Black Diamond Beta Light Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Plenty of room for two people plus gear, adaptable for four season use, very affordable
Cons: No floor or bug protection, potential condensation problems, needs to be seam sealed
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Beta Light is one of the lightest tents that Black Diamond makes, making it a top contender in our ultralight tent review. Made of 30 denier SilNylon, and requiring two adjustable trekking or ski poles to set up, it is about as simple as a two-person shelter can get. It does well in weather with great livable space. While there is no floor, it's
When it comes to Livability, we loved how much space this tent has on the inside. Not only is it plenty tall enough to sit up comfortably (even for a 6 ft man), but its long, rectangular shape allows two people to comfortably sleep side by side, with a couple of feet of room to spare by the door for storing gear or cooking. This means you can easily pack gear inside or cook with a little extra room. Not only that, but its complete enclosure also means it offers privacy.
That said, this is a single wall, floorless tent, so there are a few drawbacks when it comes to livability. You'll need a ground tarp for sleeping on the bare ground, and it does not have built-in bug protection. If the bugs are light, it is possible to erect the tent with virtually no gap to the ground, but this setup leads to condensation problems since it cuts out all airflow. Black Diamond sells a Beta Bug Tent modular insert, and this could be an excellent setup for short term protection when needed. However, the bug tent alone weighs over two pounds, making it considerably heavier than the tent by itself.
Weighing in on our independent scale at a mere 1 pound 1.3 ounces (without the included stakes), it'll feel like you're carrying hardly anything in your backpack.
The stakes that it comes with weigh an additional 3.8 ounces, and while they are functional, they are not nearly as light as they could be; ultralight enthusiasts will surely want to replace them with stakes of their choice.
With a two-poled pyramid design with a single wall and an open floor, this tent does well it most weather. It has seven different stake out points, four at the corners, two in the middle of the long walls, and one at the door, all of which you will need for optimal weather resistance. This design was one of the most stable in the wind, offering great functionality in the alpine where the weather can change quickly.
Unlike the UltaMid 2, the Beta Light is made of silnylon rather than Dyneema Composite Fiber. This fabric makes it slightly heavier, but also not as waterproof in heavy rain.
It also does not come seam-sealed, or give you the option of paying extra for seam sealing. We spent a couple of nights in this tent in the Himalayas when it snowed heavily on us, and this is one of the few designs in this review that is capable of functioning well as a four-season tent, rather than just during the warmer months. Its steep walls shed water, wind, and snow just fine. It's a favorite amongst guides for its reputation to really stand up to the "stuff".
Adaptability is primarily the function of a tent intended to be used in most situations or circumstances. Although it has a fixed method of pitching, and can only be set up in one way, we never-the-less thought of it as one of the most adaptable tents in this review. It is capable of withstanding the wind and snow loads of winter, making it a genuinely four-season tarp. Many expeditions like to take a floorless pyramid tent with them for use in base camp as a cook tent or hang out tent — and these designs can become a whole lot "taller" by digging out the snow underneath them until there is enough headroom for standing up inside. Setting it up on the snow and then digging out one side can leave a nice bench for cooking and sleeping on (with a waterproof tarp and insulated sleeping pad), and the pyramidal design easily sheds snow without risk of collapsing.
That said, the fixed design could not be set up in nearly as many ways as a flat tarp, and there is also the issue of no bug protection built-in. If the bugs are not terrible, resolve this issue by setting the tent up low to the ground; if you think there's potential to get eaten alive, we recommend using the Beta Bug Tent insert. We also wish that this tent had line locks and adjustable cinch cord for staking and guying out, but instead, it just has fixed length staking out cord tied in large loops in all the essential places. This loop is big enough for looping around massive rocks, or burying in the snow as a deadman, but is not as easily adjustable as those tents with line locks. Overall, though, this is indeed a tent that is adaptable to almost any circumstance or situation.
Ease of Set-up
To set up the Beta Light, all one must do is stake out the four corners of the tent to the ground, then open up the door and insert the two adjustable trekking poles into the eaves of the fabric. Crawling back outside, one can then stake out the two sides and the door, and make any adjustments for tautness as needed. We thought that it was the single easiest tent to set up with one person in tough weather that used adjustable trekking poles, a virtue if you are trying to beat the inclement weather and stay dry.
The stake-out points on this tent have two fixed lengths — either very short and close to the fabric for staking it out flush with the ground, or long loops of cordage for staking it out with a gap above the ground, or for using rocks or deadmen as anchors.
While this system does work and is simple, it is not very adjustable or as easy as the cord lock systems.
This tent retails at a low price, making it super affordable and the best buy award winner! It presents a fantastic value, especially for those seeking an ultralight tent that is spacious and adaptable, with uses throughout all four seasons. However, buyers should be aware that without a floor, they will also want to buy some form of lightweight ground cloth, will need two adjustable trekking poles, and will most likely want to replace the stakes with seven lighter weight and more durable ones.
The Black Diamond Beta Light is our Best Bang for the Buck award winner because it is one of the most affordable options that we tested, while also managing to perform better than most. It is especially easy to set up and adaptable to all sorts of circumstances, while still protecting well from the weather and providing plenty of space for interior comfort. For those looking for a small and lightweight backpacking shelter at a low price, we highly recommend this tent.
— Andy Wellman