Reviews You Can Rely On

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
Photo: Max Neale
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Price:  $900 List
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  ⋅  Oct 31, 2019
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74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Weight - 27% 5
  • Weather/Storm Resistance - 25% 10
  • Livability - 18% 8
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 5
  • Durability - 10% 10
  • Versatility - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Fitzroy is an extremely strong and spacious two-person or tightish three-person single-wall expedition tent. Four quality Easton poles set up 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 pounds 1 ounce 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.

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.

Performance Comparison


The Fitzroy was among the most storm-worthy models in our review...
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.
Photo: John Miner

Weather Resistance


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 Fitzroy's bomber pole design, burly fabric, and slightly lower...
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.
Photo: Thomas Greene

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.

The internally pitched pole design might take a little longer to set...
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.
Photo: John Miner

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.

This tent has 36 square feet of interior volume, the most of any...
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.
Photo: OutdoorGearLab

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 Eldorado, Ahwahnee, and Fitzroy have small plastic twist tie...
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.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

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 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.

This model was one of the most stormworthy in our review, though it...
This model was one of the most stormworthy 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.
Photo: Max Neale

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.

Weight/Packed Size


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.

There are two doors, one bigger than the other, but both sporting...
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.
Photo: Max Neale

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.

This tent isn't cheap. Our review team does feel the Fitzroy brings...
This tent isn't cheap. 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.
Photo: Thomas Greene

Value


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 Fitzroy after another windy night in Antarctica. Because of the...
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.
Photo: Thomas Greene

Conclusion


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.

Looking at the larger door on the Fitzroy. There is more interior...
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.
Photo: Max Neale

Ian Nicholson