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Black Diamond Beta Light Tarp Review

Black Diamond Beta Light Tarp Shelter

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.

Black Diamond Beta Light Tarp Shelter

Ease of Setup
Weather Resistance
Packed Size

Highly Recommended

The Black Diamond Beta Light is a single wall, ultralight tarp shelter (19 oz). Easy to set up and spacious, it's extremely wind and weather worthy, and an excellent shelter option for 4 season backpacking or backcountry skiing.

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The Beta Light has a 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.)

The Black Diamond Beta Light has a single front door that can be rolled half or completely open
The Black Diamond Beta Light has a single front door that can be rolled half or completely open

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 windbreaks.

Being single-walled, it’s best to pitch the shelter with a gap between the ground and the bottom panels to encourage airflow 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 Beta Light interior is quite spacious with plenty of room to sit up in, even when shared with another person
The Beta Light interior is quite spacious with plenty of room to sit up in, even when shared with another person

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.

Your trekking pole tips fit into grommets in the Beta Light's peaks
Your trekking pole tips fit into grommets in the Beta Light’s peaks.

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.

Guyout webbing - Petzl elite shown for scale
Guyout webbing – Petzl elite shown for scale

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.

Comparable Shaped Tarp Shelters

Make / ModelWeight (oz)Doors
Black Diamond Beta Light191
ENO House Fly Rain Tarp252
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II291
MSR Twin Sisters322
Mountainsmith Mountain Shelter LT301
Rab Element 2182
Warbonnet Outdoors Superfly192
Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform DW271


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 shortlist of possible options. It’s definitely a contender in terms of weight, livability, weather-worthiness, and cost.

See Also:

Disclosure: The author purchased this product with his own funds.

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  1. My wife and I have one of the original (pre-Silnylon) Betamids, and have used it since the early 2000s as a backpacking shelter. Probably twice the weight, but still relatively light. My wife sewed a skirt of bug netting around the bottom hem, sewed a vent into one of the peaks, and added another webbing loop along the lower hem at the back. We’ve found the shelter to be stable in the wind and it sheds rain well. One problem: because of the trekking poles in the centerline of the shelter, we can’t use our two-person quilt. Otherwise, a really good shelter. Now looking to upgrade to the current version to shed more weight..

  2. What kind of lighter alternatives for the net are there? I bought the tarp and i love it but the net seems too heavy.

    • Go to any cottage gear manufacturer and look at the “inner tents” or UL bivy sacks with netting on top.
      try mountain laurel designs for instance.

    • Hey Phillip, love your reviews! I actually ended up buying an X-mid 1 to use for bugs and mice because I couldn’t find anything I liked that would work with my beta mid. I feel like the beta light’s unique design with two poles pitched at at a relatively low height in the middle of the tent, makes it difficult to attach an inner/bivy without pulling it sideways, or having it droop because of the low pole height. Do you happen to have a specific lightweight solution you use or recommend? I actually bought the BD inner but by girlfriend won’t let me cut the floor out to save weight :)

      • I just use it in winter (no bugs) or with a UL bivy sack. Both work great.

      • There are inners sold on AliExpress for a Chinese knock-offversion of Beta Light. There are three versions of the inner; solid (830 g), mesh(750 g) and a 1-person inner (510g) It seems like they should fit the original, but I have not tried it personally. I am not sure what the rules for commenting are, and whether I am allowed to leave a link.

  3. Nice review. I’ve had my BetaLight for about two years now, and I have to say, it’s been a wonderful tarp. Combined with a bivy, bug net, etc, it’s awesome. It goes up easily, weighs little, and, like you said, is very durable. I’ve always liked how it can be pitched with the bottom up for ventilation of close to the ground to keep the weather out. Plus, the fact that my trekking poles work to hold it up–awesome.

    Great review.

  4. I survived a 24 hr surprise blizzard in this thing on the Three Sisters in OR. Just the tarp set up.
    It worked ok even under those conditions.

  5. Delighted to leave a comment on my second home–the BD Beta Light. I have hiked for 50 years, and maybe I love no piece of gear as much as this. It is an iconic look in so many of my photos over the years now. The Beta Light has stood up to flash floods, blizzards, hurricane gusts, days on end of rain, and everything in between. It is not for everyone–no floor, no bug netting, does experience some condensation, but my hiking style compensates for these. It is dead-on dependable, sets up on 5 seconds, can handle all seasons, weighs nothing, and welcomes me home every night. Terrific guide piece–I can put a group of clients under the tarp quickly. I am gear freak and usually buy up a ton of pieces in other categories keeping up with the latest and greatest, but I just stay with this because it has captured my heart.

  6. Should I assume using a bivy would be best in winter? It looks as though pitching it down to the ground, and closing the zip during a storm would not be the healthiest. Hmmmm? Thx

    • I don’t know why you just couldn’t camp on a plastic sheet with your sleeping pad. If you’re worried about tent condensation, just leave a gap between the ground and the floor or dig a ventilation tunnel under the wall.

      • Thanks. I was thinking more about having the gap filling with snow while I sleep, cutting off O2 .

        I see here that someone put in a vent, but I’m thinking neither you nor others did. And yet, you all survived intact!

  7. I meant using a bivy under the not-pitched-all-the-way tarp

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