shelter, but comparatively less good when combined with its inner tent. I think it’s a good pick for someone who will mostly use it as fly-only, and pack the inner tent for a few weeks or months per year when the bugs are out. Oh, hey, that sounds like a lot like me, what a coincidence.

    A few quick things:

    1. The inner tent *can* be clipped to the perimeter of the fly, but it does not need to be, and I never do. Secure only the apexes using the side-release buckles. When a full-length pad goes inside, it will tension out the floor of the nest almost as good as the corner clips do, although it will not be “catalog pretty.” This will save you the awkward process of clipping the corners after the fly is up.

    2. One disadvantage of the aforementioned double-wall tents is that they have a wet pitch. The inner tent goes up first, and it’s vulnerable for a minute or a few until you get the fly on completely. If it’s really coming down, that matters. Tradeoffs.

    3. Why don’t you look happier in these photos? You’re outside, sleeping in a cool shelter, and “working.”

    4. Finally, I’d like to address Danny’s earlier comment. There are only so many pole configurations available, whether trekking poles or a dedicated pole set is used, probably 4-5 designs for each that are truly practical. The offset pole configuration is rare among current models: the Statosphire, Yama Swiftline, and High Route; the Nemo Blaze and the last iteration of the REI Quarterdome do something similar as well, but with a pole set. Besides the pole configuration, the shelters are quite different. If a “direct copy” charge is going to be made, it should be leveled at just about every company in the industry, not just me and Sierra Designs. As one example, HMG mids look an awful lot like MLD’s mids, which are predated by Black Diamond’s mids.

    Reply
  4. Danny
    Danny says:

    Thanks for the review! I’ve been reading about this tent for a while and was looking forward to a review. I like the direction that SD is taking with this tent and the other two “new” tents coming out in the next year.

    However, as many people have pointed out in the forums, the design of this tent’s most notable feature – the placement of the poles – is a direct copy of TarpTents Stratospire. The lack of usable vestibule is a detraction too. So it seems like a mixed bag. I would love to check it out though.

    Reply

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