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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Sierra Designs Origami Tent > Owner Review by Derek Hansen

Sierra Designs Origami Tarp

Sierra Designs - Origami Tarp

Owner Review by Derek Hansen


NameDerek Hansen
Height5' 10" (1.78 m)
Weight165 lb (75 kg)
Email Address Obfuscated electronic contact information
City, State, CountryFlagstaff, Arizona, USA


I am a lightweight backpacker with a typical weekend pack weight of 15 lb (7 kg) and a multi-day weight of 20 lb (9 kg), which includes food and water. I prefer lightweight trail-running shoes and backpacking with a hammock as part of my sleep system.


Manufacturer Sierra Designs (Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Year of Manufacture 2009, made in China
Manufacturer’s Website
MSRP US$219.95
Listed Features
  • PVC-free seam tape
  • Reflective door trim and/or guy outs
  • Fast Pack Footprint compatible
  • Vent
  • Floor sold separately
Manufacturer Recommendations

"Ultralight tarp is designed to be used with or without the floor for summer or winter minimalist backpacking adventures."


Weight: 45 oz (1.3 kg) (tent + pole)
Peak Height: 60 in (152 cm)

Weight: 31.54 oz (894 g) - 33.14 oz (940 g) with stuff sack
Side Length: 73 in (185 cm)

Weight: 10.15 oz (288 g)
Size: Collapsed - 18 in (46 cm); Short - 50.25 in (128 cm); Long - 58.25 in (148 cm)

Color Light green

Warranted against defects in workmanship and material. Requires return to the manufacturer.


Interior Ties

The Sierra Designs Origami Tarp is a five-sided floor-less pyramid-style tent that comes with a single, adjustable pole. There are 10 perimeter tie-outs (five main tie-outs and five in-between tie-outs) and five tie-outs on the midpoint between the peak of the tarp and the base. On the inside of the tarp on the bottom five main tie-outs are plastic clips where the optional floor can be attached. On the inside of the tarp, corresponding to the midpoint tie-outs, are nylon ties. Using these interior nylon ties, I can tie up one triangle side to create the 4-sided pyramid.


The included aluminum pole breaks apart into three sections and is held together by shock cord. The bottom section of the pole is adjustable by means of a spring-loaded button.

Interior Loop

There is a single nylon loop sewn in the interior apex of the tarp where a lantern can be clipped and hung. On the top of the tarp another loop is sewn. This facilitates a guyline to erect the tarp without the use of a center pole.

My tarp came with a large stuff sack for the kit. Inside the big stuff sack is a small stuff sack with 10 stakes, and a long stuff sack containing the collapsible, adjustable pole. The large stuff sack is more than adequate to fit the tarp plus extra gear (for example, the optional floor). I could easily stuff the tarp to fill half the stuff sack leaving plenty of room for additional gear.

Each exterior tie-out locations includes a small length of reflective guyline and a plastic quick release adjustment clip for the guyline.

Zipper Pull

There is one “door” on the tent/tarp: a zippered enclosure between two of the five panels. There is a nice nylon tie/zipper pull on the outside and inside that facilitates easy opening of the door. The door panels can be opened and secured by means of a plastic/elastic toggle system. On the bottom of the door panels is one snap to more securely “latch” the door panels closed.

The door zipper has two zipper pulls, one at the top and one at the bottom. This means that I can keep the tent staked down and pull the top zipper down and enter the tarp through the “slit” opening.


Most locations have been near Flagstaff, Arizona, at an elevation of 7000 ft (2100 m). The tent has mostly served during dry, calm conditions, but on two overnight camping trips in Arizona I used the tent in the winter with light snows.

Buried in Snow

I pre-tested the tent in my yard during snow storms a couple of times to see how it would handle heavy snow loads. I found that when configured with five sides, the tarp did not hold up well with heavy snow. With only four sides, the tarp shed snow much better, however there is some interior space lost. Because of these backyard tests, I purposely have not taken this tent out when I’m expecting snow, however, the tent has been great when there is snow on the ground. I have pitched the tent and dug out the snow underneath to create a nice space to sleep.

I took the Origami on a backpacking trip into Snow Canyon State Park in Southern Utah at an elevation of 5000 ft (1500 m) and a total of about 6 miles (10 km). During this trip we experienced low temperatures (low 20s F/-7 C) and high winds.


Snow Canyon

One thing I really like about this tarp is that it is a lightweight solution for sleeping three adults. In my case, I can fit myself and four small kids easily. To fit three adults, the best solution is to remove the center pole and have all five sides of the tent deployed. With only four sides, the tent is only 73 in (185 cm) long/square, which was just long enough for my frame and reduces the capacity to two adults.

T6 Mountain

The included pole can adjust to only two heights, which correspond to the five-sided and four-sided configurations. When I’ve backpacked with this tent, I usually leave the pole behind and opt instead for using my trekking pole. To fit more than two people, I found that I need to tilt the center pole a little (putting it at an angle). This puts stress on different sides of the tarp and makes it difficult to get a taut pitch on all sides.

Setting up the tent is not as easy as a dome tent in some respects because there is no floor to retain its basic shape. Because of this, I can easily pull the sides too far and end up with a poor pitch. It often takes a bit of fiddling for me to get all the sides the right distance apart with five sides.

Two Guns

I found that it is hard to get a good, taut pitch with the sides staked directly to the ground. In this configuration, the sides of the tent really flatten out and a lot of interior space is lost. I found the best “shape” to be had when I pitched the tarp about 4 in (10 cm) off the ground. This leaves a pretty big gap, which helps with venting and breathability, but sometimes that can be bad.

In one case, while backpacking in Snow Canyon, I had the tent configured with four sides and off the ground about 4 in (10 cm). I didn’t bring trekking poles and packed the collapsible pole. There was a slight breeze coming up the canyon before I retired, but in the night the wind really whipped and those gaps allowed all kinds of wind to enter the tent. This made my sleep a bit cold. I’ve had to take more care to shield the tarp or even build up barriers around the gaps to prevent wind from blowing under the tarp.

In the winter, when snow is plentiful, this has worked out great. Using a shovel or even just my boot, I was able to pile up snow mounds around the tarp, which allowed me to lift the tarp even further off the ground to create more livable space.

The instructions provided with the tarp suggest that multiple configurations are available, but the only other one I’ve tried is to use the Origami with my hammock. The dimensions are just about perfect for a hexagonal tarp, but the zipper prevents the tarp from lying flat, which means I had to set the tent up really high to fit a hammock underneath (I also couldn’t use the center pole, for obvious reasons, which meant a really HIGH guy line to pull the center high). This didn’t really work well.


The Origami is a versatile pyramid-style tent that can easily convert from five to four sides without much difficulty. I believe this tent can be used in heavy snow only with the steep, four-sided configuration.

PRO—Lightweight for three people. Pyramid converts to 5 or 4 sides.

CON—Difficult to get a solid, taut pitch using all 5 sides; the ends tend to flatten out.

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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Sierra Designs Origami Tent > Owner Review by Derek Hansen

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