Home / Gear Reviews / Sierra Designs High Route I FL Tent Review

Sierra Designs High Route I FL Tent Review

manufactured by:
Philip Werner

Reviewed by:
On October 3, 2016
Last modified:October 2, 2016


The Sierra Designs High Route (MSRP $299) is a one person, double-walled tent that's well suited for three season camping and backpacking. Weighing just 2 pounds 5 ounces (minus stakes), it is a very comfortable and easy to set up tent, ideal for protected campsites in wooden terrain or below treeline. Pitched with trekking poles (accessory poles are available as well), it has numerous ventilation options making it a good tent for wet climates as well as dry, with an inner tent that can be pitched after the outer fly has been set up, to prevent it from getting wet while you set up your tent. While not as lightweight as some ultralight tents, it's a very capable offering available at a reasonable price and an excellent value for serious adventurers.

The Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent is a lightweight and spacious one person tent that is easy to pitch

The Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent (MSRP $299) is a 2 pound 5 ounce, one-person trekking pole tent that’s easy to set up and has a lot of interior space. A double-walled tent, it has an inner tent that is set up after the rainfly so it will never get wet in the pouring rain. While not unique to the High Route tent, it’s a feature that you’ll appreciate immensely if you’ve ever had to put up or take down a backpacking tent in the rain.


The High Route tent has what’s called a dual-apex architecture with two peaks instead of one like a pyramid tent. The two peaks are offset from one another along the sides of the tent in order to interior maximize headroom and prevent the front and rear sides from sloping down too closely over your face and feet. It works great too. There’s an abundance of space and headroom inside the inner tent to spread out your gear or pack the next morning without feeling like a contortion artist.

The High Route has a rectangular shape which makes it easy to find suitable campsites and set up.
The High Route has a rectangular shape which makes it easy to find suitable campsites and set up.

While the front and rear sides of the High Route fly slope down, the peaked sides are vertical giving the fly perimeter and interior a rectangular shape that makes the tent very easy to pitch, even in heavily forested terrain. While the High Route 1 looks huge, it’s actually far easier to fit into stealth camp sites than I expected, since rectangular shaped campsites are easy to spot between trees.

Each peaked side also has a door, so you don’t have to worry about orienting the tent when you pitch it, and you can get in or out whichever side is convenient. The inner tent also has two side doors so you don’t have to worry about orienting it either.

Once you've staked out the corners, you insert trekking poles into the peaks
Once you’ve staked out the corners, you insert trekking poles into the peaks.

When pitching the tent, you stake out the four corners as shown above, staking each guyline out at a 45 degree angle. The next step is to insert your trekking poles into the peaks and guy out the tent ridgeline so that the fabric between the peaks is stretched tight.

Stretch the fabric between the peaks and guy them out at an angle to the sides. Note how the peaks are offset and NOT located directly across from one another. This helps create more interior headroom inside the tent.
Stretch the fabric between the peaks and guy them out at an angle to the sides. Note how the peaks are offset and NOT located directly across from one another. This helps create more interior headroom inside the tent.

This creates a lot of tension on the ridgeline, so I’d advise you to swap out the stakes that Sierra Designs provides with the High Route for something with much better holding power, like a MSR Groundhog Tent Stake, for those two guylines. You really don’t want them pulling out at night. (If you consistently camp in areas with very loose sandy soil or on top of wooden platforms, I’d recommend using a freestanding tent or one with a exoskeleton style pole set instead.)

Next attach the side doors to your trekking poles with the velcros strips provided for added security. This helps provide more structural rigidity and prevents the trekking poles from slipping if you jar the tent. While the doors zip shut with a bi-directional double zipper, they have plastic clips to take pressure off the zippers about mid-way up the wall and along the floor. The combination also gives you a lot of different options for ventilation.

The height that you set your trekking poles is flexible, depending on how much ventilation you want under the side walls. I adjust my pole length in real time to lift the bottom of the fly about an inch or two off the ground for better ventilation using a pole length between 48-50″ in length. Accessory poles are apparently available if you don’t use trekking poles.

Attach your poles to the side walls using velcro strips for more security.
Attach your poles to the side walls using velcro strips for more security.

Once the outer fly is set up and secure, it’s time to set up the inner tent (also called a nest). This is attached to two clips below the peaks and to the four corners using plastic hooks. You have crawl on your hands and knees for this step, something to be cognizant of if the ground is wet and muddy. You don’t have to use the inner tent: it really is optional if you just want to use the fly as a tarp, but it provides bug protection and maximizes the comfort provided by this tent.

The top of the inner tent attaches to two plastic clips located under the peaks. Yes, the High Route is compatible with Pacer Pole Trekking Pole handles.
The top of the inner tent attaches to two plastic clips located under the peaks. Yes, the High Route is compatible with Pacer Pole Trekking Pole handles, as shown.

The inner tent doesn’t take up all the space under the fly, but there isn’t a lot of extra space along the sides of the inner tent to store a large backpack under cover. While you can use the webbing and clips shown above to move the inner tent closer to one side of the tent than the other you don’t want it to touch the side of the fly to prevent internal condensation transfer. Your best bet is to either accept some deformation on the leeward side of the tent wall where a large backpack bulges out or to shrink it’s size by transferring some of its contents to the inner tent.

There's not a huge amount of space between the side of the inner tent and the outer fly to store a large backpack unless you reduce its size be transferring its contents inside the inner tent.
There’s not a huge amount of space between the side of the inner tent and the outer fly to store a large backpack unless you reduce its size by transferring its contents inside the inner tent.

The inner tent really is luxuriously large (90″ x 30″ x 43″) for one person with plenty of room to store most of your pack contents within easy reach and still have plenty of room for your sleeping pad and sleeping bag or quilt. It’s large enough that I can store the entire contents of my pack in the inner tent and pack it back up while kneeling inside the tent the next morning. That’s a nice capability, especially when it’s raining outside.


The Sierra Designs High Route (MSRP $299) is a one person, double-walled tent that’s well suited for three season camping and backpacking. Weighing just 2 pounds 5 ounces (minus stakes), it is a very comfortable and easy to set up tent, ideal for protected campsites in wooden terrain or below treeline. Pitched with trekking poles (accessory poles are available as well), it has numerous ventilation options making it a good tent for wet climates as well as dry, with an inner tent that can be pitched after the outer fly has been set up, to prevent it from getting wet when you pitch your tent in the rain. While not as lightweight as some ultralight tents, it’s a very capable offering available at a reasonable price and optimized for serious adventure.


  • Easy to pitch
  • Doors on both sides
  • Excellent ventilation options
  • Lots of interior space to sit up, stretch out, and pack your gear under cover
  • Can hang or take down inner tent without getting it wet in rain


  • Limited covered storage space for large backpacks
  • No interior pockets in the inner tent for holding small delicate items, like glasses


  • Packaged Weight: 2 lbs 12 oz / 1.25 kg
  • Weight, less included Tent Stakes: 2 lbs 5.4 oz (on sectionhiker.com scale)
    • Stuff Sack: 0.9 oz / 26g
    • Tarp Weight: 1.5 lbs / 654g
    • Inner Nest Weight: 15.5 oz / 440g
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • Internal Peak Height (Tarp): 48 in / 122 cm
  • Internal Peak Height (Nest): 43 in / 109 cm
  • Awning Height: 38.5 in / 98 cm
  • Length (Tarp): 108 in / 274 cm
  • Length (Nest): 90 in / 229 cm
  • Width (Tarp): 48 in / 122 cm
  • Width (Nest): 30 in / 76 cm
  • Fly Fabric: 20D Nylon Ripstop, Silicone/1500mm PE, FR
  • Floor Fabric: 30D Nylon Ripstop, WR/3000mm PE, FR
  • Body Fabric: 15D Nylon, No-See-Um Lightweight Mesh

For complete specifications, see the High Route 1 FL product page at Sierra Designs

Disclosure: Sierra Designs provided SectionHiker.com with a sample tent for review. I sincerely hope you’ve benefited from the information provided in this post. This post contains affiliate links. 

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  1. Looks boxy. How’s it do in strong wind?

    • It’s not as wind-resistant as a true mid and its sloping walls. But it does fine, and has been tested in the field in winds up to 30 mph (Dave Chenault says 40 mph, but I’ll be conservative). Personally, I’ve never seen conditions where the High Route Tent would not perform adequately.

    • It is boxy, so I wouldn’t advise using it in an unprotected campsite in high winds if you can find a better campsite. That said, you should try to orient the tent so the vertical walls aren’t facing into the wind and use the tie downs distributed around the tent to keep from blowing it away. if camping in very high winds in consistently unprotected sites, your best bet is a true pyramid like the MLD Duomid. That’s a lot less comfortable than the High Route though. A LOT less.

  2. Thanks for the review, Philip. Nice to hear this shelter validated by another source.

    In regards to where to put a backpack a night.

    If only the fly is being used, which is how I use it in Colorado and throughout the Mountain West for all but about 6 weeks per year, it’s much less of an issue. The footprint on the fly is 4 x 9, so there is ample room at head and foot (even for a really tall person) to lay it lengthwise.

    If the inner tent is being used, it’s not as easy but there are some plenty of options.

    a. In calm conditions, “porch” a side door the leave the backpack under it.

    b. Your solution, of storing it vertically between the inner tent and fly.

    c. Do not attach the inner tent at the two foot corners, and stash it down there. A full-length pad will tension the inner tent fairly well, even without these corners attached.

    d. Sleep on it for extra cushion and insulation, which is my preference.

  3. Not a fan of the color scheme. How’s it handle rain and internal condensation?

    • I was very impressed by this actually. Had this tent in the rain without any issues. Being double-walled, there’s a big gap between the outer fly and inner tent so you’re unlikely to get wet from condensation transfer and you can take the inner tent down first and stuff it in your pack separate from the wet fly so it won’t get soaked. Next, ventilation is excellent, provided you take steps to pitch the tent with a gap between ground and bottom of the walls, open the zippers, prop open the peak air vents, or porch the doors for good cross ventilation, air flow, and heat venting. A lot of people put down double walled tents but the High Route give you the option to use one without a huge weight penalty. It’s a real standout feature of this tent, to be honest.

  4. Could you attach the bug net before staking out, to avoid having to crawl inside afterwards?

    • You can, but I found that it falls off the corner attachment points (consistently) when you stuff it into the stuff sack. The peak clips remain attached, true, but you need to get on your knees to attach the corners of the inner to the outer fly. The corner clips have an open hook on them which is why they fall off. You could conceivably replace these with mitten hooks that stay on better. However, I find mitten hooks hard to open with cold hands.

    • Yes, this can be done, and is convenient. But you’ll want to avoid over-tightening the connection points, or you may hinder your ability to get a catalog-worthy pitch of the fly.

      • Which is an interesting point to bring up. Given it’s design, each pitch with the High Route is going to be slightly different from a measurement standpoint when you set it up. Getting a catalog worthy pitch, like those shown on the SD web site, is difficult….since one side will slightly higher than the other, one corner slightly skewed, one stake out point offset around a rock, one pole slightly longer than the other, etc. You should expect wrinkles. This means is that pre-attaching the inner tightly, even if you can get it to stay attached between stuffings, may backfire when you go to set up the tent in different circumstances.

  5. I like to see these reviews of 1-person tents, since I am in the market for one.
    Using trekking poles intuitively seems like a good idea, because why not reuse poles you are already carrying? However, in practice, it seems like you end up with an inferior tent design and not really any weight savings. I compare my current favorite, the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1, to this one and I see roughly the same weight, roughly the same price, but the Big Agnes is freestanding, has more usable interior space, and is a lot easier to pitch.
    Another problem I have with trekking pole tents is that it seems a lot of them require adjustable poles, but mine are non-adjustable.

    • The BA Copper Spur is a very nice tent and true, very easy to pitch. Not truly freestanding in that you still need to stake out the fly, but very comfortable, very nice, and lightweight. You still need to jump through hoops (footprint option) to keep the inner dry in pouring rain (since it has to be pitched first/taken down last), but in fair weather, it’s one of the best/most comfortable one person tents available. People have different preferences – if you like the CS go with it! I didn’t design it, so I can still recommend it.


    • The Copper Spur and High Route are very different tents, and I don’t think it’d be possible to claim that one is absolutely “best.” When gear shopping in general, I always recommend going with the best product “for you” (i.e. conditions, preferences, and budget).

      For those debating the merits of these shelters, some reasons why you might go with the High Route over the Copper Spur or other double-wall dome-ish tents:

      * Better ventilation. Both side doors can be opened and porched, creating cross-shelter airflow and additional protected space.

      * Seven inches of additional headroom inside the inner tent, and probably about 2 feet of additional foot-room. Four feet of additional square footage (inner tent + fly). And much more cubic volume.

      * Dry pitch and dry entry. As Philip pointed out, the fly is pitched first, creating a rainproof canopy when setting up the inner tent. And when the doors are opened, no interior or vestibule space is exposed to precip.

      * When used as just a fly, the High Route is palatial relative to the Copper Spur. It’s big enough for two people.

      * More modular design. Use the fly or inner tent together, or independently. Personally, I only use the inner tent for about 6 weeks per year, when the bugs are moderate or worse. Otherwise, I use a ground sheet or bug bivy.

      * $80 less (20%)

    • It’s worth pointing out that Big Agnes uses a pretty marginal floor material in their UL tents, including the Copper Spur. These are just really different animals all around and while I haven’t used the High Route (really thinking about it though), it looks great in many ways. The Copper Spur and Hubba (which I think is better, between the two) are fantastic shelters. What the High Route offers is a lot of flexibility with fabrics that are more durable out of the box and (presumably) over the long haul. If they were to use more feathery fabrics they could have dropped several ounces but that comes at the expense of maintaining a decent waterproof rating after repeated use as well as shorter life with UV exposure. Even though the High Route and some similar shaped tarp type shelters can be finicky to pitch at times, most of the time they are still capable of serving as shelter in some sketchy locations – cannot always say the same for poled tents like the Copper Spur and Hubba. Just comes down to what will meet the majority of your needs the majority of the time. I can see the High Route doing both for me and probably for a lot of people, and it’s a very attractive price, too.

  6. I have a Tarptent Stratospire 1, and it seems very similar in design to this one. I’m happy withthe size of the vestibules on the Stratospire.

  7. Andrew,

    Do you think it’s worth telling people reading this article that you designed the High Route tent and work for Sierra Designs or does everyone know that already? The reason we trust Philips opinions is that he is an independent reviewer who doesn’t pull his punches and tells us the pros and cons of the products he reviews. While your comments are informative, we’re here for Philips unbiased assessment, not your marketing pitch, whether it’s intentional or not.

    • Good point, Rodney. For those unfamiliar with my relationship with this product, I designed it from start to finish, as part of my product consulting and marketing work with Sierra Designs. Since it’s my baby and since I know more about it than anyone, I’m happy to share what I know.

      I’m also happy to disclose its imperfections, since it’s not going to be the right shelter for everyone and since — like Philip — I have a long-term interest in dispensing good advice. For example, it’s heavy for a thru-hike and overkill for benign conditions; it’s not free-standing; and, personally at least, I enjoy using it as a fly-only setup, since the inner tent is relatively small.

      • Really – I think the inner tent makes the High Route. Huge and comfortable. Just goes to show that a different perspective is useful. Without the inner tent, the High Route be just another ho-hum tarp. I think the combination of the two is the value point. People don’t want to suffer under a single walled tarp in the mud with the bugs.

  8. Rodney

    I think it’s easy to understand the excitement one would have in reading such an in-depth and unbiased review of a tent you helped design, Frankly just the background and experience Andrew brings to the table in this forum here has been valuable toward an even larger grasp of what this shelter has to offer.

    • I think we’re going down a rat hole here and off-topic. Does anyone have any other questions about this shelter I can help answer?

    • Mark,

      I think any observations Andrew makes on products that compete with products made by Sierra Designs has to be suspect since he is a paid “marketing consultant” for them. You can’t talk the talk unless you walk the walk. I think this tent would be a lot more interesting if Andrew backed off and let unbiased reviewers like Philip explain it to us. The hard sell is a real turn off.


      • If there is anyone in UL backpacking today who has literally “walked the walk,” it is Andrew Skurka.

      • Rodney, probably prudent to feel that way these days but I think you’re off the mark on this one. I assume you haven’t already, but if you want to feel more at ease on this particular issue, read through the articles and comments on Skurka’s website and Facebook page. I am probably overly skeptical and the marketing shill and wool-over-the-eyes approaches over the last several years have increased that for me but Skurka has been really up front and on the level with this as well as their new pack. Doesn’t seem out of place to have him comment here. He’s quick to point out the details and also quick to admit the drawbacks or tell people it might not be right for their needs…that’s pretty straight shooting and honestly for me it’s been refreshing to see that, and he’s been consistent in that frankness, as well. About 90% of reviews and blogs and such and such are bunk but Skurka isn’t in that crowd. Yet. (in jest)

  9. Has anyone had a chance to snow camp in this yet? Looks like it could be cool to set up fly only and dig out a bit underneath and make a snow palace.

    • I think you’d want something with a much bigger footprint like a golite SL3 teepee or a Mountain Hardwear Hoopla. The footprint of the High Route is quite narrow. Not really enough space to hang out.

  10. Factory seam sealed?

  11. I’m a reader who is glad Andrew shared his thoughts on the High Route. It is a rather unique design and his explanation of the features provides a clarity maybe not otherwise realized.

  12. I welcome manufacturer interaction with readers when I review their products and appreciated Andrew chiming in with his comments yesterday. We’ve worked together in the past and I’ve always found him to be above board, a clear communicator, and committed to helping people selflessly. It is important however that manufacturers make it clear who they are in terms of their business relationship with a brand when they respond to readers’ questions. I think we’ve drained that swamp now and would like to continue to focus on the product without this post devolving into an Andrew Skurka bashing contest. If you wish to communicate your feelings on this issue, please contact Andrew directly. He’s easy to find on the Internet. I’m sure he will take your input to heart.

  13. I appreciate that Mr. Skurka has shared his thoughts on the tent he basically designed, although I agree it would have been wise to identify himself as the designer at the outset, saving some of this back and forth.

    I really find more similarities than differences to the Stratospire made by Tarptent, which I own. This is a tent I’ve used in different conditions, including extended heavy rain, and I find to be very well thought out and designed. Unlike the High Route, it does employ mitten hooks to attach the four corners of the nest to the fly, as well as the two upper attachments. I have thought about replacing these, because they are a bit difficult to attach and detach, which is something I tend to do on summer days when I use the nest by itself, but need to sometimes relocate the nest under the fly during a passing rain or thunderstorm. On the plus side, they don’t detach when packed, so the nest can remain attached for dry set up in the rain.

    Another difference is the use of 2 struts on 2 of the corners of the tent, giving it much better stability and a more rigid structure than it would otherwise have. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to test this tent in high winds, I know others have, and it has performed well, from the reports I have heard.

    I was having some trouble getting a good, taut pitch on this tent, until I went back and watched the video on the best way to set it up, and now I have no difficulty getting a great pitch on differing terrains.

    The High Route appears to have larger and more adjustable vents, which is an aspect of the design I like. I also agree with another commenter, the color scheme leaves much to be desired.

    Just as a general observation, I would love to find an ultralight semi-free standing 1 person double wall that eschews a vestibule for a serviceable (and perhaps retractable) awning for good egress, with just a bit larger footprint (a little longer than normal) to make up for the lost vestibule space (so all gear can be stored inside). A tent like this would be able to fit in narrower spots than many others that employ side vestibules which need to be staked out. I’m in Northern New England, and sometimes finding a good spot in a dense forest can be challenging. I also require a minimum of 42″ of height so that I can sit up fully erect in the tent for extended periods (I meditate). I think I’ll find this out there eventually.

    Thanks for everyone’s comments.

    • What about at Tarptent Moment DW?

      • Thanks for the suggestion Phillip. It looks like a good design, but does sacrifice interior space for two side vestibules, which is what I’m trying to avoid (the extra width footprint needed for setup). Also the interior height of 39″ just doesn’t quite cut it for me to be able to sit up fully erect with a 3-4″ cushion under me. I’m open to other suggestions, if anyone is aware of a good option.

  14. I have noticed a lot of sameness in tent design recently. Personally, I use a Vaude Power Lizard (single pole, tunnel tent design) but there are very similar designs from a number of companies including Macpac/Z tents/Vango/Hilleberg/Luxe/Exped etc etc. Is it even possible to make a new tent that doesn’t borrow some features of another designer, I don’t think so.

  15. It’s also similar to a Tarptent Notch, but much heavier and without the two vestibules. I’m not sure what advantage the High Route offers.

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