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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Sierra Designs Hercules Assault V.2 > Test Report by Jason Boyle
Sierra Designs Hercules Assault V.2
Initial Report - February 22, 2007
Field Report – May 8, 2007
Long Term Report – July 2, 2007
Apex Height: 42”/107 cm
Floor Width: 52”/132 cm
Floor Length: 85”/216 cm
Interior Area: 32 sq ft/2.97 sq m
Vestibule Area: 8 sq ft/0.74 sq m
Number of poles: 4
Poles: DAC Press Fit, 11.1mm
MSRP: $449 US
Country of Manufacture: Product of Taiwan, Sewn in Vietnam
Oddly missing from the contents were pitching and care instructions. Undaunted, I went to the Sierra Designs website and printed out a copy of the instructions. I discuss the features below:
Tent Body Fabric:
Medallion of Strength Jake’s Corners:
Air Flow Vent system:
Initial Report – February 22, 2007:
I have heard good things about Sierra Designs tents and wasn’t disappointed when this tent showed up. I practiced pitching it in my living room since the weather here has been crummy with a mix of snow and rain. As I mentioned before instructions were not included so I printed a copy from the Sierra Designs Website. They were pretty easy to follow and took less than 10 minutes with me checking the instructions on each step. After practicing the set up inside, it takes less than 5 minutes for me to set it up by myself. I did run into one problem on the initial set ups. There is a “Clip Lock” that secures the Swift Clip to the center cross pole and the main cross poles. Basically it is an elastic line that is connected to the Swift Clip at one end and has a ball at the other. I accidentally pulled the ball off of the elastic line when adjusting the Clip Lock. I slid the ball back on and tied a knot in the line.
The inside of the tent appears to be very roomy, but I will know more when I am sharing the tent with my hiking partner and all our gear. There is also numerous gear loops throughout the inside of the tent. These provide multiple options for the movable gear pockets, and for hanging items inside of the tent. I like the multiple options! The yellow color of the tent is very cheery and will provide some color to the grey Northwest days. My only quibble at this point is the weight of the tent is a bit heavier that what the website says it is, but I am not going to make a big deal over 4 oz/113 g when the tent is already over 7 pounds/3.18 kg. Definitely not what I would consider an ultralight tent.
Everything about the tent appears to be well made and very sturdy. I look forward to getting the tent out into some Cascade Concrete as the wet marine snow is called around here.
The winds were blowing pretty hard when I set up the tent at my Whitney high camp and based on the weather information that we had received from basecamp, the winds were supposed to grow stronger and swing from the north later in the night so I set up the tent with this in mind. It would put the Hercules in the strongest structural position where the wind would hit the tent longitudinally from the front to the back. However, this meant the tent be set up perpindicular to the current wind direction where the tent was in the weakest structural position with all the wind hitting the side of the tent. Even so, the tent structure did fine during the afternoon gusts. The tent body did flap in this position, but was not noisy and other than the watching the tent fabric blow over my sleeping bag there wasn’t anything to keep me from napping in my tent while waiting for dinner.
All of the moving parts of the tent are still in good working condition. The zippers all operate pretty well, except for the vestibule zipper. It can tend to get a little sticky as it goes around the top curve of the vestibule depending on how taught the vestibule is pitched. The Jake’s Corner webbing straps and buckles show no signs of wear and are holding up well.
The tent is fairly easy to set up and I have become more proficient over the test period. It takes me about 5 minutes to leisurely set up the tent by myself. I can easily pitch it in under 5 minute with two people. The most time consuming part of the set up is reattaching the Jake’s corners. I unclip and remove the Jake’s corners so I can stuff the tent body into a compression sack. I have set the tent up in snow showers twice and neither time have I had any issues with precipitation getting into the tent. When I stuff the tent after taking it down, I make sure the front door is closed and that helps keep out any precipitation that would get in during set up. Additionally the last thing I pitch during set up is the vestibule and that helps keep precipitation from getting inside of the tent. For set up in the snow, I have attached the included guy lines at a fixed length to the stake out points on the tent and then attached deadmen, snow stakes, or pickets to the end of the guy lines to stake the tent down. This has worked out well and I have used the buckles on the Jake’s corners to tension the tent since I have made the guy lines a fixed length with large loops to facilitate quick pitching.
Single wall tents have a reputation for having a lot of condensation issues and the Hercules hasn’t done much to dispel that reputation. In good weather, read not snowing, I was able to open the roof vents, corner vents, screen door and not have any condensation issues. Once the wind picked up and the snow was swirling around I closed up the vents to keep out the weather. That night as my partner and I tried to get some sleep our breath condensed and froze to the wall of the tent. This caused internal snow showers whenever the tent shook and when opening the front door to get in and out of the tent. Our sleeping bag shells and everything else in the tent got a little damp that night. I like the idea of the high and low vents in the tent but the windy conditions didn’t allow me to use any of them and the bottom vents were actually buried by the snow. I want to be clear though that condensation is a problem with all single wall tents and was not an unexpected issue and can only be solved by ventilation, unfortunately in bad weather at an exposed campsite ventilating was not an option.
A second negative with the tent is the amount of living space that the tent provides for two people which is not much. I shared a tent with a hiking partner for two nights on my Whitney trip. We spent 12 hours in the tent the first night and 15 hours in the tent the second night. Just not a lot of room in the tent for anything other than our sleeping bags. I am fairly short so I was able to get my pad and bag in the tent without touching either end. My hiking partner who is 5’11” (1.8 m) ended up touching both ends of the tent with his sleeping pad and bag. We were able to bring some clothes and our food into the tent, but that was it. The vestibule is also not as large as I anticipated either; however, I do think I could easily use a small canister stove in the vestibule if needed during inclement weather. Overall storage space was rather small. After bringing our boots into the vestibule there wasn’t much room for anything else in there unless we wanted to be walking on top of our packs and other gear trying to get into and out of the tent. I would have appreciated being able to bring my pack into the vestibule even more after clearing 8” (20 cm) of snow off my pack on the third morning of my Whitney trip. Both of us were able to sit up inside of the tent if one of us was at the front of the tent and the other at the back. The slope of the walls made it hard to sit side by side even though there was enough headroom. We also found that we could not sit side by side in the doorway of the tent because it was too narrow. The tent functions well as a single person tent with plenty of room inside for me and my gear. My only concern is that it is a bit heavy for a single person winter tent.
Overall the tent is performing well as I expected and has certainly provided me with a stout four season platform to conduct my adventures out of. Nothing is perfect and this tent is no different. It could stand to a bit larger and condensation during inclement weather is an issue. If I could improve the tent I would like to see a door and vestibule at each end. This would alleviate some of the space constraints and provide another option for ventilation.
Overall I think the tent has performed well and the positives outweigh the negatives of this tent. I have had it out in pretty hairy situations and the tent has stood up to wind and snow well. Based on these experiences, I won’t hesitate to use it on my trip to Mt. Rainier later in the summer.
The only negatives that I have seen with the tent are the lack of living space and some condensation issues. I think both of these items could be remedied by the addition of a second vestibule. It would provide more flexible venting options in bad weather and more gear storage.
This concludes my Long Term report. Thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and Sierra Designs for allowing me to participate in this test.
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