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Black Diamond Mesa Review

   

Backpacking Tents

  • Currently 4.4/5
Overall avg rating 4.4 of 5 based on 3 reviews. Most recent review: January 14, 2013
Street Price:   Varies from $260 - $330 | Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Very comfortable, strong, well-featured, very livable.
Cons:  Slightly heavy and bulky, older style materials.
Best Uses:  Mostly car camping and occasional backpacking.
User Rating:     
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 (5.0 of 5) based on 2 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (2/2) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ January 14, 2013  
Overview
The Black Diamond Mesa was once a top performing two door tent. In the years since its 2007 release numerous other tents have come to overshadow it, and Black Diamond has yet to update it. The pole design is quick to setup and stronger than many other two door tents, but the fabrics are moderate quality-- not as strong, as light, or as durable as newer and higher quality materials. Some aspects of this tent are excellent, like the partial solid walls, the supportive pockets, and the extra length that makes tall people more comfortable. We hope Black Diamond updates the Mesa soon.

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  • Photos
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Livability
The Mesa has a copious amount of interior and vestibule space. 32 and 18 sq. ft., respectively. The tent measures 92 in. x 58 in., and is great for taller people, wider people, gear, or card games on dreary days. Four large and supportive pockets give two people plenty of stash space. Other features that make it more livable are two large doors. They’re bigger than most other tents and roll out of the way easily. The Mesa also has very good vestibule zippers and vents. The zippers curve near the top just below the vent so you can open them up during rain or cook up a meal without dying of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The fly attaches to the body with four adjustable clips and six hook and loop closures. There are four guy points (one on each corner), plus one on each vestibule. Partial solid nylon walls are another benefit because they add strength and prevent ground level sand and spindrift from blowing into the tent. This is particularly beneficial when the tent is left up for multiple days. Setting up the Mesa is very easy. Just snap the pole together and pop the ends into the color-coded grommets.

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The Black Diamond Mesa after a November snow flurry in Indian Creek, UT.
Credit: Max Neale
Weather Resistance
The Mesa’s pole design creates a spacious and strong frame. Two multi-diameter DAC NSL poles cross from corner to corner while a third pole branches out from the center to create steeper walls and more interior space. All three poles are connected by a single central metal hub (see the photo below). While the pole/hub system isn’t the lightest, its stronger than many other two door tents tested here. The Mesa’s inner tent attaches to the poles with fifteen clips and grommets. This creates a taught and stable base that makes it easy to open the door zipper with one hand.

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The Black Diamond Mesa's single pole/hub. Note the strong metal hub and multi-diameter poles.
Credit: Max Neale
Weight and Packed Size
With its included stakes the Mesa weighs a hefty 82 oz., or 5 lb. 2 oz. This is 20 oz. more than the average tent tested and 50 oz. more than the lightest tent tested. As you can see in the photo below the tent does not pack small.

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Packed size comparison (all tents are brand new): Black Diamond Mesa, REI Half Dome 2, REI Quarter Dome T2, and Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2.
Credit: Max Neale
Adaptability
We give the Mesa a score of 1 here (the highest score is 3) because it must be pitched in the exact same way every time, which can be a drawback for long distance hikers or anyone forced to camp in sites that don’t allow an optimal pitch. Ultralight shelters are much more adaptable. We don’t believe fast-pitching, (using the fly, an optional footprint, and the poles) is viable for serious backpacking. Nor do we recommend using footprints for backpacking in most locations. See our Buying Advice Article for more info on these topics.

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The Hilleberg Rogen and Anjan (left) are the only tents that pitch in a floorless configuration, which increases versatility and reduces weight, and is much stronger, lighter, and more weather resistant than "fast pitching" (right).
Credit: OutdoorGearLab and MSR
Limitations
The Mesa’s polyurethane coated ripstop nylon floor and fly are the greatest area for potential improvement. The fly is made of 40-denier ripstop polyster with a 1500mm silicone/polyurethane coating. The floor is a 70-denier ripstop nylon with a 2000mm polyurethane coating. These materials are nowhere near as durable or as strong as silicone impregnated nylons (polyester is budget tent material), and are a far cry from the stunning performance of cuben fiber (found in ultralight tents). The Mesa’s polyurethane is highly prone to hydrolysis. Again, see our Buying Advice Article for more info on tent fabrics and coatings.

Value
The REI Half Dome 2 weighs only 3 ounces more, costs nearly half as less and performs nearly as well as the Mesa. See our Price versus Value Chart to see how the value of all tents compare.

Other versions and accessories
  • Triangular gear loft $22.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 14, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (5.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 67%  (2)
4 star: 33%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 2 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Aug 16, 2012 - 01:17pm
eSod · Backpacker · Central Coast, CA
The purpose of any tent is shelter me from wind and rain/snow. If I'm not going to encounter this type of weather, many times I don't bring a tent then. However, this tent sets up really easy/fast and has a lots of floor and vestible space. It's very sturdy, might be a 3+ or 4- season tent if a rating system ever existed.

One feature that is often over looked are the two vents at the top, somewhat like dormers on a roof. Unzip them at night and let the breeze (or excessive body heat) blow the condensation right out of tent. I hope to have it for years!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Mar 27, 2012 - 06:35pm
cragclimber · Backpacker · Oregon coast
Excellent strength, impervious to water and wind. The smallish 9 square foot vestibules are excellent for cooking with small backpacking stoves and the two doors and fly-sheet open easily. There are no problems with zippers. The tent also sets up quickly with a single hub, has 15 clips and numerous grommets for tie-outs. There are no problems with condensation. The tent weighs about 5 lbs. with footprint, stakes, fly, cordage and DAC feather-lite poles, has four pockets, is truly spacious and a good fit for anyone up to 6'1." With the proper sleeping bag pad and sleeping bag the Mesa tent pushes the limits of a 3 season tent. Not as light weight as some, but more durable. The fly-sheet and the footprint can also be used as a stand alone minimalist shelter where weight is a factor in your gear load. For base camp, car camping, multiple day backpacking trips where inclement weather conditions may arise and for those who do not like to re-buy gear year after year. For minimalist fast high climbs go with a good bivy, sleeping bag pad and sleeping bag if you are not going to use just the fly-sheet and footprint. Experiment and see how they both feel.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Black Diamond Mesa
Credit: Black Diamond Equipment.com
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