If she’s at her desk, editor Clare Menzel is probably looking out the window. So we sent the stargazer into the field to review the Black Diamond Skylight tent.
Since 1957, Black Diamond has made some of the most reliable gear around for people traveling on rock, ice, and snow. Their stuff is trustworthy and sturdy. You know it, you love it. The Skylight is a three-season tent, the biggest of three options in the brand’s Superlight Single Wall series.
Snapshot: Black Diamond Skylight Tent
- Pros: Three can squeeze into this 2.26 kg (5 lb) tent, which is a respectable weight-per-person ratio.
- Cons: The corners should have a larger reinforced area; I punctured the tent twice while erecting the frame. I wouldn’t call the vestibule “spacious.” And the interior mesh pockets are confusingly small.
- Price: $633 Cdn
- Who Should Buy: Backcountry campers going long distances.
- Who Shouldn’t Buy: There’s hardly a dignified way to set up an internal frame tent while car camping.
- Helpful Hack: Definitely apply the seam sealant for waterproofness.
- Author’s overall rating: 8/10
I brought the Skylight on a few multi-day backpacking trips in Montana’s Glacier National Park during summer 2017. It hardly rained this season in Montana, but the tent did weather one crushingly windy night on an alpine pass. It’s recommended for two or three people, but I only ever slept two (very roomy).
Like a lot of Black Diamond gear, the Skylight is specialized. For general car camping purposes, this three-season tent is far too spendy and too specific. But backpackers will appreciate its super-light-weightness, thanks in part to the hybrid single/double wall construction, as well as the internal frame, a BD specialty.
The tent is made with Black Diamond’s proprietary NanoShield fabric, which is a single-layer fabric. This eliminates the need for a rain fly—and one layer is lighter than two. NanoShield boasts the highest water column rating of any breathable, single-layer fabric, according to BD. It barely rained this summer, so I didn’t get to put its waterproof-ness to the test—but a number of online consumer reviews noted significant failings in this department. In my experience with other BD NanoShield products, the material gets dewy, but you don’t get wet inside. Condensation is always more of concern in all single-wall tents, and you should know you’re making this compromise when choosing this design. However, if you’re sleeping just two in this tent, you can easily avoid bumping up on the wall with your sleeping bag.
Two-thirds of the tent are Nano-Shield; the front third has a mesh inner wall and canopy fly. For comfort’s sake, the added weight is an excellent compromise for me—you won’t sacrifice much speed for stargazing. The ventilation was great, which can be an issue with claustrophobic single-wall tents. And when the weather is fair, there’s no need to use the canopy, which can easily be rolled back to get some exposure to the night sky. This is what makes the Skylight special.
The three internal DAC featherlight poles erected internally are designed to offer a high strength-to-weight ratio, good for battling big gusts. Guylines provide additional anchorpoints. It’s handy be able to set up your tent quickly, and from the inside, in the event of adverse conditions. Velcro holds the poles. During my test, the pitch was far from completely quiet when the wind was shrieking, but it was bombproof.
I like a wide-mouth single door, and the panoramic dome in the mesh section, created with the third pole, is lovely. A side note: the tent comes with tri-beam tent stakes, which I’m not a fan of. Maybe that’s just me. But they are light. And that’s the name of the game here.
Black Diamond Skylight Tent: The Deets
- MSRP: $633 Cdn
- Colour: Green
- Area: 3.4 m² (36.6 sq ft)
Vestibule Area: 0.93 m² (10 sq ft)
Packed Size: 18 x 30 cm (7 x 12 in)
- Flatlock seam construction is designed to eliminate chafing
- Average Packed Weight: 2.26 kg (5 lb)
- Material: NanoShield, mesh