Sierra Designs tries a few new tricks with the Lightning XT3 three-person (really, it actually fits three normal people comfortably, unlike many so-called three persons tents), three-season tent. The result is a nifty freestanding design that weighs in at only six pounds and works well overall with just a couple of awkward features.
The main thing that's different is the pole setup. There is one normal straight pole for the back of the tent, while the front pole is actually three poles in an H configuration with swivels at the two junctions. Hear me now: do NOT try to set the XT3 up for the first time in the wind and rain at night. You will freak out, break the poles into little pieces and stick them in your friends heads. Once you've done it, it's no problem and you'll appreciate the way everything quickly snaps together. For some reason the storage bag is too large, so you'll want to cinch it down so it doesn't expand in your pack.
Another nice feature is the all-mesh construction, wonderful on nice nights when you can leave the fly off. The fly itself goes on in a specific direction, but once you figure that out it too is a nice design. The walls are steep making for a roomy interior, and the front door is comfortably large, but the back door is more of an afterthought. There are three low-mounted smallish pockets inside for organization, conveniently reachable from a sleeping bag. The vestiblues are also on the smallish side, but sufficient for a backpacking tent. All in all the XT3 is a good choice for couples who like a lot of room or for three normal size friends, like Hugh Hefner and the twins.