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Lightwave t1 cylq Tent REVIEW

Although trim in usable space, this lightweight 4-pound tent is capable of handling a storm as well as many four-season tents.


by Blake Morstad | 2006-01-24 03:00:00-07

Publisher's note: This review was performed by Blake Morstad, a Backpacking Light Magazine staff section editor killed in an avalanche in Montana's Centennial mountains January 1, 2005. Please take some time to read more about Blake and the legacy he left.

Editor's note: Our review is of the Lightwave t1 cylq, which has been discontinued. The current model is the t1 ultra which is identical except that it has a slightly higher peak height, uses a slightly heavier inner tent fabric, uses DAC Featherlite poles instead of carbon fiber poles, weighs 0.23 kg (8 oz) more, and costs £15 ($26.50) less.


The Lightwave t1 cylq (pronounced "silk") is a well-built, double wall, hoop tunnel shelter suitable for three season usage and weighing right under 2 kilograms (around 4 pounds). The tent excels in condensation resistance due to large mesh panels on the inner tent and three well placed vents on the fly. It also performs well in storms with excellent wind stability and weather resistance. Taller hikers beware; the t1 cylq is on the small side with respect to length and height.

Lightwave t1 cylq Tent REVIEW - 1

Lightwave t1 cylq Tent REVIEW - 2

The Lightwave t1 cylq inner tent and fully pitched fly.



2004 Lightwave t1 cylq


Double wall two-hoop tunnel design with floor

  Fabric Description

Fly: 52 g/m2 (1.5 oz/yd2) ripstop high-tenacity nylon, silicone-coated on both sides; inner tent: 35 g/m2 (1.0 oz/yd2) ripstop high-tenacity nylon canopy with large no-see-um mesh panels; floor: 75 g/m2 (2.2 oz/yd2) taffeta high-tenacity nylon groundsheet with 3 x PU-coating; zippers: #5 YKK zip on door and vestibule

  Weight Full Package
Note: Although the t1 cylq normally comes with carbon fiber poles, our review sample came with aluminum poles. Weights and performance comments are based on use of the aluminum poles.

Backpacking Light scaleManufacturer claim
4 lb 6.6 oz (2.00 kg)4 lb 5.1 oz (1.96 kg)

  Weight Minimum Package
Includes tent body and fly, minimum necessary stakes and guylines, no stuff sacks or extra hardware.

Manufacturer supplied minimumBackpacking Light minimum
8 stakes, 26.2 ft (7.99 m) guylineSame as Manufacturer Minimum but with 0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes and 0.004 oz/ft (0.37 g/m) Aircore 1 Spectra guylines.
8 stakes, 26.2 ft (7.99 m) guyline
4 lb 3.5 oz (1.91 kg)4 lb 0.2 oz (1.82 kg)

  Floor/ Vestibule Area

Floor area Vestibule area
26.4 ft2 (2.45 m2) 9.1 ft2 (0.85 m2)

  Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

0.41 ft2/oz




£375, $665 USD (with carbon fiber poles)


Ease of setup

To achieve a proper pitch, the Lightwave t1 cylq requires a minimum of eight stakes - four for the inner tent and four for the fly. The inner tent is a hoop-style design that requires four staked corners. When pitching the t1 on solid ground I found it easy to get a taut and sturdy pitch. Two poles, angled slightly away from each other, comprise the hoop design. The poles feed through mesh sleeves, and connect to the tent with eyelets on each side. Some snagging of the sleeves occurred while threading the poles, but we found this was somewhat alleviated by not allowing the sleeve's mesh to bunch up in one area. After inserting the poles, two stakes are placed at the rear of the tent, the floor pulled taut, and finally two stakes are added to the front.

The fly is attached to the inner tent by connecting it at the points where the poles insert through the inner tent's eyelets. The fly is then staked first in the rear and then the front. To reap the most stability, there is a final attachment underneath the vestibule that attaches the inner tent to the fly. With practice, setting up the tent can be done in under 2 minutes with no problem.

Usable Features / Options

Lightwave t1 cylq Tent REVIEW - 3
A rear view of the inner tent showing two sleeping bags. Notice the large amount of mesh, which contributes to the t1 clyq's good ventilation.

Lightwave included quality aluminum V stakes with the t1 cylq that are easily inserted into the ground while also being comfortable to push. They are relatively lightweight at 0.35 ounce when compared to what many other manufacturers include with their tents. All of the stakes fit nicely into an integrated pocket sewn on the tent's main stuff sack.

The vestibule on the t1 is opened by one zipper that splits the door into two panels that roll out of the way. The two main vents on the front, underneath the fly, are adjustable from inside the vestibule. A single vent on the back of the tent can only be adjusted while outside of the tent. Adjustability for the vents is achieved by a small stiffened brace that adequately holds the vents open. The vents can be fully shut with Velcro when conditions turn treacherous.

The t1 cylq inner tent has a D-shaped door that rolls to the side of the tent where it stays out of the way when entering and exiting the tent. Four mesh pockets near the door provide ample small storage. Two twisted shock cords are sewn inside the inner tent above the door for hanging wet clothing, headlamps, or other gear.

The Backpacking Light tested tent had the cylq inner tent and fly along with the aluminum poles. Typically the t1 cylq package comes with the carbon fiber poles, which saves 6 ounces (180 g) over aluminum poles.

Weight / Sizing

The t1 inner tent footprint is approximately 215 centimeters (7 ft) long and 120 centimeters (4 ft) wide, which fits all but the tallest person. The hoop style design provides efficient use of floor space due to vertical walls at the side of the tent. Maneuvering in and out of the tent proved to be a little tricky without waking up your neighbor. The sitting headroom in the tent is a little low. The narrow width of the t1 cylq can be a bit cozy for two people depending on how well they know each other.

The t1 cylq has an area to weight ratio of 0.39 ft2/oz with aluminum poles. When carbon fiber poles are considered the ratio improves to 0.42 ft2/oz.

Flexibility of Pitching

Not many options exist for altering the pitch of the t1, however one can choose to pitch only the inner tent when the weather is dry. Leaving the fly at home is an unwise option as the mesh panels on the inner tent offer little protection in a storm. The fly adds much to the tent's stabilization and additional structural integrity. The t1 cylq fly is not designed to be pitched alone. Lack of eyelets and attachment of the fly fabric to the poles as well as a means to hold the poles in a hoop form prevents a fly only pitch. We would have liked the option of a fly only pitch, which may have been possible with a few additions and alterations to the fly.

Usable Space

The hoop design results in vertical walls where the floor meets the tent sides creating a large usable space. This contrasts to some shelters where more slanted walls eliminate some of the usable space. The rear wall, where it slants down to the stake out points, is the exception. While testing we found that our sleeping bags often brushed the rear wall, which could be a problem for condensation build up. One taller tester (6'3") in particular noted a problem with hitting the rear wall with his sleeping bag.

Usable Vestibule/Porch

The t1 cylq vestibule provides 9.1 ft2 (0.85 m2) of area, but is reduced by slanted walls going to the stake out points. A limited amount of gear can be placed in the vestibule due to the reduced height. The vestibule door is nicely designed in that is can be completely rolled out of the way and fastened to the sides.



Lightwave t1 cylq Tent REVIEW - 4
The rear portion of the Lightwave t1 cylq has a low sloping profile allowing the tent to shed wind. When the tent was placed in orientations other than the rear facing the prevailing wind direction (within 30 degrees) some moderate deflection was observed. This is due to the barrel shape of the tent, which does not effectively deflect wind when the tent is placed in a perpendicular orientation. One of the four main guyout points is shown with its reinforced, sewn panel.

The t1 cylq pitches best with the rear of the tent within 30 degrees of the prevailing wind direction. This pitching puts the lowest profile into the wind helping the tent shed wind. The barrel shape of the t1 cylq does not lend itself to stability when placed perpendicular to the wind. The steep walls near the ground provide a blunt surface for the wind to deflect the tent. Where greater stability is necessary, there are four guyout points sewn and reinforced to the outside of the fly. The use of guyout points requires an additional four stakes and included guy lines. Two additional tabs could serve as additional guyout points. We noticed little deflection using the t1 cylq in moderately windy conditions. (It should be noted that testing was performed using aluminum poles (Easton 7075) and not the carbon fiber (7.5 mm) pole set which may have affected field results.)

Additional stability is achieved through two hooks on the top of the inner tent that connect to the fly near the vestibule. These two hooks essentially allow the staked out vestibule to transfer tension to the inner tent to increase stability.

Storm Protection

The Lightwave t1 cylq provides adequate storm protection due to its silicone coated nylon fly, which sheds water and prevents seepage through the fabric. The seams on the fly are not sealed from the factory, yet provide adequate protection as is. The three vents are protected from rain under all but the most severe conditions (i.e. horizontal rain). If these types of conditions are present the vents can be completely shut with Velcro. A bathtub floor with sealed seams adds a level of protection from running water during heavy rain events. A storm flap protects the vestibule door from getting wet.

Waiting out a storm in the Lightwave t1 cylq is not comfortable. Add a second person, and the experience borders on excruciating. The highest point in the tent, near the door, is only 37.5 inches (95 cm). At this height we were bumping our heads against the top of the inner tent while seated. A saving feature of the t1 is the vestibule, which adds a small amount of room to extend out legs while sitting.

Lightwave t1 cylq Tent REVIEW - 5
The Lightwave t1 cylq has a height of 37.5" (95 cm), which proved to be too low to comfortably sit out storms or seek solace from insects. One has to lie down or just be comfortable hitting their head on the top of the tent.

Ventilation/Condensation Resistance

The t1 cylq utilizes an innovative venting system that provides excellent airflow using three vents - two tunnel-shaped vents at the front and a third vent low in the rear. The front vents feed directly into strategically-placed mesh panels to enhance airflow and a large section of mesh at the rear ensures that moisture will not form in the inner tent. The system proved capable of effectively removing built-up condensation, with even a slight breeze. Airflow through the tent is best when the rear of the tent is placed into the prevailing wind direction, which allows wind to enter the rear vent and ventilate out the two front vents. In cases where the vents are not sufficient, the vestibule doors can be opened or one can even completely peel back the vestibule exposing the large meshed front door to the outside. Removing the vestibule takes away some of the tent's stability and storm protection.

The Lightwave t1 cylq is short for tall occupants. One night, condensation on the fly wetted the inner tent's fabric and created a small amount of moisture that the tester's sleeping bag came in contact with. This could be a problem when using down sleeping bags on longer trips where keeping a dry bag is crucial.

Insect Protection

The full enclosure of the t1 cylq inner tent provides a complete barrier against insects. When using the rainfly, views are limited. However, the large panels of mesh on the inner tent allow nearly unobstructed views outside when the fly is removed.


Lightwave t1 cylq Tent REVIEW - 6
A taller tester shown hitting the rear wall of the inner tent, which caused sleeping bag wetting from the fly through the inner tent's fabric.

The t1 cylq is a well built tent using quality materials. Lightwave reinforces high stress areas, but it is not done excessively. The use of 2.2 oz/yd2 fabric for the tent floor ensures the floor will stand up well when used without a ground sheet. The other portion of the inner tent is made out of 1.0 oz/yd2 fabric that is relatively delicate and requires attention to prevent rips. The interface between the floor and inner tent fabric is backed with extra fabric to beef up this connection. The 1.5 oz/yd2 used for the fly provides a balance between durability and light weight. Guyout points on the fly are reinforced with sewn panels to distribute forces. Durable #5 YKK zippers are used on the vestibule and inner tent doors.

The aluminum poles were bent slightly during testing, possibly when inserting them into the pole sleeves. Some emergency aluminum pole sleeves are included with the tent but were not needed during testing.


After the exchange rate is calculated from U.K. pounds to U.S. dollars the Lightwave t1 cylq is an expensive tent coming in at around $665 (£375). This price includes carbon fiber poles, which were not included in our review sample. To its credit, the t1 cylq is lightweight, well-conceived, and a quality built tent. This tent is well suited for three-season usage and could easily handle a winter storm, although its large amount of mesh would make it a little cold. The t1 provides great ventilation and good storm protection provided that it is pitched correctly.

Recommendations for Improvement

Provide an access to the rear vent from inside of the tent to allow ventilation adjustments to be made without having to be outside of the tent.

The length could be increased by a few inches to alleviate sleeping bags touching the tent walls. A height increase of a few inches would allow for a more comfortable place to wait out storms without brushing the ceiling while sitting.

The possibility of a fly-only pitch would be useful and would likely require a specially made ground sheet.


"Lightwave t1 cylq Tent REVIEW," by Blake Morstad . (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2006-01-24 03:00:00-07.