Black Diamond Beta Light Review
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Black Diamond Beta Light
$224.96 at Backcountry
|$240 List||$400 List|
$399.95 at Amazon
$270.00 at Amazon
$187.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Spacious, protective bug netting skirt, high peak height||Competitive price point, excellent no-stretch rain fly, simple and fast setup||Exceptional refinement in design, semi-freestanding design makes staking out easy, ability to set up without rain fly||Waterproof and no-stretch sil/poly rain fly, spacious living interior, deep bathtub bottom||Inexpensive, relatively light, great starter ultralight tent|
|Cons||Poles in middle, large footprint not for small sites||A little heavier than most, tent stakes are not quality, internal livable space just average||Heavier than most one person ultralight tents, broken tent pole spells trouble||Can be frustrating to properly pitch out, need to seam seal after purchase, condensation concerns, six stakes mandatory||Cumbersome to pitch, needs to be seam sealed, terrible stakes|
|Bottom Line||A double-wide pyramid shelter with a huge interior that offers solid protection from the elements||This one-person tent keeps you comfortable in even the worst conditions while being gentle on your wallet||An excellent lightweight tent for those who want a more conventional design, but want to move shed some pack weight||A great stormworthy tent with tons of livable space, invest in some time to properly pitch it up before your trip||Great choice for those on a tight budget, this tent may not grow with the budding ultralight backpacker|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Beta...||Durston X-Mid 1P Gen 2||Nemo OSMO Hornet 1P||Six Moon Designs Lu...||3F UL Gear Lanshan...|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Ease of Set-Up (10%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Beta...||Durston X-Mid 1P Gen 2||Nemo OSMO Hornet 1P||Six Moon Designs Lu...||3F UL Gear Lanshan...|
|Type||Double wall pole tent||Twin pole structure w/ removable bug netting||Semi-freestanding double wall tent||Single wall pole tent||Single wall pole tent|
|Weight With All Components||1.72 lbs||1.96 lbs||2.17 lbs||1.59 lbs||2.06 lbs|
|Measured Weight of Included Shelter Parts||Total: 1 lb, 11.5 oz. Tarp: 1 lb, 7.5 oz. Stakes: 2.6 oz. Stuff sack: .6 oz. Stake sack: 0.1 oz. Extra guy cord: .7 oz.||Total: 1 lb, 15.3 oz. Fly: 17.9 oz. Inner: 10.9 oz. Stakes: 1.9 oz. Stuff sack: 0.4 oz. Stake sack: 0.2 oz.||Total: 2lbs, 2.7 oz. Rain fly: 7.5 oz. Inner mesh: 12.1 oz. Stuff sack: 0.9 oz. Stakes: 4 oz. Tent pole: 10.2 oz.||Total: 1lb 9.4 oz. Tent: 1lb, 8.8 oz. Stuff sack: .6 oz.||Total: tent: 1lb 12.8 oz. Stuff sack: 1.4 oz. Stakes: 2.7 oz.|
|Trekking Poles for Set-up?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Capacity||2 person||1 person||1 person||1 person||1 person|
|Max Floor Dimensions||115 x 79 in||87 x 28 in||87 x 43/31||90 x 48 in||106 x 43 in|
|Peak Height||47 in||43 in||39 in||49 in||49 in|
|Fabric||30D Polyester||20 denier 420 thread-count 100-percent polyester||Nylon||Silicone-coated Polyester||20D Nylon Mesh|
|Packed Size||11 x 16 in||12 x 5 in||7.5 x 12.5 in||11 x 4.5 in||13.4 x 4.9 in|
|Floor Area||54 sq ft||20 sq ft||22.3 sq ft||24.2 sq ft||21.6 sq ft|
|Number of Poles||2||2||1||1||1 trekking pole or 3F UL GEAR T1 Z-Pole (sold separately)|
|One person version?||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Among pyramid-style models, the Black Diamond Beta Light shelter is unique in that it uses two trekking poles to create a center ridgeline, rather than a single pole right in the middle. The main body is made from 30D polyester, which balances light weight design and weather protection. All in all, it's a roomy, quick-pitch option that stays relatively affordable.
This shelter offers room to roam. Its 115-inch length is up there with the roomiest models in the category. It also notches in at 79 inches wide. With all of this square footage, we found that the Beta Light provides plenty of room for two people. It could also easily accommodate a medium-sized dog and everyone's gear. In addition, the tall peak height makes it possible to sit up or even kneel comfortably. This model uses two poles to support its extra-long body, so the peak height owns a ridge down the middle instead of just a single point at the top.
On the downside, the two trekking poles that create the frame for the tarp are directly in the middle of the tent, making optimizing space more challenging. There aren't any pockets either. As a floorless model, you'll have to bring your ground cloth to avoid ground moisture.
The blue material of the body has some tradeoffs. It keeps out sunlight better than most models, so it's easier to stay asleep in the morning…which you may or may not want to do. This also makes it feel darker on the inside in the evening time. The front door cinches open for additional airflow or to take in the views. This single-door makes it a little more challenging to climb in and out than double-door models, but because there is so much interior space, it's easy to move around without disturbing your partner. The bug skirt around the perimeter also does a decent job of keeping out most bugs while maintaining circulation.
This shelter falls in the middle of the pack for its weight. At 1.72 pounds, it is one of the heavier tarps, primarily due to its larger volume. However, it pitches with standard trekking poles, so there are no additional poles to pack.
On our scale, the tarp is one pound, 7.5 ounces, just about the advertised weight. It also comes with a standard set of six shovel stakes. They bring an extra 2.6 ounces (plus a 0.1-ounce stuff stack). The extra guy cord weighs 0.7 ounces, and the main stuff sack is another 0.6 ounces. Black Diamond does not seem to include anything besides the weight of the tarp itself in its measurement. Though the complete package rounds up to two pounds, it still offers a lot, given how much interior space it has.
This shelter kept us protected better than most single-wall tarps. It offers coverage to the ground, and the 30D polyester is less susceptible to stretching and sagging than SilNylon models. Water beads and rolls off nicely. The bottom edge flairs outward, so precipitation generally trails away even though there is no floor. Its generous dimensions also provide an additional buffer. If precipitation finds its way underneath, moving people and gear close toward the center is easier. If your group or other hikers find themselves in dire straits, you could even plausibly fit four people inside if everyone lay down across the width of the shelter.
The tarp does have a front door that can be cinched open; however, there aren't any vents at the top, and we found it difficult to pitch with more than just an inch or two of space above the ground, so condensation from poor ventilation can be an issue. The door also has a buckle at the bottom of the zipper that can be clipped to keep it closed in exceptionally windy conditions. It's a helpful feature, but we found it odd that the buckle is on the outside of the tent, making it difficult to secure from the inside. As long as the shelter isn't oriented broadside to the wind, it will hold up well in stiff gusts.
Unfortunately, this model is a little light on adaptability. Though the front door can be peeled back, there is little flexibility in setting the trekking pole height. Thus, the space between the bottom of the tarp and the ground has a fixed structure, making it more difficult to set up in different scenarios.
In addition, its large footprint means that it requires a sufficiently large campsite. This may not pose a problem for some open landscapes, but for more wooded terrains, like the northeast United States, it isn't the best option out there.
Ease of Set-Up
The symmetry of the tent makes it comparatively easy to set up. It took less than ten minutes for us to pitch it the first time. We found that staking out the corners and leaving slack to go inside and erect the trekking poles was the trustiest method. The process is made easier by the evident and durable trekking pole pockets at the top — there's no fussing or readjusting them once the pole tips are set in place.
After staking out the sides, it needs some re-tensioning to get everything even, but only once in the higher wind did we have to collapse it before we got it fully set up.
Should You Buy the Black Diamond Beta Light?
The BD Beta Light is an excellent choice for hikers who want to carry less weight but still enjoy having much space to spread out at night. It's comparatively durable, easy to pitch, and comes with a mesh skirt to keep bugs at bay. It offers a lot of value for its weight and space, and we wouldn't hesitate to take this tarp out on our next fast and light adventure.
What Other Ultralight Tents Should You Consider?
If you like a two-pole pyramid design, check out the Durston X-Mid 1P Gen 2. If price is less of a consideration, we strongly recommend the Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 as it offers huge amounts of living space with an all-wall protective structure.
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