The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Black Diamond Distance Adaptor Tent Review

A single-wall fully enclosed tent that offers good warmth but lacks breathability.
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Price:  $250 List | $249.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Affordable, great wind protection, fabric offers great water protection, simple set-up, warm for cold weather
Cons:  Loud in wind, poor ventilation, mesh vent can let water inside, condensation problems
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond Equipment
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 29, 2019
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SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 19
  • Livability - 30% 6
  • Weight - 25% 5
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 6
  • Adaptability - 10% 5
  • Ease of Set-Up - 10% 7

Our Verdict

Standing out for its 100% 30-D polyester construction, the Black Diamond Distance Adaptor Tent is bomber in big winds and light rainstorms. When oriented correctly, it uses the natural wind as a form of airflow to keep the space ventilated. However, if winds don't exist or you find yourself pointing the wrong way, ventilation becomes limited, especially when the mesh window needs to be zipped up in stormy weather. As a result, it's a good choice for the winter months, but we'd stay away from the heat of summer.

Set up with two poles on the exterior, it offers just enough room for two people to sleep shoulder to shoulder. There isn't a ton of lateral room, so be prepared to be against the fabric if you're not close with your sleeping partner. While it's not the most 'liveable', it's a good solution for those seeking a warm single-walled tent that is compatible with their ski or trekking poles. Add to that its lower price, and you may have found your next ultralight tent.


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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $249.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Affordable, great wind protection, fabric offers great water protection, simple set-up, warm for cold weatherAmazingly light, four-sided weather protection, ample space for two, double doorsGreat weather protection, lightweight, adaptableRoomy, easy to setup, fully enclosed, affordableUnder a pound, bombproof dyneema construction, ultralight stakes included
Cons Loud in wind, poor ventilation, mesh vent can let water inside, condensation problemsExpensive, doesn’t include necessary stakesExpensiveHeavier, design not quite as wind stable as double vestibule optionsExpensive, single pole set-up takes a little practice
Bottom Line A single-wall fully enclosed tent that offers good warmth but lacks breathability.Ample space and exceptional performance in all metrics makes this our favorite ultralight shelter.This is the shelter you want when waiting out a storm.An affordable fully enclosed single person shelter that we love.Our favorite ultralight shelter for strictly solo adventures.
Rating Categories Black Diamond Distance Adapt... ZPacks Duplex Flex Upgrade Tarptent StratoSpire Li Gossamer Gear The One Tarptent Aeon Li
Livability (30%)
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6
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9
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8
Weight (25%)
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9
Weather Resistance (25%)
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Adaptability (10%)
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Ease Of Set Up (10%)
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Specs Black Diamond... ZPacks Duplex Flex... Tarptent... Gossamer Gear The... Tarptent Aeon Li
Type Single wall tent w/ no bug netting Single wall tent w/ sewn in bug mesh and floor Single wall tent w/ removable floor and bug netting Single wall tent w/ sewn in bug mesh and floor Single wall tent w/ sewn in bug mesh and floor
Weight with all components 1.99 lbs 1.8 lbs 1.60 lbs 1.68 lbs 1.09 lbs
Measured Weight of All Included Shelter Parts Total: 1 lb. 15.80 oz., Tent: 1 lb. 7.85 oz., Stakes: 2.70 oz., Sack: 0.55 oz., Pole adaptor kit: 4.70 oz. Total: 1 lb. 5 oz Tent: 19.7 oz, Guy lines and clips: 1.2 oz, Stuff sack: .3 oz. (Flex upgrade: 11oz) Total: 1 lb.10 oz, Floor and bug net: 11.5 oz, Fly: 14.1 oz Total: 1 lb. 6 oz., Tent: 1 lb. 5.1 oz., Extra tie outs: 0.5 oz., Stuff sack: 0.4 oz., Optional aluminum poles: 5.7 oz. Total: 1 lb. 1 oz., Tent with Bathtub floor and bug net: 15.8 oz., Stakes: 1.7 oz.
Stakes Included? Yes No Yes No Yes
Poles Needed for Set-up? Yes Yes w/o flex kit
No w/ flex kit
Yes Yes Yes
Capacity 2 person 2 person 2 person 1 person 1 person
Max Floor Dimensions (inches) 58" x 95" 45" x 90" 86" x 45" 88" x 34" 88" x 30"
Peak Height (inches) 41" 48" 45" 46" 47"
Fabric 30D Polyester .51 oz/sqyd DCF Fabric Dyneema Composite Fabrics 7D high tenacity nylon-blended sil/pu coating Dyneema Composite Fabrics
Packed Size (inches) 5" x 12" 7" x 13" 16" x 4" 6" x 9" 14" x 4"
Floor Area 26 sq ft 28.13 sq ft 26.88 sq ft 19.55 sq ft 18.3 sq ft
Doors 1 2 2 1 1
Interior Pockets 2 2 2 1 1
Number of Poles 2 trekking poles, DAC cross pole 4 2 trekking poles 2 trekking poles 1 trekking pole
Number of Tie Outs 6 8 8 10 7
1-person version? No No No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Black Diamond Distance Adaptor is a single-walled fully enclosed tent with lack-luster airflow but good weather protection. The pitch is high enough to sit up in, but space is a little small for two people and their gear to live. It offers no vestibule, and to set it up, you must carry a set of poles that are compatible with its adaptor kit. We do love its affordable price tag, though.

Performance Comparison


An affordable single-walled tent that offers warmth and protection from all sides.
An affordable single-walled tent that offers warmth and protection from all sides.

Livability


The Distance Adaptor is built as a single wall tent with no vestibule and one door that is erected with the use of two poles on the outside of the tent. While it does provide enough room to snuggle down with somebody that you know pretty well, the space inside is tight laterally. We found ourselves against the sides of the fabric. If trying to fit your gear and all the rest in the tent, its best at your head or your feet, but it lacks comfort and space with two people. Since there is only one door, you need to crawl over the other person at night to get out. We do appreciate, however, that most people, just around 6" can sit up without their head touching the top of the fabric.

While the space is super luxurious for one  its a bit cramped for two. Since it doesn't have a vestibule  all cooking will have to be done outside.
While the space is super luxurious for one, its a bit cramped for two. Since it doesn't have a vestibule, all cooking will have to be done outside.

On nights when it's super cold, and you need to zip up the mesh window (its the main point of ventilation), condensation inside the tent becomes a problem. While there is a vent at the top of the tent and towards the feet, if there isn't a good breeze and you haven't oriented your tent correctly (with the steep wall towards the wind), airflow is an issue. We woke a few times with a soaked sleeping bag.

A look at the tight space at the front of the tent with two sleeping pads. It  tapers down through the feet. If there's two inside  know that you'll press up against the fabric at some point.
A look at the tight space at the front of the tent with two sleeping pads. It tapers down through the feet. If there's two inside, know that you'll press up against the fabric at some point.

We do love the mesh window that offers a good view, and the fully enclosed set-up. While it isn't the most comfortable living space, you can certainly bed down comfortably without worrying about creepy crawlies or weather when it storms. It's also got a few great pockets inside for organizational purposes.

A look at the headroom for a 6 ft man. While it's not a lot  it's enough to sit up...just barely.
A look at the headroom for a 6 ft man. While it's not a lot, it's enough to sit up...just barely.

Weight


It comes complete and trail-ready! Stakes, tent, and adaptor kit that fits a set of poles are all you need to get on the trail. When weighing all these components (without the stakes), it comes in just under two pounds.

The packed size is quite large for an ultralight tent. This photo shows only the tent and stuff sack. The adaptor kit is a smaller bag that you much also pack.
The packed size is quite large for an ultralight tent. This photo shows only the tent and stuff sack. The adaptor kit is a smaller bag that you much also pack.

The 30D polyester used in its construction offers a more rigid pitch to increase the tautness of the tent so it doesn't sag, but it is a little heavier than SilNylon or Dyneema. The packing size is also large. You can't fit the adaptor kit inside of the stuff sack, so you end up carrying two bags. While this is still pretty darn light for a tent, it's a heavier option in the ultralight world.

A look at what you get in the whole package. Everything you need  except the poles.
A look at what you get in the whole package. Everything you need, except the poles.

Weather Protection


With a 30D polyester nylon construction, this tent is quite durable and abrasion-resistant. The polyester fabric is not as stretchy as other Nylon fabrics out there, supposedly ensuring that the tent stay pitched and maintains its shape. This theory is validated with our experience.

It holding its rigid structure well in the middle of a storm. We are impressed with its wind resistance!
It holding its rigid structure well in the middle of a storm. We are impressed with its wind resistance!

On a camping mission, we set this tent up as a basecamp tent for two days. During these days, winds were incredibly high. After being beaten by the wind, we were surprised at how well it maintained its shape; it wasn't until a stake became unpegged that it lost it. That night, it was hard to sleep. The thicker material is loud, especially when flapping in the wind. While it doesn't stretch as much as a Nylon tent, there is a little give. Also, the material on the lower angle of the pitch has no guy lines or attachment points to help prevent this flapping, which we think would be a good addition if Black Diamond decides to revamp this tent.

The primary point of ventilation. While the cover does protect when rain falls straight down  it's not as protective when it's blowing sideways.
The primary point of ventilation. While the cover does protect when rain falls straight down, it's not as protective when it's blowing sideways.

The rain wasn't an issue when it came from right above, however, one night where we had it set up in the wrong direction, the rain actually came in sideways through the large open vent at the top of the tent. Given the small space, our only option was to get out and change the aspect it was pointing towards. Aside from that, the fabric doesn't stretch much (just a little in the rain) while being 100% waterproof (minus the vents). Just make sure you set it up in the right direction (steep side to the wind).

Adaptability


The adaptor addition of this series allows you to use most tent poles to set it up. To do that, you must be able to stake it down or attach large rocks to the guy lines. The adaptor kit itself is just a shelled-out plastic handle with a piece of Velcro around it. While this is a great idea, it doesn't work with all the poles, especially those that don't fit the shape.

A look at the adaptor kit that works well with BD poles  but may not work with other brands that don't have the correct shape. Check your poles to see if they'll work.
A look at the adaptor kit that works well with BD poles, but may not work with other brands that don't have the correct shape. Check your poles to see if they'll work.

Nor does it work well with a fixed-length pole that is the wrong size. The handle has a specific shape that works best with other black diamond poles, but not some other brands. One of our testers experienced this issue before looking at it closely while out on a camping trip. Be sure to look at the pictures to see if your trekking poles are the right shape before buying this tent.

Make sure you take your tent where you can sink your stakes. While it offers an average level of adaptability  it's downfall (like most ultralight tents) is that you have to peg it out completely in order for it to work.
Make sure you take your tent where you can sink your stakes. While it offers an average level of adaptability, it's downfall (like most ultralight tents) is that you have to peg it out completely in order for it to work.

Black Diamond also does not have any modular components that we are aware of, nor are there ways to really slim down on its weight or bulk. The only solution is to own a pair of BD Zpoles that are compatible with the pole on top, which omit having to bring the adaptor kit. With its super warm design and polyester construction, it's an option for winter camping with the ability to easily be set up on snow or open glaciers.

Set-Up


As tent experts who have set-up tents a bunch of times, this took us about five minutes to figure out.

Going into the final steps of assembling the tent. Our watch is at about four minutes. After adjustments  it takes us about five minutes on our first try. We didn't even have to look at the directions!
Going into the final steps of assembling the tent. Our watch is at about four minutes. After adjustments, it takes us about five minutes on our first try. We didn't even have to look at the directions!

To begin, stake down all four sides. Then, adjust your poles to about 125 cm (or a little higher). Clip the adaptor pole into the top of the tent, then insert the adaptors into the pole itself. From there, attach your poles first to the webbing loops on the bottom (near the door). Adjust the height of the pole until the fabric material around the door is taut. Finally, adjust all your guy points. With some practice, you can pitch your tent in under five minutes on your own. Stormy weather isn't helpful, but it's not frustratingly impossible, either.

After choosing a location  it's easiest to start by simply staking out all the corners.
After choosing a location, it's easiest to start by simply staking out all the corners.

Value


The price point isn't so bad on this fully-enclosed single-wall tent. It's light enough to do good work in the backcountry while offering all the kind of protection you need. If you're a duo, you might find it tight, but if you want to find a reason to snuggle, there's value right here! In general, we'd say this is a great deal despite our critical caveats. It's a good protective and stable tent at a lower cost.

Conclusion


The Black Diamond Distance Adaptor is one of the only single wall tents that use polyester in its construction. It comes at a great price while offering the protection you'd want on cold, stormy nights. While its ventilation is questionable (when you need to zip up the window), it stands out as warm, easy to use, and adaptable. Use it for any adventure where you might carry a set of poles, as it needs them to stand up tall.

While we appreciate the Black Diamond Distance Tent for its warm design  it's not the most liveable. Here we take some time to boil water at our campsite. Sitting outside in nature is better anyway right?
While we appreciate the Black Diamond Distance Tent for its warm design, it's not the most liveable. Here we take some time to boil water at our campsite. Sitting outside in nature is better anyway right?


Amber King