The Black Diamond Beta Light is a lightweight spacious pyramid tarp for those who want the flexibility to go solo or with a partner (or two). This floorless shelter pitches relatively easily and boasts one of the most voluminous interiors of any model in this category. We love the high peak height in multiple places, which makes it possible for taller hikers to sit up comfortably. It comes equipped with a mesh bug skirt at the bottom, and like many tarps, cuts down on weight by using standard trekking poles for its structure. This model is one of our favorites for its utility and relative affordability.Editor's Note: On August 17, 2022, we updated this review to include new findings during our update testing process.
Black Diamond Beta Light Review
Cons: Poles in middle, large footprint not for small sites
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
Compare to Similar Products
Black Diamond Beta Light
$269.95 at Backcountry
|$220 List||$376 List||$220 List|
$220.00 at Amazon
$179.95 at REI
|Pros||Spacious, protective bug netting skirt, high peak height||Affordable, durable materials, removable inner, double doors||Huge storage and living space, good weather protection, easy set-up, durable, good price||Dual doors and vestibules, simple setup, spacious||Affordable, easy to set-up, simple, packable, comes with stakes|
|Cons||Poles in middle, large footprint not for small sites||Heavy for ultralight, guy lines can be difficult to tighten||Condensation issues, hard to set-up on rocky terrain, need poles for set-up, bulkier than most||Stakes not included, sags in heavy rain||Not encompassing protection all around|
|Bottom Line||A double-wide pyramid shelter with a huge interior that offers solid protection from the elements||An ultralight, durable, highly adaptable, and fully featured shelter that won't weigh on your wallet||Huge storage, luxury, and living space at a great price||A simple, floorless, single-wall tarp with enough space for two at an affordable price||This is a high value tarp that acts as a great shelter|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Beta...||Durston X-Mid 1P||Gossamer Gear The Two||Six Moon Designs Ha...||Kammok Kuhli UL|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Ease of Set-Up (10%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Beta...||Durston X-Mid 1P||Gossamer Gear The Two||Six Moon Designs Ha...||Kammok Kuhli UL|
|Type||Double wall pole tent||Twin pole structure w/ removable bug netting||Single wall pole tent w/ sewn-in vestibule||Shaped tarp||Flat tarp|
|Weight With All Components||1.72 lbs||1.90 lbs||1.96 lbs||1.19 lbs||0.84 lbs|
|Measured Weight of All 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, 14.5 oz, fly: 18 oz, inner: 9.5 oz, stakes: 2.5 oz, stuff sack: 0.5 oz, stake sack: 0.2 oz||Total: 1 lb, 15.35 oz, tent: 1 lb, 12.30 oz, 6 stakes: 2.35 oz, stake bag: 0.05 oz, cord: 0.65 oz, tent bag: 0.05 oz||Total: 1 lb , 3.0 oz, fly: 1 lb, 2.0 oz, stuff sack: .6 oz, extra guy cord: .4 oz||Total: 13.45 oz, tarp: 11.65 oz, stakes: 1.40 oz, sack: 0.4 oz|
|Poles Needed for Set-up?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes or Tree|
|Capacity||2 person||1 person||2 person||2 person||2 person|
|Max Floor Dimensions||115 x 79 in||87 x 28 in||42 x 89 in||88 x 44 in||132 x 88 in|
|Peak Height||47 in||46 in||46 in||45 in||Depends on configuration|
|Fabric||30D Polyester||20 denier 420 thread-count 100-percent polyester||15D high tenacity nylon||20D Silicone Coated Nylon||Patagium 15D diamond ripstop|
|Packed Size||11 x 16 in||12 x 5 in||6.5 x 12 in||12 x 4.5 in||3.7 x 7 in|
|Floor Area||54 sq ft||17 sq ft||29.04 sq ft||Not specified||80.7 sq ft|
|Number of Poles||2||2||2||2||0|
|One person version?||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Among pyramid-style models, this 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 lighter weight 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, which makes it more challenging to optimize space. There aren't any pockets either. As a floorless model, you'll have to bring your own ground cloth if you want 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. Having said that, the front door cinches open for additional airflow or to take in the views. This single door makes it a little more difficult 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 as a result of its larger volume. However, it pitches with standard trekking poles, so there are no additional poles to pack.
On our scale, the tarp itself is one pound, 7.5 oz, which is just about the advertised weight. It also comes with a standard set of six shovel stakes. They bring an extra 2.6 ounces (plus 0.1 oz stuff stack). The extra guy cord is worth 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 full package rounds up to two pounds, it still offers a lot given how much interior space it has.
All things considered, this shelter kept us protected better than most single-wall tarps. It offers coverage all the way 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 even though there is no floor, precipitation generally trails away. from the inside. Its generous dimensions also provide an additional buffer. Should precipitation find its way underneath, it's easier to move people and gear close toward the center. 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 especially windy conditions. It's a useful feature, but we found it somewhat 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, and there is a little bit of flexibility in setting the trekking pole height (and thus, the space between the bottom of the tarp and the ground, it pretty much has a fixed structure.
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, for example, 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 obvious 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 definitely needs some re-tensioning to get everything even but only once in higher wind did we have it collapse before we got it fully set up.
Should You Buy the Black Diamond Beta Light?
The BD Beta Light is a great choice for hikers who want to carry less weight but still enjoy having a lot of space to spread out at night. It's comparatively durable, easy to pitch, and comes with a mesh skirt to keep bugs at bay. For its weight and space, it offers a lot of value and wouldn't hesitate to take this tarp out on our next fast and light adventure.
What Other Ultralight Tents Should You Consider?
If you are looking for a floorless tarp that is even fewer ounces, the Six Moon Designs Haven is a great choice at a similar price point. If you like the pyramid design and price is less of a consideration, we would also strongly recommend the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch
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