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Lightwave zrO cylq Tent REVIEW

Double wall tent that weighs 3 lbs, fits 1.5 people and does well keeping rain out, but...


by Will Rietveld | 2006-02-07 03:00:00-07


Lightwave zrO cylq Tent Review - 1
The Lightwave zr0 cylq is a well-constructed and storm-worthy solo tent.

The Lightwave zrO cylq (zero silk) is a lightweight and storm-worthy solo double-wall tent. Lightwave is a small tent manufacturer located on the edge of the Pennines in Northumberland, UK. At 3 pounds, the zrO cylq is the lightest of the Lightwave tents. It is best described as a three-season one-and-a-half-person tent - roomy for one, very cozy for two. It is a double-wall asymmetric design with two carbon fiber hoop poles and has excellent stability in high winds. Entry is from the front behind a small vestibule. The fly completely envelops the tent down to the ground, providing exceptional rain and wind protection, but also exceptional proneness to condensation. Three mesh-lined vents in the inner tent and one vent in the fly provide limited ventilation. We found much to like about the zr0 cylq's features and performance in wind and rain, but its condensation problem needs to be addressed.


  Model Year


  Tent Type

Double wall with floor

  Fabric Description

Inner tent groundsheet is 75 g/m2 (2.2 oz/yd2) high-tenacity nylon 6.6 ripstop with 3 x PU-coating (water resistant to 6000 mm hydrostatic head); canopy is 35 g/m2 (1.0 yd/m2) high-tenacity nylon 6.6 ripstop with large no-see-um mesh panels; fly is 52 g/m2 (1.5 oz/yd2) high-tenacity 6.6 nylon ripstop silicone-coated on both sides (5000 mm hydrostatic head)

  Weight Full Package

Backpacking Light scale Manufacturer claim
2 lb 13.9 oz (1.3 kg) 3 lb 0.5 oz (1. 4 kg)

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

Manufacturer supplied minimum Backpacking Light minimum
3 stakes, 0 ft (0 m) guyline Same as Manufacturer Minimum but with 0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes (no guylines required)
2 lb 13.4 oz (1.3 kg) 2 lb 12.6 oz (1.3 kg)

  Floor/ Vestibule Area

Floor area Vestibule area
20.5 ft2 (1.9 m2) 4.3 ft2 (0.4 m2)

  Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

0.46 ft2/oz


  Inches Centimeters
Width 47.2/31.5 120/80
Length interior 96 245
Length exterior 116 295
Peak Height 37.4 95


£275 (approximately $498 US)


Ease of setup

Lightwave zrO cylq Tent Review - 2
The inner tent canopy is lightweight ripstop nylon with four small mesh panels to provide limited ventilation. Mesh pole sleeves hold carbon fiber poles at front and rear. The bathtub floor is PU-coated ripstop nylon. Entry is on the right front through a circular door with a two-way zipper.

This tent is designed for easy setup - 5 minutes max. It has two shock corded carbon fiber poles that almost assemble themselves. The inner tent is set up by threading the poles through mesh sleeves, slipping the ends into grommets to tension the tent, then staking out the front and rear. The fly is attached by laying it over the tent, attaching four grommets to the pole ends, and staking out the front and rear. The tent is not free standing; a minimum setup requires five stakes. There are four loops near the top of the tent to attach guylines at 45-degree angles for windy conditions.

Usable Features/Options

The zrO cylq is Lightwave's lightest tent, utilizing lightweight fabrics and carbon fiber poles. Specific features include a front vestibule, two-way zippered entry, four vents in the inner tent and one in the fly, a large inside pocket, shockcord loop for a headlamp, bug netting window in entry door, 11 high-viz hard aluminum stakes, four detachable guylines, pole sack, and tent stuff sack. Entry into the tent is via zippered openings on the right front of the fly and inner tent. The stuff sack's size is just right for the tent and poles and has a zippered pocket for the stakes and an emergency pole repair sleeve. The same tent with heavier, less expensive components is the "trek" model. Lightwave will provide a footprint for its tents upon request.


The zrO cylq is best described as a one-and-a-half-person tent - it will function as either a roomy one-person tent or a very cozy two-person tent. This size makes a lot of sense for someone who likes to hike solo and also likes to camp with his/her partner. With two people inside, there is little room for gear. The tent has a lot of room for its weight. It is sufficiently long to accommodate a 6' 6" (2 m) tall person, but he would have to extend his legs into the back point of the tent. At 3 lb (1.4 kg) the zr0 cylq is lightweight for a double wall tent. The MSR Zoid 1.5 by comparison has a little more floor space, but it also weighs 1 lb (0.5 kg) more than the zrO cylq.

Flexibility of Pitching

Lightwave zrO cylq Tent Review - 3
The zr0 tapers to a point at the rear of the tent.

The only pitching options are the inner tent without fly and as a double-wall tent. We tried pitching the fly and poles as a fast and light setup, but the zrO cylq lacks pole sleeves on the fly to properly tension it. It would be very easy to add this feature and I highly recommend it.

Usable Space

Not a square inch of space is wasted in this tent. The zrO cylq tapers to a point at each end. The back end provides extra length for tall people, or can be filled with gear. The tent's sidewalls are at approximately a 70-degree angle to maximize interior usable floor space however the tent height is barely sufficient for our 6' (1.8 m) reviewer to sit up and change clothes. Height in the back of the tent is sufficient to stand on one's hands and knees to retrieve gear stashed there but little else.

Usable Vestibule/Porch

The tent has a front vestibule extending out 36 inches (91 cm). However, the front point of the inner tent extends into the vestibule, taking up a lot of its space (a fact not readily apparent in the illustrations on Lightwave's website). Fortunately they have provided a clip and ring arrangement that allows the top of the inner tent to anchor to the fly so the front point of the tent can be retracted, giving more space for other tasks.

With the front of the tent extending into the vestibule, there is only room for two small backpacks. With the front of the tent retracted, the vestibule will shelter two medium sized packs or one pack and a dog. The tent's vestibule is simply too confined to safely cook in; it would be too easy to burn a hole in the fly (or worse).

The zrO cylq is convenient to enter, simply open the zipper on the fly and then the circular zipper on the tent. The bottom of the entry is about 6 inches (15 cm) above the ground to reduce unwanted debris and water entry into the tent. It is no problem to enter the tent headfirst and then turn around once inside the tent. The zipper on the vestibule has a good storm flap anchored with Velcro tabs and a small side compression buckle at ground level to secure the entry.


I used the zrO cylq on several outings in the Colorado Rockies. The longest was a 6-day trek on the Continental Divide Trail. During my experience with this tent, I managed to test it on a rainy night, in 30 mph (48 kph) winds, below freezing temperatures, and buggy conditions.


Lightwave zrO cylq Tent Review - 4
A 30 mph wind has little effect on the Lightwave zr0 cylq.

The wind test was one afternoon and night camped at 12,000 feet on alpine tundra, where I had wind gusts of at least 30 mph (48 kph). The zr0 cylq excelled in the wind due to its wedge shape, taught pitch, and sturdy guylines. The tent has four guylines that attach to loops at the top of the tent and tie out at 45-degree angles, a very stable design. I attached and used the guylines on this occasion, in case the wind got stronger, but frankly the tent could have easily withstood this wind without the guylines. Besides the guylines, the tent has loops for staking it at each of the pole ends. Inside the tent, it was hardly noticeable that the wind was blowing outside. The sides of the tent compressed slightly in the wind, but there was no major compression or flapping. This is one stable tent!

Storm Protection

During field testing, I found the Lightwave zr0 cylq to be very storm worthy, with no water leaking into the tent. Its sturdy fly is ripstop nylon silicone coated on both sides, slightly heavier (52 g/m2) than the familiar silicone impregnated ripstop nylon (44 g/m2). The fly extends to the ground on all sides, and snugly attaches with grommets to the four pole ends plus three stakes at the ends. The instructions do not say anything about seam sealing the fly, but I seam sealed it anyway on the inside with diluted silicone seam sealer. The tent has a polyurethane (PU)-coated ripstop nylon floor with a bathtub design that extends 6 inches (15 cm) up the sides. All floor seams are taped.

Waiting out a rainstorm in this tent is a lying down experience. The height at the door (the highest point) is barely high enough for a 6-foot (1.8 m) tall person to sit up, and the small vestibule means that you may have some of your gear inside the tent with you. The fly is zippered on the right side of the tent and has a good storm flap secured with two hook and loop tabs. There is a small side compression buckle at the bottom so the two-way zipper can be partially opened for ventilation when it is not raining.

Ventilation/Condensation Resistance

The zr0 cylq's main weakness is lack of ventilation and small interior space, and consequently its proneness to condensation. The inner tent is made of thin ripstop nylon and has only three small mesh vents to the space between the tent and fly. In contrast, the inner tent of many comparable tents is made entirely of mesh to maximize ventilation. I found this construction to be good for retaining heat on the one hand, but disastrous for venting away moisture from inside the tent. I experienced condensation inside the tent whenever the fly was zipped closed, except when it was windy or breezy. After a humid night during or following a rain, the condensation was so bad it was dripping from the ceiling and my sleeping bag was damp from condensation.

Lightwave zrO cylq Tent Review - 5
A waterproof fly that goes to ground level gives excellent protection against splashing rain or windblown snow.

The condensation problem is primarily due to the fly design. While it is very storm-worthy, it completely envelops the tent down to the ground. There are no tieouts to pull it out away from the tent to provide some opportunity for ventilation. As mentioned, there are four small mesh vents from the tent to the fly space, and one small vent on the front of the fly's vestibule, but these simply are not adequate to exhaust internal moisture under calm or humid conditions. Another problem is that the sidewalls of the fly (between the poles) contact the inner tent when the fly is wet, and condensation from the fly is transferred to the tent fabric.

Insect Protection

This tent provides excellent shelter from insects. However, there is only a limited view to the outside through the zippered vestibule. The zr0 cylq is most comfortable and convenient to use in fair weather when the vestibule opening can be tied open to maximize ventilation and to allow easy entry.


For a lightweight tent, the zr0 cylq is very durable. All fabrics are adequately durable for their purpose without adding extra weight. Seams are double stitched and all stress points are strongly reinforced. The light carbon fiber poles save weight and seem to be very strong. The main risk is stepping on one of the poles and breaking it. The floor is fairly heavy (75 g/m2) PU-coated ripstop nylon, which should be sufficiently durable for most camping surfaces, exercising normal care.


The zrO cylq is a very well thought out tent that provides a lot of room, functionality, and durability for its 3-pound weight. It is a high-end tent made of high quality materials and featuring excellent craftsmanship. However, it also sports a high-end price of approximately $500 US. For comparison, that is over twice the cost of the MSR Zoid 1.5. Considering its high cost, the zrO cylq only scores a fair value rating.

Tips and Tricks

A basic pitch of this tent, requiring only a few minutes and five stakes, is adequate for many conditions. If wind is expected the four top guylines can also be staked out, which will provide plenty of stability. One-half of the tent's instructions are dedicated to explaining the proper use and protection of the tent's carbon fiber poles. This serves as proper warning to be careful with them to avoid breakage; a broken pole section costs $10 US to replace.

Recommendations for Improvement

The Lightwave zr0 cylq needs more provision for ventilation to overcome its condensation problems. I recommend redesigning the fly to more effectively exhaust water vapor from within the tent. Also it would be very easy to add pole sleeves on the fly to create a fast and light option, where only the fly, poles, and a few stakes can be taken on some outings to save weight.


"Lightwave zrO cylq Tent REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2006-02-07 03:00:00-07.