Review: Salewa Sierra Leone II Tent (2013)

Our Mountain Hardwear Skyledge tent is almost dead in Kyrgyzstan. It is still waterproof, but the inner isn't clipping onto the poles and we don't seem to be getting anywhere with Mountain Hardwear's pathetic customer service… so we went shopping in Bishkek!

We found out that Italian outdoor brand Salewa was available, and after checking out the tent specs we decided to set one up at Sport Expert Outdoor Store. The three possible tent options were all in stock, however we found the Micra II too small and the Denali II had a few dumb design features. The Salewa tents all seem about 0.5kg heavier than they could be, but hey, we're in Bishkek and can't afford to be picky!

We ended up purchasing the Sierra Leone, a 3-4 season, 2-3 person tent.

Salewa Sierra Leone II Tent

Salewa Sierra Leone Tent Review

Weight: 3300g (inner, fly, poles, pegs)

Price: $300-$600 depending on where it's purchased

Things we like:

– 10000mm PU laminated floor and 5000mm rain fly. The materials used in the Salewa tent seem to be top notch and are the main reason this tent is so much heavier than our lightweight Mountain Hardwear.

– Inner entrances. Really big doors with convertible mesh windows that can be closed to keep warmth in on cold nights.

Salewa Sierra Leone Tent Review

– Outer entrances. The double zip design and small porch makes the vestibule space quite useful and really easy to get in and out. We look forward to cooking in the side of our tent!

Salewa Sierra Leone Tent Review

– Number of clips. The number of clips from the inner to the poles is four more than our old tent, spreading the load over more clips. The clips also connect loosely on the poles meaning they can slide up and down, adjusting themselves when need be.

Salewa Sierra Leone Tent Review

– Ventilation holes. Two ventilation holes on either side of the tent allow better ventilation and will hopefully reduce condensation on cold nights.

Salewa Sierra Leone Tent Review

– Length and Size. Being two metres tall, the length is always important for me. The Salewa tent comes at a rather lengthy 235cm. This two person tent is really roomy inside too; we can fit all of our gear in with us, handy when we setup without the fly.

– Guy ropes. The guys connect at two locations which grab the tent poles quite well to secure the tent in strong winds.

Salewa Sierra Leone Tent Review

– Roof storage and deep pockets. There is heaps of internal pockets for us to hide our small bits and pieces.

– Pole length. These poles are 40cm long, as opposed to the ~50cm poles on the Mountain Hardwear tent. Although not a big difference, it will be easier to get the poles in and out of our bag!

Things we are dubious about:

The pole hole tabs on the fly. On the first night of using the tent, we've already broken a tab off our fly! We're hoping that this is a one off… but we can't be sure. We will be contacting Salewa about this matter and may do some additional stitching on our current fly just to be sure.

Update: We have just broken another one and are tossing up whether we need a different tent now. 🙁

Salewa Sierra Leone Tent Broken

– The fly resting on the inner. This is our biggest concern as we feel that water or condensation could possibly find itself inside our tent. Time and testing will tell, but we plan to add an additional guy point if this is a problem.

Salewa Sierra Leone Tent Review

The weight. Although not particularly heavy, we have added over 1300g to our tent weight! Given the heavier materials and the additional pole, the weight does makes sense. However, for comparison sake, the most comparable tent in our mind is the Mont Fire Fly which shares similar dimensions (albeit one less pole) and is about 600g lighter.

The colour. We would prefer either a dark green or a sandy colour tent over the yellow green of the Salewa!

Salewa Sierra Leone Tent Review


Unfortunately we've returned the Salewa Sierra Leone tent. With the above design fault found on two flys (in one day!), we can't take another with the faith it won't happen again.

Once Salewa has fixed these tabs (we'll try and get an explanation) and made the fly lift off the inner, the Sierra Leone will be a fantastic tent for the budget minded adventurer.


  1. Have a look at the Hilleberg Staika, it is robust and has all the features you liked in the Salewa. You can get it by mail-order, I bought one last year and really like it.

  2. Thanks for the tip! Mountain Hardwear have now agreed to help us out, so we will stick with that tent for the next year, but will most likely switch to Hilleberg in the future to hopefully get a bit more longevity out of our tent.

  3. Sorry to hear that. When the tent is not going well, that’s really a pain… already breaking parts, not a good start for a new equipment.

    I found that yellow, orange and other similar colours though may be a life saver in high altitudes, they also attract insects a lot in the evening, and for stealth camping on a bike tour it’s difficult to stay unnoticed. My favourite is still dark green. 🙂

    As for Salewa, I have a sleeping bag from Salewa, my first ever sleeping bag, more then 20 years old now, still going strong. So they can make good stuff, too.

    Here in Austria and Germany, VauDe tents are populer, usually quoted to have good quality, durability, and function. I find price is on the higher end.

    After some research, we have bought a VaudDe Mark II Light (the non-light version has more open-close windows, zips, and pockets) two years ago. We have used it for staying in camping sites and for free camping. So far, we are happy. We find it fast and easy to setup, even in the dark, and also to pack away.
    The inner and fly are linked, making it easy to pitch without having to faff around threading poles through sleeves. Just set up the frame, and hang the tent on it, can do with closed eyes. But we rather like the time saving every morning and evening.
    We survived a couple of storms and heavy rain in it, no issues. I have seen reviews saying it didn’t last in heavy storms – but for those probably an “expedition” or “Alpine” grade tent is needed for double price.
    We like the symmetrical setup (like your Salewa). The tent still looks like new.
    What we miss is that the bottom is waterproof, but not puncture proof. So we use an extra shell below it, VauDe sells a second bottom layer (extra water proof with two layers), but it’s still not puncture proof. People usually use here windscreen-mats as an underlay for tents (cheap, strong, isolates).
    For bike touring the weight is OK (3kg), but for back-packing, I’d prefer only 2kg. We also miss sometimes the extra zips of the non-light version.
    We noticed a couple of times other bike-tourers or motorbike tourers using the exact same model in campsites, when talking to them, they were also happy.

    Maybe the weather is not extreme in your case, but you do use your tents daily for long periods, maybe Alpine or Expedition tents would give the robustness you look for?

    A picture of it in use on our tour: https://www.dropbox.com/sc/r8a0jqylt6dtr1n/Jg-GrwB9Fz
    VauDe Mark system pitching: http://youtu.be/b5bc6ilQm2A
    VauDe Mark L 3P (the current iteration of it): http://www.vaude.com/en-NL/Products/Gear/Tents/Mark-L-3P-green.html

  4. A lesson we have really learnt this trip is that ultralight tents don’t last the kind of usage it gets on a multi-year trip. Our MH tent may be sub-2kg (three person), but everything from the fly through to the poles cannot cope with daily use, under all weather conditions. I believe you are correct suggesting alpine/expedition tents to us. A black series Hilleberg, although twice as heavy, will no doubt last ten times longer than what we currently use.

    Great news – we have just received a warranty replacement from Mountain Hardwear which we believe will get us home dry. 🙂

  5. Checked out the Hilleberg Staika, looks great. The price is high for me, but I guess it pays back during the first storm, or during the first problem-free World-touring.

  6. I bought mine mailorder from Moontrail.com in the US when the Aussie Dollar was high so whilst expensive it wasn’t too bad for what it was.

    Points I checked with Hilleberg direct what was 1) the best recommendation for Australian high UV and Petra Hilleberg said the Black Label had the best UV resistance; 2) best air through flow; 3) Reasonably small tent footprint. This is what led me to the Staika despite its weight.

  7. I checked that website – it’s about 2x times the price of our VauDe (300 vs 600 Euro), so quite a different league. But then, putting off the latest gadget expense gets the price difference back fast.
    The weight difference is 3 vs 4 kg, that’s not significant for me on a bike tour. I mean 1 kg heavier, but then fully good tent worth the extra weight to carry.
    Do you have the yellow or the dark version? I guess the yellow is nice in snow, high mountains, for bike touring, I prefer the dark, dark green (bugs, visitors).
    I would be interested in a detailed review, if you have a link, or if you write one :-), let me know!

  8. hi! i wanted to ask you what mattresses are you using, which we see inside your tent? it’s yellow color. Thank you!

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