Review: Sierra Designs Orion CD [ 2-man, 3-season Tent ]

Review: Sierra Designs Orion CD [ 2-man, 3-season Tent ]
Product Description
This is Sierra Designs lightest freestanding three-season tent, the Orion weighs only five pounds, but its steep side walls, rectangular floor plan and mesh ceiling give it an exceptionally airy and non-claustrophobic feel. A large vestibule at the front-end entry stores gear well out of the way, and mesh side slash windows keep air circulating. The easy-to-pitch Orion also has a Clip-Loc at the intersection of its two large poles, making it incredibly stable for its weight.

Retail: $299


Reviewed by: Greg, a Backpacker from Willard, Mo
Date Reviewed: 5/22/2002 10:10:53 AM
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I've had this tent for a couple of years now. At first I thought I would love it but I've decided otherwise. Over-all it's an okay tent but I could find better for a lot less money. I've had some trouble with condensation even with venting the fly and guying it out. The factory sent a tube of sealant with the tent. THROW IT AWAY AND USE SOMETHING ELSE!!! It is always sticking to itself and the fly leaks no matter what I do. It also does not hold it's shape well because the poles seem to always turn inward. The clips that link the poles are too much trouble!!

Customer Service:
I have given up on this tent and should have my new Walrus Velo-dome tomorrow and can't wait to review it!! I've heard good things about their tents and hope it lives up to the hype.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Rick August, a Backpacker from Phoenix, Az
Date Reviewed: 4/28/2002 7:23:36 AM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I had the Orion 3 and used it during a rainy night. The weather proofing of the design is flawed. The fly doesn't properly cover the corners of the tent, so leakage can occur if the seams are not perfectly sealed. Also, there is a strap on both sides of the fly right above the window. The water wicked through the strap which would be hard to stop without cutting off the strap and sealing the area. I loved the inner tent. It was roomy and a tight design but the fly is flawed. I returned my tent to REI without a problem and ordered a tent from another manufacturer that doesn't have this rainfly coverage problem. It's too bad since I really liked the design of the inner tent but I will be very reluctant to buy another tent from them. It might be OK with good seam sealing and some modifications, but they should do a better job on the design. I checked many of the professional reviews about this product before I bought it and I was a little surprised that they didn't mention this problem.

Customer Service:
N/A

Similar Products Tried:
My first backpacking tent.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Doug Traub, a Backpacker from SLC, UT, USA
Date Reviewed: 4/11/2002 8:52:41 AM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I Bought this tent about three years ago and overall it has been great. the only problem I've had was probably my fault in that I didn't use the seam sealer when I first purchased the tent and after the first year the fly began to leak badly. But since sealing the seams and treating the fly with a waterproofer it has been great. It may be a little small for some but it's weight and packed size are hard to beat. I would definitely recommend this tent to anyone who plans on using it for backpacking.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Bryan, a Backpacker from Denver
Date Reviewed: 4/9/2002 2:55:49 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I've had this tent for almost three years now and the only problem I have had was a little condensation. This was my fault because I didn't guy out the fly. When I have guyed our the fly I have had no problems. For the weight and price I think it is an excellent choice. For my 5'8" frame it has plenty of room for two, and had withstood strong winds, rain, and even a little hail.

I think this is a great three-season tent that has taken me from the plains to 12,000 ft. I never have to worry about performance or leakage. It is great.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Mike B, a Backpacker from Fort Collins, CO
Date Reviewed: 2/2/2002 11:11:49 AM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
A great tent for the weight (4.5 lbs including extra stakes). The tent is just big enough for 2 people to be comfortable with some gear inside. The tent is tall enough to sit up or to change shirts. Packs can be stacked on top of each other in the vestibule, but it is hard to get in and out of the tent then. I can testify that after 10+ days in monsoon rains, weather proofing was no problem and I had no leaks. (I carefully sealed all the seams; mine is an older version without factory sealed seams). Consendation is not a problem if you stake out the sides and end of the fly.
One problem with the tent is that when getting in and out of the tent in heavy rain, water from the rainfly can drip or run off of the fly and onto the floor of the tent.
A larger vestibule would be nice, but that would add weight.
I am happy with Sierra Designs and I would buy another one of their tents.

 

 
  Reviewed by: Tom, a Backpacker from Seattle
Date Reviewed: 1/30/2002 2:14:46 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
Mine is called the "vista" but it is the same tent. The only difference is there is no window, which I don't mind (hey, I got it for 100 bucks off, ill live). I love this tent. I spent a little time sealing it when I got it, and it has never leaked. I've spent nights with this set up in puddles and never a drop. This tent is very light, so calling the space too small is nit-picking. At this weight, the space is great. Plenty of room to change sitting upright and I even store my clothes at my feet with no problem. There are lots of points to attach guy-lines to and when they are this tent wont move! In fact, the fly is one of my favorite aspects of the tent with its many stake-out/guy points and it fits just right. Ventilation is great (I always stake out the fly) with lots of room between the fly and tent. But the thing I like most is the weight. Split between two people the weight is barely noticable. I love this tent, and doubt I will need another one for a long time.

Customer Service:
Havent needed it!

Similar Products Tried:
REI trail dome, half dome, Kelty vortex. None match up to the SD.
 

 
  Reviewed by: marcus, a Car Camper from SF bay area then, colorado now
Date Reviewed: 11/22/2001 2:59:35 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I bought this tent before a Boy Scout campout and my son and I thought it was the greatest--until it started raining. After 1-1/2 days of heavy rain on Angel Island, we were wet! The fly leaks at every velcro tab and reinforcement-point (wherever multiple seams come together). The ones over the tent windows were really bad--the drops splatter when they hit the mesh, and of course that's close to where your head goes. The floor seam also leaked in two places near our feet.

Sierra Designs said it's not supposed to do that, but I see from other comments that their quality is pretty variable. We're a little disappointed.

Customer Service:
SD didn't offer to pay postage, so I took it back to REI and they gave me a new one with no hassle. I'm going to set it up in the yard (once the snow melts next spring) and hose it down before trusting this one.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Thomas Finn, a Backpacker from New York
Date Reviewed: 10/31/2001 11:43:11 AM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I bought this tent about three years ago as light two person backpacking tent and, with a few modifications, it has served me well.

First off, I had to add a guy line tab at the back of the rain fly. If you don't guy out the fly, rain water runs down on to tent body and, unless the floor seam is absolutely water tight, you're going to get wet. Also, the tabs that attach the rain fly to the tent poles love to wick water through to the inside of the rain fly. I've soaked mine in seam sealer and I've never had a problem again.

One problem that I've had with the tent, that I've never been able to fix is condensation. On more than a few warm, humid nights a drop of condensation has hit me in the face to wake me up. Weather permitting, I ditch the rainfly for a night.

Not to sell this tent short, it is very lightweight and, for a hiker who doesn't need to carry tons of gear, there is more than enough room in the vestible for equipment. With the proper modifications, this tent has kept me and various companions dry through some terrific storms out in Olympic NP and the western side of Glacier NP.

This is a great backpacking tent.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Paul, a Backpacker from Woodland Hills, CA
Date Reviewed: 8/18/2001 3:13:44 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I purchased this tent as a lightweight backpacking tent. I got it home assembled it and got in. With my 6'3" frame my head hits on the inside of the front flap. When my girlfriend and I both got in we were pretty cramped. The vestibule is pretty small too and does not make up for the small size of the tent. It did assemble easily but so do most other tents nowadays. I realize my complaint is common for lightweight tents. I just want to make people aware that most lightweight tents are to small to be practicle, in my opion. I returned it and found a lightweight 3-person tent with plenty of room - The SD Northstar 3 at REI Outlet. Unfortunately SD no longer makes this wonderful tent.

Similar Products Tried:
SD Clip 3, SD Northstar 3
 

 
  Reviewed by: Justin, a Backpacker from Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Date Reviewed: 7/9/2001 7:42:59 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I have owned the Orion for 2 years now. It has held up great during rainstorms. The space is a little cramped for 2 big guys. I love the vestibule, it is big enough for two packs. Unfourtently the condensation does tend to build up on the inside during hot, muggy nights.

Similar Products Tried:
REI Half Dome
Sierra Designs Jupiter - larger version of Orion, but also weighs more
 

 
  Reviewed by: Billy Henderson, a Climber from Barnegat, NJ, US
Date Reviewed: 7/6/2001 2:00:40 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
The Sierra Designs Orion Tent is a great 3 season tent. I've used it in a non stop downpore and, unlike my partners, didn't wake in a puddle. It's light weight is great for Backpacking and the price is great for its quality. The tent ventilates great through large mesh panels, but it can't hold heat well the cold.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Madeline Johnson, a Day Hiker from State College, PA, USA
Date Reviewed: 5/14/2001 12:11:17 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
This is a really good tent. It is has every thing that you want in a 2 person tent. It is really light weight. It has good venting too. The clear uvx window is a neat feature also. The only thing that I have found that I don't like in this tent is that the rain fly doesn't cover the back of the tent completely. It isn't that bad but it could be a little problem in heavy rain. This is a great tent for any backpacker, or camper.

Customer Service:
It was all fine and dandy.

Similar Products Tried:
None other products.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Steve, a Backpacker from Brooklyn, NY
Date Reviewed: 4/27/2001 12:45:00 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
For it's weight, the Orion is decent-sized. It's a little cramped with two, especially if you have gear that won't fit in the vestibule (which is sloped greatly and doesn't provide too much storage space). I use gear lofts for smaller stuff, flashlights, etc. I've had problems with leakage only in heavy or long-lasting rain, but the compression above the door, caused by the third pole, does collect water. I haven't sealed the seams in my Orion yet, though; I'll do so before this season to find out whether it makes a difference. I suspect it will.

One complaint about this tent is the design of the door- it zips across the arch, not on the floor at all, so the door (when unzipped) falls on the ground. It gets very dirty and wet because of this, unless you're very graceful when entering. And I'm not. And probably, neither are you.

Overall, a good tent for the price, but seal those seams and guy it up VERY tightly in rain... the fly sags a little.

Customer Service:
None yet.

Similar Products Tried:
EMS (not sure of style)... good tent, cheaper, I'd look into them next time.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Pat Enright, a Backpacker from Eau Claire, WI
Date Reviewed: 4/25/2001 8:08:44 AM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I have had this tent for 1 1/2 years and have been extremely pleased with it. Setup is a breeze, and there is plenty of room for two average sized people.

I have, however, had to figure out a couple of tricks to getting the most out of this tent, mainly due to the rain fly, which needs to be 6 inches to a foot longer on all four sides. First, while the removable pole section idea is really cool, it only saves 6oz or so, and causes the pooling of water on top of the tent. Using the full third pole and attaching it to the velcro tab above the door ensures against this. Using the full pole also keeps the fly off of the sides of the tent which obviously keeps the tent dryer.

Second, if it is going to be over about 40 degrees at night, open the windows to prevent condensation.

Third, they need to put a tab on the back of the fly to stake it out and keep it from sagging.

This is a perfect midwestern four season tent, although I wouldn't recommend it for winter camping in the mountains.

Similar Products Tried:
SD Jupiter
SD Meteor Light
Euerka Glacier Bay
TNF Cumulus
Quest Praying Mantis
 

 
  Reviewed by: Brad, a Backpacker from Minnesota
Date Reviewed: 4/23/2001 6:40:33 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
My wife and I have used this tent many times with no problems. Set-up is easier than any tent I've ever owned. Very light weight for the size and the vestibule is quite roomy. Perfect for average size couple, could see where two tall people would want a larger tent. On a clear night store the fly and enjoy the view.

Similar Products Tried:
also own a NF expedition-25 for winter backpacking and a Eureka Windriver-2.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Les, a Backpacker from San Antonio, TX, USA
Date Reviewed: 4/18/2001 4:15:51 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I bought the Orion CD because it is light and free standing. It has great headroom and the star-gazing screen is great. The only problem I've had is in a rain storm-I had some leaks in the fly at the straps that attached to the poles. It is warm and can be guyed out pretty tight. Good tent for 1 or 2 person.

Customer Service:
When I called SD about my fly leak they sent me a tube of Seamgrip right away and explained to me that I just needed to seal those problem areas...very helpful customer service.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Ron Winchester, a Backpacker from Charlevoix, MI
Date Reviewed: 3/15/2001 3:39:12 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
What influenced me to purchase the Orion CD was the light weight, head room, factory taped seams, and free standing design. I find it is a little tight for a two person design, but I don't think this is unusual in the industry(most say that a three person tent is good for two people and so on...) it does have adequate headroom, and I like the mesh tent body.
I purchased a "fast-pack" groundcloth from SD that was designed to be used with this particular tent. I utilized this setup, not using the tent body, on a hike through the "100 Mile Wilderness" on the AT last summer. While it was light - about 3lbs., and easy to set up, I have never been so disappointed with a piece of gear in my 30 years of backpacking.
Midway through my hike I was caught in a rainstorm that lasted all night. The fly leaked like a sieve. Because of a depression over the door, it collected water and dripped in through the window area. Also, the designers obviously hadn't figured out that if you sew a nylon tab(the tie outs) on the outside of the tent directly opposite the nylon tabs(used to secure the fly to the poles) on the inside of the tent, the tabs will wick water like a faucet. My solution was to tie baggies around the inside tabs with dental floss - by morning they were full.
Needless to say, I didn't get any sleep that night.
Also, the tent design seems to encourage condensation on the inside of the fly.

I will not buy another Sierra Designs Tent, and would not recommend this tent to anyone.

Customer Service:
Customer Service????
All they did was send me a tube of seam grip to seal their "factory taped seams".
They did indicate they were aware of a design flaw in the "fast pack" setup as it does not allow use of the third short pole over the door, therefore the depression over the door and subsequent leaking. But, they sold it anyway, and wouldn't offer a refund even after admitting it was faulty.
If this is customer service, they might as well unplug the phone.

Similar Products Tried:
The North Face Windy Pass
The North Face Canyonlands
 

 
  Reviewed by: Andrew Olesnycky, a Backpacker from Maplewood, NJ, USA
Date Reviewed: 2/8/2001 3:00:51 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I have the '97 version and since then they have added more mesh, but mine has has problems with condensation during the summer. Also, it is a bit cramped with two big guys inside. I have had no problems with leakage; I sealed the seams with "seam-grip" the first day I got it. But the condensation on warm rainy nights got my bag wet as much as minor leakage would have. I love the design though- getting in and out is easy.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Jackalope, a Backpacker from Lynchburg, VA
Date Reviewed: 1/26/2001 7:42:51 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
As an AT thru hiker, I would carry this tent only in the summer due to fly leaks, especially in the droop over the top front. SD replaced the top and I double sealed it twice but still had leaks and heavy condensation. Otherwise exceptional headroom and space for 2 sleeper. Weight is low for the size. Would not purchase again.

Customer Service:
Have owned 4 different SD tents and always received prompt support. SD repaired two tents used for AT thru hike without charge !!
 

 
  Reviewed by: Brad Evans, a Backpacker from Duluth, GA, USA
Date Reviewed: 1/3/2001 4:26:35 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I love this tent! I've had it for 2 years and haven't had 1 problem with it. Pefect fit for my build; 6 ft tall, 180 lbs. It can hold 2 people very comfortably. I had 3 sleeping in it in Rocky Mtn, Park with temps around 0-10 degrees and we slept it off very well. The interior is remarkably engineered and very nice to sit in during a sunny day or a loud storm. I can't say enough great things about this tent. It got the Editors Choice award from Backpacker Magazine in 1997. Best backpacking investment I've ever made. Sets up in less than 4-5 minutes! AWESOME TENT!!!
 

 
  Reviewed by: Tim, a Mountaineer from Seattle, WA
Date Reviewed: 12/8/2000 8:22:18 PM
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I bought this tent to use as a summer tent while backpacking. I have a North Face Mountain Tent for use during the winter and while mountaineering. The light weight and free-standing design were what attracted me to this tent. After purchasing it and setting it up in my living room, I came accross an important fact. This tent is REALLY small. It would be comfy for one person, but two thermorests take up the ENTIRE floor area. In short, I ended up taking this tent back and trading it in for a SD Meteor Light CD.

Customer Service:
Have never had to use Sierra Design's customer service, but have heard great things from others.

Similar Products Tried:
TNF Mountain Tent
SD Astro CD
 

 
  Reviewed by: Steve Turner, a Backpacker from Chicago, IL, USA
Date Reviewed: 9/15/2000
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
This is a great tent. It can be set up in the dark in 2-3 minutes. It has a higher ceiling than other tents in the same price/weight range. The only down side is a lack of ventilation that is common in this class of tents.

Similar Products Tried:
Kelty Zen is smaller and has a lower ceiling making it harder to change clothes. Have also slept in a Kelty w/ side door. I don't like side doors.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Mark, a Backpacker from Inianapolis,IN
Date Reviewed: 9/11/2000
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I purchased the Orion to upgrade in size (as well as price) from my Eureka Rising Sun. The comfort is great if it is just you. 2 people makes it a little crowded. Ventilation can be a problem on a muggy night, although I do believe SD added some mesh to the design since I bought mine (doesn't it figure). My Rising Sun outperforms the Orion in wet and windy weather. The Orion you must guy out with EXTRA stakes or it will sag big time. Also, toss the toxic goop that SD provides to seal the seams. Not only will the smell kill you but I had leaks develop each of the first 2 years I had it. To seal any tent I strongly recommend the aqueous sealers, they penetrate the stitching and I haven't had a problem with them yet. All in all the Orion isn't a bad tent if you take a little time to guy it out and use aqueous sealers to seal the seams and keep it to just you for long hauls.

Similar Products Tried:
Eureka Rising Sun REI Camp Hut
 

 
  Reviewed by: Tom Donnelly, a Backpacker from San Diego CA USA
Date Reviewed: 7/8/2000
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I actually have the Summer Moon, but it's almost exactly the same as the Orion. Cost was about $170. Mine is slightly smaller and lighter. I like how lightweight it is, but it is tight for two. I've never been in much weather in it or had to cook in it, but the brow pole makes for plenty of headroom. It's not that different from a small Bibler, altho not as strong. Either way you are dependent on guy lines. Breathability is great. I have been wanting to add a Clip-Loc that is used to wrap the 2 poles together to keep them from sliding. The Orion might have this.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Jon, a Car Camper from State College PA
Date Reviewed: 3/31/2000
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I've owned this tent for 1 year now, and have used it in several locales, including southern PA and the Rocky Mountains. The fly leaked at first, but after a thorough seam-sealing, this stopped. Condensation will build up and drip through the mesh panel over the door, though. The floor also leaked a bit at the corners, but again, an aggressive seam-sealing treatment stopped this. I do wish I'd gotten the Meteor, as this is a tight 2-person tent, esp. since the vestibule is sloped so heavily. Headroom is good, though, and three-season use is excellent, with plenty of ventilation through the mesh panels. It's light and packs well, and will probably join my partner and I when we hike the Appalachian trail.

Similar Products Tried:
Kelty 3-person dome tent Coleman dome tent
 

 
  Reviewed by: Henry Smith, a Backpacker from GlenSummit Pa.
Date Reviewed: 3/24/2000
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
Great design. Tent is light, roomy, and airy. Unfortunatly my example leaked. Sierra Designs replaced it , after some prodding.Hopefully new fly will be watertight.

Customer Service:
Fair. Had tosend in fly for them to examine it prior to replacement
 

 
  Reviewed by: CJ Condon, a Backpacker from Bozeman, MT, USA
Date Reviewed: 3/22/2000
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
I have owned the tent for 1 year and been on a 3 bicycle tours with the tent. Good all weather protection. Withstood a hail storm at 7000 ft with no leaks. Packs small enough and gives plenty of room to sit up and dress. Rather easy tent to set up except for the bungee string hook where the main poles cross. It is a bit hard to handle with cold, wet, gloved hands.

A good value if bought on sale.
 

 
  Reviewed by: Dan, a Backpacker from CT
Date Reviewed: 1/12/2000
 
 

Overall Rating:
ValueRating:

Summary:
Have had this tent since taking it cross country 3 years ago. It has held up quite well. My only complaint is the rainfly does not quite fit. I can never seem to get the fly to adequately cover the tent's foot print without straping it down so close to the tent that it cuts out any sort of circulation. Maybe I simply got a fly that is too small, but check it out before buying. Otherwise a sound investment.


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