OWNER REVIEW - BLACK DIAMOND MEGA LIGHT TENT
- OR MEGA LIGHT TENT
BY JAMES WARBERG
January 03, 2007
NAME: James Warberg
LOCATION: Memphis, TN
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 210 lb (95.30 kg)
I have 11 years of backpacking experience. I typically make 3-5 trips
per year. I like to hike the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in
early spring and late fall. For summer hikes I like to find cooler
(temperature-wise) destinations, mainly the North Cascades in
Washington State. I have branched out this year by taking trips to
Great Basin National Park in Nevada and Rocky Mountains National Park
in Colorado. I carry a moderately heavy pack when hiking with my sons.
When hiking with adults, though, I try and pack lightweight. I have
hiked portions of the AT and PCT and I like to peak bag.
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 1">>
Product Tested:...................Mega Light TENT
COLOR..............................Sangria & Silver
DIMENSIONS.....................L x W x H 86 x 86 x 57 inches (218
x 218 x 145 centimeters)
WEIGHTS .........................TENT (W/Pole): 1.05 kilograms (2
pounds 5 ounces)
Manufacturer......................Black Diamond Equipment, LTD
Year of Manufacture..........2005
Manufacturer web site: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE - "http://www.bdel.com">>
Note: Product was returned to manufacturer for refund without
recording actual weight and dimensions.
I bought this tent because I needed something that would hold 3-4
people and yet be lightweight. The Mega Light Tent sleeps 3 adults
fairly comfortably. I had need of a tent big enough for me and my
sons, yet not overly heavy. After much internet searching, I decided
on the Mega Light & optional floor combination offered by Black
Diamond. I have logged six trips (15 nights) with this tent in all
weather conditions and have found it to be a rugged performer in all
but the last of the field tests.
Test 1 (Smoky Mountains National Park -Tennessee/USA, Campsite 26,
I pitched the tent for two nights at campsite 26. Temperatures were in
the 20's F (-6 C) and 30's F (4 C) with intermittent snow and strong
winds at night (elevation 4,400 ft / 1341m). The tent slept me and MY
two sons (ages 10 & 12) comfortably. For my first set-up; it went
smoothly; about 20 minutes to get it ready. The tent utilizes eight
stakes to anchor it and four to anchor the optional floor, which made
it very stable when the winds picked up at night. I utilized the
fiberglass center pole that installs in the center of the tent; there
was enough room for me on one side of the tent and my two sons on the
other. The pole option is a bit inconvenient, rather than the no-pole
option I employed on Test 2. That said, the tent was roomy enough that
we could play cards inside before going to sleep at night. The
optional bathtub floor is nice to convert this shelter from a tarp to
a tent; the floor snugs up nicely to the top to make a comfortable
abode. The tent stayed reasonabley warm and had plenty of room. All in
all an excellent light-weight tent for three. I did not have any
problems with the zippers or tightening straps and the setup was
obvious without instructions. We did not have rain this trip.
Test 2 (Horseshoe Basin / Pasayten Wilderness / Washington State / USA
, 7/18/05 7/21/05)
This was the "something different" test for this tent. Horseshoe Basin
is at about 7000 ft (2134 m) elevation and in a semi-arid part of
Washington State. The nights were warm and calm with no adverse
weather. The tent slept me and my two sons nicely again side-by-side.
We utilized a rope to hold the top up tight, rather than the center
pole; the apex of the tent has a loop to attach a rope that holds the
tent up, rather than the fiberglass pole inside the tent. This really
opened up the sleeping area inside the tent. It was this trip that I
tested the "what to do about the insects" feature of this tent. I did
not buy the insect net with it, because I didn't want to carry the
extra weight. I used insect repellent and a face net to protect
against the mosquitoes and flies that got into the tent. What was
interesting was that most of the insects stayed on the walls several
feet above where we slept, so they weren't that big of a problem. The
bug population was also kept at bay by just zipping the door up and
tightening the floor up to the walls.
Test 3 (Enchantment Lakes / Alpine Lakes Wilderness / Washington
State/USA, 9/8/05 9/10/05)
I pitched the tent for two nights and gave this tent a good workout.
Temperatures were, like the Smokies, in the 20's and 30's F (-6 to 4
C) with intermittent snow and strong winds at night; the winds were
stronger,I estimate 50+ mph (81 kph), and the snow was intense on the
second night. I pitched the tent at Snow Lake the first night at
elevation 5414 ft (1650 m). Instead of using the single tent pole, I
used the rope loop on the top to pull it up tight to the trees at the
campsite. Taking the pole out of the middle of the tent made it easy
to sleep three adult men the first night. Lots of wind on night 1, but
no precipitation. Once again the stake down design (and roped up top)
did a great job of holding this tent securely in place and the inside
was comfortable. The tent has no windows, but does have an air vent at
the top. Temperatures were good in the tent and the night's sleep was
good. Setup time was about 20 minutes. The second night was the real
test for this tent; there was steady the steady estimated windspeed of
40 to 50 mph (64 to 81 kph) with gusts that must have been 70-80 mph;
the gust were so strong that some of the free standing tents around
were trying to tip over with people in them! It was the worst storm
that I have encountered since I have started hiking.The Megamid stood
firm on the plot of ground we found near Perfection Lake in the Lower
Enchantment Basin. It was this trip that I found a short-coming of
this tent...you have to have soil to drive stakes into to set it up.
The Enchantment Lakes Basin has a lot of places where you would have
to set-up on solid rock; only a free-standing tent works in that
circumstance. With a lack of trees at 7100 ft elevation (2134 m), I
once again utilized the center pole to support the teepee design. We
couldn't sleep three men side-by-side this time, because the pole in
the middle of the tent hits where one of us had slept the night
before. We were able to sleep two men side by side and one man
crossways at the feet of the first two men. The second night brought
four inches of snow along with the strong winds. The tent stood firm
even with snow piling up on the outside. This tent has no rainfly; the
tent walls were saturated with moisture but they did not dripping much
water into the tent regardless. I was concerned that the no rainfly
design would mean a lot of wetness inside, if it rained. My fear
proved unfounded, as we stayed quite comfortable and dry until the
storm broke. I do think that if one of us had to sleep in contact with
the tent wall that the walls would have given up some water and gotten
us wet. When packing up the tent during the break in the snow storm, I
could not squeeze out much excess water from the saturated wall
material and ended up carrying a couple extra pounds of water that was
still in the tent material. I had to dry it out once I was back to
Test 4 (Great Basin National Park, Nevada - Baker Lake Johnson Lake
Loop/ 6/30/06 to 7/2/06)
Conditions were dry and dusty; temperatures ranged from 35 to 75 F (2
to 24 C). Elevations ranged from 8000 to 11295 ft (2438 to 3443 m). I
Setup the tent in with the inside pole both nights. Trip was
comfortable with results not differing from the first three tests.
Test 5 (Upper Lena Lake / Olympic National Park / Washington State /
USA, 7/31/06 - 8/2/06)
Conditions were cool and damp (no rain, just fog, mist, and morning
dew). Temperatures ranged from 30 to 55 F (-1 to 13 C). Elevations
ranged from 900 to 4100 ft (274 to 1250 m). I setup the tent in with
the pole both nights for my two sons and me. Trip was comfortable.
Test 6 (North Inlet -Tonahutu Creek Loop / Rocky Mountains National
Park / Colorado / USA, 8/27/06 - 9/1/06)
Conditions varied from hot and dusty, to cold and rainy, to hot with a
thunderstorm. Night-time temperatures were consistently around 30
degrees F (-1 C), while day time temperatures ranged from 45 to 80
degrees F (7 to 27 C). Elevations ranged from 8000 to 12300 ft (2438
to 3749 m). This trip the tent (using the inside pole option) slept
two adults comfortably; when sleeping two people there is a nice
amount of space to store some things in the tent with you. It was this
trip that the leak developed. The tent wall material began to separate
near the seam at the apex of the tent. My hiking partner noticed that
we were getting some water in the tent during the two periods of rain
we had on this trip; just drips, but enough that it made me curious.
On closer inspection, I could see the nylon fibers separating and that
water could leak into the tent. I remedied the leak by strapping a
plastic bag over the apex of the tent to divert the water below the hole.
Test 6 Update (12/4/06) I have contacted both Black Diamond and REI
(Recreational Equipment Inc.) by email about the leak. REI has a 100%
lifetime guarantee on all items they sell and they responded within an
hour of the email and told me that I could bring the tent back in
without the original packaging, which I had thrown away, for a full
refund or exchange; additionally, they offered to take back the
undamaged floor and refund my purchase price on it. Black Diamond
responded within two hours of my email and said that they would
evaluate the damage to the tent and then decide either to repair it or
send me a new tent, even though the tent was 6 months past its
warrantee period. I decided to return the tent tand floor to REI for a
refund; as they claimed, they refunded my money no questions asked. In
the correspondence from Black Diamond, they assured me that customer
satisfaction was their first concern and that they would resolve my
problem, if REI did not take the tent back.
THINGS I LIKE ABOUT THE TENT
The positives of this tent are floor space, head room, and
wind/weather durability. I love utilizing the no-pole option (holding
the top up by rope); it offers an incredible amount of floor space.
The tent did extremely well in the snowstorm I encountered; the steep
pitch of the pyramid design let the thick wet snow slide off the tent
with just a few taps on the material from the inside; we never had to
get out of the tent to clear off the snow.
The floor is a super option to purchase with this tent; it is
completely waterproof, yet only weights ~1.5 lbs (680 g). When
considering buying this tent, I emailed the manufacturer about how
waterproof the floor was. Black Diamond responded within hours to my
email and claimed that the floor is essentially impervious to water
and mud. I believe it after the wet snow I got caught in on my trips
to the Smoky Mountains and the Enchantment Lakes Basin areas. We were
comfortably dry even with all the snow melting on and around the tent.
I highly recommend buying the floor, if you purchase this tent.
I also liked the breakdown time for the tent. Drop the pole and pull
the stakes and stuff it in a bag in under 2 minutes. It is great with
the optional floor, because once you pull the top off you have ready
access to all of your gear, still on the floor, without the tent
getting in the way.
THINGS I DON'T LIKE ABOUT THE TENT
The setup time of 20 minutes for the tent is too long, in my opinion.
Part of the problem on setup is adjusting and readjusting the tent
stakes. I had to keep setting and resetting them until the tent walls
The tent material saturates with water when it encounters a good rain
or snow and it is hard to squeeze all the water out while in the
field. The tent needs time to air out in order to properly dry. This
added several pounds to my pack weight when packing the tent after the
snow storm on the Enchantment Lakes trip.
The fiberglass pole option is not good when sleeping 3 or four adults;
by being right in the middle of the floor you lose valuable space in
the center of your tent; When setting up sleeping bags, I noticed that
the pole forced the bags closer to the walls and the caused me to lose
space in the middle of the tent that I wanted to use to store gear.
I reluctantly add the bit about the material wearing out. I was
disappointed, because I wanted to write an outstanding review of this
tent. Instead, I am reluctantly noting a premature failure of the
Lastly, I think my actions will speak louder than words. After
returning the Mega Light tent, I purchased a Mountain Hardware Haven 3
tent from REI. The Haven 3 has a bug net and weighs 5 lbs 8 oz (2.5
kg). I would say that keeping the bugs out and a fear of premature
material failure kept me from purchasing another Black Diamond tent.
James B Warberg, Jr.
This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
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