A review of a cheaper ultralight tent.
The Black Diamond Distance 2 Person tent is a 3-season ultralight tent, made of 30-denier polyester with a Polyurethane coating. The Black Diamond Distance is not free standing, as it requires two trekking poles to set up, as well as the aluminum bar that runs across the top of the tent, connecting the poles.
I used this tent for a week straight while hiking the West Coast Trail. (I wrote about some tips and tricks in another post!) This allowed me to experience what it was like in wet and dry conditions. So let’s get into my review of the Black Diamond Distance 2 Person tent!
|Weight||725g / 25.6oz|
|Canopy Mesh||Polyester no-see-um mesh|
|Floor fabric||30-denier polyester|
|Fly fabric||30-denier polyester|
|Floor length||2.27m / 89.4″|
|Floor width||1.47m / 57.9″|
|Floor area||2.4sq.m / 25.8sq. feet|
|Interior height||o.81m / 31.9″|
|Minimum weight||0.725kg / 1.6lbs|
Currently, there is a pretty big gap in price with the tent being listed for $334.95 on MEC, and $519.40 on the Black Diamond website. The reason for this gap is that the tent has two options. What MEC offers is the tent without the trekking poles for setup and instead with an adapter so you can use it with your own trekking poles if you already have some. On the other hand, Black Diamonds offer comes with the Black Diamond Z-poles which make attaching to the tent really easy
I personally was able to score this tent with the adapter for $268.79, including tax and shipping from Altitude Sports. This is a great price for a 2-person ultralight tent.
At 725 grams, this tent is definitely ultralight. If used for two people, the carrying weight can be split up between the shelter itself and the stakes, and poles, making it even lighter of a load. Even for one person to carry the Distance 2 alone, it’s a very good lightweight option. The weight of this tent (or lack thereof) is a phenomenal selling point and allows for longer hiking days with more kilometers.
Capacity and Size
This tent is listed as a 2-person tent, although I would take that with a grain of salt.
With my boyfriend being 6’4″, and I 5’7″, we pushed the limits of this tent. The floor of the tent is almost a diamond shape, narrowing near the head and leg space. The walls all slant upwards to the two trekking poles used to set it up. These combined factors mean that when two people are sleeping in this tent, you will most-likely be touching the walls at some-point. My large boyfriend was able to lay in the tent without his feet or head touching while alone, but with two if us in there is was almost unavoidable.
Sitting up is doable, but the highest peak of this tent is in the center, so two people can’t really sit up comfortably at the same time without contact with the tent wall.
If I were to recommend this tent for two people to use, I would say they should be on the shorter/smaller side, and to be ready to sleep in close quarters. Otherwise, I think this would be much better suited as a 1-person tent.
Vestibules, Doors and Storage
The Black Diamond Distance 2 Person has one door and no vestibules. Like I stated before, this tent barely fit my boyfriend and I, who some consider to be on the taller side, so without vestibules there’s not really any option to house your bag or other belongings. Although, there are two mesh storage pockets that can hold a couple of items like your headlamp, phone, and a book, but that’s pretty much the extent. It is nearly impossible to store your bag inside with two people of my size. Although, you most likely wouldn’t have a problem if this was used as a one person tent.
There is one rainbow shaped door located on the right side of the tent. As you unzip the tent, the door tends to fall inwards which has some positives such as not falling in the dirt and protecting the zipper from debris, but this also means that if the door is wet, it will bring water inside your tent. I also often brushed up against the sides of the tent as entering and exiting as the door is quite small.
A single-wall tent is just that, it has one single wall protecting you from the outside environment. Double-wall tents usually have a mesh body, and a waterproof rain fly that is suspended over the body, to protect from rain and snow, while also providing shelter from the sun. Single wall tents are usually the body of the tent, made up of a water-resistant or waterproof material, without the mesh.
The Black Diamond Distance 2-Person is a single-wall tent made up of 30-denier polyester with a Polyurethane coating. Denier simply correlates to the thickness of the fabric.
A Polyurethane coating is applied to make the fabric waterproof and help protect you from the elements. Water leaking through this tent wasn’t an issue, it was more the condensation that became a problem.
Ventilation and Condensation
There are three vents located on this tent. At the top, and one on either end at the bottom. Along with these vents, there is a mesh window that you can choose to use on the door. The vents in combination with the mesh window didn’t do much in the way of combating condensation.
The vents at the bottom are placed so that when condensation does occur, it rolls down the slanted walls and out the mesh at the bottom. In theory, this would work, but combined with the small size of this tent, most of the condensation would roll down the sides and get my sleep system wet.
Even with the window open, there was a great deal of condensation, so air wasn’t passing through the tent as efficiently as I would have hoped.
This tent wasn’t difficult to setup, once you understood how it worked. It was very, very easy with two people, and took a little more finessing when going Han Solo.
A difficult part of setting up this tent was dealing with the trekking poles, since it is not a free standing tent. Once you figure out what height your trekking poles need to be, the next tricky thing is making sure the connecting bar that runs across the top of the tent is attached properly.
The biggest problem with pitching the tent is how tight everything has to be. I feel like making sure all of your lines are tight is important with any tent, but it especially is with this one. Basically, the tent has a tendency to sag as soon as it gets moisture on it, and this can be inconvenient since the walls touching anything inside is how you get wet.
In order to ensure you get the most use out of your tent possible, it’s recommended to use a separate footprint for the Black Diamond Distance 2, although I never have. Since you are supposed to be using a groundsheet that’s what I would recommend to ensure a healthy lifespan of your tent. That being said, I haven’t had any issues with the coating on the tent, holes, or the zipper
The stuff sack for the tend is where the real durability issue came from. This could be due to poor use or care on my part, but I’ve ended up with a hole or two in the sack that came with the tent to store it in.
- Cheaper than other tents of the same size and weight
- Extremely lightweight
- Packs down really small, making it easy to transport
- Ability to partially unzip door, and still have bug protection through mesh
- Easy to set up
- The tent can be adapted so you can use it with your own trekking poles
- Listed as 2-person tent, but more likely suited as a 1-person
- Ventilation not as efficient as it could be
- Condensation is a big issue
- Walls sag with moisture
Overall, this tent is extremely lightweight, and cheaper than other options. It’s a great value for the price, but consider using it if you are either on the shorter side, or one person. For shorter backpacking trips, this is tent is a wonderful option. The comfort you sacrificed for the weight and price is only short lived. On longer thru-hike type trips, consider using something a little more robust as staying dry is important, and condensation can be sort of an issue with this tent.
I will continue to use and enjoy this tent for my smaller weekend trips, or longer trips where I know I will have a chance to dry my gear out. For situations where I know it’s gonna be wet, I’ll consider other options.