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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Black Diamond Mirage Tent > Test Report by Jennifer Estrella

Black Diamond Mirage Tent

Test Series by Jennifer Estrella

October 14, 2008

Skip to my Initial Report- June 18, 2008
Skip to my Field Report- August 26, 2008
Skip to my Long Term Report- October 14, 2008

Personal Information

Name:  Jennifer Estrella
Age:  33
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Email address: jennksnowy at yahoo dot com
City, State, and Country: Orange County, California, United States

Backpacking Background

After getting into the outdoors scene camping while 4-wheeling and day-hiking, I switched to backpacking in the early 2000's. I have backpacked extensively in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho along with California, Pennsylvania and Nevada. I have slowly been cutting my base weight to be able to go longer in both duration and distance. I have done so mainly by using better gear and dumping heavy luxuries. (I also married a Sherpa to help.) I backpack year round in all weather, and usually take a free standing tent and a gas stove on all my trips. I love trying out new gear.

Initial Report

June 18, 2008

Product Information

Manufacturer: Black Diamond
Model: Mirage (2 person tent)
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer Website: www.bdel.com
Tent MSRP: $298.95 USD

Color: Marigold and Gray

Weight Listed on Website: 4 lb 6 oz (1.98 kg) This is packaged weight which includes the tent body, rain fly, poles, stakes, guy lines, and stuff sack.
Actual Packaged Weight: 4 lb 9 oz (2.07 kg)

Listed Tent Body, Rainfly, and Poles Weight : 3 lb 15 oz (1.8 kg)
Actual Tent Body, Rainfly and Poles Weight: 4 lb 1 oz ( 1.84 kg)

Tent Dimension Measurements Listed on Website: 94 x 58 x 42 x 37 in (239 x 147 x 107 x 94 cm)

Area Listed on Website: 30 sq ft (2.8 m2) for tent and 10 sq ft (0.93 m2) for vestibule

Listed Packed Size: 19 x 7 in (48 x 16.5 cm)

Other Actual Weights:
Poles:
15 oz (425 g)
Stakes (10):
5 oz (142 g)
Stakes (each): 0.55 oz (16 g)
Guy Lines:
0.80 oz (23 g)
Tent Body:
1 lb 11 oz (0.77 kg)
Rain Fly:
1 lb 7 oz (0.65 kg)
Stuff Sack: 1.70 oz (48 g)

Warranty: One year

Tent entry

Entry of the Mirage

Let it pour

Mirage pitched with the rain fly

Product Description

The Black Diamond Mirage 2 is a two person, elongated pentagram shaped, freestanding, 3-season, double wall tent. The manufacturer claims this is their lightest, strongest, double-wall tent. The tent comes equipped with 10 stakes, reflective guylines, poles, stuff sack, rainfly, material swatches, extra cording, and instructions.

This tent uses what I would consider a single pole system with two hubs. I consider it to be one pole since there are no pieces that separate. The manufacturer states that this tent has two poles. It is a variable diameter pole system that is one primarily gray colored long tent body pole with hub connectors at the front and rear of the tent that then have primarily black colored pole sections that branch off to the sides and the door of the tent.

The long spine pole consists of four sections that are gray in color and one section that is black. The black section attaches to the front hub system.

The rear pole sections consist of three pole pieces on each angle of the hub. The rear hub reminds me of a three piece spoke. The hub itself is metal and has three points sticking out that the poles fit in. The bottom of the hub has a round piece (noted as a button) that the tent body clips on to via the "H' clips.

The front hub does have the button that the "H" clip fastens to. However, the hub design is quite different from the rear hub. There are no connecting points on the hub. The poles connect to each other inside the clear plastic hub. The front pole section consists of four pieces on each side. This hub system allows for three front pole anchor points. There is a middle pole section that fastens to a grommet opposite the door opening of the tent and two side sections which fasten to the grommets on the front sides of the tent.

The pole system is sectioned into pieces each connected by elastic cords. These poles are DAC Featherlite NSL poles which are lighter than traditional aluminum poles.

The stuff sack included with the tent has a cord lock type closure. It has an inside compartment measuring from the inside seams 19.75 x 5.75 in (50 x 15 cm) to store the tent poles. There is no closure on the pole storage compartment. The exterior of the stuff sack has a 8.5 x 4.5 in (22 x 11 cm) flap type closure pocket to store the stakes and guylines. There was extra cording included inside this pocket with instructions and material samples.

The tent body is made of a rip-stop nylon material with an abundance of lightweight no-see-um mesh. The nylon body is light gray and tan in color with the words Black Diamond and the logo printed in black on the tent door. The floor of the tent body is a bathtub design constructed of 70 D nylon tafetta that is polyurethane coated on the inside; 2000 mm water column. The floor is also polyurethane seam-taped.

The UV-resistant rainfly is a 40 D polyester rip-stop material with a silicone coating on the outside and polyurethane coated inside; 1500 mm water column. The rainfly also has polyurethane taped seams. The rainfly is orange in color with the words Black Diamond and the logo printed in black on the underside of both rainfly sides. There is an adjustable rainfly vent at the top of the tent door and fixed foot vent to help eliminate condensation. The integrated vestibule is designed with a side angle intended to keep gear nearby but out of the doorway. The underside of the rainfly has four hook and loop attachments to secure the fly to the tent poles or to set up the fly without the tent body by using a ground cloth. There is also a tie back on the fly that can used to secure the entire front of the fly in rolled back position, or it can be used to secure the rainfly door in an open position.

This is not a fancy tent with a bunch of additions in the inside. There is a single door that is side angled. There is one pocket inside the tent adjacent to the door opening. The door can be stashed inside this pocket or to be held open with a toggle outside the tent. There are three small loops on the ceiling of the tent running down the length of the body to hang accessories. The door opens with a dual zipper pull with gray cord loops. Two people sleep positioned in this tent with the door of the tent located near the head of one person. The other person must climb over the person near the door in order to exit the tent.

The tent canopy fastens to the poles via eleven hook and tension clear clips. There are two "H" clips on the tent canopy to attach the body to the buttons on the hubs. The tent body has five stake anchor loops with grommets for the pole attachment. Four of the anchor loops have side-release buckles to attach the rainfly.

Poles, stakes, and stuff sack

Stuff sack, pole, stakes, and guyline

Front hub system

Front hub system showing how the poles pieces intersect on the black pole.

Rear hub

Rear hub system

Rear vent

Foot vent

Clip

Clip

 

First Time Setting Up The Tent

The manufacturer provides instructions on how to set up the tent. So instead of adding grief and stress to my life I had the instructions handy for the first time set up of the tent. The first step is to spread the tent body out flat. Then position the poles with the long cross pole at the font. I will use the clear hub as a reference in the future since this hub is positioned near the font of the tent. I did forget to have the hub buttons facing down. Yes, they must face down. The next step is to place the pole ends in the grommets in the four corners of the tent and in the font grommet near the door. Then it is time to attach the clear clips to the pole frame. After the clips are attached the "H" clips are fastened to the buttons of the pole hubs. The final step is to stake out the four corner webbing loops and the front webbing loop.

The manufacturer states in the instructions that the "H" clips can be attached to the hubs as the first step. This is intended to speed the process of inserting the poles into the grommets.

The rainfly is attached by clipping the corners to the side-release buckles to the corners of the tent. The fly can be tensioned with the cord adjustments at the four corners and the vestibule stake point.

Initial Impression

I reviewed the manufacturer's website prior to receiving the tent. The tent in reality looks like the same tent that is pictured on the website as far as design goes. There are files that can be downloaded with the tent pitching instructions that are the same as the instructions included with the tent. The website also contains video clips demonstrating how to set up the tent. The general features of the tent are listed along with the specifications. The website and the literature provided with the tent have limited information describing in detail the tent features in detail along with the material make up of the tent.

I am very pleased with my initial views of this product. The Mirage appears durable and easy to pitch.

Field Report

August 26, 2008

Testing Locations

During the past two months the Black Diamond Mirage tent was used on three trips totaling five nights in the field.

Mt. San Jacinto State Wilderness, California: The Mirage was used at a primitive campground at an elevation of 6,500 ft (1,980 m). The temperatures ranged from 76 F (24 C) to 55 F (13 C).

San Bernardino National Forest, California: This was a two night backpacking trip to the Lodgepole camp site on the South Fork Trail. The trip was 11 mi (18 km) round tip and had 3,400 ft (1,036 m) of elevation gain. The temperatures were in the low 80 F (27 C) range and was around 60 F (16 C) at night.

Timber!

Lodgepole Camp

Mt. San Jacinto State Wilderness, California: This was a two night trip on the Marion Mountain Trail. The daytime temperature was around 80 F (27 C) with a night temperature around 55 F (13 C). There were storm clouds and thunderstorms in the area. Lucky for us the we missed the rain showers. The camp elevation was at 9,850 ft (3,000 m).

Camp at Marion Mountain

Marion Mountain Trail

Performance in the Field

I must say that the Black Diamond Mirage tent sets up very quickly in the field. I am happy that I set up the tent upon receiving it before taking it out into the field. I think by setting up the tent initially at home I reduced set up errors and had a better understanding of the set up process.

Out in the field I set up the tent by inserting the pole ends into the grommets at the corners of the tent body. I then attached the hubs to the hub clips prior to fastening the tent body clear clips to the pole frame. This method definitely increased the set up ease/speed of the tent. I found this process enabled me to set up the tent very effectively without any assistance and without difficulty managing the single pole design. The tent body has wrinkles in the floor until it is pitched taut using the stakes or rocks. During the testing period I had no difficulty pitching the tent correctly.

I found that the single pole system is a little bit awkward to manage while getting all the poles connected together. I just think this is due to the way the pole is designed with the two large Y shape ends. When I really think about it all the pole systems I have used with previous tents were awkward as well.

I do not use the included stuff sack to transport the tent in the field. I only use it for storage. In the field I carry the poles collapsed with a rubber band around them to prevent them from magically snapping themselves into place. I tried to carry the poles without the rubber band and I found that they did not stay as neatly as I intended them to. But, by no means do I have to use the rubber band I could get by without it perfectly fine. I also use a small stuff sack to place the stakes in so they do not get lost.

During the past two months the tent was used with the rainfly two times. After the tent body was pitched with the stakes in place the rainfly was set up by clipping the corners with the side release buckles. There was no need during the testing period to use the included guy lines with the rainfly. I found that there was adequate ventilation with no condensation when using the fly with the canopy down with the rainfly vent open or the canopy pulled back. There was a light wind when using the rainfly and the tent was pitched taut enough that there was no flapping of the rainfly.

Upon entering the tent I found myself sometimes accidentally sitting on a portion of the door when I was removing my boots. When I held the door open with the toggle I had no issues with sitting on the door. I just have to remember to pull the door back or stuff it in the inner pocket. In the entrance of the tent I can fully sit up to remove clothes and my boots. However inside the tent towards the middle and towards the foot area I can not completely sit up without my head and neck being squashed. Ouch!

The inner pocket is not fully sewn to the inside of the tent. There are three small points that the pocket is attached to the tent body. These attachment points are in the corners of the pocket. In the dark I would reach to place something inside the pocket and I realized that the item was not in the pocket but on the floor of the tent. This is because I thought what I felt was the opening of the pocket when in fact it was the opening between the pocket and the tent body.

The shape of the tent does provide some additional headroom on the side farthest from the door. My sleeping partner can exit the tent without stepping on me but it is tight. Two adults can sleep in this tent but it is tight. My husband is 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) and he just barely sleeps comfortably. He did mention that his feet were touching the bottom of the tent. However, I have no issues with my feet touching the bottom of the tent, but I am much shorter than he is. I find that the tent is narrow for two people and my husband completely agrees with me.

I did take a nap in the tent and I found it roomy for one person with most of my gear inside the tent. Actually I think the tent is very spacious for one person, which never hurts.

During the last two months of testing the Black Diamond Mirage had no issues handling condensation. Even when there were thunderstorms near camp and high humidity there was no condensation even with the rainfly on. At this point the tent has not been exposed to any rain storms so I can not report on condensation or the waterproofness qualities. Hopefully soon there will be rain.

Long Term Report

October 14, 2008

Testing Locations

During the past two months the Black Diamond Mirage tent was used on three trips totaling five nights in the field.

Mt. San Jacinto State Wilderness, California: This was a two night backpacking trip with a base camp at Buckthorn which is about 9,170 ft (2,774 m) in elevation. We stayed there for two nights as we climbed the peak on Saturday. The weather was great, with highs of 75 F (24 C) and a low of 56 F (13 C) the first night. The second night was warmer, only getting down to 60 F (16 C). The skies were clear with lots of shooting stars the first night which we watched through the mesh as we never needed to put the fly on.

Setting it up

Buckthorn Camp

Malibu, California: This was a car camping trip at Malibu Camp for a local organization. The elevation was just above sea level and the low temperature was a warm 55 F (13 C) at night. No rainfly needed on this trip.

City of Rocks, Idaho: This was a rock climbing trip and the elevation was around 5,800 ft (1,768 m). There was a light snow shower during the night and the low was 28 F (-2 C). The tent was set up on a dusting of snow. I used the rainfly on this trip due to the cloudy conditions and the cold temperatures.

Performance in the Field

During the past two months I used the Mirage as a two person shelter on one trip and as a solo shelter on my subsequent trips. I can still set the Mirage up with no difficulty and very quickly. I am very happy with the shelter even though it is a few ounces heavier than other two person tents I own.

I have found the tent to be roomy for one person with room to spare to stash my gear inside the tent with me. However, with two people I find it a bit cramped. In the morning while awakening from sleeping all night I wanted to put on some extra layers before going outside. I clobbered by husband with my arm as I was trying to get dressed. The second night in the tent we attempted to play cards. My husband was sitting near the door since that is the highest part of the tent. I had to sit in the middle of the tent and I could not get comfortable. All that night while sleeping I kept bumping into him and I was getting perturbed due to my lack of comfort and personal space.

I love the amount of mesh on the tent body. It makes for awesome stargazing. For the first two trips during my long term reporting I was able to sleep with the fly off. During the third trip there was a small snow squall that passed through the area. I had the rainfly on because it was very chilly. The ventilation in the tent was excellent. There was not a drop of condensation. I did use the guy lines on this trip because it was a bit windy. I had the tent guyed tight and there was no flapping of the fly against the body of the tent.

The only precipitation the tent was exposed to was the small snow squall on my last trip. When I set the tent up the ground was wet and had a dusting of snow. The moisture did not permeate through the bottom of the tent.

On the trip to Buckthorn Camp I used a ground cloth with the tent. I picked one up at Black Diamond in Salt Lake City. Actually I am glad that I used the ground cloth because there was tree sap on it in several areas when I packed up the tent. The ground cloth is relatively easy to set up with the tent. I just have to make sure I put it right side up the first time.

To clean the Mirage I have only wiped out the tent and the outside of the body with a damp cloth. It has not gotten dirty enough to be hosed off or rinsed off in a tub.

Initially when I got the tent I thought that by packing the tent in the stuff sack I would alter the shape of the stiff rain vents. Surprisingly they are holding their shape well.

The zippers on the door and on the rainfly are still in excellent working condition. They have not snagged and are easy to open and close. The tent body is in excellent condition with no snags in the mesh material. This mesh seems stronger than the mesh used on some of the lightweight tents I have used in the past. Some of my previous tents had several snags in the mesh after one use.

The poles are still snapping together very easily. The plastic hub and the "H" clips that are made of plastic have not broke. I was a little worried about the plastic hub breaking when I first set up the tent. The tent seems to be made of high quality materials that will hopefully last for many more trips.

Things That Rock:

  • The tent sets up quickly
  • Appears to be made of strong fabrics
  • Rainfly vents
  • Excellent ventilation

Things That Are So So:

  • Only one door
  • Is heavier than other 2-person tents I own
  • Small for a two person tent
  • Inside pocket is not fully sewn to the tent body

Summary

The Black Diamond Mirage tent is quick to set up without separate pole pieces. It has a large vestibule and venting options in the rainfly at the head and the foot of the tent. The unique shape of the tent offers more space for the person sleeping farthest from the door. This tent is a little bit tight for two people, but very spacious for one person. This tent has excellent ventilation properties with the rainfly on or off.

Gettin some sun

Remarks

This concludes reporting on the Black Diamond Mirage Tent. Thank you Black Diamond and backpackgeartest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test the Mirage tent.

 



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