Pros and Cons
Filed under:Camping, Gear reviews, Tents, Meteor 3000, Sierra Designs, tent
A two-person tent built for UK conditions and featuring a spacious, freestanding design – Chris Kempster goes wild (camping) for the latest product from California-based Sierra Designs...
Sierra Designs was founded in California by two backpacking friends back in 1965, and over the intervening half century the company has designed and produced a series of innovative products including tents, sleeping bags and backpacks.
Their presence in the UK has grown with the increased interest in lightweight gear and they are now producing specific products for the European market, the new Meteor 3000 2-person, 3-season tent being a good example of this. Developed from their Meteor Lite 2, the 3000 has a beefed up fly and groundsheet with 3000mm hydrostatic head for damper UK conditions, but retains the basic design which consists of a pitch-first inner with two-pole system using a four-way hub and ridge pole. There’s two entrances and two vestibules, and the tent’s ’special trick‘ is that the fly can be lifted to halfway over the tent, perfect for stargazing. But more of that later!
Setting up the Meteor 3000 is easy enough. The main pole system is joined in the middle by a four-way hub, so all you need to do is connect all the sections and then attach each end to the four corners of the inner tent. The inner clips onto the frame, and the structure is completed by adding the cross-pole which runs across the main pole system with each end attaching above the entrances on each side. All that remains is to throw over the flysheet and peg it out. Job done!
As we’ve already discovered, pitching the Meteor 3000 is super easy, and in use the freestanding design has several benefits; such as being able to move it around before pegging it out when trying to find a flat bit of ground to sleep on, or for shaking out any grass or other debris inside the tent when you pack up to go. It also helps when pitching the tent on hard ground where pegs are difficult to use (though you’re still need to find some way of pegging out the fly of course).
Space is a real strong point of this tent. Having two entrances not only makes it easy for two people to get in and out, it also gives you two decent-sized porches in which to keep your gear separately, or use one for storage and the other to cook. Having two entrances gives you more options for ventilation, and also allows for some great views from inside the tent. The space on the inside is also really enhanced by the use of the cross pole, which creates quite steep side walls where the entrances are sited, and is really noticeable when you are sitting up inside the tent.
Another feature we liked was the siting of the mesh panels and the ‘solid’ panels on the inner tent. The mesh runs around the upper part of the inner, with the rest of the inner being solid, and this has two advantages. Firstly it gives you great views if you are using the inner on its own (perfectly feasible on warm summer nights when you’re not expecting rain, but want to keep the midges out); and secondly, it means it helps to keep out drafts on windy nights, something that’s likely to be more of an issue in spring or autumn time.
In terms of negative points, we initially found getting the flysheet positioned and pegged -out correctly a little fiddly, but as is often the case, this started to get easier with a little practice. The overall weight of the tent (just over 2kg including poles and bags) is not super-light by any means, but is absolutely fine for carrying between two. Extreme weight savings on this kind of tent is a false economy in our book, as the savings will come at the price of stability and weather protection, all for the sake of a few hundred grams.
Overall this is a really good option for two people wild camping or backpacking in the UK. It’s well built, is very spacious and offers enough protection for all but the worst weather. It’s a really decent price too, so gets a big thumbs up from us!