BLACK DIAMOND ONESHOT TENT
TEST SERIES BY JIM SABISTON
July 31, 2007
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Bay Shore, NY
6' 3" (1.91 m)
210 lb (95.30 kg)
Product Information and Specifications:
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website www.bdel.com
MSRP: US $289.95
Listed Weight: 2 lbs 5 oz (1.04 kg) (Tent and Poles only)
Measured Weight: 2 lb 8.3 oz (1.14 g) (Tent and poles with supplied stuff sacks)
Height: 36 in (91 cm)
Length: 85 in (216 cm)
Width: 36 in (91 cm)
Packed Size: 6 in X 9 in (15 cm X 23 cm)
Optional Ground Cloth:
MSRP: US $39.95
Weight: 6.4 oz (182 g)
Measured Weight: 6.25 oz (178 g)
I've been camping for several decades. I am an active member of the Adirondack Mountain Club. I have also expanded my backpacking to include more winter trips, mountaineering and backcountry cross country skiing, and participated the Winter Mountaineering training program with Chauvin International Climbing Guides. More recently, I have actively studied ways to backpack lighter and more efficiently. During the summer months, my style tends toward very light, but not quite ultralight. I use a hammock or tarp for warm weather, and a small four-season tent for winter trips. Most of my other gear is very changeable, as I am constantly experimenting with gear and techniques.
The Black Diamond OneShot Tent is a one person, free-standing dome style tent. The tent is, for all practical purposes, a smaller and lighter solo version of Black Diamond's Lighthouse/HighLite tents. The tent is of single walled construction with interior poles. The design includes an awning and an awning pole intended to permit the front and rear screened windows to be left fully or partially open in inclement weather. The front door comprises one full side of the tent, permitting easy access and an enormous amount of ventilation. The tent body is constructed of EPIC by Nextec fabric, a highly breathable and water resistant (not waterproof) material. The tentís tub style floor is constructed using a grey/olive drab waterproof silnylon.
The tent packs into two grey/olive drab silnylon bags. One contains the tent body and the other contains the DAC Featherlite aluminum tent poles. There was a small hang tag attached to the pull cord of the stuff sack containing the tent body. This actually turned out to be a small booklet which provides information on the Black Diamond lightweight shelter product line in multiple languages (English, French, German and Japanese).
The Tent Body:
The first thing I noticed was how pleasantly soft and pliable the hand of the Epic ripstop fabric is. It is easy to see how this fabric could be used to make lightweight, water resistant clothing. The bottom of the tent is made from the same 30 denier grey/olive drab silnylon fabric as the two stuff sacks. Typical of silnylon, the feel of the tent bottom is very light and slippery. Closer examination indicated that none of the seams were taped or sealed. The primary impression is one of lightness and delicacy.
The Tent Poles:
The three DAC Featherlite poles are packed into their own silnylon bag. This bag arrived fastened to the tent bodyís stuff sack using two sewn-in black elastic loops. There is a small pocket at the top of the sack, intended for the six 'Y' type stakes which are supplied with the tent. The poles are packed with a clear plastic zip lock bag containing an owner's manual for the tent, six aluminum 6 in (15 cm) 'Y' type tent stakes and materials for seam sealing the tent, consisting of a tube of McNett's silicon seam sealer and a plastic syringe. The DAC Featherlite poles are made of very thin walled aluminum tubing. Rather than using tube ferrules each connection is comprised of a full diameter tube section, slightly flared, which accepts the tapered end of the neighboring tube section, thus eliminating the need for the heavier ferrule. The shorter awning pole has two silver aluminum fittings at the pole ends, intended to fit into the awning grommets. Examination of the tapered tube end reveals that there is a thin metal reinforcing insert. Each individual tube assembly is held together with a single thin piece of elastic shock cord.
There are four guy points. The guy points are located on each corner of the tent body, right on the corner seam and in line with the tent poles, about 17 in (43 cm) above the tent corner. The guy points are made of black 1/2 in (13 mm) webbing with a wide reflective stripe right down the center. The webbing is anchored to the tent body using a doubled triangular patch of Epic fabric, the same material as the tent body. The guy point is assembled using an x-patterned stitch and then sewn right into the corner seams.
Corner anchor points: There are four primary anchor points, made of a 4 in (10 cm) loop of black 3/4 in (19 mm) webbing. The anchors are located right at the four corners of the tent body, typical of most tents. The tent body is heavily reinforced at the corners, as this is also where the ends of the main tent poles sit. Reinforcing is accomplished using black, rubber-backed heavy duty nylon.
The OneShot uses a 'tub style' silnylon bottom. Silnylon is lightweight, waterproof, slippery and, in my experience, surprisingly rugged for such a flimsy appearing fabric.
|The Black Diamond OneShot Tent, Front View.|
|The Black Diamond OneShot Tent, Rear View.|
There are two small interior pockets located on the rear wall of the OneShot and are sewn into the floor/wall seam. The pockets are made from no-see-um screen material and edged with yellow nylon tape.
There are two nylon fabric loops located in the tent ceiling. The loops are positioned above my head when sitting in the tent, right on the front/rear centerline, and it appears that they are well located to support a small light. There is a large warning tag sewn into the rear of the tub/tent body seam. This tag warns (in English and French) that the tent is not fireproof and under no circumstances should a flame source of any kind be brought into into the tent.
I was fortunate enough to test Black Diamond's original Lighthouse tent. The OneShot retains a detail that really appealed to me on the Lighthouse. To quote from my Initial Report:
"Here is one of those little details that sets a product apart and tells me that the people over at Black Diamond are awake and really working at improving their products: Interior door/screen toggles. Every tent I have ever used has these little 'toggle-and-loop' arrangements for securing the loose material of an open tent door or screen. They work well enough and I was always glad to have a way to keep things tidy and organized (at least these things helped make it look that way!). The only real shortcoming of the 'toggle-and-loop' is that it is a fixed size. One had to hope that the manufacturer got the size right, which was not always the case. Too big and the secured panel would flop around and occasionally come undone. Too small and one could ruin an otherwise perfect day trying to get them to close. With one really clever modification, Black Diamond has changed everything. All they did was replace the toggle (normally a small, solid plastic cylinder which is tapered a bit at the ends) with a spring-loaded toggle of the type often found on a typical stuff sack, allowing the tension on the secured toggle and loop to be adjusted! In use, this is no different from a more ordinary toggle (just slip the toggle through the provided loop), EXCEPT that by pulling on the bit of nylon that secures the toggle, I can now tighten it on the secured panel. Once this is done, it leaves a very tidy secured panel that is highly unlikely to come apart until I want it to. Really and truly nice.
If the guy (or gal) who thought this up reads this review: I hope you received a raise or a bonus for this little winner. If you didn't, go ask for it now, you deserve it. Tell them I said so."
Erecting the OneShot Tent:
I did my trial setup in my back yard. I strongly advise everyone do this before taking any tent into the field. As I am in the habit of doing when setting up any light weight shelter, I staked out the floor and ground cloth as soon as I took them out of the stuff sack. The OneShot tent is light enough that it WILL blow away if given the chance. I open the pole stuff sack first and take out four tent stakes, placing them in a pocket where they are readily available. I then spread out the ground cloth and tent body, immediately placing stakes in the nearest corners, quickly moving to the opposite end and staking out those corners under tension. Once this is done, assuming dry weather, I can then relax a bit and assemble the three poles. At this point I usually sit in the center front of the tent - I always store the tent with the door open - and assemble the poles. The poles supplied with the OneShot have a noticeable curve designed into them, no doubt in consideration of the stress introduced by the tent design. I suspect the curve will also add to the strength and stability of the tent in windy conditions.
I insert the awning pole first. This is the shortest of the three poles and has a slight curve shape. This pole slides through two metal (brass?) grommets located under the front and rear awning panels. It must be inserted before the two main poles, as the resulting body tension will otherwise make it impossible to install the awning pole. The ends of this pole have aluminum inserts designed to fit into the two receiving grommets located at the center of the awning panels on small bits of black nylon webbing. Still sitting in the front center of the tent, I take one of the main poles, I reach back to my right rear and locate the right rear reinforced corner of the tent. At the base of the corner patch is a small metal snap which is supposed to accept and hold the end of the main support poles. I placed the end of the pole in the snap and then started gently bending the pole while sitting back up. Once fully upright, I continued bending the pole until I could reach the far end, which I then guide into the opposite left front corner of the tent and into the mating corner patch and snap - the front opening must be fully open during this process to give the poles enough clearance and to avoid undue stress on the pole or the tent fabric. Once in place, I pull the tent body over my head and the pole. I then repeat the process with the last pole, inserting the end into the left rear corner patch and snap and finishing with the right side front. Now, I start fastening the ten hook and loop fasteners that secure the tent body directly to the poles. This takes a bit of fiddling, as the tent body develops considerable tension as this process is completed. Once done, the tent becomes quite taut around the frame. This seems a bit complex, but is much easier than it sounds. The process is much quicker than most tents Iíve used, and I expect it will go even faster as I develop more experience with the process.
Once erected, it becomes apparent that Black Diamond has designed the awning to be offset from the front/back center-line of the tent by about a foot (30 cm), favoring the right side of the OneShot when viewed from the front. I suspect that this might give a bit better protection to the open windows if that side of the tent is faced towards inclement weather. The two primary poles also cross off-center, but to the opposite side. Both details are clearly seen in the photo below:
|The Black Diamond OneShot Tent, Top View|
Disassembly of the tent is essentially the reverse of assembly. The hook and loop fasteners used to hold the tent poles in place have a little bit of nylon webbing sewn on them. I noticed that Black Diamond has made the tabs on the hook and loop fasteners a bit larger than those on the Lighthouse model I tested. Thanks! A little tug on this tab causes the fastener to come right apart. This really speeds up the breakdown process, which is quite rapid. Some care must be exercised when removing the two main poles, as they are under a fair amount of stress. It is possible to launch one of these if it slips. The stuff sacks provided have ample room for their respective duties. The three poles, all six stakes provided and the optional ground cloth all fit into the one stuff sack easily. The tent was stuffed without undue effort into its dedicated sack with room to spare.
This is a very interesting tent. Construction is top notch, as I have come to expect from Black Diamond products. As is to be expected from a solo shelter, interior space is a tight, but not unreasonably so. I am a pretty big guy and I just fit when lying down inside. Sitting up is a bit tight and my head brushes firmly against the ceiling, but not uncomfortably so. As you can see in the photo below, I tried out my 'cooking position' and just make it. I generally avoid cooking inside any tent, but if the weather leaves no choice, it is nice to know I have an option.
|The Black Diamond OneShot Tent, with me sitting inside.|
As I put a premium on a light gear kit, I do not foresee any major issues fitting my typical pack and equipment inside for the night. I have been using a Lightsabre bivy for my last few backpacks and the OneShot is comparatively palatial! The trade-off, off course, is a bit more weight but this tent seems at first glance to offer an interesting 'in-between' option with a pretty small weight penalty.
The two windows should offer excellent cross ventilation when needed, with the awnings permitting them to remain open in all but the worst conditions. My one major disappointment is with the front door screen. Instead of the full door screen used in the Lighthouse, the OneShot uses a smaller window, matching the one used in the rear panel. The Black Diamond web site describes this as a three-season tent. With this in mind, I consider this a fairly major omission. If not for concerns about biting insects and protecting expensive camera gear, I would use a tarp during summer. I am concerned about how the lack of a full screen on the door will affect comfort in the hot and muggy summer nights when they get here. I will be paying particular attention to how this design detail affects warm weather comfort.
One surprise, but it should not be in retrospect, is that the poles pack nearly as large as the poles for the Lighthouse. I say in retrospect, because when I think about it, the tent size was reduced front-to-back, not so much side to side, so this does make sense. I will have to be especially careful not to get the two sets mixed up, as they look identical when packed.
The OneShot will become my primary shelter for all my backpacking trips for the next four months. Spring should bring a good mix of conditions, including cold wet weather. With the test period running into July, there will be plenty of opportunities to see the effects of that small front screen panel in warm, humid weather on my comfort level.
Aside from the normal issues associated with testing a tent (weather protection, wear and tear, ease of use, packability, etc.) I will be focusing on how I adapt my gear kit to the room inherent in this tent, that is, more than a bivy, less than a typical two person tent.
I will start the test series without applying the seam sealer. Note that Black Diamond does NOT recommend this, but I am curious as to how necessary the process is.
Things I Like:
1 - Light weight, of course.
2 - Packs small. Those poles will have to go on the outside of my pack, small as they are.
3 - Very roomy compared to my very light bivies, but only about 1 lb (.45 kg) heavier.
Things I Don't Like:
1 - Only that little screened window on the front door. This may only be an issue in the warmest weather. Stay tuned!
My Field Report will be posted in about two months. Watch for it!
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Personal and professional obligations have kept me closer to home than I prefer for the last two months. After some backyard experimenting with gear and packing, Harriman State Park, in southern New york State, became my sole venue to run the OneShot through its paces. This spring has proven to be relatively dry with moderate temperatures and little variation. With night temperatures typically around 45 F (7 C) I have been able use my cool weather setup and leave some of the heavy cold weather gear home.
Harriman, fortunately, offers a good mix of terrain to choose from and I have tried to focus on exposed areas when possible in order to test the OneShot's rain and wind resistance. Rain has been moderate, when it showed up at all.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Testing this tent has been one of my more interesting projects. The design of the OneShot requires that I modify my expectations of what a typical tent is supposed to deliver. The point comes down to this: the OneShot is either an incredibly roomy bivy, or a very small tent. Now, the OneShot is obviously designed and marketed as a tent, but tag along with me for a while on this train of thought.
I go winter camping using a bivy as my primary shelter fairly often, so trimming my load and living with minimal storage is no new trick for me. I have actually learned to carry quite a few comfort goodies in a surprisingly small, light package, including a chair! My new dilemma is associated with my growing interest in landscape photography. Professional grade photography equipment is both large and really heavy, so I tend to favor a small, light pack with a serious suspension. My Arc'Teryx Needle 35 fits the bill nicely, as long as I limit myself to only two telephoto lenses. Even this is possible only through careful selection of backpacking gear. Light, small, low-volume gear takes on a special significance in these circumstances, as I try to maintain a lightweight backpacking style while effectively tossing bricks (i.e.: photo equipment) into the pack! The OneShot has proven to be a good solution to this problem, but not without some adjustments to my tent-based backpacking style.
This is due solely to the size and shape of the OneShot. I feel like this tent was designed by someone who took my measurements while lying down and made the tent exactly that long. They then measured the arc my head makes when I sit up and then designed the top of the tent to fit exactly that curve and height. Really, I kid you not. When I sit up, my head rubs along the entire arc of movement right into the sitting position. When sitting full up, I can actually lift the top of the tent by at least 2 in (5 cm). While this is really no problem in the current mild weather, I see a potential issue for winter use when the same movement will likely result in a head full of frozen condensation! Even so, the only time the low ceiling bothers me is when I am sitting inside and trying to drink a mug of tea or coffee. I literally cannot tilt my head back enough to empty a mug and must either stick my head out of the tent to drink (!) or assume a reclining position. Of course, in a bivy, sitting up and having a cup of tea isn't even a remote possibility. There are actually four sewn in loops on the ceiling of the tent, apparently placed for using a gear hammock. Not very likely in this case, unless I want to strangle myself with it. They are just perfect for hanging a small light and my glasses when sleeping, though!
Ah! A reclining position! This is where the OneShot comes into its own. All the above is avoided if I just remain in a reclining position and this has become my practice in the OneShot. I have learned to cook (OK, boil water!) while lounging about, appearing every bit the slacker ne'er-do-well. This only works with my cooking arrangement set up just outside the tent door, as the narrow interior space does not have enough room to operate a stove inside while lying down or reclining. The Oneshot is suited to the reclining approach perfectly. I can also cook while sitting up, either fully inside or facing out that huge door, but the hunched over position does wear after a bit. At least the option is available for really foul weather, though, something a bivy does not offer.
|The easy life in the Black Diamond OneShot Tent|
Setting up the tent is a breeze and takes me just a couple of minutes with minimal fuss. I managed to learn a little trick on a Harriman backpack which which makes the tent even easier to set up. I discovered that the narrow design makes the poles a bit more finicky about sitting naturally into position, especially if there is a bit of a breeze blowing. I found that if I put the lowest hook and loop tabs around the pole bases as soon as I place each pole in place, they tend to slide right into position - not perfectly, but it is easy fine tuning after this is done. I have actually gotten rather casual about snapping the poles into place, but this is made possible by the generous reinforced corner patches sewn into the pole mounting points. Once 'roughed in', so to speak, it is a simple matter to slide the poles precisely into place and secure the remaining tabs. I can accomplish all of this without moving from my original sitting position near the center of the tent, facing outwards. It is absolutely essential, however, that the door zipper be fully open, otherwise setting up or taking down the tent can be enormously frustrating.
I must confess to 'chickening out' regarding my curiosity about not seam sealing the tent. I decided it was not worth the risk. I used the supplied seam sealing kit and mixed the silicon sealer with some mineral spirits to thin it out. Seam sealing took less than an hour with very little fuss. I have slept through some moderate rain with absolutely no issues, so far as water leaks go. Water beads up and the rain drops stand proud on the surface of the fabric, seemingly wanting to leap off. I find that it is a good idea to give the tent a bit of a shake to remove the beaded water drops before either getting into or out of the OneShot, a habit I learned with the Lighthouse, a similar tent I previously tested for Black Diamond, or the water drops poised on top of the tent will roll down the back of my neck as I invariably bump the awning. Condensation has been near zero, as expected from my experience with other Black Diamond tents made of Epic.
|Rain drops bead up on the Epic fabric|
Wind! The OneShot has proven to be a model of stability in the wind. But there is one very notable shortcoming inherent in such a narrow tent. On one trip to Harriman, I pitched the tent at a right angle to the wind. I prefer this position, as the tent provides a great wind shadow for cooking, etc. However, in a strong breeze, the back wall can be pushed well into the living space of the tent, and there really isn't much to spare in the OneShot. When cooking or just reclining and looking out the door, this isn't much of a problem, but when lying in the center of the tent (as if there is a choice in such a narrow space) the back of the tent pushed fully a third of the way into the interior in strong gusts. No water penetrated the fabric, but being pushed around by the back wall is a bit unnerving in the middle of the night. The same happens in larger tents, but there is just more room to move over when necessary.
Palace or Solitary Confinement:
Perspective is everything. The interior space of the OneShot was my primary interest in this tent and it has proven to be the most thought provoking aspect of the test. From a strict gear point of view, the transition has been an easy one, as might be expected from one who uses a bivy shelter regularly. My solution for photo equipment storage was fairly straightforward: I lay the lenses parallel to the rear side of the tent near the center. In this position they do not crowd my upper body, but are safe from my feet. The camera body sits near my head, just so I know where it is at all times in case I want it in a hurry. My backpacking gear requires little room: Any extra clothes are stuffed into my sleeping bag compression sack and used as a pillow, the pack itself serves as a sleeping pad for my legs and I slide my boots under the front edge of the tent to keep them out of the rain, but out of the tent to prevent the entry of dirt or mud. Hiking poles are stored outside. Cooking gear is repacked into its carrying case (a lightly padded Schwinn saddle bag) which tucks neatly into a tent corner, well out of the way. There is little surplus gear and everything has a dual job or a specific place for storage, leaving even the small interior space of the OneShot clear and uncluttered. Flashlights and glasses are hung from ceiling tabs, out of harm's way but easy to locate when needed. This helps keep the interior uncluttered and pleasant.
So, is the OneShot better thought of as a tent or a bivy? Clearly, it is a tent, but it helps to have a bivy mindset when using the OneShot. Using a bivy requires much more planning and thought as regards to effective use of gear and minimal storage space. The OneShot benefits greatly from this minimalist approach.
1 - Really light weight for even a solo tent.
2 - superb construction and materials.
3 - Teeny pack size.
Not So Good:
1 - Low height. Two or three more inches of headroom would make a huge difference for a tall guy like me.
Overall, I am in love with the OneShot. It is proving to be an excellent tent for solo hikes with my camera equipment, when a bivy is just too small to hold or care for the rather delicate equipment. My only ongoing concern has to do with how the OneShot will perform in exposed, very windy locations. This will be the focus of my long term testing period.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Where better to subject a tent to fully exposed wind and weather than a treeless deserted island? I happen to have access to just such a place (OK, there is one tree on the island!) - Sand Island. Sand Island is a small, uninhabited Island on the Great South Bay, which occupies a good size chunk of the South Shore of Long Island. The small island is not much more than a glorified sandbar visited by several hundred gulls and the occasional boat.
Access to the island requires a boat and I've been using my kayak to get out there, a 4 mile (* km) paddle from The Bay Shore waterfront across Great Cove. Weather has been pretty typical for summer on Long Island. Average temperatures have been around 85 F (29 C), and little rain. Storms have been most notable by their absence, but the exposed, unprotected island has allowed me to get the most effect out of the winds available, up to about 25 mph (40 kph).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The OneShot continues to impress. The small pack size and light weight allow the tent to all but disappear in my pack and there is no noticeable wear and tear.
I have begun using the little pockets sewn into the rear interior floor seam to store those little items that always seem to find there way under my other gear. I normally ignore these pockets, maybe storing the tent's stuff sack there just so it doesn't get lost. But the tight interior space encourages organization and these little pockets do come in handy, especially the one near the head end of the tent, which I can reach easily when lying down.
I continue to find little details that I can incorporate into organizing conveniences. For instance, the pull loops on the window zippers are perfect for holding my glasses when I am sleeping. The glasses are well out of the way and easy to find when needed, as the glasses hang just a few inches away from my head. Nice. Another is the interior pole design. The tent fabric stretches tautly over the poles and make an ideal spot to wedge in my lightweight headlamp. I slide the elastic headband between the pole and tent body and then slide it into the best position, with the lamp assembly pulled close to the pole to eliminate sway. The tension hold the headlamp right where I want it. If I need the headlamp, I just grab the light assembly and a light tug releases it. Handy.
I've found that it is not necessary to sit fully inside the tent when the weather is cooperating. I sit on the very edge of the tent floor at the door and, as the tent face angles away slightly, I can clear the awning and sit fully upright. while this is only an option in good weather, it is a far more comfortable position for sitting, cooking and even eating. Even, as seen in the photo below, while watching the sunset.
|Sitting outside the OneShot.|
When it comes to dealing with wind, the OneShot has proven to be rock solid. I mentioned the problem with the tent walls blowing inwards previously, but when the tent is oriented so the end of the tent faces the direction of the wind, steady is the name of the game. I estimate the strongest winds I experienced were about 25 mph (40 kph), with the odd gust to 30 mph (48 kph). From inside the tent, it was hard to tell there was even a strong breeze. There was no flapping and the tent body barely flexed. The pre-stressed design really makes for a stable set up.
So, aside from the inherent limits imposed by the tent size, is there anything I don't like about the OneShot? Only one thing comes readily to mind - ventilation. The tent is very well ventilated, provided there is a breeze. I was concerned from the beginning that the screens were set so high in the door and rear wall. This arrangement is surprisingly effective, but finally hits its limits on those arm, muggy, breezeless nights common in the height of summer in the northeast. I would like to see the screens larger, maybe to within 10 in (25 cm) of the floor. This would make the best of any breeze that came along, and also improve the view! In fairness to the OneShot, most tents suffer in these muggy conditions, but I think a little more screen area would go a long way here.
So, will I keep using the OneShot in my regular gear kit? Absolutely! The combination of super light weight, minimal pack space requirements and excellent construction are tough to beat. The superior room - when compared to a bivy - makes the OneShot a far more logical choice with only a minor weight penalty. This tent will likely remain my primary tent for the foreseeable future.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
If Black Diamond could see their way to raising the roof line by a few inches and enlarging the screen area a bit, the OneShot would approach perfection as a solo shelter.
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