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Hands-on Gear Review
Black Diamond Mesa Review
Cons: Slightly heavy and bulky, older style materials.
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 another year ticks by and Black Diamond has yet to update it. The pole design is quick to set-up and stronger than many other two door tents, but the fabrics are of moderate quality-- not as strong, light, or 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 and shaves some weight soon.
RELATED: Our complete review of backpacking tents
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
As a staple in the Black Diamond line, we would hesitate to take the Mesa backpacking because of its large bulk and heavy weight.
Ease of Set-up
The Mesa is easy and straightforward to set-up, its poles are all connected at a central point and it is clear where they need to go. We find the clips that connect from the fly to the poles difficult to snap on and off, which makes set-up and take down slightly more annoying. As with most tents we tested, there are not enough stakes for every guy point.
Livability is where the Mesa excels, it is one of the more comfortable tents in this review. Its roomy interior is wider than even the REI Half Dome 2 Plus at 56 inches, and almost as long (92" versus 98"), so even tall people will be comfortable in this tent. We like the fly's funky angled mesh pattern, it gives the interior an aesthetic appeal and has the practical application of keeping spindrift, splashback, and sand from coming in through the mesh. We also love the 4 large pockets for organizing our stuff.
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, it's stronger than many other two door tents we tested. The Mesa's inner tent attaches to the poles with fifteen clips and grommets. It sometimes is difficult to get the fly completely taut, and unfortunately it often sags and flaps annoyingly in the wind. We never observed any moisture getting inside the Mesa. The most weather resistant tent we tested was the Hilleberg Anjan 2.
As with most tents in this review, the Mesa is not very adaptable. With a double walled, two door tent it is difficult, if not impossible, to pitch it in any other way. You can pitch it without the fly on clear starry nights, or, if you purchase the footprint you could use it as a lighter option in its "fast pitch" mode. The MSR Hubba Hubba NX has a fast pitch mode that does not require the footprint and therefore makes it much more adaptable.
The Mesa's thick fabric seems durable in the short term, but also contributes to its heaviness. Its cheaper polyester and nylon fabrics make it more susceptible to degrading over time. Its stakes are also cheap, we broke the head off one the first time we were pounding it in.
Weight and Packed Size
The Mesa is one of the heavier and bulkier tents we tested, weighing in at 78.6 ounces, and we would not want to carry it for long distances. This is the main weakness of this tent. If Black Diamond would shave some ounces off the Mesa, it could be a top competitor.
As we already mentioned, the Mesa's weight is one of its limiting factors. 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. Reference our Buying Advice Article for more info on tent fabrics and coatings.
We like this roomy tent for car and base camping applications where we don't have to carry it. It is very spacious for two, tall people don't have to worry about touching their feet to the ends, and it is luxurious for one person.
The Mesa retails for $320. We would rather spend a hundred dollars less for the REI Half Dome 2 Plus or $80 more for the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 and get a tent that weighs 26 ounces less for extended backpacking trips.
We like the spaciousness and the strong pole design of the Mesa, but Black Diamond should consider updating it with higher quality, lower weight materials if they want to charge so much for this medium quality tent.
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— Jessica Haist
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Most recent review: November 22, 2015
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