Gear Review: Black Diamond Beta Light Tent
MSRP Price: $199.95
Summary: An ultralight shelter for backcountry adventures that uses ski poles to set up – especially for ski touring.
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Footprint: 3.2 m²
If you’re looking for a lightweight shelter, look no further. The Black Diamond Beta Light Tent is the perfect solution for you. Made of 30d SilNylon, this 2-person, 4-season floorless shelter is the perfect companion for any adventure.
The Black Diamond Beta Light Tent is a great ultralight alternative for when you’re going camping. It weighs in at only 1 lb, 8 oz, which means you’ll go farther, faster and you’ll complete more objectives. There is plenty of room for two people and gear and this thing keeps you dry.
The only catch with the Beta Light Tent is that it relies on two adjustable ski poles or trekking poles for set up. This makes it ideal for ski touring or mountaineering because you’re guaranteed to have a set of poles handy. Plus, it’s proven to be warm enough and a bit more comfortable than a snow cave. I’ve slept in both and prefer the Beta Light.
I use my BD Pure Carbon Ski Poles that adjust to 145 cm – giving me plenty of headroom inside the shelter. I have used this shelter in snow more often than in summer and it’s the only shelter I plan to bring with me for most situations. In winter you can set up the Beta Light in nearly any safe location. If it’s snowing the steep walls are great at shedding snow (or rain). In summer, you have to find a campsite that suits the Beta Light, but this is an easy enough task.
When set up properly, the Beta Light Tent is bombproof. It’s easy to set up. I’ve found the best way to set up this shelter is to insert the two ski poles, tie out the six anchor points, and then dig out the snow. This way you can construct the ideal living space. Leave a cylinder of snow below the poles to allow for more headroom. Use deadman sticks or skis instead of stakes to tie your guy lines out. Leave the stakes at home because the supplied stakes are worthless. Digging out the sides allows for a bit more space. If you pile snow around the edges of the Beta Light, you’ll eliminate any drafts. Take a few minutes to work harden the snow and you’ll have a perfect campsite.
The Beta Light has one door for entry and exit. It is accessed with a full length zipper. A small clip at the bottom of the zip helps to reduce stress on the shelter. The door is the only ventilation, so condensation is possible and a bivy sack is recommended. I use the Marmot Alpinist Bivy and it always keeps me dry.
Black Diamond recommends pairing the Beta Light Tent with the Beta Bug Tent, a floored, mesh insert, in summers to keep the bugs out. It’s also important to seam seal all seams. I used two McNett Sil Net tubes to seal the Beta Light. I would recommend using three tubes to apply a generous amount. It’s easy to seam seal your tent when you set it up inside out. I have had no leaks from rain or snow.
The Black Diamond Beta Light Tent compresses well. It’s smaller than a Nalgene bottle and can be stuffed in its supplied stuff sack. It’s easy to cram it into any nook or cranny of your favorite pack. For a waterproof shelter there is plenty of space for two people with gear, packs, and cooking stuff.
The one downside to the Black Diamond Beta Light is that if you are planning an alpine start, you have to take down your shelter before you can take off. This is because you’ll most likely need your poles or your anchoring materials for your day’s mission – which I tend to do when skiing. One solution to this is to upgrade to the Beta Light’s big brother – The Mega Light. The Mega Light is a 4 person ultralight, floorless shelter that uses a specific tent pole that you have to carry with you. It weighs 2 lb, 13 oz. Either option weighs in less than a traditional single or double walled tent. It can also be easy to lose things in a floorless shelter when sleeping on snow, so be sure to keep track of your stuff.
I would highly recommend the Black Diamond Beta Light Tent as a a lightweight shelter. At only 1 lb, 8 oz, it’s worth the $200 price tag. It’s passed my tests on Mount Shuksan and in SW Montana. This shelter is ideal in nearly any situation – especially winter camping. Find out more about the Beta Light Tent from Outdoor Gear Lab and from Black Diamond.
Black Diamond Beta Light Tent Official Specs:
- Season : 4
- Capacity : 2
- Doors : 1
- Average Packed Weight : 680 g (1 lb 8 oz)
- Minimum Weight : 535 g (1 lb 3 oz)
- Dimensions : 249 x 203 cm, center x 112 cm, ends (98 x 80, center x 44 in, ends)
- Packed Size : 10 x 15 cm (4 x 6 in)
- Outside Height : 124 cm (49 in)
- Usable Height : 110 cm (43.5 in)
- Usable Floor Space : 3.2 m² (34.7 sq ft)
- Total Coverage : 4.7 m² (50.2 sq ft)
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