Around winter is the time I start going through all my gear and seeing what might actually work and what won’t work in the winter. After reading a blog post a few years ago on Jörgen Johanssons excellent blog at http://www.fjaderlatt.se on the Black diamond firstlight, I decided to go ahead a purchase one. At the time the firstlight wasn’t being produced anymore and instead the updated version the Hilight was available.
I purchased the Black diamond Hilight at amazon.com and with shipping to Sweden cost me around 350usd.
What is the HiLight:
The black diamond Hilight is a free standing single wall tent. The tent fabric is not the usual silnylon or cuben, instead it’s called Nanoshield which is supposed to be a breathable, waterproof fabric.
The tent is originally designed for climbing and alpine winter camping and I think that is a pretty good use for it as I wouldn’t want it in prolonged rain for reasons I will describe later.
The Black Diamond HiLight is a pleasure to use but in my opinion a bitch to setup. I really hate the internal tent pole setup and it does require a bit of patience while learning how to use it. Once you learn how to set it up it doesn’t get easier for that, it just stretches your patience a little more. I can’t remember how many times I started setting this tent up after a days hike in the freezing cold weather longing after my pyramid tarp.
I also found that I truly love the massive side entrance, this is something all tents should have. Makes climbing in and out a breeze, I also love the panorama view I can get while lying down.
Setup: You have to first climb inside the tent, stretch out the poles, criss cross them inside the tent and with a bit of luck and practice you eventually will succeed in raising it.
Another factor I wasn’t expecting was having to seam seal it myself, this was rather fun as I did it inside my work room in the winter and got a bit high from the sealant. Fun stuff.
This tent is not an all season all weather tent in my experience. I think this tent serves it’s best use as an alpine winter tent.
Two man tent:
I will say this now, while the Black diamond hilight is marketed as a two man tent, it is not a two man tent. Maybe a two tiny man tent, but definitely not a comfortable two man tent. It is however an excellent one man tent for it’s intended purpose, albeit, a bit small for somebody as large as myself. In fact my feet and head touched both sides. But I could sit up comfortably inside, and though my head and feet touched there was no sagging inner tent to make my life miserable.
On my scales the HiLight weighed around 1.42 kilos which puts it in line with it’s advertised weight. For a free standing winter alpine tent this is actually pretty acceptable, in fact, weight to sturdiness I don’t know if there is anything better? This tent can take a load of snow like a champ.
Condensation is when your breath is turned into a shitty, hellish down blanket killer. Your breath becomes pools of water that love to drip on your face, sleeping bag and build pools around your feet. In the winter the effects of condensation become even more hellish and fairly dangerous if your not careful. If you love condensation than you will love the Black Diamond HiLight, this tent will absolutely create pools of water condensation around your feet and drench your sleeping bag; If you close it up tight. It is after all a single wall tent that will seal off all wind flow if you wish.
The easiest cure for Condensation? Open up that big ass door and the side vent and you will be fine.
This is how I sleep to avoid condensation.
It’s hard to say anything really bad about this tent. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and for the weight and size I simply can’t complain. There is nothing that can really compare to it on the market for it’s segment. The next step or closest competitor would be the Hilleberg Soulo or Hilleberg Unna. Both are excellent tents, but rather heavy.
For me this tent is too small as I am 6’3, but for anybody else looking for an excellent, relatively lightweight extreme weather tent (winter tent), then I say buy the HiLight, you won’t be disappointed.
Just remember – This tent is intended for winter alpine usage, and as such it is a great tent. I would not use it for anything else.