Gear Reviews

Gear Review – The Flash 3 Tent by Sierra Designs

Sierra Designs Flash 3 tent, tent, camping, sierra nevada, flashMeet the Flash 3 Tent, an amazing 3 season tent made by the creative crew at Sierra Designs. We have been looking for a bigger setup to use on casual camping trips when we are not backpacking. Something grand enough to be a weekend home for two people, plus have ample space for a large dog to sprawl his paws. The Flash 3 met the bill. This model is also made in a “FL” version which cuts down one pound five ounces in weight.

We chose the non FL version due to the floor fabric being more “dog proof” with 70 Denier Nylon, compared to the 30 Denier fabric of the feather light model. Since this will be a car camping or short hike setup, it was worth compromising a little weight to have a tougher tent. Oh, and did I mention it is $190 less expensive?

flash3, hardware, sierra designs

This is a four pole setup. The green poles make the arches for the front and back of the tent, while the silver ridge pole links them together. The fourth small green pole goes from east to west on top of the silver to hold up the sides.

flash3tent, sierradesigns, review

Here is a visual of the pole setup, as well as the side gear closets being rolled up for maximum ventilation and views. Both doors yield an awning which is a brilliant addition to keep the elements at bay while still allowing you to have the doors fully open. Picture above reflects the half zip door option.

flash3tent, sierradesigns, review

How sweet is that? Mammoth views and massive air flow is always an excellent thing in our book. As you can see there are zippered access points on both sides for gear storage, especially when the rain fly is anchored down. We also enjoy having two full doors which eliminates some flying elbows and knees while crawling over each other to get in and out.

flash3tent, sierradesigns, review

Curious where to put your muddy boots? The gear closets are fantastic on both sides. Definitely no concerns with any of your belongings getting wet.

flash3tent, sierradesigns, review

Inside you have plenty of room.We took the trusty Coleman queen size inflatable mattress out with us for the weekend. Look at that! Sheets and everything. Remind us why we pay a mortgage again?

flash3tent, sierradesigns, review

Even with a queen size bed inside, there is still quite a bit of space remaining on the sides. You can also see the storage pocket. There are four, one in every corner. Since I did not have a ruler, we can use a hat for scale. We would say it is about 2 hat widths of extra space, which is kind of a big deal, because lets be honest, Chad’s got a big noggin.

flash3tent, sierradesigns, review

Another cool addition is the new NightGlow feature. You simply attach your headlamp into the bottom, and voilà, you have a great diffused light to work with. It is also attached on a line that enables you to move it around wherever you please.

flash3tent, sierradesigns, review

However – if you are old school, require more light, or are just sentimentally attached to an old lantern, there is an option for that as well.

flash3tent, sierradesigns, review

The door setup is versatile and user friendly. You are able to zip them up completely, use a half door mesh setup, or drop them down all the way.

flash3tent, sierradesigns, review

So you are probably wondering two things by now. How difficult is it to set up, and what are the quirks of the tent?

Starting with the setup.


One thing we love about Sierra Designs is that they integrate the rainfly into the tent body. This means two things for you: a smooth and easy pitch, plus a much less frustrating setup if it happens to be raining outside. If the rainfly is already attached, the inside of your tent will not be getting soaked. Setting it up begins with staking out the four corners and then running the green poles through the tent sleeves to form the door arches.


The stakeout points have tension sliders for the tent body, and the rainfly clips into the grey buckle which provides the option for tightening it up. Guylines are also attached to the body if you find yourself in the middle of a temper tantrum from mother nature.

Once you get the arches done, it is easy breezy from there. Just connect the silver pole from the front door to the back and attach the clips.


Then just add the last pole to strengthen up the sidewalls and you are all set. Just give it a final check to make sure you have a taut pitch.


We have gone over numerous reasons of why we love this tent. However, there are a few things that can be frustrating. Running the poles through the sleeves can be a little challenging while attempting to form the door arches. The poles can also pull apart when removing them from the sleeves. My second concern is trying to pack the tent back into the bag. The awnings actually have rods inside the fabric which can be quite puzzling to get situated appropriately into such a tight bag with little wiggle room.

Wilder Minds Rating


So would we recommend this tent? Absolutely. Sierra Designs make an excellent product that we will have in our gear collection for years to come. The challenges mentioned above are greatly outweighed by all of the wonderful features of this 3 person tent. This is not a backpacking tent, but for car camping and short hikes, it would be difficult to find a better value.

If you have any thoughts or experience with the flash tents, drop a note in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

Stay Wild.

-Chad & Gina


Specs from Manufacturer:

Minimum Weight:
6 lbs 2 oz / 2.78 kg
Packaged Weight:
6 lbs 13 oz / 3.09 kg
Number of Doors:
Number of Gear Closets:
Gear Storage Area:
7 + 7 ft2 / 0.65 + 0.65 m
Interior Area:
41.20 ft / 3.83 m m2
Internal Peak Height:
43.5 in. / 110 cm
Awning Height:
36.0 in. / 91 cm
Awning Overhang:
15 in. / 38 cm
85 in. / 216 cm
69 in. / 175 cm
Sold Separately
Number of guylines:
Stake Type Quantity:
12 Hex Peg
Tent Storage Bag:
Length: 18 in. / 45.7 cm
Diameter: 6.5 in. / 16.5 cm
Pole Storage Bag:
Length: 20.5 in. / 52.1 cm
Width: 4 in. / 10.2 cm
Tent Stake Storage Bag:
Length: 9 in. / 22.9 cm
Width: 5 in. / 12.7 cm



  1. Hi and thanks for the nice review.

    I also know 2 Sierra Designs tents (Flash 3 and Lighting 2) and I have been extremely happy and satisfied with the series of products they released a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the new stuff is coming out from SD, in my opinion is not that interesting and it’s a pity that after the innovative Flash and Lightning series, now they have rather standard, and I dare to say boring tents.

    Having said that, I have a question for you and it would be great to have your answer.
    As I said before, I own the Flash 3, though the 2015 model which the side panels, where the gear closets are remain still. Now, my question is, how often do use the retractable rain fly option? Do you retract the rain fly often (permitting the weather conditions), or is a complicate process that you only do when is rather hot and humid out there?

    Thank you for your time in advance and I hope to hear from you soon.


    1. Thanks for reaching out! We also have two SD tents. Our other is the Tensegrity 2 FL which we use when backpacking. Our flash 3 is our campground tent. We agree, haven’t seen anything as innovative as the two we have now. To answer your question though, we roll ours up for the majority of time. Simple process. We like the ventilation the tent provides and the wide views. Typically only batten down the hatches only when a storm is rolling in or for privacy.


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