Review: Sierra Designs Alpha CD [ 3-man, 3-4 season Convertible tent ]

Review: Sierra Designs Alpha CD [ 3-man, 3-4 season Convertible tent ]
Retail: $389.99, but MBstores.com is currently offering this tent for $269.95 only. (offer expires soon)

Product Description

Trail weight: 8lbs. 1oz. Packed weight: 9lbs. 1oz. Fastpack weight: 5lbs. 4oz. Floor space: 48 square feet. Vestibule: 14 square feet. Doors: 2. Interior peak: 48 inches. Packed size: 6 1/2 in. x 24 in. Number of poles: 3. Kind of poles: Easton 7075 T9 Aluminum. Number of External Guy Outs: 6. Stake Out Loops: 8. Clip Locs: 3. Inter-Locs: 6. Fabrics - Floor: 70D 2.6oz. Polyurethane Coated Nylon Taffeta. Canopy: 70D 2oz. Ripstop Nylon. Mesh: 20D 1.6 oz. Woven Nylon. Fly: 70D 2oz. Polyurethane Coated Nylon Taffeta.


Reviewed by: Bruce Bounds, a Backpacker from Monroe, NC USA
Date Reviewed: 8/16/2002 6:47:38 PM
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
A roomy 2 (big)person tent or 1 adult and 2 kids. My night out with the tent we set it up in the dark with out a problem on top of a bald. An 8 hour storm came up and we got blasted with 5o mph gusts and tons of rain. The tent was fantastic. I have used it on several other trips. It has performed well in ice and snow @ single digit temps. The ventilation is excellent. The window is nice. Quick set up and take down times. I highly recomend this tent. It is on the heavy side, but i think that is the price you pay for versatility. I bought the ground cloth and gear loft made for the tent at the same time I bought the tent.

It is the best tent I have ever camped in.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Dale, a Car Camper from Woodbridge, Va.
Date Reviewed: 7/31/2002 10:34:22 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
OK, conscience dictates an update on this tent, given the lukewarm opinion of my earlier entry.

1. Size. I still think it's a bit tight for three, but the tent is plenty big for two wide-loads when you stake it properly and use the four-season brow pole extensions. And it can fit three more normally sized types adequately (tried it out with three teenagers, who all asked me what my problem was with the space), but they'd have to be good friends. As far as the issue of having to stake it well to get max floor yield, my (smarter) brother pointed out to me that a) it takes about five minutes extra to get it right, b) I'm in the middle of nowhere with the tent, so it ain't like there's a mtg to be late for, and c) I should stop thinking like a Type-A timeclock slave and enjoy the fresh air (while staking the tent).

2. Quality. We took it out for another few days before I made a final decision on the tent. It rained a while one of the nights out, not really hard, just enough to give 'er a good waterproofing test. Not one -- NOT ONE -- drop of moisture showed up inside, other than the beer I spilled. No seam leakage, no wicking from the stake loops, nada. The design keeps the fly well off the canopy at all points, there are no obvious sag points (aka, water wells) on the fly, and it breathes well even with the fly fully deployed (I *hate* condensation).

And the more you examine this tent, the better it gets. Dense stitch count, absolutely crispy tautness, nice big front door, stash pocket for the door. The nifty features keep adding up.

Example: the tent uses these elastic cords(called Clip Loc's) to strengthen the pole intersections. It's a blazingly simple idea, you can fasten them with one hand if necessary, and it works great. Very cool.

Another example: the linen-crisp tautness all around, just beatiful. And wet conditions don't appear to affect canopy or fly.

3. Versatility. Haven't had it out in the cold yet, but knowing there is such a wide range of mesh/solid surface ratios that can be afforded by the adjustable panels, is a control freak's paradise. So, you have an almost entirely mesh canopy in summer, a solid canopy in winter, and lots of in-between settings when you can't make up your mind. Nice.

Also, the basic pitch can be done in under two minutes, by one, profoundly dexterity-challenged, person (me). To get it wrong, you'd have to be trying to mess up.l

So much for hasty assessments. Mea culpa. Great tent, intelligent design, primo construction. Overall rating stays at 4 (I still maintain it's tight for three adults), but Value goes to 5 (abundant and useful features; topnotch construction quality; the BMW of tents).

Similar Products Tried:
Timberline, Eureka family
 

 
  Reviewed by: Dale, a Car Camper from Woodbridge, Va.
Date Reviewed: 7/24/2002 8:00:19 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
This is one of those times where the heart and the mind (more precisely, the shoulders) diverge. First off, in terms of design quality and overall construction, this thing is exceptional. Good example is the pairing of solid, configurable fabric panels with all mesh surfaces (doors, side AND TOP vent space); this makes the tent so much more versatile, with so little extra weight, that I found myself irritated with other brands for not providing the same. Another example is the brow pole over the front door, which pulls VERY taut and maximizes the door height for entry/exit ease; the design also makes the tent more survivable in harsh wind conditions, though you're likely to find me at the local Hyatt if that's going on anyway...

So here's the problem: For the life of me, I can't figure out how other reviewers are getting three bodies comfortably into this puppy. In fact, I think you have to stake and tie this thing just right to have it make a generous two-person habitat. The problem isn't overall space, it's that the floor geometry and side slope conspire to ensure that two out of the three people will be eating tent body all night. Admittedly, myself (5'10", 250lb) and my brother (a slightly less tubby branch of the family tree at 190lb) aren't exactly toothpicks. But just the two of us FILL this thing width-wise, and take up enough length that you can't have anything larger than a preteen or a docile Golden Retriever laid out at the foot.

In the end, this is a true cautionary tale. I've learned my lesson, and it's BUY WHAT MOST FITS YOUR NEED, NOT WHAT'S COOLEST. If you're trying to maximize utility per pound, in demanding and diverse conditions, this tent is a winner. If, like myself, you're a wide load who does mostly car camping and short-throw backpacking, the fact that this thing is so well built will quickly take a back seat to the fact that you're having to elbow your brother for space all night. Sometimes good and cavernous does beat great and "space-efficient."

Next stop, REI Taj perhaps?

Customer Service:
Never had any issues with REI service. These people work to earn your business. We'll see how well it goes when I take this tent back, I suppose...

Similar Products Tried:
Timberline; Eureka family tent
 

 
  Reviewed by: Jimmy, a Backpacker from Seattle, WA
Date Reviewed: 4/29/2002 4:53:07 AM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
For the price I paid (used once) I can't complain. All of the features I like except for the door which tends to get trampled on. But the new 2002 models have a circular door which fixes the problem, and can be open in any direction! I have never had problems with leakeage, or trouble in high winds. The tent is very convienant for winter (lighter than a true 4 season tent), and with the fast pack option a light shelter for summer.

Similar Products Tried:
TNF, Eureka, good ol' fashion tarp
 

 
  Reviewed by: Richard Crowley, a Mountaineer from Ma.
Date Reviewed: 2/9/2002 6:57:11 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I have never owned a tent made by sierra designs and I am now hitting my head against the wall at not owning one untill now. This tent is a joy to set up,I cant say that for any other tent I have ever used. The Alpha has plenty of room and I do expect to be able to put 3 people into it. This tent is bomb proof, I cant imagine having to have to guy out all points inside and out.
As far as wieght, at under 10lbs. this is a winter campers dream! Did I say yet that I liked this tent? yes yes yes

Customer Service:
When I ordered the tent to my dismay there were no poles included,1 call to Sierra and they next day aired me the poles for delivery the following day at 8am!

Similar Products Tried:
LL Bean tents And north face 4 season 2 man domes
 

 
  Reviewed by: Robert, a Mountaineer from placerville, CA
Date Reviewed: 10/24/2001 3:15:31 AM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I don't think I've ever carried a tent this big, but I bought it on a whim back in April along with a thermarest tandem.Talk about luxury camping! Since then, I don't think I've ever seen my wife happier on camping or kayaking trips. I can't remember a time before when she's asked ME to go camping. This is definitely the most versatile tent out there. It's big enough for three and absolutely palatial for two. The zip up windows are perfect for privacy when camping in tent city, and the strength of the convertible has kept us safe on mountain ridges. Because of its size, I've always carried the extra shok-serts for the added stability. It makes it a little nicer when the weather gets bad. This past summer, however, I was caught in a storm in the sierras. I was too lazy to go outside so I internally guyed the tent with 3 mm cordlet. The tent stood up like a fort. When we packed back out in the morning we passed two tents that had been blown over and tree branches were everywhere. It definitely made me a believer in the "convertible" aspect of the tent. If I didn't already have a four season tent, I would definitely consider this one. The only problem is that the mesh is on the outside and would ice up. Also, I would prefer more poles to handle a snowload and for the winter, I'd give up the convenience of clips for the security of sleeves. When spring comes though, you'll probably see this tent in the Tahoe area staked out with a pair of skiis. Thank you, Sierra Designs, for the comfort and security all rolled into one.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Randy Wesnitzer, a Backpacker from Casper, WY
Date Reviewed: 10/22/2001 6:36:21 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I have had this tent for a little over a year now, and have been very pleased with it. We have used it on many trips into the Bighorns, and it has endured a great deal of rain and some snow -- climbed Cloud Peak on 9/9/99 and it lived through a snow storm a few days prior to that climb. It has also been to the Wind Rivers several times now -- 8/18/00 we went in to climb Gannett Pk. Survived one of the worst wind stomrs in the Ticomb basin I have experienced, our other groupgs tent a Mrmot Hoot didn't fair as well and we were forced of the mt.

I am VERY pleased with the tent -- it does however have a slight low spot on top where rain/snow collect somewhat.
 

 
  Reviewed by: LEE COLLINS, a Backpacker from ANACONDA, MONTANA USA
Date Reviewed: 7/6/2001 4:55:00 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
THIS WAS MY FIRST TRIP OUT WITH THE ALPHA CD IN THE MOUNTAINS OF MONTANA. THE WEATHER WAS TYPICAL MONTANA WEATHER COOL AND LOTS OF RAIN AND HAIL. THIS IS NOT A EVALUATION ON MONTHS OF USE WITH THIS TENT ALTHOUGH MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE USUALLY RIGHT ON THE MONEY. THE TENT HAS PLENTY OF ROOM FOR TWO AND OUR PACKS INSIDE. WHILE THE VESTIBULE IS ROOMY IT IS NOT AS LARGE AS THE SERRIA DESIGN STRECH PRELUDE AND I WOULD LIKE IT LARGER OR WITH A HOOP FOR MORE HEAD ROOM. THE ONLY REAL COMPLAINT WAS THE DOORS AS YOU NEED TO ZIP AND UNZIP BOTH THE SCREEN AND DOOR INDIVIDUALLY ALL THE TIME. WITH THE SERRIA DESIGN STRECH PRELUDE BOTH THE SCREEN AND THE MATERIAL DOOR CAN BE ZIPPED OR UNZIPPED TOGETHER. THE VESTIBULE ON THE STRECH PRELUDE IS ALSO MUCH BIGGER. BUT HAD I NOT USED THE STRECH PRELUDE FOR MANY YEARS OF BACKPACKING I REALLY WOULD NOT HAVE ANY COMPLAINTS. THE TENT HANDLED THE ROUGH WEATHER WITHOUT A LEAK OR FLAPPING OF THE RAINFLY. VENTILATION WAS EXCELLENT BUT WEATHER IN MONTANA NEVER GETS THAT HOT IN THE MOUNTAINS TO FULLY APPRECIATE THE OPEN CEILING AND NO FLY. THE TENT IS A LITTLE HEAVY BUT WHEN YOU TAKE TWO OR THREE PEOPLE THEY CAN SHARE SOME OF THE WEIGHT.

Customer Service:
I HAVE NEVER NEEDED ANY CUSTOMER SERVICE WITH MY OTHER SERRIA DESIGN TENT AND I HAVE HAD IT FOR 1O YEARS. I DON'T EXPECT TO NEED CUSTOMER SERVICE ON THIS TENT EITHER AS SERRIA DESIGN MAKES A QUALITY TENT.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Jeffrey, a Backpacker from Laramie, WY
Date Reviewed: 5/15/2001 5:37:32 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I love this tent. I have found this tent to be very roomy and the large front vestibule is large though I wish it were hooped. Plenty of room for three adults plus two dogs in the vestibule. It is the lightest three man tent I could find at just under 8 lbs. There is also the option of leaving a pole off and also the tent if you have the fast pack ground cloth

Similar Products Tried:
tnf stratos
marmot hoot
 

 
  Reviewed by: Jake Oestreich, a Backpacker from New Hope MN USA
Date Reviewed: 5/6/2001 2:30:14 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
This tent is great! it has surpassed all my expectations. It has tons of room and the large vestibule is a godsend! Set up is super easy with the clip system. I got the footprint that goes with the tent and it all fits together into a simple unit. It's a little on the heavy side but isn't too bad if you can get your partners to take some of the burden. I'm taking it on bike trip this summer all over minnesota and anticipate a worry free trip.

Similar Products Tried:
Eureka timberline
 

 
  Reviewed by: Mike Gent, a Backpacker from Garland, Tx.
Date Reviewed: 1/27/2001 8:21:16 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
This tent is easy to set up, roomy,and has great ventilation. I haven't used the tent in any adverse conditions, but when set up, it appears to be very stable and sturdy.

Customer Service:
No experience with warranty, but from everything I have read, Seirra Designs is a company that stands behind their product.

Similar Products Tried:
Walrus, Kelty
 

 
  Reviewed by: Steve, a Backpacker from Bozeman, MT
Date Reviewed: 1/16/2001 10:50:53 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
Geat tent...Like the Omega, but bigger. Really easy to setup and great for all weather conditions. I've used it in summer and winter (down to 0 degrees on snow) and don't have a complaint. I bought it because it's convertible (3-4 season) and wanted a tent to sleep 3. The seams come taped from the factory ('99 or newer) and the large vestibule and 2 doors are a big plus. I bought the fastpack footprint and it sets up with just the poles and fly. That works good for a quick (light) summer over-nighter, as the fly can reach the ground all around. Great structure--I've used it in montana winds, rain, and snow. The clip design is the easiest to set up by far, and comes in handy when it is raining hard or blowing. The weight really isn't a problem, especially if you can get your partner(s) to take a bit of it.

Similar Products Tried:
Sierra Designs Stretch Prelude (4-season 4-man expedition tent)
REI 3-season, 2-man dome (?)
 

 
  Reviewed by: Jerry Brown, a Climber from Seattle, WA, USA
Date Reviewed: 1/10/2001 11:28:57 AM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
This tent rocks! Granted at 9 lbs. it's a monster but for car camping and some pack trips all is forgiven in the weight department. I bought this tent because I was sick and tired of never having any room with 2 people in a two person tent. I guess I've reached that age when things like that matter more and more. Lets face it when you live in the pacific northwest and it rains, rains, rains, a two person cracker box doesn't help the mood. One nice feature besides the large vestibule is having a front and rear door which makes it nice for those nature calls in the middle of the night. Also the high ceiling comes in handy if you get my meaning. Set up is almost idiot proof and it has easily handled all the wind and rain thrown at it. If however I were to go on some serious pack trips with mondo elevation gains I'm afraid I'd have to leave this one at home and get something lighter.


Retail: $389.99, but MBstores.com is currently offering this tent for $269.95 only. (offer expires soon)



All items offered by MBstores.com are guaranteed: 100% Geniune, Original, Authentic and Brand New.
Order with confidence. E-mail help@MBstores.com for questions.

              


The trademarks, logos, and service marks listed on this site are property of their respective owners and are shown for descriptive purposes only. Images are for illustrative purposes only. MBstores is not responsible for typographical errors.