Targeting a blend of livability, packability and cost, the Sweet Suite 2 utilizes a unique pole system paired with smart material choices to reduce weight, increases interior volume, all while keeping the cost to a minimum. This is my review.
The Sweet Suite 2 is, essentially, a three pole design, hubbed at the center, with a horizontal brow pole along the top. Two poles connect at the foot of the tent, arching upward and joining in the center at a hub. From there, a single pole extends toward the head of the tent where a pre-bent segment arches the tent outward and over, effectively boosting the available volume at the head and shoulders. Two volumizing stake points pull the shoulders of the tent outward without requiring additional pole material. The horizontal brow pole serves to widen the tent out at the hips. There are two pockets positioned at the head of the tent which are supported by the center pole, with a couple more pockets located at the foot. The tent floor is made from 30D Nylon ripstop, with 20D used at the fly, and 15D nylon mesh for the tent’s inner body. The poles are all high quality DAC Featherlight aluminum. The tent has two doors, two vestibules (with double zippers to act as vents), 10 included aluminum tent stakes with some guy lines and an included burrito style storage/stuff sack. It is availabe in both two and three person variants.
- Dimensions: 85″ long x 51″ wide (head), 48″ (foot) / 216 x 130 (head) x 122 cm (foot)
- 41″ Peak height
- 3 lbs 10 oz
What I liked
I always have prefered a tent that provides lofts of livable space. I’ve never really saw the point of sleeping in a tent if it’s going to make me miserable. Thankfully, the Three pole design of the SS2 does wonders for usable interior volume, making the shelter quite livable. Two people can easily and happily bunk up together without becoming mortal enemies. There is a good amount of extra room at the shoulders to spread out and toss about. Two users are also ble to comfortably sit completely upright thanks to the fairly generous peak height of 41″ , perfectly located at the point that it’s needed the most, just above the head. This makes the SS2 feel even larger than it actually is, resulting in something that feels more like a second home than cheap hotel room. I’ve found that moving about while inside is quite easy, rarely resulting in me rubbing against walls or brushing my head against the tent. The pre-bent head pole stands just beyond vertical, pulling the fabric out and away, creating a flat, vertical wall that stays out of the way. The brow pole widens out the sides of the tent enough to keep the doors vertical also, which really helps when changing, packing up gear, or trying to spread out sleeping pads, bags, and other gear. The interior volume is exceptional at this weight and makes for an impressively comfortable backcountry escape.
Weather resistance is essential in the backcountry, and the SS2 performs well here also. The pole system has a nice bit of tension and rigidity to it. The head pole actually arches into the wind, which creates a sturdy fin like shape that allows wind to move around the tent, instead of bashing into it. This reduces how much load is actually put onto the frame itself. When the wind does bear on it, it holds it still manages to hold its shape resisting deforming and buffeting in at at the head or foot. Every corner has attachment points that allow the tent to be staked and guyed out tight, adding a considerable amount of sturdiness to the overall design. With a proper pitch using all the stakes, guylines and internal Velcro/clip attachment points (to keep the fabric from sliding around on the poles), the tent holds up well in high winds, and it’s nice and quiet too. Rain is also a non-issue as high quality fabric sheds water effortlessly. There can be a little bit of movement in the corners at the head of the tent during rough wind, but it hasn’t been bothersome in my experience.
Ventilation is adequate, with a rainfly that’s positioned to let air flow underneath and through the inside of the tent via the meshy body. This allows for a light flow of air from every angle, without letting too much of an actual breeze cut through on cold nights. Double zipped doors allow for small vents to be opened up at the tops of the vestibules, but isn’t a viable option on rainy nights unless the wind is low and all gear under the vestibule is either covered or moved to the sides. When condensation does occur (any tent will in the right conditions), the full mesh body does a great job of protecting anything inside from the dampening rain fly. Overall, the tent does a decent job of recycling the air and keeping things manageable, even in humid/hot environments.
The rainfly can be rolled back halfway to provide an excellent viewing window, a nice wind block, and a solid sun shield when needed. It’s simple to do (just roll back the fly and pin it at the center with the included loops), and it’s great on cool days where you need some wind protection but still want to see that vista you just spent hours climbing a rocky mountain for. This also provides excellent ventilation when viable, and rolling it back down if the rain sneaks up only takes a few seconds.
Organization and gear storage are both good also. The vestibule originates at the tips of the brown poles, a high point, and allows it to extend out farther away from the tent. The result is a pair of vestibules that easily house the entirety of two backpackers gear, boots and packs, without necessarily blocking the path of entry if positioned and stacked properly. The two interior pockets are adequate, with enough room to stash phones, headlamps and a couple of smaller items for two at the head, and extra socks and such can easily be stored at the foot, even if the pockets are a little inconvenient to reach for. This positioning is quite deliberate, however, as they are all attached at points that are supported directly by the pole system, preventing sagging and drooping of the inner walls, and this is a detail that I appreciate. Other attachment points are available as small loops through the tent, allowing for additional pockets and such to be added on later if needed.
Setup is pretty simple, although a bit odd the first time around. It’s basically a matter of staking out the corners, popping in the poles and lifting the tent body. From there the rain fly attaches easily and you’re ready to go. The only weirdness, which only provides a little confusion on the first pitch, is that one end of the tent uses loops while the other uses clips. Once you realize this and line up the color coded clips first, it’s very straight forward. The tent goes up in a about 3 minutes with two experience pitchers or about 5 solo, and it’s easily maneagable in the wind. The only things one should keep in mind is that the clip on the hub must face downward so the body can connect at the center. Easy enough. A proper pitch will require both corners at the head of the tent to be staked out to pull out the body, but it doesn’t require much extra effor to do so. A rocky environment can make it a little trick as it does require decent soil for grip, but a little planning goes a long way. Getting the proper tension is easy thanks to tensioners being placed at every major point, and the guylines are easy to adjust as well. Overall, it’s fast, easy, and once you know what to expect, quite easy to setup.
Durability has been quite good. The floor is a fairly burly 30D ripstop nylon that’s shown no signs of wear from rock, soil and grass use without. I’ve never felt the need to bring along a footprint, but when camping on gravel or granite a little extra protection is always a good idea. The rainfly has been particularly impressive, resisting tearing during wind and holding its shape nicely when humid or wet, which is quite rare with nylon. typically, nylon will elongate and stretch whe it’s wet or tugged on for long periods of time, requiring readjusting later, but this hasn’t been much of an issue here. I attribute this to the robust ripstop weave used throughout the fabric as it provides great tear and stretch resistance. The poles have held up wonderfully, snapping back to their original shape without issue. The stakes are fairly strong as well, but could break if you’re going at them aggresively with a hammor or rock.
Weight and packability are both good, going toe to toe with more expensive, yet smaller shelters. It packs up to about 7″x 17″ with the included burrito stuff sack. I do, however, recommend ditching the (lovely) storage sack and instead stuffing it direct inside a backpack when carrying the shelter to save even more volume and weight. while it looks nice, the tubular shape of a tent packed takes up more room than a stuffed ball of nylon. The tent includes a nice sleeve for both the poles and the tent stakes, which I do carry to keep them organized. At home though, the burrito sack does a great job of keeping things organized and easy to store.
It’s not yellow.
What I didn’t lake
Although ventilation is adequate, it could use some improvements. Namely, a single top vent would make a significant difference on hot evenings to purge heat, and could also help with drying the tent out in humid environments. It was likely left out to shave weight and improve wind efficiency, and It’s lack of inclusion certainly isn’t a deal breaker, but many tents within the price range do include them. Being on the East Coast, it’s more valuable to me than most.
The included tent stakes are surprisingly sharp when being pressed into the ground. The way they’re constructed results in butter knife like edges and it’s uncomfortable to press against with any force. You’ll want to (gently) tap these into the ground with a rock or something the first few times they’re used to soften up the tops of them.
The two corners at the head of the tent can, in extremely humid conditions, pickup some light condensation on the inside. It’s minor and really doesn’t amount to anything, but it’s worth noting.
Despite the unique design, and thanks to careful fly and body material choices, the Sweet Suite 2 manages to find a careful balance between innovation, livability, weight and cost. At similar price and weights, many other shelters are cramped, featureless, or just too heavy for longer backpacking trips. Instead, the SS2 sports a fair amount of pockets, a large interior, and a pack weight that’s appreciably light, especially if split between two people. Getting in and out is effortless thanks to the large vestibules and “D” doors, pitching is nearly foolproof, and spending long nights or rainy days inside is quite pleasant thanks to the fair amount of ventilation, decent organization options, and walls that don’t restrict movement while inside. I would have loved to see a vent added to the top, but otherwise, the Sweet Suite 2 is indeed, pretty sweet.
For more information on Sierra Designs and their wide range of gear, check out their website, https://sierradesigns.com/
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I want to extend a huge thanks to Sierra Designs for providing this product for review. We couldn’t do it without their help. Our full disclosure can be found here.
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