Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 UL Tent Review

New Gear Vestibule (open)
New Gear “Closet” (open)

The new updated version of the Flashlight 1 UL is now available commercially and significant improvements have been made to the ventilation, which is now on par with that found in many single wall ultralight tents.

New Gear Vestibule (closed)
New Gear “Closet “(closed)

In addition to shaving the weight of the tent, Sierra Designs refactored the big side vestibule and replaced it with a second aerodynamic “awning” that lets air flow through the tent more easily. The screen mesh behind each side window is also now backed with a 3/4 solid door which can be zipped up to reduce airflow and block horizontal rain or kept down to help vent heat and moisture buildup.

Second Side Awning with partially lowered solid wall inner
Second Side Awning with partially lowered solid wall inner

I’ve already had the new Flashlight 1 UL out in a wild thunderstorm and the awnings are quite effective at blocking rain from entering the tent without compromising air circulation. They’re also good at shedding wind and preventing your tent from becoming airborne, although it helps if you make the side guy out points (below the two peaks) on the awning taut when you pitch the tent.

The Flashlight 1 UL comes with one side vestibule which is large enough to fit a 70 liter backpack and completely enclose it. Last year, the Sierra Designs tent designers were calling this vestibule a ” gear closet” which can be left open for more ventilation or closed to completely shield your pack from the elements.

The Flashlight UL 1 has a small footprint making it easy to fit into tight spaces. The front hoop pole is required, but the two side poles can be replaced with trekking poles if
The Flashlight 1 UL has a small footprint making it easy to fit into tight spaces. The foot-end hoop pole is required, but the two side poles can be replaced with trekking poles if you carry them.

While the Flashlight 1 UL can be pitched with trekking poles to save on weight (5.8 oz), you still need to carry a foot hoop pole (3.5) which suspends the ventilated foot box. A minimum of 7 tent stakes are required to pitch the tent: four in the corners, one in the middle of the foot end, and two on the awning guy out points.

The roof sags slightly between the two peaks and the front hoop
The roof sags slightly between the two peaks and the front hoop pole

If rain threatens, it’s advisable to add two more guy out lines (2 extra cords and guy line adjusters are included for this) to the peaks to pull them backwards and down. Without this adjustment, the roof of the tent has a slight sag, which can lead to water pooling on the tent seam below the hoop. The seams on this tent are factory-taped so this water is unlikely to leak into the tent. Still, cinching the front guy under the hoop pole tights  and adding the extra guy lines to the peaks to pull the roof taught will eliminate any chance of this entirely.

Water can pool over the front seam unless the roof is tightly tensioned.
Water can pool over the front seam unless the roof is tightly tensioned.

Component Weights

Here are the weights of the Flashlight 1 UL Tent broken out into its component elements.

  • Foot-end pole: 3.5 ounces
  • Side poles: 2.9 ounces x 2 = 5.8 ounces (can be replaced with trekking poles)
  • Tent stakes: 0.4 ounces x 8 = 3.4 ounces (replaceable)
  • Tent and stake bag:  0.5 ounces
  • Tent bag: 0.6 ounces
  • Tent body: 2.0 pounds (32 ounces) including all guy lines

That brings the total weight of the Flashlight 1 UL 1 Tent to 45.8  ounces with all of its packaged components.

If you were to discard all the bags, replace the side poles with trekking poles and  replace with the stakes with Easton 6″ aluminum stakes weighing 0.2 ounces each, the Flashlight 1 UL’sweight drops to 37.1 ounces or 2 pounds 5.1 ounces which is pretty respectable for a lightweight tent.


The Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 UL tent is an extremely livable 1 person tent suitable for camping and backpacking. It’s very easy to pitch and its hybrid single well / double wall design prevents the inner tent from being soaked if you need to set it up in the pouring rain. Sierra Designs has significantly improved the airflow through the tent, which now has two mesh sidewalls, with 3/4 solid doors that can be raised to block cold wind if necessary. While somewhat boxy in shape, I like this tent because it requires very little space to set up, but still provides excellent interior space and external gear closets to store gear. I wouldn’t recommend this tent for use in very windy and exposed conditions, but it’s an excellent lightweight option for less demanding weather conditions. .


  • Light weight
  • Linelocs or mini cord adjusters on all guy lines.
  • Can be pitched using trekking poles
  • Ability to sit up completely
  • Plenty of interior space for sleeping pad and gear
  • Vertical walls maximize interior room and livability
  • Light colored roof fabric lets in exterior light
  • Color scheme is neutral and blends in well with landscape
  • High bathtub floor protects against flooding
  • Taped seams
  • Hybrid rain fly and mesh design
  • Additional solid fabric weather protection on side doors to block wind/dust
  • Tie-outs on top of the apex peaks for added wind stability

Manufacturer Specifications

  • Number of Doors – 1
  • Interior Area – 18.8 sq ft
  • Gear Closet – 3.5 sq ft
  • Peak Height 46″
  • Awning Height – 31″
  • Floor Material – 40D Nylon Ripstop, 3000 mm PU
  • Body Material – 20D Nylon Ultralight Mesh
  • Fly Material – 30D nylon Ripstop, Sil 1500 mm PU

Disclosure: Sierra Designs provided Philip Werner ( with a complementary Flashlight 1 UL tent but Philip was not under any obligation to review it. 

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  1. I know you’re comfortable with using trekking poles as tent posts, but did you struggle with this at first?

    It really seems like a hassle to me. Last fall I attempted to pitch a tarp using trekking poles, then Bivy under it. I had a tough time getting it to stand correctly and was unconfident it could survive a windy night.

    I’m not in the market for a new tent, but I’m curious for feedback and how sturdy this and other tents using trekking poles are.

    What shelter are you taking on the White Mountain Challenge?

    • I never had any problems pitching a tent with trekking poles. It came really easily because it made so much sense. I haven’t yet decided which shelter I’m taking on my Challenge hike. I’m still weighing some different alternatives and waiting for a tent from a new manufacturer before I decide, but whichever I choose, it will pitch with trekking poles.

    • Just to add to that – pitching a tarp with trekking poles is a lot harder than pitching a tarp tent or a hybrid tent. You really do need to practice at home. At least I did.

  2. I have the BA Copper Spur UL1 and love it. Pretty light and small footprint. Have you ever used this tent?

    • The Copper Spur is on my list to try sometime. but I’ve never used one. It’s free-standing which can be quite useful in my line of work. :-)

      • Phillip, My suggestion would be to try the Seedhouse SL1 tent b4 the Copper Spur 1. It is lighter, has less sil-nylon/more netting, and I think it pitches tighter.

        • The SL1 has the distinction of letting rain in when the door is open. Horrible design. Not to mention that it requires 13 stakes for a tight pitch. Front entry sucks as well.

        • Hmmm. I was on the lookout for rain performance which why I didn’t write anything up until I’d had it out in heavy rain. But I didn’t experience rain coming in under the awnings. Did you have the closet open or closed and where exactly did the rain enter. Was it wind blown rain or was the water channeling down the fabric and into the tent? What about zipping up the solid inner? Did that stop it? Just curious about all the variants.

  3. Kevin O,

    I first started using trekking pole supported tents last year. I have a Tarptent Notch and recently acquired a Stratospire 1. I had a Copper Spur UL1 before that. All great tents, but for the weight and my size and purposes, the Stratospire 1 wins hands down. I use a large neoair xlite and have TONS of room in it, and the vestibules are ginormous. I too was first leary of trekking pole supported tents simply because I had never used them. Now that I’ve spent some time with them, they’re just as intuitive and fast if not faster to set up as any poled tent, and they actually feel sturdier IMHO. Don’t let the trekking pole supported feature scare you away. Also, you can’t miss with Tarptents.

  4. I was wondering if on your Challenge trip if you will be using a ground cloth or do you typically not use one to save weight?

    • I never use one. Especially in the Whites where I can usually find a pitch on forest duff. They’re really only useful to prevent abrasion to th ebottom of a tent on very sandy soil. Otherwise, they just pool water under your tent. Ditch the footprint and save yourself some weight. Your tent likely has a seam-taped bathtub floor (or you’ve seam-sealed it yourself) and the footprint is redundant.

  5. I found it really confusing when you kept referring to the “front end pole”. It just seems to me that the pole at the foot end of the tent, should be referred to as the “foot end pole”. To me at least, the front of the tent is the surface on which appears the door/vestibule…? I own and have used extensively a Sierra Designs Ultra Lightyear. With Easton aluminum/carbon fiber poles and true 2 layer construction, I think I would still prefer it over this new iteration. Using Titanium stakes and 1.1mm Dynema cord, I think it has a trail weight of 37 ounces, still lighter than this newer, hybrid single layer tent.

  6. Philip, how has this tent held up in rainy conditions? I really love its design and weight, but keeping it dry and not mildewy worries me. I live in south Ontario (temperate in summer) and am hoping to take it to Wales for cycletouring. I’ve only ever worked with two-walled tents and am nervous about keeping it dry inside and out in humid and/or wet conditions. What is your experience with this tent?

    • Mildew won’t form if you’re using the tent in rainy conditions, only if you leave it wet when you get home and don’t hang it up to dry. If it is raining constantly, nothing is going to stay completely dry, regardless of whether it is a single or a double walled tent. You still need to bring a camping towel with you to wipe down wet surfaces If you keep the mesh doors open at night, then the tent will stay drier than a double-walled tent, as long as it’s not 100% humidity outside. Humid is humid. I’ve used this tent in the rain and it’s fine,but if you’re more comfortable with a heavier double-walled tent, you should probably stick with it.

  7. I especially liked your critical weight break-down of all the components. Years ago i purchased a SD Clip-Flashlight tent and the MFG weight specification was nearly a pound off! They wrote me a nice return letter explaining the different ways you can list the weight of the tent, but the letter did not change the weight of my tent at all!

  8. How does the SD Flashlight 1 FL compare to the TT Notch and which one do you prefer and why? I’m torn between the two shelters and currently debating if I should take the weight penalty of the SD for the increase in livable space. I should mention that I have a 25 inch MW Exped pad (just for comfort) and I am worried about the inner space of the notch being a little tight. I also looked at the SMD Deschutes tarp + inner net as well as the Lunar Solo and the Skyscape Trekker but decided I don’t like the designs. I own a Flashlight 2 FL and I am very happy with it, but when I am packing solo it is just too much tent for me.



    • The Tarptent Notch is tight and low inside. I’d opt for the Flashlight if you want more space. I really like the Flashlight 1 to be honest. It fits into tight spaces but has excellent room and ventilation. It’s also pretty inexpensive. Not as wind worthy as a notch for sure, but excellent for more protected sites. I’d also recommend looking at the New Tarptent Bowfin. I’m going to publish a review of it next week and it has a lot more inner space than the Notch.

      • Thanks for the info, guess I am leaning more towards the FL 1, simply because it offers more livable space and because I really like our FL 2. Do you have any thoughts on the TT Stratospire 1 vs the FL 1. I know these are very different shelters (one wall vs two) but they fall in the same weight category with the Stratospire offering even more room (not sure if it isn’t an overkill) and the possibility of pitching the inner and outer separately (which is a great option).

  9. Is it possible to pitch this on a platform?

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