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Hands-on Gear Review
Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6 Review
Cons: More complicated setup, lots of poles, shorter inside.
Bottom line: Pricey and short, but fun tent for a family of 4-6.
The Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6 is a fun family tent that made the adults in the review recall fun camping adventures from when they were kids. This is a great tent for sleeping, but not the best for hanging out. However, the weather resistant, strong, and durable design inspires confidence that you will have a positive camping experience. We loved the two different sized rooms, one a little smaller and cubby-like for kids But still big enough for adults to enjoy.
RELATED: Our complete review of camping tents
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The Flying Diamond 6 is a downright fun camping tent. It is the kind of tent you would remember loving as a kid, primarily for the "kids room"/cubby/storage compartment. As an adult, you'll find yourself hunched over in this tent (even in the "adult-sized" room) – which may or may not make for fond adult memories. But you may appreciate the privacy curtain and the fact that your kids will likely love hanging out in their own little cubby and give you a little space.
Speaking of space, this tent has the most intuitive 6-person sleeping arrangement in the review – no Tetris skills needed lay out your sleeping bags. Just line everyone up. It makes for more of a sleepover feel, too.
The Flying Diamond 6 is a tent of pros and cons. If you like the pros, you'll love this tent, but if the cons add up, it's not the tent for you.
So here is one set of pros and cons: It's a fun tent for kids because of the small side-room which could also be a closet, gear storage area, or sort of mud room; it feels cozy and tent-like, which we remember being a plus when we were kids; but this tent is on the shorter side of the tents in this review, so if you plan to hang out and stand up in it (and you're much over 5 and a half feet), you'll end up with a sore neck.
The tent is free-standing, which means it will stand up without stakes in the ground to anchor or tension the tent into shape. While this is true, the smaller room does require stakes at the corners to lay flat on the ground. While we don't advocate adding yet another pole to tension this small room, this does add one more detail to keep track of (be sure to stake those corners!) lest your tent flap annoyingly when the wind kicks up overnight.
The dark red color of the version we tested is a very pleasing color to look at. However, the color does exacerbate the greenhouse effect in this tent; the lighter colored tents proved much cooler inside when the sun blazed overhead. If you need a tent for the heat, check out the Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6, a uniquely sun-proof tent, or even the REI Kingdom 6 with its light color and stellar ventilation.
Pro tip: if it's really hot out, and there's no breeze, lay your sleeping bags over the top of the tent and open all the doors and vents – this will insulate the tent from the heat and cool down the inside in a hurry.
One concern that cropped up in the livability and long-term durability department was the design of the curtain that separates the bigger and smaller rooms. If you only partially detach it (either in misuse, a distracted moment, etc.) and leave the bottom hook and loop attached, the top seam is likely to be strained, making it vulnerable to ripping – especially if there are energetic critters running around.
Of the tents in this review, the Flying Diamond 6 was perhaps the most confidence inspiring in stormy weather. The fly fully covers the tent (which is a feature shared only by the Mountain Hardwear Optic 6, the Marmot Limestone 6, and the Eureka Midori 6 in this review). The shorter profile is much more wind resistant, and there are lots of guy lines that anchor high on the fly – overall a much stronger design for inclement weather.
Ease of Setup
Big Agnes put in some effort to make this tent intuitive and easy to set up, but needs some improvement. There is a cost, it turns out, to being one of the sturdier, storm-proof tents in this review, and that is in complexity of setup.
There are six poles, so the color coded pole system is essential, but could be much better. The setup directions list wrong colors (or else our reviewers never knew they were color blind) on the tent color coding system. The instructions are difficult to follow, kicking up the risk of arguments on our stressful-tent-setup-o-meter, and the pole system is difficult to visualize (perhaps contributing to the difficulty interpreting the instructions). The instructions recommend practicing setting up the tent at home – we recommend practicing a couple of times with the team of setter-uppers you will be working with at the campsite. The color coding on the fly, however, is an absolute success: match the pink-ish (not red, as the instructions say) webbing tabs and you've got it.
Other than a couple of smaller details, the design and durability of this tent proved exceptional. The inner curtain and the flappy corners of the smaller room are really our only complaints, and they are by no means deal-breakers. If a shorter tent is not a problem for your uses, and you're not heading to the hot desert or sunny beaches, this is a tent that will keep you and your family content for years to come and surely help in the formation of some happy camping memories.
The Flying Diamond 6 has one of the better carrying bags/stuff sacks in the review, almost as good as the REI Kingdom 6 which is slightly better because it can be comfortably carried as a backpack. The Flying Diamond has a shoulder strap which is a bit on the short side, but overall it's good carrying system. The bag is organized in three compartments for the fly, tent body, and poles. If you're a folder and not a stuffer, you'll be rewarded with a less bulky package, but the buckle straps allow you to compress some of the loft out of the bag once packed up.
This is a great family tent. Because of its shorter stature, it's not a tent you want to spend all day in. For sustained sunny and hot days, check out the Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 or the REI Kingdom 6, and for a basecamp-style tent where the comfort of standing up is important, check out the Mountain Hardwear Optic 6 or the Marmot Limestone 6.
This tent is best used as a family/friends sleeping tent, not as much a tent you're going to sit in to sip a beer and get out of the sun or bugs. It will hold up well for a long time if well cared for and it will stand tall (well, short, really) through many storms if you properly guy it out and stake it down.
The Flying Diamond 6 is pretty pricey at $650. In fact, it is the most expensive tent in this review by at least $50. We liked it, but if it isn't an absolutely perfect match for you uses, it's probably not worth the money.
Other Versions & Accessories
Big Agnes Gear Loft
Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6 Footprint - $70
Big Agnes Flying Diamond 8 Footprint - $80
The Big Agnes Flying Diamond 4
The Big Agnes Flying Diamond 8
— Lyra Pierotti
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Most recent review: October 1, 2016
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