Black Diamond Fitzroy Review
Cons: Bulky for a single wall tent, low ceiling height considering the floor space and weight, harder than average to set up, so-so ventilation, expensive, no vestibule
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Black Diamond Fitzroy is about as burly of a 4 season model as you can get. It's an incredibly storm-resistant single wall model that can handle both wind and internal and external moisture better than any other non-double walled model. Its ToddTex ePTFE fabric, while slightly heavier, wicked moisture and condensation noticeably better, and its 4-pole design is as strong as any model we tested. But you can't have that much strength and weather protection without some downsides; this is one of the most expensive and heaviest single wall tents in our review.
This four-season tent offers ROCK SOLD protection in even the most extreme of conditions. No doubt weather and wind resistance are why you buy this absolutely bomber tent, period. This tent has a resume that more than proves itself having been used on an uncountable number of epic climbs all over the world. We found that its DRUM TIGHT walls resist fierce gusts like a resilient boxing champion, and it shrugs off deep drifts like the Hulk himself.
The bottom line is as far as it's strength in a storm, we think it's simply as tough as it gets; it's easily among the most robust tents in our review, and there is a strong chance it is even the strongest tent we've ever tested.
Ease of Setup
There are many advantages that this model offers; however, ease of setup isn't one of them. Of all the 4 season tents we've tested, this one is the hardest to pitch. To set it up, it pitches from the inside, and the ends of the poles are inserted into reinforced sections of the corners and walls. You'll find somewhat slow-to-use plastic twist ties, which wrap around the poles, locking them in place. Once the poles are in place, they are extremely well supported by the walls, providing the foundation for the strength of the tent.
Setting this contender up can be a little cumbersome at first, but it's easy to get the hang of after some practice. It's not that any part of the setup is necessarily harder than any other interiorly pitched single-wall tent, it's just that there are twice as many poles to handle as most single wall tents.
The Fitzroy is viable for three people (it's a little tight) or provides two with more than enough space for expedition or base camping use. For more, you can add a well-designed hooped vestibule, but that does increase the price. It has an above-average amount of living space (36 square feet), as is, in some ways, one of the most comfortable tents to be forced to log some time in.
The main advantage here is the three-layer ePTFE membrane that's similar to those found on the world's best hardshell jackets. This type of construction is used in many tents and is likely the most durable single-wall tent fabric. The tent corners are heavily reinforced, too.
The tent weighs 6 pounds 4 ounces for just the tent and the poles, but most folks will find a packed weight of around 7 pounds 1 ounce. This is heavier than most two-person single wall models and heavier than several double wall options. This is the price you pay for its extreme strength (and 36ft of interior floor space)
The Fitzroy blurs the line of what most people typically buy a single wall tent for. It will perform well for extended expeditions but is still lightweight enough to be considered for modest mountaineering adventures in the lower-48 and Southern Canada. It's a bit overkill from a strength perspective, and thus you are carrying a little bit of extra weight if that is all you are going to use this tent for.
Adaptability and Versatility
The Fitzroy is not a particularly versatile or adaptable tent. It works great for any trip where its extreme weather protection will be appreciated, but it's a bit overkill for even more modest summer-time mountaineering adventures or 3-season backpacking trips. Both of its doors have full-sized mesh windows, which is great for bug protection but doesn't work that well in the rain without the vestibule; there's not enough awning to leave the door partially unzipped in the rain or snow without it getting into the tent. The ToddTex ePTFE fabric handles moisture and condensation, as well as any single-wall fabric we tested.
The Fitzroy is one of the more expensive tents in our review; then you take into account that the vestibule is not included, which is an additional expense. While more expensive than some of its closest competition, it is also over a pound lighter than the Mountain and more compact without giving up anything for strength or weather resistance.
The BD Fitzroy is designed to be one of the most stormworthy shelters available, and in fierce windstorms, there are few shelters we'd rather be in. Its ToddTex fabric was the most breathable fabric among single wall tents, helping make this tent slightly more versatile than others. It's the most spacious single wall model in our review, but also the heaviest. You do get a lot for the weight, though, and it's excellent for any number of expeditions.
— Ian Nicholson