The benefits of a single-wall tent with ventilation that will remind you of a double-wall.
The Black Diamond Skylight 3-Person Tent is an extremely versatile, lightweight shelter for spring, summer, and fall forays into the backcountry. Modern materials and an innovative design mean that this hybrid (two-thirds single-wall, one-third double-wall) shelter breathes exceptionally well and provides plenty of ventilation so you don't get that uncomfortable clammy feeling.
- Freestanding, hybrid design saves weight by eliminating the need for separated canopy and fly; ideal for three-season trekking and climbing applications
- Breathable, abrasion-resistant, and highly packable NanoShield fabric features a Silicone NanoCell coating to protect against rain, snow, and wind
- Roll-back cover reveals a large mesh window when skies are clear; cover features a built-in gear vestibule for stormy weather
- Three internal DAC Featherlite poles provide freestanding structure without a back-breaking weight penalty
- Q & A
Not for heavy rain
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Had this tent three years. Light, roomy, but still difficult to pitch. Handles wind and snow great, but not heavy rain. Drips through the top and even the sides. Had good ventilation--it wasn't condensation. Thought it was the perfect tent, but can't trust it in the rain.
Keeps You Dry in Moderate to Heavy Rain
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I've had this tent for about 2 years. I've used it on family back country trips with three occupants. I've maybe used this tent 6 times on trips ranging from 3 to 6 days in weather that has ranged from clear skies to rain, hail and snow.
Initially I had a problem with one of the inner pole stays de-laminating on the first use, but I was able to fix it by gluing it with E6000 and have had no problems since.
Sealing the seams is a little painful, but only takes a few hours to do the whole tent and part of that is set up time for the glue before you can turn it to do the bottom seems.
The material that this tent is made out on the top has an affinity for dirt. I made the mistake of not staking out the vestibule once and it picked up dirt like a magnet picks up nails. Now I always stake out the vestibule and everything is grand.
As for its ability to withstand rain, I've had it in several multi-day rain storms with absolutely no leakage. The last trip it was used on was in the Tetons. We were camped at about 10.5k feet for 3 days in which it rained very hard for 4 or 5 hours every afternoon with wind gusts of maybe 40 mph. On one evening it rained so hard the tent started to float with three of us in it. I eventually got out of the tent in the rain and found that water was just below the zipper (maybe 4" high) on the tent. There was a lot of rain coming down and the soil could not absorb it at that rate so lakes were forming all around us. We did not notice any rain penetrating the tent from the top or bottom. I had the tent staked out and the tent buffeted in the wind but never lost much of its shape during the gusts. It performed fantastic for such a lightweight tent.
The vestibule area is a little small for three peoples gear tucked under it including shoes, but it did shield the rain from our gear. (Okay the boots were floating at one point but that was because a lake had formed under us; not the tents fault.) We had to be creative in getting three backpacks under the vestibule and still be able to exit the tent, but then again three full backpacks of gear is a lot to ask.
Having almost exclusively used single wall tents over the past 25 years I would suggest the following: 1) Always keep the fore and aft vents open to prevent condensation from forming. Once condensation forms it appears that the rain resistance of the material is reduced greatly until the inside dries out. Even with three of us in the tent for 10 hours at a time very little condensation formed with the vents opened 4" or so. 2) Try and keep sleeping bags off the tent sidewall fabric when in heavy rains as humidity is at 100% and some small amount of condensation will appear on the fabric.
Remember this is a light weight 3 person tent and some small sacrifices must be made to avoid making it a 10 pound 3 person tent. If you are primarily wanting a tent to pitch from the back of your car there are better options out there. If you want a tent to share between 2 or 3 people and pack it for 10-20 miles per day this is a great option.
Single-serving tent: $94 per night
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I'm biased, so this review won't be helpful to everyone: I usually dislike gear that has sacrificed durability for weight savings. I was going to use this tent for a 3 week work trip. The tent lasted the first 5 nights. After 5 nights it was trashed... holes all over the floor and the door totally busted. Several holes in the tent itself. I was left without shelter from mosquitoes, which are intense north of the Brooks Range in Alaska.
I knew this tent wasn't optimal for our trip, but it was already on hand where I work and we needed to keep our weight low to meet our restrictions for the flight in.
In addition to the low durability, this tent is not storm-proof and does not hold up well in high wind, but does shed light precipitation. I think there are better options in single wall tents (like mountain hardwear direkt 2, though its much smaller) or there are light but durable double wall tents (like hilleberg nallo 2) that would have been better for my particular trip. This tent might be alright if you want a light tent to keep your pack weight down, but a tarp or mid would be my choice if that were the case.
Ignore this review if you tend to be more careful with your gear, will not be living in the tent for extended periods, or will be using in a relatively dry climate or area where you won't get devoured by bugs if a hole appears.
*Editted 9/26/2016 to clarify
Best tent out there. Hands down.
Absolutely love this tent. It's SUPER easy to set up and it fits a queen size air mattress (in case anyone is wondering!) The front screen is a bonus because you can still enjoy the views and be bug free! Highly recommended!
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I've been using this tent for 4 years, and absolutely love it. I've camped in it in rain, snow, and in multiple states and have nothing but the best things to say about it. It's durable, light, and looks rad. Setup is simple. I've been locked up for 3 straight days in a rain storm in New Mexico with no problems. Really nothing but great things to say.
A Tent For Two?
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
My initial impressions of this tent. AMAZING. I hit it once on a quick trip with my girl, if you're looking for a romantic tent, this is the one. The "Skylight" offered up some amazing nightime viewing.
Couple of technical issues.
1. Ive never used a tent with an internal pole system like this. Not so easy to set up on your own, though can be done, and Im unsure of how long the internal pole placements will stand up to some tough trips. The old pole sleeve system would have been fantastic here.
2. There is a bunch of stitching, but BD have been kind enough to supply Seam Seal, be prepared for a good couple hours worth of sealing.
3. The poles are held in place with velcro straps on the inside. Be sure to keep a sewing kit with you at all times. Who knows how long these will last.
I did not test it for "Water proofness" but can attest to not a lot of condensation. From what I understand in the past this has been a problem. But as a single wall, if you're going to get into some wet weather, take a double wall.
Aside from my couple of gripes, this tent is everything its meant and looks to be. It will definitely be my "Go To" fair weather tent in the future. Relatively easy to set up, very roomy for two people and perfect for experiencing the views we all head out into the wilderness for in the first place.
Great for a lightweight tent
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
This is great for a lightweight tent, but that is exactly what it is. Its not totally waterproof just very water resistant. Its completely bomber in the wind, but you'll find the lightweight fabric less durable than more heavyweight options. I use it when backpacking with my family or on backcountry climbing trips where weight is a big issue. And for this it excels. Its very lightweight for the size of the tent and packs down very small. Its very very good for its intended use, no more, no less.
One of the glued on interior pole sleeves...
One of the glued on interior pole sleeves came unglued. What glue will work to reattach it?
I doubt much of anything would hold for long. And anything that might work would possibly damage the nylon to the point where it would be a disaster. Call BD and give them the details. That should be a warranty repair and I doubt they'll give you any grief whatsoever.
800-365-5555 ext 4
Seriously, just let them deal with it...it's what they do.
I agree with Phil. Even if they won't replace it for free due to an over-extended warranty, they'll definately instruct you on how to fix or replace it. Best of luck
I had the exact same problem after one use of the tent. I talked with a Backcountry representative and he recommended I try E6000 adhesive before sending it back. E6000 can be bought at almost any hardware store. That stuff worked wonderful! I've used the tent about 6 times since the repair on extended back country trips with no signs of failure. I've since used E6000 for several other repairs on other equipment with great results.
Not for wet weather!
I've used this tent for a total of 11 nights. It's a perfect pack size and weight, even better than I expected. Each time it has taken care of 2 adults and 1 medium sized dog very well. But...to put it up is a pain! (I have the 2007 model). One person has to crawl inside the 'envelope' while the other passes in one of the poles. It's not fun in bad weather. But my primary criticism is that it's just not dry. I spent a night in the Lost Creek Wilderness where we could actually watch the spray blow through the tent with our headlamps. Last year I spent 4 nights in the West Elk Wilderness. I don't know if it kept the rain out, but we could sit in the tent and watch the condensation roll off the inside walls...every night. It did work well a couple of nights in Grand Gulch...with no rain and a humidity of about 10%. It works great in the desert (if you can get it put up). Don't use it where it is wet!!!
Black Diamond Skylight
Used for car camping, just used a tarp for footprint, cause I hadn't gotten the actually BD footprint for it. Thought the mesh was nice for ventilation, but the fly was really great and kept the rain off all night. This is a single layer tent, but the layer pulls on and off the mesh. Pretty easy to assemble ( I did it by myself in the dark) and light to pack in a pack. Got it for a deal on SAC. Mine is the yellow standard BD tent color, it looks more green in the pic.
Not what I was hoping for.
I just bought this tent recently and was a bit disappointed. I really liked the design and the concept, but it just doesn't seem to work out. The big issue with condensation in this tent is because this tent doesn't breathe! I've only camped in it once, but it wasn't raining, it was hot and sunny. The inside of the tent never cooled down. I slept with the door completely open and my head practically hanging out I was so hot. Another issue I had was the velcro for the poles. I set the tent up and took it down three or four times, and every time the velcro snagged the mesh and messed it up. My last complaint is with the footprint. It really is too small. The corners of the tent all hang off the footprint. I really wanted to like this tent so it's a shame I wasn't happy with it. All in all, not a bad tent, but for the price it should be a great tent.
Great while it lasts, but it won't last long
When I first got this tent I loved it!!! Lightweight, roomy and holds up in wind and heavy thunderstorms in the mountains. But now that I've had the tent for 5 years, I am disappointed. I'm an average user. I used the tent on summer/fall weekends and long backpacks 1x a year. The tent is falling apart now!!! Zipper doesn't work and holes are appearing in the fabric, especially where the tent fabric attaches to the bathtub floor. I have taken care of the tent - cleaned it out and never put it away wet. Washed it with a hose 3x. Durability on this tent stinks. With a price this high, a tent should last longer! Finally... I called Black Diamond asking if I could send it in for zipper repair and pay for it myself. NOPE Black Diamond doesn't repair it. Don't buy this tent if you want it to last 10 years.
kings canyon national park, ca
sabrina basin, ca
Is condensation a big problem in this tent?...
Is condensation a big problem in this tent? Anyone own it? Experiences?
Meg, check out this link to trailspace.com. It has ten more reviews on this tent that will help you get a better opinion on the tent and condensation.
As with all single wall tents, you will experience condensation. Whether it's a big problem or not will vary with each person. I own a 2 person single wall and whenever it rains or is cold and humid, I will have some condensation on the inside. When this happens, I use the MSR Packtowel to wipe down the condensation, or I just wait until it evaporates. If I'm expecting to spend several nights in the backcountry and expect more than 1-2 night of rain, I pack my double-wall tent.
If you are expecting to use your tent where it will be raining frequently and/or humid, you will be a lot more comfortable getting a double-wall tent.
How does everyone feel about this tent?...
How does everyone feel about this tent? It's between this tent and the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2. I use my tent quite often and am looking to replace an older tent with something a little bit lighter for backpacking. It will be for 2 people and the occasional dog.
I spend a lot of time in my tent and I am ok with carrying extra weight for a GREAT tent. My priorities are Likability, ability to avoid condensation, durability, then space and weight. Although a lightweight tent is a pro I'm more concerned with likability, pockets, weather resistance, durability, etc.
I'm also open for other recommendations :)
Thanks for the advice. - Megan
Hi Megan,, For your priorities of avoiding condensation and durability, I would lean towards the Copper Spur UL2. Any single wall tent will have condensation after a downpour or in high humidity & cooler temps.
As far as another recommendation, I think the perfect tent for you would be the MSR Hubba Hubba 2 person tent, combined with the Gear Shed vestibule. The gear shed provides tons of extra room for outings when your bring the dog Especially when it's raining and you don't want a wet dog crawling around your sleeping bags and gear. It's going to be a little pricier, but I'm sure you can find a great deal online.
Agreed with Eli - this tent will condense much worse than the copper spur. Go for the Copper spur 3 (barely any weight penalty over the 2) before the Hubba Hubba with Gear shed (read: pain to pitch) though.
Also, None of the above mentioned tents are exceptionally durable - the Skylight features THIN nanoshield that isn't waterproof. The Hubba Hubba and Copper Spur both feature the same pole system that doesn't do too well in wind, and ultralight fabric for the rainflies.
And now for my suggestion - I noticed you didn't mention "price", "availability on backcountry.com" or "freestanding" in your criteria. Have you considered a Hilleberg Nallo 3?
Likeability - These remain totally dry while being pitched in the rain, Pitch super fast, come in 2 colors, have multiple pockets plus attachment points for a clothesline or gear loft, and will garner you total respect from all who frequent the mountains. What's not to like?
No Condensation - Double walls and tunnel venting prevent condensation.
Durability - Proprietary fabric and tunnel design yield a tent that can withstand legitimate 4 season storms. Gusts to 60mph+, no kidding.
Space - 64"x88" + Vestibule
Weight - 4lb 10oz min/5lb 5oz trail. Compare to 4lb 2oz min 5lb trail for this tent.
The downsides? It isn't free standing (but pitches quickly), and its $625.
I would disagree. People assume that because the Nanoshield fabric is single wall, you'll have issues with condensation. I've used a Hilight (smaller, similar tent from BD with the same fabric) for backpacking in 30F as well as 70F, and never had to deal with condensation on the inside. Nanoshield is easily twice as breathable as eVent or a comparable waterproof fabric, and is fantastic. This will also deal with wind better than the copper spur, whose ultralight materials will get torn apart in high winds.
The MSR Hubba Hubba is a very small tent for two people and a dog. The Skylight is 36.6 square feet, almost ten square feet bigger than the MSR HUbba Hubba. It is also lighter than the Hubba Hubba with a gear shed vestibule. Comparing apples with apples (as much as is possible) would give Megan more assistance making an informed decision.
Megan are you wanting your dog inside your tent with you or outside in the vestibule? The MSR Hubba Hubba would be an extremely cosy fit with a dog inside so between the two the Skylight would be the better choice if you want the dog inside. Keep in mind though that you will need to seam seal the Skylight for it to be fully water proof which takes an hour or two's work.
I have read other websites that this is...
I have read other websites that this is freestanding, but here it says differently. Can anyone say for sure if it is freestanding or not?
The tent itself is freestanding, but the convertible portion needs to be staked out with at least two stakes for the vestibule.
You should always secure (stakes or alternative) if you want your tent to be there when you return to camp. it is, however, freestanding with the noted vestibule portion requiring stakes.
Light up the Night
The single wall tent that rolls back for a view. best invention ever!
Does anyone know if you can completely...
Does anyone know if you can completely seal off the elements in this tent? In other words, does the vestibule zip to the insect mesh or is there a separate piece that does this? Hoping to push this tent to mellow'ish four season use.
You can't quite seal it all the way off. The vent at the back has no zipper but is pretty well protected. As for the vestibule...the front part comes down and buckles into place on either side and then has a hook on either side at the front pole as well. Staking it out brings everything very close to the ground, essentially sealing it off. You could pile just a bit of snow along the two edges to make it seal if you really needed to. This tent actually won Backpacker Magazine's lightest mountaineering tent award too so you should be set!