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Black Diamond Fitzroy Review

Easily among the most bomber tents in this review; extreme storm protection at a respectable weight and its ToddTex ePTFE single-wall fabric handled moisture and condensation better than any other single wall model.
Black Diamond Fitzroy
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Price:  $850 List | $599.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Extremely strong, spacious, bomber three-point self equalizing guylines, tight flap-free pitch
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
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 9, 2018
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 19
  • Weight - 27% 6
  • Livability - 18% 8
  • Weather/Storm Resistance - 25% 10
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 5
  • Durability - 10% 10
  • Versatility - 10% 6

The Skinny

The Black Diamond Fitzroy is an extremely strong and spacious two-person or tightish three-person single wall expedition tent. Four quality Easton poles setup from the inside and cross seven times, while a waterproof breathable three-layer ToddTex ePTFE membrane provides durable protection from the elements. This model is without question the most bomber single wall tent we've tested and one of the stronger tents out there, period. Its pole design and tight pitch are hard to beat in even the fiercest storm. It does come at two small costs: it's one of the most challenging tents to set up and takes the most practice to become proficient at pitching, and it's the heaviest single wall tent we've tested (7 lb. 1 oz without its optional vestibule that's sold separately). That said, it's still somewhat average overall compared with double walled options and weighs 1-2 pounds less than several other 4-pole models that have comparable storm protection.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Black Diamond Fitzroy is about as burly of a 4 season model as you can get. It was the most storm resistant single wall model handling 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 the most expensive and heaviest single wall tent in our review. However, it is still lighter than its closest double wall competitors, The North Face Mountain 25, and the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2.

Performance Comparison


The Fitzroy was among the most storm-worthy models in our review. Built with ToddTex  a slightly heavier fabric than most single wall models  it was the strongest and most breathable 4 season tent that we tested.
The Fitzroy was among the most storm-worthy models in our review. Built with ToddTex, a slightly heavier fabric than most single wall models, it was the strongest and most breathable 4 season tent that we tested.

Weather Resistance


This four-season tent offers ROCK SOLD protection in even the worst of conditions. Weather and wind resistance is why you buy this absolutely bomber tent, no doubt. This tent has been on many epic climbs all over the world, and we found that its DRUM TIGHT walls resist fierce gusts like a resilient boxing champion. As far as it's strength in a storm, we think it's simply as tough as it gets; it's easily among the strongest tents in our review, and there is a chance it might even be the strongest tent we've ever tested.

The Fitzroy's bomber pole design  burly fabric  and slightly lower than average peak height make it one of the absolute best models for heavy snow loading or strong winds. It is easily among the most storm resistant models in our review.
The Fitzroy's bomber pole design, burly fabric, and slightly lower than average peak height make it one of the absolute best models for heavy snow loading or strong winds. It is easily among the most storm resistant models in our review.

It is even better in severe storms than our Editors' Choice winner, the Hilleberg Jannu, or other popular single wall models like the Mountain Hardwear EV 2 or Black Diamond Eldorado. It has comparable strength to the Hilleberg Tarra, The North Face Mountain 25, and the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2.

The internally pitched pole design might take a little longer to set up than other models  but BD designed the Fitzroy in such a way that the body of the tent does a superb job supporting the poles. There are supposedly six guy-points  but its two center guylines are actually an equalization of three additional points  as seen in this photo with the optional grey vestibule on the tent ($170).
The internally pitched pole design might take a little longer to set up than other models, but BD designed the Fitzroy in such a way that the body of the tent does a superb job supporting the poles. There are supposedly six guy-points, but its two center guylines are actually an equalization of three additional points, as seen in this photo with the optional grey vestibule on the tent ($170).

Ease of Setup


There are many advantages that this model offers, but 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. You'll find somewhat hard to use plastic twist ties, which wrap around the poles, locking them in place. Once the poles are in place, they are well supported by the walls, providing the foundation for the strength of the tent.

This tent has 36 square feet of interior volume  the most of any single wall model. We could comfortably fit two people and tons of gear  or squeeze three people with a little sleeping pad overlap. You can also see the slightly smaller rear door of the Fitzroy. And while this model had a lot of interior floor space  it features lower than average ceiling height.
This tent has 36 square feet of interior volume, the most of any single wall model. We could comfortably fit two people and tons of gear, or squeeze three people with a little sleeping pad overlap. You can also see the slightly smaller rear door of the Fitzroy. And while this model had a lot of interior floor space, it features lower than average ceiling height.

Setting this contender up can be a little cumbersome at first, but it's easy to get the hang of after some pratice. 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.

The Eldorado  Ahwahnee  and Fitzroy have small plastic twist tie clips to hold the poles in place. While we thought these twist clips were secure  they were a little finicky  especially in cold weather with gloves on.
The Eldorado, Ahwahnee, and Fitzroy have small plastic twist tie clips to hold the poles in place. While we thought these twist clips were secure, they were a little finicky, especially in cold weather with gloves on.

Livability


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 another $164 you can add a well-designed hooped vestibule, but that does bring the price of the Fitzroy to a bit over $1000. Overall, the Fitzroy, because of its above average amount of living space (36 square feet), in some ways is one of the most comfortable tents to be forced to log some time in. It does have a roomier interior, but has barely enough headroom and offers slightly less room to sit-up in as the Mountain 25 and Trango 2.

This model was among the most storm-worthy in our review  though it was slightly more involved than others to pitch. You have to set up the tent from the inside  which is a typical design with single wall models.
This model was among the most storm-worthy in our review, though it was slightly more involved than others to pitch. You have to set up the tent from the inside, which is a typical design with single wall models.

Durability


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. We gave this tent 10 out of 10 points for durability because it is super tough and is easily more durable than the Mountain Hardwear EV 2.

Weight/Packed Size


The tent weighs 6 lb. 4 oz for just the tent and the poles, but most folks will find a packed weight of around 7 lbs 1 oz. This is heavier than any other two-person single wall model and heavier than several double wall options. So while the Fitzroy is a little heavier, it also has top-notch storm resistance and above-average livability. For example, the Mountain Hardwear EV 2 two pounds less, but offers less interior space, isn't quite as storm-worthy, and its fabric doesn't handle condensation nearly as well. While the MSR Advance Pro is half the weight of the Fitzroy, it's not designed for the same thing.

The MSR Advance Pro is a bivy tent and designed to be as lightweight and compact as possible, where 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. This tent was similar in weight to the double wall Hilleberg Jannu, which provides a little more versatility, but the Fitzroy is still stronger and has better wind resistance in the most extreme conditions.

There are two doors  one bigger than the other  but both sporting full-sized windows. Above each of these doors is a mini metal pole that sticks straight out to create little awnings  which allows for ventilation if you keep the doors cracked. While overall this model offers so-so ventilation options  its ToddTex fabric handles moisture as well as any single wall tent in our review.
There are two doors, one bigger than the other, but both sporting full-sized windows. Above each of these doors is a mini metal pole that sticks straight out to create little awnings, which allows for ventilation if you keep the doors cracked. While overall this model offers so-so ventilation options, its ToddTex fabric handles moisture as well as any single wall tent in our review.

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 because there is 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.

Looking at the larger door on the Fitzroy. There is more interior floor space than other models but only so-so headroom. This is because the Fitzroy sports a slightly lower than average peak height to better combat strong winds. That said  lead tester Ian Nicholson at 5'10" could still sit upright in the tent.
Looking at the larger door on the Fitzroy. There is more interior floor space than other models but only so-so headroom. This is because the Fitzroy sports a slightly lower than average peak height to better combat strong winds. That said, lead tester Ian Nicholson at 5'10" could still sit upright in the tent.

Best Applications


This tent offers respectable versatility across 4-season applications but in reality is not a great option for 3-season backpacking trips but could be used for such on occasion. It's best for 4-season trips where its top-tear strength, respectable weight, and pleasant interior space will be appreciated. It's bomber enough for any expedition use and coupled with its quasi-spacious interior, we'd take this tent up Denali or on 8000m peaks in the Himalaya without question. It's still light enough for mountaineering in the lower-48 and southern Canada but is a little overkill if that's all you intend to do with it. It's a fantastic winter camping tent particularly if you splurge for the vestibule which will make it even more comfortable.

This tent isn't cheap; at $800 for the tent and another $160 for an optional vestibule  it's among the most expensive options in the review.  Our review team does feel the Fitzroy brings a fair value to the table  as its one of the most robust tents available with durable and high-performing exterior fabrics. The Fitzroy is visible in the far back left.
This tent isn't cheap; at $800 for the tent and another $160 for an optional vestibule, it's among the most expensive options in the review. Our review team does feel the Fitzroy brings a fair value to the table, as its one of the most robust tents available with durable and high-performing exterior fabrics. The Fitzroy is visible in the far back left.

Value


At $850, the Fitzroy is one of the more expensive tents in our review; then you take into account that the vestibule is not included and is an additional $164, bringing the total to $1,014. While more expensive than some of its closest competition (The North Face Mountain 25 - $590 or the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 - $650) it is also over a pound lighter and more compact than either of them without giving up anything for strength or weather resistance. The Hilleberg Jannu is similar in price to the Fitzroy when you include its vestibule and may be more versatile but isn't quite as bomber or as spacious. Its closest single wall competition is the Mountain Hardwear EV2 ($700) which also isn't quite as sturdy but is two pounds lighter and more compact.

The Fitzroy after another windy night in Antarctica. Because of the extremely remote nature and severity of weather of this area  research programs and exploratory missions only choose the most robust and reliable models. That is what the Fitzroy is best for; protection from the most extreme weather  without being too heavy.
The Fitzroy after another windy night in Antarctica. Because of the extremely remote nature and severity of weather of this area, research programs and exploratory missions only choose the most robust and reliable models. That is what the Fitzroy is best for; protection from the most extreme weather, without being too heavy.

Conclusion


The Fitzroy is designed to be one of the most storm-worthy 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