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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Slightly heavy and bulky, older style materials.
Best Uses: Mostly car camping and occasional backpacking.
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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.
Check out our comprehensive Backpacking Tent Review to compare all of the tents tested.
RELATED: Our complete review of backpacking tents
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
New Review Coming Fall 2015
Be sure to check back in this fall and get psyched on a new review of the Black Diamond Mesa, which our reviewers are currently hard at work testing!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Black Diamond Vista
Black Diamond First Light
Black Diamond Ahwahnee
Black Diamond Mesa Tent Ground Cloth - $45
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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Most recent review: May 10, 2015
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