New and Kick-Ass Design!
Black Diamond Hilight Tent Review
The new Black Diamond Hilight Tent review is here! I have always lusted after the Hilight tents my friends used. But being a little over 6′, they were too small. New for the 2019 season, Black Diamond introduces a redesigned 2P and 3P Hilight. You read that correctly, a three-person version is available now! Stoked yet? Read on to find out more!
New materials – no more seal sealing!
I have used the previous two generations of Black Diamond single wall tents. Both the yellow and the wasabi green materials. With those materials and most single wall tents for that matter, you have to apply the seam sealant yourself. Now, this is not that hard to do. But it can be a pain for some people and not something they are comfortable with. I can respect that. It takes time and space to do it correctly and it can require a bit of upkeep over seasons of use.
Black Diamond made it easy on all of us by switching materials and no longer needing customer seam sealing. One big point for BD right there! My wife used to joke about coming home to a house full of single-wall tents drying (and stinking!) before we would take them out for testing. She was stoked to give up tradition 🙂
30D Poly tent body
The new tent materials are not the EPIC or NanoSheild materials of old. BD went with a 30D poly fabric as it seems to be stronger and does not stretch when wet. Most tents stretch when wet, at least in my experience. I chalk that up to “just the way things are” and adjust accordingly. The first few nights I used the Hilight Tent, I did not have to retention it. The claim that it does not stretch seems spot on.
Black Diamond Hilight is a 4 season tent
This is not only a lightweight tent, but it can also handle all 4 seasons. This is probably the reason you are hear reading this review in the first place. I would imagine you are looking for a lightweight single-wall tent for alpine and winter use. Well, this fits the bill very nicely! Some of the features that make this a good 4 season tent:
- single wall design
- proven tent architecture
- heat dumping manifolds
- packs up small
- optional vestibule
- sets up from inside
- tight as a drum
Summing up those features
Single wall design
I tend to go for single-wall tents for a few reasons. One, I like how much smaller they pack up. Two, the usually weigh less (duh! fewer materials). Usually, they set up very tight. Finally, I don’t usually camp in the rain. But I do camp in the snow, a lot! Single wall tents tend to do well in the conditions I (and probably you!) like. At or above treeline, in the cold, snow and wind. The Black Diamond Hilight tent hits all those checkmarks.
Proven tent architecture
The simple cross pole and one brow pole design have been around for a reason. It just works. I have used Bilber tents, NEMO and MSR tents that use this idea. Never had an issue with snow or wind. Some people might complain about it being hard to set up with the tight fight and all. But I say, just practice and have some patience. It works, so just learn to do it.
Heat dump manifolds
These are new and really cool. As you can see from the pic above, these sizeable zippered openings at the top front and rear of the tent can be opened to allow wet hot air out, and cool dry (hopefully dry LOL) air in. I really like this idea and have had good results with similar designs on other single wall tents (see NEMO Moki review). The only gripe I had about it was that it was not mesh-backed. That is not an issue in winter, but in summer use I had a few unwanted bugs get in. My workaround was waiting until going to bed (and temps below 40 degrees) before opening the manifolds.
This new Black Diamond Hilght is very lightweight. The 2 person version comes in at 1795 grams (4lbs) and the 3 person (what we tested) comes in at 2195 grams (4.9lbs). That is with all the manuals and extras. You can easily shave it down a few hundred grams on each tent.
Packs up small
This is one of my favorite reasons to love single wall tents. They pack up small! The 2P packs down to 6×9″ and the 3P is a tad bigger at 7×10″. The wired brims on the brows make packing the tent down a bit of a process, as I don’t want to bend that brim. So, I wind up rolling the tent up around the brim and stuffing it into the sack.
As you can see from the pics, we were using the optional vestibule in this review. The removable vestibule is very helpul for storing, entering the tent in storms and for livability. Available for the 2P $150 and 3P $160 Weights are 480 grams (1.1lb) for 2P and 540 grams (1lb 3 oz) for 3P. I think they are a great addition if you plan on cooking or staying in the tent during storms. Plus, they add a sense of largeness to the tents.
Sets up from the inside
Some people love this or hate this. Personally, I love tents that set up from the outside as they seem to keep the tent inerds dry and make set up smooth. The Hilight is the first tent that I actually did not mind setting up with poles on the inside. You would think that with several years of using (and loving) the Black Diamond Skylight and Bombshelter tents I have learned to appreciate the set up process.
The Hilght set up process is simple. Put the brow pole through the grommets, then put in the two cross poles. Use the velcro tabs to keep the poles in place and the tent is set up. You can still keep dry setting up this tent. Just practice at home and become a setup ninja!
Tight as a drum
Setting up from the inside also means that the tent is tight as a drum. No kidding, the set up creates a really secure tent structure. This allows the tent to withstand serious wind and even snow loading. You can see the fabric being loaded in the pics.
Why is this tent green and not blue like the ones you see?
You may be wondering why the tent in this review is bright green and not blue like the ones for sale. Note, this is not wasabi green like the old NanoShield BD tents. This is actually the same tent as you can buy right now. It is just a sample version. This is one of the fun things about testing gear before (or as) it hits the market. No complaints from the Engearment team over here! LOL. The Hilight tents are currently available as of this review and will be a beautiful blue color.
New Black Diamond Hilight Tent Review
I have had the new Black Diamond Hilght tent for several months now. My wife, dogs and I have been testing the 3 person version with the optional vetibule. Again, our test version is green, but the ones you can buy are blue. I think the blue is much more attractive 🙂
I have been jonesing to try the Hilight tents for years, but my body type was not ideal for those tents. When I saw the new 2P and 3P versions of this tent at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2019, I was blown away. Black Diamond peeps could see that, so we decided to do this detailed review on the 3P version.
Bigger size = happy Sean
The dimensions on the 3 person version are quite pleasing. 86″ long (fits my 6’1″ body) 55-60″ wide (fits our double-wide sleeping pad) and 43″ tall (allows for livable tent space). This is a very generous size for two full-size adults and even two full-size dogs. I did not test it with three adults as I don’t think the 55″ width is ideal for 3 sleeping pads. But I am sure it would do in a pinch, on an alpine mission. For comfort’s sake, I did not push that.
Single wall tent, still gets a bit wet
If you use single-wall tents, then you know how hard it can be to manage internal moisture. Some tents are horrible at this. Some are adequate. This one is pretty dang good. Even with the heat manifolds open, and both side doors venting to the mesh backer, I was able to get “some” condensation. Now, this is nothing to be worried about as it not like we were drenched. There was some condensation above my head – but not touching me – where I slept.
This is manageable with a small pack towel, or by not touching the area. Not that big of a deal, but I wanted to be honest with you and prepare you for this. If it was just me in the tent, or if the winds were higher, or if a bunch of other variables, it might be less condensation. Again, not that big of a deal to be concerned about. Just deal with it and appreciate the other great attributes of this tent.
Guy out the tent!
I think this is a no-brainer, but I must advise this, regardless. Guy this tent out. Guy any tent out for that matter! Especially if you are using this tent in areas of high fun (and high wind and snow). On the first day of testing, I set the tent up (with no vestibule). I only had it staked out in the relatively soft dirt. Elevation was right at treeline.
I was remarking on how much the awnings look like wings, and how much they looked like they could catch air. Well, a big gust of wind serendipitously whipped up and hit the tent with force. The Hilight tent became a weaponized camp missle kite and went for a test flight. Once it came back down to Earth, we observed the tent for damage (there was none) and guyed that sucker down! Made for a great camp story. But the lesson here is, always guy out your tent 🙂
Sould you get the Black Diamond Hilight Tent?
Do you like to save weight when backpacking? Do you like to camp in winter, alpine, wind, and or snow? Do you like to have fun and enjoy the color blue? If you answered yes to any of these, then you are a candidate for the Black Diamond Hilight tent. If you are 6′ (or taller) or want a little extra space, get the 3 person version $440. If you can get by with a little less space, get the 2 person $400.