The Black Diamond Beta Light is a single wall, ultralight tarp shelter that weighs 19 oz. It’s also a very affordable ultralight shelter, with an MSRP of just $200, making it an excellent value if you’re trying to save money.
The Beta Light has single front zippered door and a spacious interior with plenty of headroom and living space for two people. Set up is very easy, requiring two trekking poles or ski poles to hold up the peaks, and seven stakes to guy out. (In winter, you can also guy out the tent using skis, ice tools, or trekking poles.)
Made with 30d silnylon, it’s best to seam seal the Beta Light if you anticipate using it in wet weather. This isn’t a terribly complicated process, (see How to Seam Seal a Tent or Tarp) but one that will ensure your comfort.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: 19 oz, not seam-sealed
- Materials: Silnylon
- Doors: 1
- Stakes required: 7 (heavy shepards hooks, included)
- Trekking poles required: 2
- Dimensions : 249 x 203 cm, center x 112 cm, ends (98 x 80, center x 44 in, ends)
- Usable Floor Space : 3.2 m² (34.7 sq ft)
The Beta Light has steep walls that shed snow well, which is one of the reasons why it’s popular with winter backpackers and backcountry skiers. Constructed with two adjoining pyramids, it’s also quite wind-worthy, making it ideal for use in exposed campsites with no wind breaks.
Being single-walled, it’s best to pitch the shelter with a gap between the ground and the bottom panels to encourage air flow and reduce any internal condensation. The front door can also be rolled back partially or completely in good weather. Being a floorless tarp, site selection is important so you’re not downhill when it rains (see 9 Campsite Selection Tips).
The interior of the Beta Light is quite large with plenty of space for two. There are lots of overhead loops to hang head netting from if you need bug protection and there’s plenty of room so you can sleep all night without rubbing up against the side walls.
The metal tips of your trekking poles fit into grommets positioned in the center of each of the apex peaks, which are also reinforced with extra fabric to protect against accidental puncture. If you detect some sag in the pitch at night as the silnylon fabric stretches, there’s no need to re-stake the tarp. You can simply lengthen your trekking poles slightly to take out any slack, from the warmth of your sleeping bag or quilt.
While the tarp reviewed here itself is available separately, you can buy an add-on inner tent, called The Beta Bug Tent if you want a bathtub floor and bug netting. It’s heavy though (29 oz) and there are many alternatives available that are significantly lighter weight.
The tarp’s guyout points have short sections of reinforced webbing instead of the adjustable linelocs you find on many cottage manufactured UL shaped tarps. This is actually by design for winter use. In winter, you’d add a 1-2 foot piece of cord to these loops, so you can pitch the tarp with skis and ice tools instead of buried deadmen snow stakes. That’s much easier in snow. For fair weather use, you could leave the webbing as is, tie in a cord with adjustment hardware, or gasp…tie in a cord and use an adjustable knot. Or if you can sew, you could even take out the webbing and sew in whatever adjustment system you want. I don’t consider any of these alternatives show stoppers, to be honest. This type of webbing loop is commonly found on hammock tarps and those guys (myself included) have all kinds of ways of making them work.
All in, the Black Diamond Beta Lite is a seriously good value if you’re looking for a four season ultralight tarp shelter for one or two people that’s wind and weather worthy. For example, if you’re looking at ultralight pyramid shelters because they’re so wind worthy, I’d recommend including the Beta Light on your short list of possible options. It’s definitely a contender in terms of weight, livability, weather-worthiness and cost.
Disclosure: The author purchased this product with his own funds.
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