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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Black Diamond Stormtrack 4 Season Tent > Test Report by Gail Staisil

Black Diamond
Stormtrack 4-Season Tent

Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
 
Page Contents:
 


Initial Report:
Black Diamond Stormtrack 4-Season Tent
November 22, 2008

Tester Information

Name:
Gail Staisil
Age: 56
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com

For the last 18 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.


Product Information



Manufacturer
Black Diamond Equipment
Website http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com
Model Stormtrack 4-Season Tent
Contact
801.278.5552
Color
Marigold/Gray
Fabric
Dual-coated nylon, mesh
Listed Dimensions (overall)
150 in X 61 in X 46 in (381 cm X 155 cm X 117 cm)
Listed Floor Area
35.6 sq ft (3.3 sq m)
Listed Minimum Weight (w/o stakes, cord, stuff sack)
6 lb 8 oz (2.96 kg)
Tested Minimum Weight 6 lb 8.4 oz (2.96 kg)
Listed Packaged Weight
7 lb (3.18 kg)
Tested Packaged Weight
7 lb 0.4 oz (3.19 kg)
Listed Packed Size
7 in X 22 in (18 cm X 56 cm)
Tested Packed Size
7 in X 21 in (18 cm X 53 cm)
Model Year 2008 
MSRP  NA

 

Initial Impressions and Product Description
Black Diamond Stormtrack Tent

The Black Diamond Stormtrack Tent arrived in great condition. The tent itself was encased in a large stuff sack with an attached hangtag in the form of a booklet (written in six languages). The hangtag gave me the first inkling of information about the tent. Because the tent is not yet described or shown on the manufacturer's website the diagram and basic information about the tent was my first clue as to its appearance and attributes.

I immediately learned that the Stormtrack Tent is part of the Doublelight Series of tents from the manufacturer. That series includes four three-season tents and two fou
r-season tents the latter of which the Stormtrack is categorized.

As already mentioned the Stormtrack Tent came in its own stuff sack. The stuff sack is approx 7 in (18 cm) in width by 21 in (53 cm) length and has an outside pocket (with fla
p) for storage of nine light Y-shaped stakes and security cord (32 ft/9.75 m). Besides the aforementioned; the tent body, tent fly, poles, a one-page pitching instruction sheet and several pieces of repair fabric were included. The last item is the first time I've ever had that included with a shelter and I think it's an outstanding idea by the manufacturer. I knoComponentsw that I've had to repair a tent many years ago and had to improvise with non matching materials.

The Stormtrack is a two-person capacity tent that is double walled and freestanding. One of its main features is the fact that it has two doors (one on each end) with companion vestibules. Like most four-season tents the main body of the Stormtrack has only small areas of mesh fabric to limit exposure from the weather.
There are several options for ventilation designed into the Stormtrack Tent. The most obvious are probably the use of the entrance and exit doors with mesh inserts but there are also adjustable front, rear and top vents. The top vents are triangular in nature and feature zippered openings.

The brightly colored (marigold) fly of the tent weighs 2 lb 3.5 oz (1.01 kg) and is seam taped and is made out of 2000 mm polyester. The gray-colored floor of the tent is made out of a heavier weight 5000 m nylon. I didn't find any information regarding the materials used for the rest of the main body of the tent but it is lightweight in nature at 2 lb 6.2 oz (1.08 kg).

As previously mentioned the fly of the tent is done in a very bright color. I can appreciate that for safety during winter camping as it stands out nicely as contrasted to the snow. There are also several printed logos on the tent. One adorns each door and the other is on the fly of the tent.

The tent also has an interesting 50/50 sleeve and clip design for incorporating the poles. While I have used tents with both design types I have never used one with the combination of both using clips and fabric sleeves to contain the poles. The structure of the tent is formed with the use of three different poles. Two of the pole sections include circular fast-pitch hubs and when they are unfolded, they form a Y-shape. The stem of the Y is very short but the V part of the Y has considerable length to each section.

The third pole section forms a curved T-shape. All of the poles are made out of DAC Featherlite Aluminum. The diameter of the poles is very slight at approximately 3/8 in (0.95 cm) but the poles are reportedly sturdy when used properly. The manufacturer recommends that a user be very careful to make sure the ferrules of the poles are properly put together.

The inside of the roomy tent also has four separate hanging mesh pockets (approximately 5 in/13 cm in height by 10 in/25 cm in width) on the lower sides of the two long walls (two on each side). There is plenty of headroom inside the tent with the walls being quite vertical. This is by far the most roomy 2-person tent I have ever used so I anticipate that it will be handy for stashing gear inside the tent besides bodies.

The two vestibules are of different configurations. The largest one is at the main entrance and has a significant visored overhang. The large inner door features a partial-mesh panel with a secondary zipper that opens only from the inside. The opposite door and vestibule are a bit smaller and that vestibule features a vent in the fly in addition to a mesh panel in the door.

 
Pitching the Stormtrack

Being mostly a tarp camper I haven't set up a tent for awhile. I quickly scanned the one-page instruction sheet for pitching the tent. There are graphics as well as written description for each step which made it a lot kinder for this visual learner.
Framework for corners and sides of tent
The first step to setting up the Stormtrack is to spread the body of the tent out flat. The front of the tent is characterized by having pole sleeves while the back has only clips. Each pole sleeve has both a closed end and an open end. A reflective surface characterizes the open end. 

The pole sections have to be put together next. The two Y-shaped poles are needed to form the corners and sides of the tent. One "leg" of a Y-shaped pole is inserted into one of the sleeves until it makes contact with the closed end of the sleeve. Then the short end of the pole is placed in the grommet directly below the end of the sleeve. The other "leg" of the pole is then placed in a grommet on the opposite corner of the tent. Huh? Even though I read the instructions and viewed the diagram I still fumbled with this, mostly because the Y-shaped pole is very long and unwieldy. I repeated the process for the other Y-shape pole. Finally it was making sense. 
T shape pole for front and ridge line structure
Next I placed the third pole (T-shape) to form the ridgeline structure and front entrance framework. Finally the clips on the back half of the tent could be clipped to the poles and two clips were fastened on the front entrance framework. Now the inner body of the tent was finished but at this point it should be anchored with the stakes and the fly should be attached.

Now it was time for the fly to be placed. The fly is a very bright marigold color but it also has a smaller gray section. This gray section goes over the front entrance making that placement easy.
The fly has hook and loop closures that attach in various places to the tent's framework (they each have a pull tab made out of webbing incorporated into their design for quick removal). There are also six quick-release buckles that attach to the main tent body at the corners and one each at the center of the long sides.

The attached vestibules are then anchored with stakes (two on one end, one on the smaller vestibule). The stake loops are made of large loops of stretch cordage. There is also provided cordage for six different reflective attachment loops on the exterior of the tent's fly for use in strong winds. 
Clips are use on the rear framework
I can honestly say that this tent had the most non-intuitive set up that I've ever performed on a tent. I was glad that I was setting it up for the first time in my basement as there was a raging blizzard outside. However, once I "got it" it wasn't so hard the second time around when I set it up outside the next day in the snow at 18 F (-8 C) air temperature. I wore SealSkinz gripper-type gloves and I still had the dexterity to handle all of the parts without a problem. Like anything, once the process is figured out it becomes easier every time it's repeated.

Upon set up I was fully able to inspect the Black Diamond Stormtrack Tent. I found the workmanship to be impeccable. Every detail was nicely done and there aren't any imperfections that I could find regarding sewing or finishing techniques.

After taking the tent down I repacked the tent in the stuff sack to see if I could get everything back into it without difficulty. Thankfully the sack is nice and roomy so it went quite easily.

 
Front vestibule with open door
Care

Care instructions are located inside of the information booklet. Basically the tent should never be put away wet. They recommend that users who live in wet climates should hand wash the tent with McNett MiraZyme Cleaner every two years whether mildew is present or not.The tent should never be machine washed or dry cleaned and lightly soiled areas can be hand washed with clean warm water (no soap). Poles should be handled carefully and checked occasionally for bends at the end of ferrules. If the latter occurs they should be replaced.


So far I am impressed with the possibilities of the Stormtrack Tent. It is a much larger shelter than I expected but I look forward to using the tent over the next four months. It will be mostly used in the winter season here so I expect it will be subjected to strong winds, frigid temperatures and a lot of snow. 


 


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Field Report:
Black Diamond Stormtrack 4-Season Tent
January 21, 2009

Locations and Conditions

During the field test period, I have used the Black Diamond Stormtrack 4-Season Tent during a three-day sledge trip (2 nights).
Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1200 ft (366 m). 


Early December Backpacking/Sledge Trip:

Location: Pigeon River Country State Forest - Lower Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Bushwhack, old two-tracks
Distance: Approx 10 mi (16 km)
Length of Trip:
3 days
Sledge Weight: 45 lb (20 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, light snow and partly sunny 
Precipitation:
0.43 in (1.09 cm)
Temperature Range: 10 F (-13 C) to 22 F (-6 C)


Performance in the Field

Minimal Set-Up Time

During the field test period I was able to use the Stormtrack Tent during a three-day sledge trip. I packed the tent inside my sledge and it was easy to access as soon as I found a camp spot. Each night I camped at a different location in the woods. My first camp site was nestled in deep snow between a high ridge and a neighboring low ridge. The process of setting up the tent went quickly (probably 5 minutes) after I first packed down an area with my snowshoes to use as the base for the tent.

Since I had twice set up the tent at home after it arrived, the pole selection and insertion process went smoothly. After clipping the fly intoTester enjoying the spacious Stormtrack Tent place I positioned the tent in the exact orientation that I desired (avoiding winds blowing into the main door) and staked it down with dead tree branches.

During the winter months I don't typically use the stakes that are provided with a tent because of the depth of snow. I instead gather dead tree branches and break them into approximately two foot (61 cm) sections. I then use them as stakes and as a further security measure, I shovel snow on top of each stake.

 
A "Palace" in the Woods

I next unloaded all the gear from my sledge into the tent. Most of my gear is packed in large stuff sacks so it is neatly categorized and I lined it up on one side of the tent. I spread out two layers of sleeping pads and was amazed at all the room I still had in the tent. Even though it is a two-person tent and I was the solo occupant, it still is like a palace compared to many two-person tents I have used in the past.

Darkness fell early and my first meal after arrival was dinner. I set up my stove and base outside a bit of a way from the vestibule area where I could light the stove safely.

My first night in the tent was spent happily enjoying the spacious surrounds. I must note again that I am primarily a tarp camper partly because I enjoy extra space around me and not feeling confined in a tent is a real joy! The tent is real easy to get in and out of through the larger vestibule. I did keep the other vestibule closed off during the first night as I didn't need the extra venting or access. The ceiling vents were open just a small amount. The main vestibule outer door was kept open all night long. Some precipitation in the form of snow fell but just a light layer stayed on top of the tent. I stored my stove and cookie-sheet base for it in the vestibule but kept all of my other belongings inside as I had so much room.


Minimal Condensation

During the second night the evening was much stormier. Wild winds and snow flurries combined with a more open camp location had me closing both vestibules during sleeping hours. I was amazed at the quiet inside the tent as the pitch was taut and there weren't any flapping or other noises apparent. When I retreated from the tent once during the middle of the night it was like a whole different noisy world outside.

Condensation during the second night with a low of about 10 F (-13 C) was minuscule. I noticed some on the ceiling of the tent but it was barely noticeable. It was located above the area where my mouth had exhaled during sleep. I also noted that while sitting up in the tent there is plenty of room and my head doesn't scrape the ceiling (which is a definite plus if there would of been frozen condensation). There is plenty of length to the tent as well so my sleeping bag doesn't touch any tent walls.

Although it snowed both nights of my trip there was only a light dusting of snow remaining on the tent in the morning.


Durability and Care

So far, there haven't been any issues with durability, but I will look further at that in the long term period. When I returned home from the trip I carefully spread out the tent to dry to make sure that it was stored without any dampness.

During the next few months, it will still be the winter season here. I will continue to use the tent for my sledge trips and if the snow melts earlier than normal I will carry it in my backpack.

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Long Term Report:
Black Diamond Stormtrack 4-Season Tent
March 27, 2009

Locations and Conditions

During the long term testing period, I have used the Black Diamond Stormtrack 4-Season Tent during two different four-day sledge trips (three nights each for a total of six nights).
Locations ranged from and included frozen lake travel and conifer and deciduous forest communities. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1200 ft (366 m). 


Early February Backpacking/Sledge Trip:

Location: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Ungroomed trail and bushwhack
Distance: 18 mi (29 km)
Length of Trip:
4 days/3 nights
Sledge Weight: 45 lb (20 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, light snow and partly sunny 
Precipitation:
0.12 in (0.30 cm)
Temperature Range: 23 F (-5 C) to 41 F (5 C)


Early March Backpacking/Sledge Trip:

Location: Lake Superior (frozen-over) and Grand Island - Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Frozen lake travel by ski and snowshoe, bushwhack and island trails
Distance: 21 mi (34 km)
Length of Trip:
4 days/3 nights
Sledge Weight: 45 lb (20 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, partially sunny, windy
Precipitation:
Trace of new snow
Temperature Range: -15 F (-26 C) to 32 F (0 C) 



Performance in the Field
Frost upon removal of fly
During the long term test period I first used the Stormtrack Tent in mild winter conditions. The low temperature during the trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was 23 F (-5 C). Each night the Stormtrack was set up in a different location. The first night I set it up on top of very wet snow conditions and I wondered if any of the wetness would seep into the bottom of the tent. After compressing the site with snowshoes and then later sleeping in the tent and compressing it further I could only see areas that looked saturated but were dry to the touch. I didn't use a ground cloth as I normally don't carry one for deep snow conditions.

I opened the ceiling vents and the upper door vents were open about half way throughout the night. The rear vestibule was zipped in its entirety and the front vestibule was zipped about three-quarter way. The ceiling area above my face was slightly damp but not unusual considering the high degree of humidity (100 percent - it snowed during the night).

During the second and third nights of that trip there was a bit more frozen condensation but it was mostly noticed between the tent and the fly when I removed the fly each day to pack it. That
wasn't a big deal as that is where the condensation should be.


Ice Travel/Set-Up
Stormtrack on frozen Lake Superior
My second trip that was located on frozen Lake Superior occurred in much colder conditions. During the first of three nights on this trip the temperatures dipped to -15 F (-26 C) with a daytime high of 9 F (-13 C). I set the tent up on the snow-covered ice of Lake Superior. There was little-to-no wind but I used my snowshoes as pull-outs on the two long sides of the tent. I staked the tent using dead branches that I was able to gather previously on the shore of the nearby island. There was enough snow on top of the ice that I was able to shovel snow on top of the stakes for security.

During the first night of this journey I also convinced my travel partner to share the tent with me for testing purposes although they had their own set-up. Normally when I have used the tent solo I throw in all my extra gear from my sledge. This time I decided to use the rear vestibule mostly for that purpose. I did still have room on the side of my tent for a few stuff sacks containing a few items including an overbag (in case I needed it). My stove set-up was stored in the front vestibule. My friend also stored a few items in the rear vestibule. The tent was still very roomy with two people in it and I never felt that I didn't have enough space to toss and turn (which I did a lot that night as I was cold!!)

I kept the ceiling vents fully open and the zippered-door vents partially open. The rear vestibule was zipped shut but the front vestibule was kept fully open. In the morning there was more frost than I had experienced
before in the Stormtrack but it was still minimal considering the
temperature and the addition of an extra person.

Stormtrack set up on ice shelf near island cliff

During the second night of this trip conditions were similar with the low being -9 F (-23 C). I slept in the tent solo and used my skis for side pull outs (I had skis, snowshoes and ice cleats with me for the various conditions on this trip). The tent was set up on an ice shelf along the side of the island. It was however snow covered so innovative staking was not an issue.

The third night (-6 F/-21 C) of this trip was spent inland on the island. After a full day of very extreme (rough boulder-like ice) ice conditions we headed inland and bushwhacked down through the center of the island.

Camp was located in deep snow conditions and again stakes were dead tree branches. Winds were more extreme but the tent was well protected by the forest. I set up the tent so that the main vestibule was away from the prevailing wind and I wasn't affected with the door wide open during all the evening hours.

I have continued to melt snow and cook my meals several feet from the front vestibule of the tent. I normally sat inside the tent just back from the front door opening as it gave me protection from wind and snow during cooking and or reading. My position gave me access to everything I need to accomplish tasks.

Being super spacious in size the Stormtrack is so easy to do chores in like changing clothes or sorting gear without hitting the side walls or ceiling. I haven't used the side pockets much for gear storage as most of my winter gear is already in stuff sacks. I'm certain that during other seasons they would have been quite handy for me knowing my preference then.
 
During all of my outings the tent was packed in my sledge which I pulled over a variety of terrain (flat to hilly, smooth to extremely rough, trail and bushwhack). Although the tent is heavier than my normal setup of tarp and bivy the weight was barely noticeable for these four-day outings.
 

Conclusion

During the last four months all of my testing of the Stormtrack was all
Cook area outside of tent proper (Chapel River in background) done in winter conditions. The temperatures ranged from -15 F (-26 C) to 41 F (5 C). It experienced high winds and blowing snow but not any heavy amounts of snow.

In conclusion, I really have come to love the Stormtrack Tent. I anticipate using it a lot in the future for winter conditions and perhaps for other trips where I would plan to share the tent (to spread the weight load). The tent has been more than roomy even when used with two people but a real palace when used solo.

The front vestibule is easy to enter and exit from and there is plenty of room to stash stoves, boots and the like. The front vestibule is also very protective from the elements as I have kept it open while it is snowing (facing away from the wind direction) and nothing has blown into the tent.

The rear vestibule is a bit more restrictive and I have used it to enter and exit but it is not my preference for doing so. It is however handy for storing extra items and the ventilation provided by the top screen of that exit door is welcome. Condensation has been minimal likely due to the great venting options.

 

Durability and Care

After eight total nights of usage the tent looks fine with the tent body, tent fly and poles all being in fine condition. The only area of wear that I noticed was a tiny hole forming in one of the external front sleeves of the tent. It is the area where the pole gets pushed into to make the corner of the tent. It's hard to say why this happened but I suspect that I pushed on the pole too hard when the end of it wasn't firmly seated at the end of the sleeve. After each trip I have carefully spread out the tent to dry to make sure that it was stored without any dampness. I have also stored the tent loosely in a larger stuff sack.

 
Pros 
  • Roomy
  • Very little condensation
  • Easy access
  • Quiet inside despite howling winds and snow
  •  
Cons
  • None 

Tester Remarks 

Thanks to Black Diamond and BackpackGearTest for this neat opportunity to test the Stormtrack 4-Season Tent. This report concludes the test series.

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