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Gear Guy

How can I repair a daged tent fly?

Having loaned my friend my old Sierra Designs tent, he returned it several months later without having adequately aired it out. The coating on the fly is now tacky and starting to pull away from the nylon. I called Sierra Designs to ask about a replacement, but they no longer carry replacements for the model I have. They did, though, offer to sell me a tent at half price in exchange for my existing tent. Should I go with their offer or have someone just repair the fly and waterproof coating? Eric Manhattan Beach, California

A: First, let's get one thing straight. When they offered to sell you a tent, wouldn't the operative phrase be, "Sell your FRIEND a tent"? After all, he's the guy who owes you a tent. It's bad form indeed to borrow a tent and return it in poor condition.

Orion AST

So, what to do? It is possible to perform some repair work on the fabric. Campmor, among others, sells Kenyon Recoat 3 ($8 a jar;, which can be painted onto fabric that's lost its waterproof coating. But the stuff is a little hard to work with, and not as durable as the original coating. Plus, the tent may have suffered other damage by now; in many cases, tent fabric may look just fine but has lost 50 percent or more of its strength due to rot, UV damage, and so on. So, I'd say the offer from Sierra Designs is pretty good. But, what tent? If weight really matters, then I'd snap up the Hyperlight AST ($269;, a new two-person tent that weighs under five pounds. I also like the Orion AST ($219), a slightly older tent but an extremely good three-season, two-person model that has long been one of my favorites. Weight is just over five pounds, so not bad, either.

If you want to go four-season, then Sierra Designs' Hercules AST ($399) is an extremely good option, if a little hefty at about nine pounds. Likewise, Mountain Hardwear's Trango 2 ($450; is another nine-pounder, though it does mix in a roomy 40 square feet of floor space.

In short, I'd go for either the Orion or the Hercules. Tell your friend to foot part of the bill. And don't loan him a tent ever again.

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Lead Photo: courtesy, Sierra Designs