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Owner Review BD Tent

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  • Selena Leonard
    Hi, I think this is the near final version of the review.
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 4, 2009
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      Hi, I think this is the near final version of the review.

      <http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/OWNER%20REVIEWS/OR%20Black%20Diamond%20Firstlight%20Tent/>Link
      to Uploaded HTML
      Review<http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/OWNER%20REVIEWS/OR%20Black%20Diamond%20Firstlight%20Tent/>


      OWNER REVIEW: BLACK DIAMOND FIRSTLIGHT TENT
      REVIEW BY: SELENA LEONARD
      REVIEW DATE: DECEMBER 5, 2008

      Personal Information

      Name: Selena Leonard
      Age: 22
      Gender: Female
      Height: 5'7" (1.7 m)
      Weight: 145 lbs (66 kg)
      Email Address: SelenaALeonard AT gmail DOT com
      City, State, Country: Des Moines, Iowa, USA.


      Backpacking Background

      I'm a repeat-offender thruhiker. The long hikes have been in the continental
      US in forests, plains, deserts, mountains, swamps, etc. As with thruhiking's
      nature, I have been in all of the worst and the best weather, and have had
      to hike through it, or camp in it. Besides long distance hikes, I've also
      backpacked in provincial Canada, and in the Alps. For weight, my pack
      generally is light to midline for the season and terrain. Two to seven days
      of food is regular, carrying 0.5 to 6 liters of water. I generally hike
      15-30 miles a day (24-48 km).

      Product Information

      Manufacturer: Black Diamond
      Year of Purchase: 2005
      URL: http://www.bdel.com/
      Listed Wt: 2 lb 11 oz (1.22 kg)
      Actual Weight (in 2008): 2 lb 14 oz (1.3 kg)
      Capacity: 2 people
      Doors: 1
      Color: Yellow
      Dimensions: 82 x 48 x 42 in (208 x 123 x 107 cm)
      Packed Size: 6 x 11 in (0.15 x 0.28 m)
      Tent Body Fabric: Epic
      Tent Floor Fabric: SilNylon
      Screen Material: Nanoseeum Mesh
      Poles: 2 DAC Featherlite
      Factory Seam Sealed: No
      Stakes Included: 6, Titanium, Y style
      Internal Pockets: Two
      Manufacturing Country: China
      MSRP: $300 USD


      Product Description

      The Firstlight is a single walled, two person tent with an optional
      vestibule. The floor is sil-nylon; and it has an Epic fabric upper. One
      large door is on one skinny end of the tent, and one vent is opposite for
      ventilation. These each have a hood which uses wire for shape. Both the door
      and the vent are fully zippered from the inside.

      Inside, there are two internal mesh pockets for headlamps, etc. It is
      assembled with two internal poles, which are held in place by grommets in
      each corner, and by hook-and-loop strips to hold them to the tent body.

      The package comes with 6 titanium stakes and the corresponding guyline
      cords. On the outside of the tent, there are four guy points on each corner,
      about a foot and a half (1/2 meter) off the ground. The tent comes with a
      stuff sack for itself, and a separate one for the poles and stakes, both of
      which are made of sil-nylon.



      Introduction

      I have carried the Black Diamond Firstlight tent for sections of three of my
      long distance hikes; and it is my primary weekend tent. It is single walled,
      freestanding, 2 pounds 9 ounces (about 1.25 kg), and has approximately
      enough room to comfortably fit one person, a pack, and a dog. It can fit two
      people and gear, so long as it doesn't rain. I have repaired and fixed this
      tent over time (it's at least 3000 miles old -- 4800 km), and I have not
      found a vastly better tent between this and other single walled tents, given
      the features. It is possible to go lighter, and lose the freestanding
      feature; and it is possible to have a double wall or more floor space, and
      lose the weight advantage.


      Field Information

      I've used the Firstlight for about 1500 miles (2400 km) on the Appalachian
      Trail during spring and summer. The next big use was on the Florida Trail in
      February and March. And, finally, I carried it on the Pacific Crest Trail
      for the length of California (high deserts, Sierras), and most of the way
      through Oregon. This tent has been backpacking with me in Iowa during three
      seasons, in the Canadian Rockies in the summer, the Pacific Northwest in the
      summer and fall, and the International Appalachian Trail in the summer and
      fall. Most of the weather it has seen is three-season, though it has handled
      the whole gamut at one point or another, from snow, to hail, to rain, to
      wind, to hot, humid, mosquito-infested nights. The average temperature is
      10-90 degrees F (-12 to 35 C); and, it has been on the ocean shoreline up to
      about 12500 ft (3810 m).


      Evaluation

      This tent has performed well, I like it, and I can't find a replacement that
      is significantly better than this. The ideal would be a similar tent with
      eVent fabric, for extra breathability. As it has aged, I have had to re-seam
      seal, patch the floor (duct tape has worked so far), reseal the floor, and
      wash the tent. The stitching has held up well; and Black Diamond was helpful
      when I called to ask about washing it.

      I have a couple complaints with the tent. One is that the poles can cause
      condensation inside the tent, which can drip down into puddles. A bandana
      usually works for this, so long as I realize it before I roll my bag into
      it. I have also had issues with the overlapping fabric near the front door
      causing the condensation to collect. The vestibule would probably solve
      that, but it also eliminates the advantage in weight that this tent has.

      This is one tradeoff of single-walled tents, and I have never had more
      condensation than any other hikers camped around me who also use
      single-walled tents. I'm not sure that the Epic fabric helps much, because I
      do get just as much condensation as anyone else camped with me, and yet the
      fabric claims to be breathable. But, I do know that being able to vent both
      sides of this tent helps, especially if I face one of the openings into the
      wind.

      An option I've used in the rain when I need to cook, is to make a vestibule
      out of my groundcloth. Basically, what I use on the ground is a piece of
      nylon tarp, which I've cut down to my tent's floor size. I have managed a
      few times to rig a vestibule by safety-pinning my tarp to a strange clasp on
      the tent roof, and to each of my trekking poles, which are shortened and
      stuck in the ground. It works long enough to cook and eat, though is a
      little unstable if there's high traffic in and out of the tent. With a bit
      of rope attached between the trekking poles and some stakes in the ground,
      it could probably be made more stable. If my shoes need to be left outside
      in the rain, I usually will wrap them up in my groundsheet. They've always
      been dry in the morning. Vestibules, I've found, are not necessary features.

      Pitching the tent, itself, is easy. Once the poles are assembled, it is easy
      enough to grab one of the far reinforced corners, and feed the pole into the
      tent until it's taut. With practice, it's easy to get the second pole into
      the other far corner, and set the tent up. Once inside, the adjustments can
      be made to set the poles in the small grommets in each corner, though I only
      need to do this if the weather is rainy, snowy, or windy. The same situation
      applies to the internal hook-and-loop strips which hold the poles in place;
      again, I only do those in the worst of weather. This tent, for all its
      abuse, has held up magnificently. When it's raining, there is also the
      option of throwing my pack and other somewhat dry gear into the tent before
      assembling it - though, this is a more time consuming process. But, it is a
      nice feature of the set-up.

      The footprint is small, making it extremely easy to find a campsite. And,
      for one person, it is roomy. I can sit up, get dressed, eat, and still have
      room for gear. I remember one afternoon in Oregon, when my hiking partner
      and I stopped for lunch in a wasp infested area. We could both sit in there
      and stretch out our legs, and still have enough room for our food bags and
      lunches. I also have a thing for freestanding tents, mostly for the ease of
      setup, and the range of places to set it up. There were a few times I set
      this up in Appalachian Trail shelters, and had no problems, while others
      were stringing ropes to the floor and walls and such.

      Probably my favorite thing about this tent, is that, if it is a clear night,
      I can sleep with my head near the door, and look through the mesh at the
      stars, listening to the mosquitos buzzing around outside.

      One note, though, is that anyone over 6 feet tall should test this tent out
      before committing to it. It may be possible to sleep diagonal, but it isn't
      a tent made for tall people. For my size, though, it's plenty roomy.

      Summary

      Overall, this tent has done me well. I do not like the overlapping front
      panels since these can cause extra condensation. This tent is probably
      nearing its end, as I have had to reseal the floor; but the actual
      craftsmanship has been good and has held up in all this time. Day to day,
      this tent works well. It is roomy, comfortable, easy to use, and easy to set
      up and take down. It also meets my needs of being a single walled, free
      standing, two person tent. It has held up to all the weather that has come
      its way, including strong winds, heavy rain, snow, and some hail. I've been
      happy with this purchase. But, as with all backpacking gear - if only there
      was a true waterproof/breathable material; and, of course, if only it was
      more compact and lighter.


      Features I like about the Firstlight:

      � Freestanding
      � Durable
      � Good ventilation
      � Roomy for the weight
      � Packs down small
      � Small footprint, easy campsite finding
      � Fast to pitch
      � Fast to tear down
      � Holds its shape in bad weather (esp. wind)
      � Good customer service


      Features I dislike in the Firstlight:

      � Could be made with more breathable fabrics now available
      � Overlapping flaps by door cause extra condensation
      � Internal condensation from poles
      � Not factory sealed


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • edwardripleyduggan
      Hi Selena, One small edit for you and your OR 1 is ready to go. Also, my spellchecker states bandanna but I think either is correct. Otherwise, all correct.
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 4, 2009
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        Hi Selena,

        One small edit for you and your OR 1 is ready to go. Also, my
        spellchecker states "bandanna" but I think either is correct.
        Otherwise, all correct. In the HTML you might take a look to see why
        some of your paragraphs start flush and some not.

        Please upload to

        http://tinyurl.com/bq4xj

        or

        http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Shelters/Tents/Black%20Diamond%20Firstlight%20Tent/

        checking the "owner review" button.

        Best,

        Ted



        >

        >
        > Backpacking Background
        >
        > I'm a repeat-offender thruhiker. The long hikes have been in the
        continental
        > US in forests, plains, deserts, mountains, swamps, etc. As with
        thruhiking's
        > nature, I have been in all of the worst and the best weather, and
        have had
        > to hike through it, or camp in it. Besides long distance hikes, I've
        also
        > backpacked in provincial Canada, and in the Alps. For weight, my pack
        > generally is light to midline

        ### EDIT: mid-light (?)

        for the season and terrain. Two to seven days
        > of food is regular, carrying 0.5 to 6 liters of water. I generally hike
        > 15-30 miles a day (24-48 km).
        >
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