Last weekend on a training run up Mt Shasta I had a chance to try out my Black Diamond Firstlight 2 Person Tent, my first new tent in almost 10 years. Initial thoughts are below, and I'll update as time goes by.
“The more you know, the less you need.” - Yvon Chouinard, Let My People Go Surfing
I've been super happy with my REI Half Dome tent for a long time. About 10 years ago, in college, when my outdoor activity time finally started to overtake my party time I called my dad to discuss an important decision: my first tent. Decisions between high-end super technical options or cheap Walmart versions gave me a range of options, and I knew with untold years of experience he'd steer me in the right direction. "Quality construction is important, but most tent materials are the same and will break down in the same amount of time" - quality dad advice, ten years ago. So I went with the middle of the road REI tent and damn, that thing was amazing. From the first time setting it up in a college apartment, to desert storms in Bishop, to two years of nonstop dirtbag use, to a tree falling on it in Potrero Chico, and on and on and on. Ten years later it had some bent poles and a couple duct tape patches on the fly, still going strong. Then, sure enough, the materials all went at once. One low key trip and the thing disintegrated, fly and floor and everything all at once.
Lesson? Given the lifetime of tent materials most options will last the same amount (which can be a long time) so it's better to spring for a better version up front. Enter: the Black Diamond Firstlight 2 Person Tent.
I'm a California climber. 99% of the time the weather is good is good and I bivy outside in my sleeping bag. Sometimes though, I want a tent, especially in these situations:
- Potential* of inclement weather (*potential - if it's certain I'm not going)
- Camping and I want privacy with a friend* (so it needs to sleep at least 2)
- Setting up base camp somewhere and want to claim my spot
After going back and forth between another REI option or something fancier I came across the a good deal on Steep & Cheap for the BD First Light and pulled the trigger. It's amazing, almost 1/3 as light and compact as the REI tents and with single-wall construction it's so easy to pack I can bring it whenever I want a tent. And that's the important part, most of the time I don't need a tent, BUT when I do, which tent is important. This one is so simple to setup (even from the inside in a storm), provides such protection from the light unplanned elements (it's it's super gnarly I'll stay home), and simply covers the basics in social camping situations (up and down fast, sleeps 2 comfortably) it's a no brainer.
Doesn't hurt that it's photogenic too :)