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Black Diamond Firstlight Tent: Long Term Gear Review

Black Diamond FirstLight Tent

The freestanding 2-person Black Diamond Firstlight Tent the oldest tent that I own. I mainly use it for winter camping and car camping and still love it because it’s lightweight, breathable, and very easy to pitch.

Black Diamond Firstlight Tent

Comfort
Ease of Setup
Weather Resistance
Durabilty
Weight
Packed Size

Excellent

The Black Diamond Firstlight is a freestanding tent that pitches quickly. It's ideal for winter conditions when you want to get out of the cold quickly. Weighing under 3 pounds, it's one of the lightest weight and most compact winter tents available today.

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At 2 lbs 11 oz, the Firstlight is extraordinarily light for a 4 season tent. It’s a single wall tent made out of a breathable fabric called Epic with a silnylon bathtub style floor, reinforced in the corners. Epic is a breathable fabric made using silicon-impregnated fibers and was an evolutionary precursor to eVent fabric.

Structurally, the FirstLight is a self-standing tent. It uses two curved collapsible DAC poles, that cross inside the tent and are anchored in the corners with a metal snap to prevent the floor from tearing. Velcro tabs running along the inside tent seams curl around the poles and help keep them aligned.

As you can see, the walls of the FirstLight are very steep and the tent sheds snow very well, making it a favorite with climbers and mountaineers in winter conditions. The head room in the tent is also very high, making it possible to sit up inside or to hang a gear loft for drying wet gear.

Black Diamond Firstlight Tent

Ventilation is provided by a zippered, mesh lined rear window and a large mesh backed front door. Both the rear window and the front door have billed beaks over them with a pliable wire running through the outer seam. The beaks are handy for protecting the window and door from rain, so that you can keep them open at night.

At night, I try to keep the back window and door as wide open as possible, even in winter, to eliminate all internal condensation at night. Without the windows open, this tent does experience moderate internal condensation despite the Epic fabric walls. Honestly, I don’t consider this to be much of a problem in winter because every 4 season tent I’ve ever tried suffers from intense internal condensation if its doors, windows or porch are not left wide open at night to vent moisture.

Black Diamond First Light Tent

Space-wise, I use this tent as a luxurious single person shelter most of the time, although it can sleep two people in a pinch. If you use it this way, I would recommend that both sleepers position their heads as close to the door as possible, and leave the outer door open to vent their exhalation moisture. Care must also be taken not to run the sleeping bags up against the walls of the tent, to limit transfer of internal condensation to them.

Black Diamond First Light Tent

Pitching the FirstLight is very easy and I can usually have it up in less than 5 minutes. Plus, since It’s freestanding, I don’t have to worry about sintering deadmen before I can get a taught pitch. After tromping around in the snow all day, that’s a treat, because it means I can get inside a shelter and change into my dry sleeping clothes without having to stand around outside while waiting for the tent stakes to harden in place.

When packed, the body of the FirstLight makes a nice compact bundle that’s about the size of my down summit jacket, when compressed into a stuff sack. With all of the gear I need to carry in winter, having a small tent like this helps me get away with a smaller and lighter backpack, with a capacity of 4000 cubic inches (65 liters). The tent poles, packed in a separate silnylon sack, are easily jammed into my pack compartment or strapped to my external compression straps.

Conclusion

If you’re looking to buy one tent for 4 season use, I’d seriously consider the Black Diamond Firstlight. While it excels as a lightweight tent in winter, it is also sufficiently light weight (under 3 lbs) to carry the rest of the year. It’s freestanding design makes it very easy to pitch, and is equally suitable for car camping at campgrounds, sleeping on tent platforms, or stealth camping in the backcountry. Bottom line: This tent is a keeper and I’m going to hang onto mine for a long time.

Written 2014. Updated 2017.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.

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5 comments

  1. Great review, I have been looking for quite some time for a very light 4 season, 2 person tent and this one looks like it fits all my requirements…. so after reading your review and many others in the WWW I went to BlackDiamond.com and ordered one along with the vestibule. I will make our summit attemps much more comfy… Next major summit is Mt. Robson (BC, Canada) in late august 2012.

    Thanks for the review.

  2. Any problems with brushing the ends while lying down? I’ve heard that the firstlight is on the shorter side.

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