Gear Review: Sierra Designs Sweet Suite 2
Includes: Tent body, rain fly, two DAC aluminum poles, ten stakes, guylines, Burrito Bag storage system.
Weight: 3 lbs 10 oz
Floor Area: 29.2 square feet
Vestibule Area: 8.9 + 8.9 feet
Peak Height: 41 inches
Sierra Designs’ new Sweet Suite 2 is a tent with an exceptional balance of durability, price, and livable space. Unique features such as the versatile fly system and near-vertical walls set this tent apart from competitors in the same price range. This is an ideal tent for hikers who can’t afford an ultralight tent, but are still conscious of weight and comfort. It’s comparably light for its price class, easy to set up, and beautifully designed.
Dimensions & Details
Floor Area: 29 square feet (90 inches long, 52 inches wide at widest point)
Vestibule Area: 9×9 feet
Peak Height: 41 inches
Material: Tent is nylon mesh, fly is nylon ripstop, poles are DAC Featherlite Aluminum.
Circumstances of Use
This tent was taken on trips in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona and the Appalachians of North Carolina. It was hot and dry in Arizona and moderate and rainy in North Carolina. In Arizona, I slept with the rain fly off. In North Carolina, I slept with the fly on while it was raining.
This was my first time assembling anything besides a freestanding tent, so the semi-freestanding design took some getting used to. After my first assembly (and actually following the instructions by staking out the sides first) it became intuitive.
The poles, stake-outs, and rain fly are color coded so I had no trouble figuring out the orientation of these items. Clipping the tent body onto the poles is quick and easy. Once set up, this tent looks gorgeous.
After spending half a year in my one person Copper Spur, sitting in the Sweet Suite felt downright luxurious. The peak height in the Sweet Suite is 41 inches. I was surprised to learn that the peak height of my thru-hiking tent was 37 inches. A difference of four inches doesn’t sound like a lot, but I certainly felt a noticeable difference. The orientation of the tent poles allows for almost vertical mesh walls on three sides, which makes the tent feel even more spacious. There are two pockets at the head of the tent, two at the feet, and three loops on the roof that various items can be attached to, allowing for plenty of room to store smaller items.
I camped both solo and with another person in this tent. With two people it felt cozy, but not cramped. There was enough room for us to relax without being right up against each other, but probably not enough room to bring both of our packs into the tent and still have it feel spacious. Alone, it felt like I was sleeping in a palace. Keep in mind that I’m 5’4” and average-sized.
The price. This tent is slightly cheaper than a lot of backpacking tents in the same weight range.
Versatile Fly System. The rain fly of the Sweet Suite can be rolled up from either the head or foot of the tent for ventilation, stargazing, or rain preparedness without the need to commit to having the fly fully clipped in. A loop and toggle at the top of the tent secures the rolled portion of the fly to the tent.
There were many nights on the AT where I would have loved to use this ingenious option. It allows for more temperature control and ability to see from inside the tent without having the fly completely off. It’s also way more classy than my method of half-clipping in the rain fly and leaving it spread on the ground. It would even be possible to attach the rain fly fully while leaning out of the tent if a rainstorm approaches in the middle of the night. Sierra Designs foresight with this feature makes the tent feel specifically geared towards the needs of a backpacker who enjoys versatility.
It may seem trivial, but I really like the colors of the Sweet Suite. It looks less harsh than the bright orange of my Big Agnes.
The semi-freestanding design makes choosing a site and setting up slightly more difficult because staking is necessary before poles can be set up. However, with experience this should become second nature.
It’s on the heavy side. Lighter tents can be found, but at this price point the extra pound could be worth it—especially if the weight is being split between two hikers.
Burrito Bag Storage System. This could be a pro or a con based on preference and level of neuroticism. Sierra Designs implemented a new storage bag with a top closure, pull-cord, and buckles (see below).
This new design looks nicer than the traditional top drawstring stuff sacks, but it only works if you are one to meticulously fold up your tent every single morning. In my pre-trail research, I read that it was better for the longevity of tents to stuff them into a stuff-sack, thus avoiding over-stress along fold lines. I accepted this without question because it gave me an excuse to be lazy. If folding is your preferred method of packing a tent, you will love the Burrito Bag. But if you’re like me and don’t want to go through the trouble every morning of your thru-hike, you might need to buy a separate stuff sack for this tent. The lateral opening of the Burrito Bag makes it nearly impossible to haphazardly stuff the tent into it. It fits only if it’s nicely folded and rolled up. To each his/her own.
The Sweet Suite 2 is a well-designed, weatherproof tent perfect for the budget-conscious hikers who prefers more space. The rain fly performed well through hours of constant rain. There was some back-splash onto the tent bathtub floor, but no water came in. This tent made me feel protected from scorpions in Arizona and rain in Appalachia. Zippers are smooth and poles snap easily in place. It is an excellent choice for anyone shopping in this price range.
Sierra Designs also sells a three-person model of this tent, if two hikers want additional room.
Disclosure: this product was donated for the purpose of review.
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