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I really want to love this tent. In wind and sand, I really don't. Sand blows in through the mesh not only at the foot of the tent, but through the sides because the wings are not low enough to the ground on the sides, so the wind also comes up underneath them. This also causes buffeting, which can be loud and hard to sleep through.
The pole system, ease of setup and repacking is great, but I would really like to be able to better seal out the wind when necessary. Unknown on May 12th 2017
I've been using this tent for three years and have experienced all kinds of conditions, including rain. Yes, it is a single wall design so you can expect a little condensation but I have never gotten soaked like others are saying. Occasionally, at the foot of the tent I might find some dampness but never pools of water. This is my favorite tent in wet conditions because it goes up so fast and because of the integrated fly, the interior does not get wet during set up. I love the gear closets that keep our gear dry and it has great headroom. Inga on Mar 17th 2017
I purchased this tent in the fall of 2015. This year I sectioned hiked the Pennsylvania portion of the Appalachian Trail (3 days at a time). I experienced all kinds of weather during the last year from hot and muggy to cold and rainy. One of my favorite things about this tent is how fast it is to setup and it sets up dry if doing it in the rain. I never had a problem with being soaked inside of the tent, I've had a small amount of condensation build up on the single walled portion, but normally opening the front window to allow more airflow cleared it up quickly.
I do wish that the tent was a little bit longer and a touch wider in the foot area. At 6' tall and 230 Lbs. it is more of a 1P+ tent. Daniel on Dec 29th 2016
I own the 2014 version of this tent and I can't say enough good things about it. I classify this tent as more of a backpacking tent than a mountaineering tent. I have had it in 30mph winds and it was solid. Set up is very easy and the side storage areas are ok. One improvement I would make is to add a way to seal the rear vent.
Unknown on Nov 24th 2016
Really like the design of this tent, but as others have mentioned, get ready to get soaked from condensation. I replaced a SD tent I'd had for over 15 years with this one...I am so disappointed in a company that usually creates great gear. Wish I could exchange this for a different model :( Char on Oct 16th 2016
Only if there is a chance of rain do I ever set up a tent. Preferring to sleep under the stars at every chance. There are a lot of positives about the design of this tent but if you want to stay dry, stay away. I feel really let down cause I spent a long time researching when I purchased this tent. Alot of blogs and I am pretty sure SD themselves were saying the ventilation areas kept the tent condensation free. Don't be fooled. I have consistently woken up with my sleeping pad and bag in pools of water. My most recent experience this weekend prompted me to write this. Such a pity. Shane Brennan on Sep 26th 2016
I've used this tent in the desert and the mountains several times. There are so many features of this tent that I like (light weight, stakes, bag design, vestibule-less door, good airflow, easy to setup). All that being said, I just got back from a 4 day backpacking trip in Colorado where it rained lightly at night, got into the 70's during the day, 40's at night.
I shared the tent with my brother and between the two of us and the cool weather at night, there was an incredible amount of condensation collected inside the tent due to the single wall portion. I'm talking about actual puddles of water pooled at my feet. If you're sleeping near the wall, the whole side of your bag will be soaked. On top of that, since you can't separate the fly, if it rains, a lot of the water stuck to the outside will then collect inside when you fold it up to pack. Every afternoon when we struck camp, I had to crawl inside the tent and towel dry everything and let it sit for a few hours before we could put anything in it.
I loved this tent until this past weekend. Now I'm shopping for a double wall tent to replace the Lightning 2. Matt P on Aug 30th 2016
I love the design and innovative aspect of this tent. It's a good start. My recomendtions are to make the vestible doors bigger and to decrease the condensation as I always seem to have water at the foot of the tent. Have not had it out in inclement weather yet. Nabesa on Jun 25th 2016
First off: the quality of this tent is excellent. It is impressive that SD was able to design a tent with 30+ sq ft at less than 3 lbs (if you leave a few stakes at home). Materials and coatings are top notch- SD uses polyester instead of nylon for the rain fly, which is a significant advantage and should not be understated. Few other tents in this category use polyester. SD includes good quality stakes and all the guylines, which is also a bonus (some companies skimp in that respect). Also, there are lots of well-thought out design specifics (awning, big door, etc) that I'm sure you can read about in other descriptions/reviews.
The bad: the hybrid single-wall design has its drawbacks and that is the price you pay for the weight advantage. The single wall does not leak, but condensation is a problem in the lower half of the tent, even with the big window completely unzipped. Moisture collects on the walls, drips down onto the floor and is trapped inside the tent, where it eventually soaks sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Additionally (and perhaps more importantly), the tent is slow to dry because you can't separate the rain fly from the tent body. This may not sound like a big deal, but it has become a significant nuisance for me to get the tent dry after a trip. This also means that on multi-day trips you inevitably put the tent away wet in the morning and wind up hiking with a wet tent, even if you don't encounter any rainfall during the trip.
Folks generally mitigate the condensation issue by sopping up the water with a pack towel; in my opinion you shouldn't have to do that with with a $400 tent. I live in the pacific NW, where the condensation problem is exacerbated by high humidity and cold temps at night. A person in a more arid climate might not have such significant condensation problems. Condensation is something to really think about if you are considering buying this tent. A few other notes: I'm 6'3 and use an XL sleeping pad and sleeping bag (both 78" long). The tent is long enough, but only by a few inches; I'm happy the big door is nearly vertical. My GF and I both fit width-wise with no problems. The vestibules do not come all the way to the ground, you can see this in the pictures. Undoubtedly this is to improve ventilation, but gear can get wet under the vestibules because of splashing, wind, etc. I put my pack cover over my backpack before going to bed, and put shoes, etc. on top of the pack to stay dry. No big problem there.
All in all, I would say the Lightning FL is a good 2-person tent, and a very good 1-person tent (less condensation with one person, very spacious, still acceptable weight for 1p shelter). I couldn't ask for more in terms of build quality, material selection, and pole/stake quality. I'm still evaluating whether I will switch back to a true double-wall tent, but overall I am happy with this tent despite the condensation problems. I applaud SD for stepping away from the norm and engineering some unique, innovative designs in their tents. Luke on Jun 23rd 2016
This is a good tent. It is light, extremely simple and fast to setup, and spacious for two on the interior. The gear closets on either side are useful and fit all the gear you need when backpacking. However, the single wall design on the foot (approx. waist down) end of the tent is its downfall. I spent 2 weeks backpacking in New Hampshire's White Mountains, where it rained almost every night, in this tent. I invariably woke up with the bottom half of the tent soaked, including my sleeping bag. One morning there was even a puddle in the corner. I tried leaving both the foot and head openings open for ventilation, but problems persisted nonetheless. Whether this is a leakage or a condensation problem I do not know, but it is not something to be ignored. Otherwise, good tent. Stephen on Apr 12th 2016