The Sierra Designs High Side Tent is a single-person, double-wall tent that’s a big step up in comfort from a bivy sack. In addition to its low weight, one of the biggest strengths of this tent is its flexibility. The inner tent can be used as a standalone insect shelter in dry weather while the rain fly can be configured in a number of different ways to enhance ventilation, views, or storm protection. In addition, the High Side 1 features short tent poles that can collapse down to 12.5″ in length, making them easy to pack for bikepacking trips when you have limited storage space or backpacking trips with smaller capacity ultralight backpacks.
Specs at a Glance
- Construction: Double Wall Tent
- Type: Semi-Freestanding
- Capacity: 1 person
- Doors/Vestibules: 1/1
- Claimed Minimum Weight: 2 lbs 2 oz
- Actual Minimum Weight: 2 lbs 4.7 oz (includes 2 poles)
- Standalone Inner Tent Weights (inner + 2 poles: 14.3 oz + 7.9 oz)
- Rain Fly Tent Weight: 14.5 oz.
- Maximum Pole Segment Length: 12.5″ (not 12″ as claimed)
- Floor: 30D Nylon Ripstop, Silicone/1200mm PeU, FR CPAI84
- Fly: 20D Nylon Ripstop, Silicone/1200mm PeU, FR CPAI84
- External Dimensions: 88 x 34 (head) x 26″ (foot) / 224 x 86 (head) x 66cm (foot)
- Internal Dimensions: 88 x 28 (head) x 26″ (foot)
- Internal Peak height: 32″
- Visit for Complete Specs
The High Side 1’s Inner Tent is supported by two hoop-style poles that slot into holders along the sides of the floor and 4 tent stakes positioned at the corners. If you wanted, you could really just use the inner tent as an insect shelter on clear nights in arid climates when dew or precipitation is not a concern.
The inner tent has high-sided bathtub floors that provide excellent breeze and moisture protection in rain or “swampy” conditions, while the hoops increase the volume of the interior space, enough that you can sit up at the head-end to change your clothing.
The width and the length of the inner tent are also oversized (88 (long) x 28 (head) x 26″ (foot) so you can use it with a 25″ wide sleeping pad. Additionally, you can store gear along the sides of your sleeping pad or behind your head if you don’t want to store it outside or under the vestibule. There’s also one internal mesh pocket near the head-end on the door side that’s large enough for glasses and a phone.
The High Side has a large side vestibule that can be rolled back to provide lots of ventilation in clear weather or zipped closed to provide more protection or privacy. Even when closed, there’s plenty of ventilation and airflow under the bottom of the vestibule to inhibit internal condensation.
The High Side is so named because the pole structure is not a perfectly symmetrical loop, but slightly higher on the door side to make entry and exit easier while helping to shed water on the lower side.
Perhaps more significant is the fact that this tent has a side entrance which is far easier to enter and exit than comparable shelters that only have front entrances and are much more difficult to get in and out of (for example, a SlingFin SplitWing Bundle) All of these shelters are long and narrow, which makes them good options for solo trips when camping space is tight, but having a side entrance like the High Side is so much better.
Additionally, when I pack a backpack, I usually have to stick my tent poles in a side pocket and secure them using side compression straps or jam them down the inside of my pack between the sidewall and the plastic bag I use to line my pack. But the longest segment of the High Side pole set is 12.5″ which is short enough that I can lay them horizontally inside my pack, stacked in between all of my other backpacking gear. It’s nice to be able to do this, even though it’s not quite earth-shattering.
However, that convenience is offset a bit by the number of tent stakes required to pitch the High Side, which comes in at 11 to 13 tent stakes. That’s a lot of stakes, but the flexibility they provide outweighs the hassle of carrying and using so many. For example, if you were to replace the High Side rain fly with a flat tarp, you’d probably need to carry and use the same number of stakes if you wanted the same level of flexibility and different porching options available. At least that’s how I rationalize it.
The Sierra Designs High Side Tent is a nice tent for solo backpacking and bikepacking, with short pole segments that make packing easier. It’s easy to set up, with good ventilation options to keep you comfortable in fair weather and foul, and a side door, which is far more convenient to use than one that only opens in front. Lightweight and reasonably priced ($299.95), it’s an excellent option for wild camping in stealthy tent sites with its low profile and relatively narrow space requirements,
Disclosure: Sierra Designs donated a tent for review.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.