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When you need a tent but want it to weight less than most tarps, grab the Black Diamond Firstlight Tent.
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Firstlight at Iceberg Lake
Camp at 12,000' at Iceberg Lake eastern sierra.
Needs a Rainfly
Like the other reviews, when it's NOT raining, the tent's fantastic for backpacking (compact, light, easy set up). Never slept two in it, but never had bunk beds. Sleeping one, with gear works fine, A vestibule for gear would be a welcomed feature even with some added weight. Rain is the drawback of this tent. It comes right through after the tent is drenched. Since a rainfly isn't made for this tent, I take a rain fly from my other tent which solves this issue. If Black Diamond would make a fly which protrudes well beyond the front angled entrance, it will keep the tent dryer and cleaner inside, plus add gear storage there, and they'd sell at least one of them.
The specs on this tent are fantastic: ultra-light, 3-season, & high-walls. When it comes down to it though, the BD Epic fabric is just that if it rains or is windy, you are screwed. In reality, the fabric is not for 3 seasons.
In rainy conditions, youll certainly find water seeping through the fabric. Anything that touches the inside wall will get soaked and, after raining for just a little bit, it will start to drip on you. I thought at first it was just excess condensation, but then noticed this happened even when we had not been in the tent. As for wind, my wife and I were up through the night holding all four corners of the tent down with hands and legs in order to prevent the sidewalls from completely caving in on us and to keep the poles from breaking. With each gust, the tent would literally fold in half on us (see picture). Come dawn, the vestibule was torn to shreds. Epic indeed.
Coupled with its inability to handle inclement weather, the size is extremely small. I am 58 and can barely have my legs straight. Your head will be against the fabric (and if is raining, will get wet), and with two people, there is little-to-no room for gear. For an ultra-light, I expect and can deal with that; however, I carry a tent to protect me from the weather and this tent, unfortunately, does not.
Waiting for Firstlight
Camp 2, 6,600 meters on the Abruzzi ridge
Very light, which means a lot. Super small and tight, which can be difficult for getting dressed, booting up, cooking etc. Because the walls are so narrow, you will get frozen condensation on your arms and back if you are sitting up. Pretty strong but with only 2 poles it doesn't handle strong wind and snow load well. With more guy points it could improve this. The small footprint allow it to be pitched on very small ledges-awesome. Mediocre venting. This tent has been great most of the time but it is the only tent I've ever had shredded by the wind.
Great tent- but for specific conditions.
Because of the lightweight materials, the Firstlight works best for quick assaults on the steep stuff. It works best in cold and snow since the rain tends to soak the materials. If you are camping in the Sierras for a few weeks it could work, but in the Pacific Northwest or wetter climates, you may get more than damp inside. Also, for expeditions the design could benefit from a few more guy points- which I had custom sewn into mine. Although it will withstand surprisingly high winds (see image) for its weight, a much stronger tent would be the BD Bibler types- like the I-Tent or even Fitzroy. Plus, the Bibler single wall materials seem to breathe much better- so, in my opinion are worth the extra weight. Overall- You might find the disadvantages of size and performance are not worth the advantage of lighter weight.
just finish 5 nights of staying in this thing. I'm 5'10" and I hit both ends if I lay out. So the end of the bag can get wet from condensation if your not careful. We had 32 hours of rain on Isle Royale and the tent couldn't do it. The tent was seam sealed and stuff too. After the second day of rain it just rained right through the top of the tent. No not the seams or where the polls hit. Strait through the fabric. We spent most of our time mopping up water and huddled for warmth. Eventually we put pack covers and rain coats on top of the tent to stop in from raining on us. Thankfully we could fit in one mostly dry bag and like each other a lot. Made for a romantic trip but could of gotten really ugly if we weren't on our way out of the back country when it started raining.
Probably an OK tent for snow, but forget using it for rain. Forget down sleeping bags. I teach survival skills for work and this tent was making me really think about how to stay OK. Its a death trap man. Black Diamond should be on the Poo Poo list for a while for this mistake. But, if it was a bit longer and had a water tight fabric it would work pretty good. Had the same rain problem with a Mega too.
Used it in alpine environment above 11000ft with cold rain in October and it is perfect no water inside (seam sealed at home)a bit of condensation with all vents closed and just me inside,dries very quick.It has same width compared w/MH EV2 but very short,only complaints is floor it's just like paper(very waterproof indeed)used footprint but the tiny sharp little rocks on the ground almost get through silnylon material, and as the Biblers I consider setting up in bad stormy weather a pain in the a** worst if you use the vestibule.All in all perfect all around tent.Just get the footprint and clean all sharp rocks and debris (even the smallest ones)on tent site unless you are on snow or grass.Not good for wet season.
AMGA Ski Guides Course Valdez
The tent to have if you're an aspiring guide.
Firstlight at Pt. Reyes
The first time I used this tent was at Pt. Reyes (CA) in early June. It worked great in the wind and fog!
Same bivy..the next morning
above the clouds 20,000ft in Nepal
sick tent for fast and light missions! photo on Tawoche, Khumbu Region SE ridge attempt
I'm trying to decide between the Firstlight...
I'm trying to decide between the Firstlight and the Highlight. Does anyone have any recommendations?
The Firstlight is what I've packed for about 3 years now. It is a great little tent. I am female 5'5" and this tent has served me well on two week long hikes of the rugged Loyalsock Trail in PA and many other short backpacking trips. It packs easily, and into a small sack, holds up in thunderstorms, and can be set up from the inside. The biggest difference I can see in the two selections you mentioned is that the entry and opposite window are head/toe on the Firstlight and side/side on the other. Happy trails!
What did you decide? I am trying to decide between the two and am gearing toward Highlight.
Go with the Firstlight if you haven't already. I faced that same issue when buying mine. When I was in the Sangre de Cristo I ran into a guy with a HiLight and I am glad I choose the Firstlight. Its alot more compact and easier to set up (I think the Firstlight is the apex of easy set up for a tent). If your a taller person or looking too fit two people with room, go with the HiLight. Anyway you choose, they are both good tents.
great tent for dry climates
and climbing or hiking light and high. We successfully used in the winter as well, in stuations where we did not expect significant snowfall. Fits two people who don't mind laying close together. Don't plan on keeping too much gear inside. It is so lightweight that sometimes even when solo I bring this tent for added comfort rather than a bivy. For two people it is a no brainer.
Good tent but not best
I am accustomed to using single wall tents and it is necessary for me to open the vents as much as possible, leave wet clothing outside and control my body temperature. If I do that, the Firstlight seems to work fine for me. However it is a little short and the foot of my bag ends up wet. I carry a small bottom portion of a kitchen garbage bag to cover the foot of my bag and if it is cold, I use a waterproof (vapor barrier) inner bag to control my moisture.
A much better tent that I have used for 25 years now is the Stephenson Warmlight. It is longer, wider, ventilates much better, is more stormworthy, is about the same weight, and includes a vestibule.
This tent often comes with me even on day hikes
This tent packs to about the same size and weight as a bivvy sack. So if you carry a bivvy as a backup or emergency shelter consider taking this tent instead.
To save weight this tent is not treated with any fire resistant coating and will burn like a torch. If you often ignore "DON'T" warnings in other tents you better pay attention to these, No cooking inside or even just outside this tent at all.
note: It is a bit small for a two man tent, I'd call it a 1.75 man tent or 1 man + gear tent. That said it is the same footprint as the Bibler I-tent which some mountaineers (I have heard) share with 3.
Not a Bibler!
It looks like a Bibler I-Tent but weighs half as much, has fewer stake out points, has a more delicate feel, is half as expensive, and is probably just as good for most outings. Don't get me wrong, it is probably the perfect backpacking tent for the four season gram-aholic trekker, but if you're looking for a burly he-man alpine/expedition tent - this isn't it! The Bibler I-Tent will withstand three feet of snow a night and the equivalent gale-force wind of a C-130 at take-off, but this little waif of silky fabric is just that - a silky waif. After a few nights in a windy canyon near the Escalante River, the tiny Velcro patches that hold the poles inside the tent had eroded away at the gossamer fabric, rendering it into mere mosquito netting in two places. BD, however, quickly replaced the tent for me. The second model had slightly rounded corners on the Velcro. But it is again wearing away at the fabric. I wonder if the guys at BD have looked inside the Bibler to see that they do not use Velcro, but little twisty-tie sort of things instead. Don't they work at the same place now? Am I the only one that camps in the wind? Other than that, the tent is awesome, absolutely watertight floor (I have watched small streams flow under my tent without a drop of water inside), and it packs so small that you could almost stuff it in your pocket - almost. I take it out all the time. My only regret is the lack of an attached vestibule - I would rather sleep with my girlfriend than all of my climbing gear.
Small and compact
This tent lives up to being a very lightweight 3/4 season tent. I just took it up to the Lower Saddle on the Grand Teton at 12,000'. I had never opened it before and didn't have time to SeamSeal it before I left. It set up easily enough just like my Bibler I-tent. I like the plastic snaps of the Bibler instead of the velcro tabs inside for the poles. The old Biblers used to have velcro but they ended up ripping out and becoming useless after several years of use.
Within 10 minutes of getting to the saddle the skies opened up with marble sized hail and high winds. The tent leaked a little bit around the vent window but I found out later that I didn't have the wire loop set up properly. Once we got that fixed, there was no more leaking.
For me, the tent breathed appropriately. I didn't have problems with condensation or frost within the tent. I left both vents open as much as possible but without allowing rain/sleet/hail/snow to enter.
During the night, I got pelted with more hail as I am 6' tall and had to push against both ends with my head and feet. It's too small for anyone over 5'10".
There were a couple of tents that blew away during the day while we were climbing but ours was firmly in place. I anchored all four corners with stakes and used guy lines at the sides fixed with parachute type stakes under rocks.
We kept quite a bit of our gear inside to keep it from getting wet so it was very cramped. I wish I had a vestibule for this thing. It would have made quite a difference.
The material seems flimsy and weak but it held up to the rocky terrain without any holes. The tent pole bag, on the otherhand, was thoroughly trashed after just one trip.
I'm excited with the lightweight and compactness but there's a few weaknesses: the wire loops to keep the rain out are too flimsy and might be better off with removable poles, the length is way too short for most people, and there's no space for gear.
crazy light and packs small but problems!
used this tent twice; first time in the snow around 6,000' and 30 degree temp. i left the window as well as the door unzipped about six inches hopeing there would be enough air flow so there wouldn't be any moisture in the morning on the inside of the tent. no luck. the walls were as wet as the outside (rain/snow off and on throughout the night). second time around 6,500' with temp around 50 degrees. no rain that night but plenty of condensation inside the tent (i would have slept under the stars but the mosquitos were killers). ALSO - i am about 5'10" and i have to sleep diagonal and the end of my 6' sleeping bag touches the bottom corner.
unless you're shorter than 5'9" and aren't concerned about moisture on the inside of the tent in the morning, i would not buy this tent. crazy light but just not worth being cramped and wet.