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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Sierra Designs Comet Tent > Owner Review by Katie Stull

Sierra Designs Comet

Owner Review
11 November 2008

Reviewer Information
Name: Katie Rompala
Age: 27
Gender: F
Height: 5'11" (1.8m)
Weight: 145 lbs (66kg)
Email address: krstull [at] gmail [dot] com
Location: Dillon, Montana

Backpacking Background
My parents carried me up the trails before I could walk, so I was hiking at an early age. My experiences now consist mainly of car-camping and medium to long hikes in the Utah redrock, and hikes and snowshoes in various mountainous areas of the West. Southwest Montana is my base for quick weekend trips in the area, while vacation time during the year is used for several extended (~10-day) trips to west-coast national parks and other wilderness spots. I hope to plan more backcountry excursions in the future.

Product Information
Manufacturer's description: "Grab two hiking buddies and head to the mountains with Sierra Designs' Comet tent in your pack. Its spacious design with a mesh ceiling and panels lends ventilation and light, while three Featherlight poles stand strong against howling winds. "
Manufacturer: Sierra Designs
Available: 2004-present
MSRP: $339.00
Listed weight: 8lb 4oz (3.7kg) Weight verified as accurate
Capacity: 3-person
Floor: 99x73", 50 sq ft (251cm x 185 cm, 4.6 sq m)
Vestibule: 17 sq ft (1.58 sq m)
Height: 51" (1.3m)
Stuff size: 24x7" (61cm x 18cm)
Doors: 2
Seasons: 3-season
Materials: nylon fabric, Featherlite poles

Inside the box (as listed on insert):
    Tent Body & Rainfly
    Tent Poles (3)
    Tent Stakes (9)
    Guy Cord (4)
    Pitching Instructions
    Stake Sack
    Pole Sack

Footprint purchased separately

Comet Tent

Field Information
This tent has been used extensively for car-camping over the last 3 years both in desert climates and in the mountains and has endured rain, sun, and wind.  Specific examples of locations and seasons: Zion National Park (~4000ft/1200m) in June (highs ~90F/32C, lows ~60F/16C), Moab (~4000ft/1200m) in October (highs ~80F/27C, lows ~35F/2C), Tetons (~6500ft/2000m) in July (highs ~75F/24C, lows ~40F/4C), northern Montana (~5000ft/1500m) in July (highs ~70F/21C, lows ~45F/7C).

I received the Sierra Designs Comet as a Christmas gift from my parents in 2004 and had not been familiar with Sierra Designs or this specific tent. I was lucky though: this tent is fantastic. Not only is it a nice color and style, it is also built toward functionality and versatility. My husband and I have enjoyed it so much that my parents soon bought one for their own trips. I will first detail the strong points and then give my minor quibbles.

One of the main strong points for me is that setup can be done quite easily by one person in good weather conditions, and by two when the wind is howling or when speed is of the essence. All three poles are the same length; two are inserted into fabric slots, and the third is snapped into place with the Swift Clips to keep the tent upright. The fly drapes over the tent and is attached to the poles with Velcro and to the tent floor with clip buckles. Guy cord can be used for high-wind stability, but I have not yet tried this. Six of the stakes are used to keep the tent floor on the ground, and two more stakes are used for the vestibule door. There is one extra stake included in the set.

In terms of durability, I have had no problems with tears or breaks. Pole cords can be stressed and damaged if pieces are allowed to snap into place and if assembly is not done from the center out, but I have followed these recommendations and have had no instances of pole cord breakage. Tent seams also seem sturdy and reinforced, and there have been no rips. In strong wind, the tent was quite stable, and I did not worry that it would collapse.

Comfort and versatility are priorities in the design of the Comet tent. Inside, it is spacious and can hold two people and gear comfortably, or three small people snugly. Tent design eliminates bothersome condensation, and I have never woken up to puddles. Good ventilation is also worked into the tent's design: each side of the vestibule has a double-zippered opening, so I can unzip each entrance half way to create a sort of window and increase air flow. The door can be set up in several ways to create different entrance configuration, but my main setup is to stake out each side of the door as is normally done.  The ventilation mesh around the sides of the tent are raised up a bit to keep water from entering through the sides while providing some air flow, keeping occupants dry but cool. Mesh pockets inside and ceiling loops are helpful for storing small items.

I have several small complaints about this tent, none of which detract much from the positive experience I have had with it.

The biggest draw-back is the tent's bulk. At over 8 pounds, I do not want to lug this thing around for backcountry camping. Since I have done relatively little backcountry camping, this has not yet posed a problem, and, as expected, dividing the parts between two people's packs does minimize discomfort, as tested on-trail in mid-November. Furthermore, though all parts of tent pack nicely into the stuff sack provided, the sack is too big to be practical for one person to carry, filling at least a third of a modest-sized backpack (~3600 cu in/ 59L). However, if weather conditions cooperate, the rainfly could be left at the car, since setup does not require this piece. This does, of course, minimize how much backpack weight is dedicated to the tent, decreasing weight and size by about half.

Another slight complaint is the tent's performance in sandy regions where there is wind. In some ways, the problem of sand and wind is nearly impossible to solve with most tents on the market. For this particular tent on a recent hiking trip, the side ventilation mesh allowed significant amounts of sand inside the tent in windy conditions, since the fly was not taut enough or low enough to the ground to keep wind from blowing sand underneath and then through the mesh. I will have to experiment with the guy cord to see if I can avoid this problem. The solution on a recent trip was simply to unstake the tent and pick it up to move it to a more protected location, which was quite easy to do without dismantling the tent and setting it up again. But on future trips, there may not be a more protected spot, and the sand and wind would be a problem.

Two more minor things: It would be nice to have a skylight window. This is not crucial and I have not set up the tent without the fly (which would probably obstruct stargazing), but if such a window were present, it would be a great feature. And finally, the back door much more awkward to use than the front door because the zipper on the fly goes down the center rather than on the sides. I've had no problem with this so far, since neither my husband nor I have had to get up in the middle of the night, but should this occur, someone might have to be awakened for the other person to get out the main door.

All in all, I've had very positive experiences with Sierra Design's Comet tent. It has proven itself to be durable and versatile, lasting three years in a variety of climates. I expect the tent to last several more years and will be disappointed if it becomes unusable and must be replaced.
    Likes: quick and easy setup; durable; spacious; condensation-free; many door/ventilation configurations
    Dislikes (albeit minor): bulky; does not do well in windy, sandy conditions; absence of skylight, awkward back door

Read more reviews of Sierra Designs gear
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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Sierra Designs Comet Tent > Owner Review by Katie Stull

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