EXTREME WEATHER: Survived the "deluge"
To understand this review, one must be aware of recent history in Hawai'i - my favorite place to camp. Over February and March 2012, the island of Kaua'i suffered historical measures of rain, wind, hail, flooding and extreme weather. I spent two weeks in these challenging conditions living in this tent.
In my earlier review, from a trip in December 2011, I gave this tent a 5 STAR rating. I've dropped it to 4 STARS after my recent experience. In normal conditions, the rainfly is somewhat annoying but in extreme conditions, it presents a weakness to this outstanding tent.
On Saturday, Feb 23rd, the island received intermittent rain throughout the day. At around 9pm, the rain clouds exploded - pelting, driving rain that did not stop until about 7am the next morning. Neighboring tents were washed away; campers abandoned their tents to sleep in their cars or check into hotels. My friends near me spent the night IN THEIR TENT holding an umbrella to keep the water off them.
Although the rain was so loud I could not sleep a wink, I remained dry; my tent did not blow away or collapse. In this time, we received an estimated 10 inches of rain - about an inch per hour - of blasting, pelting, crashing rain that sometimes blew sideways due to the strong winds. I stayed completely dry. The tent was secure and condensation did not form.
Yet I did suffer leaks - the sideways rain blew into the zipper covers on the front door of the rainfly. Water leaked through the zipper, which fell on the front door zipper and leaked into the tent. The water pooled in the two corners of the front of the tent. After thousands of gallons of driving water hit my tent and ruined camp life for my friends and neighbors, I ended up with about a 10 oz glass of water in the two corners.
The next day, my tent was standing and dry; all others - about a dozen tents - were in shambles. Other campers witnessed this and the serious ones came over later to get the name and company for this tent. I don't believe there is a better testimonial than this for the tent.
The local paper, The Garden Island, now refers to this period as the great "deluge." Flying Diamond from BA survived a historical storm period in one of the world's most beautiful but extreme locations.
But here's the one small negative: as I wrote in the previous review, the zipper covers on the front door rainfly continue to get easily caught when unzipping. This is worse when the fly is soaked. Second, with a soaked door fly, one cannot move it out of the way. It keeps falling down - which ends up on you - making you wet. The sideways rain found a way to the uncovered zipper, which led to the minor leaking.
Most people will never experience such a storm so these are relatively small issues. Yet this is a FANTASTIC tent that can be made "nearly perfect" with some design changes to the front fly door. The rear fly door did not experience any problems, as it is engineered differently.
Lastly, the fly did receive a serious, but small, tear on the middle clip down. The photo suggests the construction could be improved here as well. Yet these were EXTREME winds and rain and the minor flaws should be considered relative to the conditions. Other tents were blown away. Mine was the envy of the campground.
Much mahaloz to Big Agnes and REI for allowing me to experience (and survive) the Great Deluge!
Fantastic 2-3 person tent
Wow, what a tent ... this is an update of Big Agnes Pine Island 4 and what an upgrade. Comments about collapsing in the wind are incorrect. My wife and I used this tent on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i for nearly a month - the trade winds howled most of the time. If you stake and guy this tent properly (easy to do), it can handle winds that will blow other tents away.
Big Agnes added many great features: there are inner covers on the doors to add warmth or privacy - my wife loved the privacy. People can't look directly into the tent any longer when the inner door covers are zipped. Plus, you can moderate this, kind of like rolling a window down part way. This controls how much fresh air comes in - or how much cold one keeps out. And, don't believe it's always warm in Hawai'i - it's not.
Big Agnes also added a vent on each side of the tent near the bottom to allow more fresh air to flow through the tent - helps reduce moisture buildup. It rains a lot on Kaua'i and these vents were very helpful.
The pole structure is better than PI4 as well. There is no "right" way, as PI4 required - so setting up is easier, especially in the dark. Contrary to the first reviewer, the poles do not poke the fly. The connectors are smooth and the fly fits like a glove.
We used this tent for two adults - and each of us had our own twin air bed (nine inches of sleeping comfort). The two twin beds fill the tent in general, about two feet left near the door, so kind of crowded. OK for two, but three or more cannot sleep like this. Smaller mattresses would allow for more people. In the day we stacked one air bed on the other and the tent was perfect for us both.
The second reviewer talked about the rain fly door getting caught in the zippers. This was a difficult problem for us as well. It's not a deal-breaker for the tent, we would buy this tent again, but you must be patient - especially when the fly is wet. Practice working this, it's tricky but can be done. From the outside is easy, as you can separate the materials. Opening or closing from the inside is the tricky part. One must learn to reach around to the outside to ensure the material does not get snagged in the zipper. Big Agnes might improve this by adding thicker material to the edge of the rainfly. I will send them this suggestion.
This tent is a dream for two people. Other campers were so envious! Their tents were collapsing in the strong wind or they were getting wet. We were snug, comfortable, dry and totally happy!
I've been with Big Agnes for about five years. Their quality, engineering, technical support and customer service are excellent. We bought the tent through REI and we love this team as well.
I see no limitations for this tent and give it my highest possible recommendation. My only regret was ending our stay. This tent is the bomb! Much mahalo and aloha to Big Agnes and REI.
All in all a good tent
All in all this is a terrific tent. While it feels a bit smaller than some four person tents, it is adequately sized, and its shape is probably what gives it its stability. The first four nights I spent in it conditions were rainy and the wind blew around 40 (as measured at a nearby airport). The tent stayed dry and steady and is really stable. The fit and finish is superb with everything well sewn and perfectly joined. The overall workmanship is quite impressive.
The opening panels in the doors provide good control over ventilation, and are very well done. It is great to be able to open or close them completely giving the option of an almost all mesh door or no mesh at all. I have been searching for a tent that could be used in a variety of climates and conditions for quite some time.
It is easy and quick to put up and take down, and very easy to work with. I have spent the past month, since buying it, in the four corners area around Utah and Arizona where it has been very windy and sometimes chilly. The tent performed quite well except during two days of especially gusty winds when the Velcro attachments between the fly and the poles were not strong enough to keep the fly attached to the poles. This allowed the front section of the tent to collapse. The wind was gusting straight at the front door and vestibule, and each time the Velcro released, the front of the tent would collapse. I re-attached them each time, but I suspect that the Velcro needs a greater contact surface to give it a stronger hold, which is why I rated the tent four stars rather than five. Since it is sold as a four season tent, I was surprised at this weak spot. Since the strength of the structure is dependent on the guy lines and frame, the attachment points need to be stronger. These were not extreme conditions, just gusty spring time winds.
Towards the end of the trip the main door zipper developed a spread where the teeth did not grip. A representative at the Big Agnes company said that it was probably caused by the dusty conditions I was in, and the company is making the necessary repairs which are covered under warranty. I will have to work out a better system for keeping the zippers clean in the future.
Overall, the tent is terrific and is perfect for the conditions that I use it in. I think that with just a bit of tweaking these two relatively minor problems can be eliminated.
perfect tent for our family of 4
Finally had a chance to try out our Flying Diamond 4 last weekend and we were not disappointed. Set up is easy, and in contrast to the other reviewer, we found this tent to be solid--our last tent was "collapsible" in a stiff wind, so we subjected the FD4 to lots of pushing and pulling and it does not easily deform. Also our hubs have no sharp edges. With all vents open in the fly and tent, we had no problem with ventilation. Because we sometimes camp in the spring when nighttime temps go below freezing, I like that the tent body is not entirely mesh, so we will stay warm when it is cold. It was hot this weekend, so we slept with the door windows unzipped and the fly closed and were comfortable with good air exchange. During our weekend we were caught in a very severe MN thunderstorm, with heavy rain and wind for a couple hours. As it was during the day, we bailed in the car and were barely able to see the road to drive. On our return, we found our tent looking untouched, and inside was remarkably dry given the intensity of the storm--a bit of rain had sprayed up and into the vents on the front of the fly (more a reflection of how hard it rained, don't think this will be a typical problem and will remember to close those if it ever rains this hard on it again), and I managed to drip water into the tent when I opened the fly, but otherwise you wouldn't know what the tent had been through.
Love the sq footage/weight ratio, perfect for our tall family who enjoys carting/biking/packing in but does not fit well in the typically sized "4" person tent. Would prefer it if the two doors opened on the long end of the tent, but we can work with this arrangement. Love all the pockets around the sides.
My only complaint about the tent is that the storm flaps on the fly tend to get caught in the zippers.
Great tent for windy campgrounds
Great tent, good for windy areas and cold-weather camping. Although I haven't yet taken it in below-freezing temperatures, I plan to do so.
I use this tent for car camping. It replaced a somewhat more roomy 4-person tent, and I chose this tent because of its low profile. (My previous tent had collapsed in a windstorm.) So far, we have yet to test it in a heavy windstorm, but it's stood up well to medium winds. It also stayed mostly dry inside during a rainstorm.
I have a queen air mattress, and I'd get myself a full for this tent if I were doing it all over. While a queen will fit easily in this tent, it'd be nice to have a little extra room for shoes and gear. (The vestibule doesn't really have enough space for more than a pair of boots.)
The only problems I've found are quite minor: We had two small puddles of condensation near the side walls, and the frond door can leak a bit of water onto the floor during a rainstorm. Both of these problems can easily be addressed with some care during setup. I'll probably put a towel on the floor by the front entrance.
The enclosed rainfly is excellently designed, and kept out all rain from inside the tent. (Note: I seam-sealed the tent before using it in the rain.) I used a plastic canvas tarp cut to size and not the "official" groundcloth, since weight isn't a factor with car camping.
This is an excellent tent, and I would buy it again if I lost it.
First off, I'll preface this by saying that I have not used the tent in winter conditions yet. That is no snow or high winds. However, on recent trip to AK it rained for 10 out of the 14 days we were there, result, no water even though I did not seam seal it myself before using it. The best thing about this tent is you can at least kneel in it, even if you're a giant, and damn near stand in it if you're a midget, which is pretty awesome in a backpacking tent. If I was going to use something for climbing Denali or a long winter trek, scratch this tent. However, for a large 3 person tent+hunting gear this thing is awesome. The only real drawback I saw is that both vestibules are small.
This Tent Rocks in Tough Conditions
This tent is totally bomber in the high country. I spent a week with it at 12,000 feet in California's White Mountains, and endured high winds (40mph+), savage sun (not much shade in the Whites!) and several torrential thunderstorms (2+ hours with massive volume of big fat drops). It's relatively low profile for a 4P tent coupled with its B2 stealth faceted wedge shape shrugged of wind and weather that would have sent a Nancy-boy higher profile dome scurrying for the lowlands.
Great Tent, highly recommend for 4-season Tent. Spent a week in Colorado with Four guys in the tent, pitched it in a Basin for a week. Withstood 75+ mph winds with all anchors buttoned down. Didn't test it in the rain yet, but was warm at below 30 Temps and + 75 mph winds. Only draw back is that it doesn't come with a conventional stuff sack, which is not a problem because you split the tent up between people any ways.
Great tent. It has been though very strong winds and heavy rain for extended periods of time. my only issue with it is that the fly does not cover the lower sides of the tent