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MontBell Monoframe Diamond Tent REVIEW

Double wall tent that weighs only 2.5 lbs; fly and pole weigh 1.5 lbs and can be pitched as a tarp. Of course, there's a drawback to these light weights.

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by Don Wilson | 2006-01-17 03:00:00-07

Overview

Montbell Diamond Tent REVIEW - 1
The MontBell Monoframe Diamond tent during testing on the Continental Divide Trail.

The MontBell Monoframe Diamond is a double wall tent with excellent storm resistance at only 2.5 pounds. MontBell has designed the tent so that it can be pitched with just the fly and pole, which MontBell calls "Fast and Lite" mode. This drops the weight below 1.5 pounds and results in a stable, weather resistant, tarp-like shelter. The diamond design is stable in winds and sheds weather well, but creates the tent's biggest drawback - limited headroom as the shelter tapers towards the user's head. Good quality construction, good performance for the weight, and dual mode set-up make the Diamond a nice addition to the MontBell line of double wall tents.

In Brief

  • A light double wall shelter at 2.5 pounds
  • Diamond shape is stable in wind and sheds weather well
  • Innovative design allows fly to be pitched alone
  • Limited headroom, especially for those over 6 feet tall

Specifications

  Year/Model

2004 MontBell Monoframe Diamond

  Tent Type

Double wall with floor

  Fabric Description

Tent Body: 15d Ballistic Airlight nylon
Floor: 40d high density nylon taffeta with polyurethane coating
Rainfly: 30d polyester ripstop

  Pole Material

DAC Featherlite 8.8 mm aluminum base alloy 7001

  Weight Full Package

Backpacking Light scale Manufacturer claim
2 lb 8.1 oz (1.13 kg) 2 lb 11 oz (1.22 kg)

  Light and Fast option
Tent fly, pole, tension strap and 6 stakes

Backpacking Light scale Manufacturer claim
1 lb 7.9 oz (0.67 kg) 1 lb 9 oz (0.71 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
8 stakes, 14 ft (2.4 m) guyline Same 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, 14 ft (2.4 m) guyline
2 lb 5 oz (1.05 kg) 2 lb 4 oz (1.02 kg)

  Floor/ Vestibule Area

Floor area Vestibule area
24 ft2 (2.23 m2) None

  Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

0.67 ft2/oz

  Dimensions

  Inches Centimeters
Width 59 149
Length 118 299
Height 42 107

  MSRP

$220.00

Features

Usable Features / Ease of Use

Montbell Diamond Tent REVIEW - 2
The MontBell Diamond can be pitched with just the fly and pole, creating a light, weather resistant shelter.

The Diamond is a simple tent and hence is easy to set up and use. The molded single pole fits through a sleeve on the tent body. Simply slide in the pole, stake out one end of the tent, then stake out the other end. Throw the fly over and stake it down separately. With very little practice, I could pitch this tent in a minute or two. The ease of pitching is a pleasure in windy conditions. Wind guys attached to the inner tent slide through the fly, and significantly improve wind stability. There are no internal pockets, and no vestibule (however, there is sufficient area inside for storing gear). The Diamond includes a stuff sack, pole stuff sack and ten stakes.

The Diamond can be pitched using only the fly, poles, stakes and a tension strap. This "Light and Fast" mode offered by MontBell is very useful and quickly became my preferred pitch. In this mode, the Diamond is essentially a full coverage tarp that is very easy to pitch, very stable, and offers much better protection than more lightweight tarps. I really enjoyed this feature and found myself pitching the tent this way whenever possible. If you carry just the fly, pole and stakes, the total weight of the shelter is reduced by over a pound, to less than 1.5 pounds.

Entry into the Diamond is through a zippered door in the fly and one or two zippered doors in the tent (one door is the Ballistic Airlight material and the other is bug netting); either one or both can be used. The tent has one prominent vent above the door, which vents the tent unimpeded, or through bug netting. The amount of venting is adjustable.

There are a total of ten 7-inch (18 cm) long angled 7075 aluminum alloy stakes for securing the tent. They have a notch at the top to hold the tieout cords. They do not easily bend, but usually require cleaning when they are pulled out. The tent's single pole is made of DAC Featherlite 8.8 millimeter aluminum base alloy 7001. There are two optional guylines that attach to a loop on the pole sleeve at each end for windy conditions. An aluminum pole repair sleeve is also included.

The tent packs into four stuff sacks: one for the pole, one for the stakes, one for the guylines and pole repair sleeve, and one for the entire tent.

The Diamond does not have any options available, like a footprint, mesh loft, or vestibule.

Weight / Sizing

The Diamond is exceptionally light for a full double wall shelter. This is primarily due to the simple diamond design, which reduces the poles and total fabric used in the system. The unusual diamond shaped floor may cut down on weight, but is also a tight squeeze for occupant and gear.

Usable Space

The biggest drawback in this tent design is the limited headroom created by the diamond shape. I am well over 6 feet tall, and the headroom is quite cramped, especially when the tent is damp and sagging. For those under 6 feet tall, this will be less of a problem. The tent is widest at the midpoint, so it is necessary to store gear at the door, or on the opposite side. The pointed narrow spaces at either end also make convenient spots to stow small items, such as a headlamp.

Performance

Wind stability

Montbell Diamond Tent REVIEW - 3
Tent stakes weigh 0.38 ounces each and have a notch to hold guylines. They hold well, but are a bit difficult to pull out and that notch is sharp.

The Diamond is exceptionally stable in wind for such a light tent. The diamond shape sheds wind quite well, and a taut pitch is easy to set up. MontBell provides elastic loops for pitching the fly which aid in creating a tight pitch, and keeping it taut in high winds. I used the Diamond in a couple of violent summer thunderstorms and it held up very well in strong wind gusts estimated at 40 miles per hour. Stability will be optimal with either end of the tent pointed directly into the wind.

Storm protection

The close fitting fly goes all the way to the ground and can be staked down for stability. This nearly eliminates the problems of rain splash. The Diamond kept me totally dry in heavy driven wind and rain, and the floor surface stayed dry even with rivulets running underneath. The lack of a vestibule makes it challenging to cook in storm conditions, or to enter or exit without exposing the interior to weather conditions.

In the Light and Fast mode, pitching only the fly, I stayed very dry in light rain. In heavy rain it is advisable to have a bivy sack when using the fly without the tent body.

Ventilation / Condensation resistance

Montbell Diamond Tent REVIEW - 4
The diamond shape is excellent for shedding weather, but results in limited headroom.

The fly is equipped with a wire vent at its peak to help reduce condensation. Even so, with the full fly coverage on the Diamond, condensation will be an issue on many nights. The doors can be rolled up easily, which I recommend if weather and bugs allow it.

Insect protection

The door has a separate bug net, so it can be closed completely, or left with just the bug net closed to improve ventilation. As a completely enclosed tent, the Diamond is essentially bug proof when fully closed.

Durability

I had absolutely no problems with zippers or fabric durability during my testing. Seam quality, poles, stuff sacks, stakes, and guy lines were all of good quality and had no problems during testing.

Value

At $220, the MontBell Monoframe Diamond is a reasonable value for a full double wall tent at this weight. Value is enhanced by the quality of the construction and materials used by MontBell.

Tips

In Light, and Fast mode, without the main tent body, the space issues created by the diamond design are significantly reduced.

Recommendations for Improvement

The diamond design is both a blessing and a curse. It is the diamond shape that makes this tent so light and an excellent performer in windy and wet weather. But it is also the diamond shape that cramps the headroom, especially for those of us on the tall side. Perhaps MontBell could modify the diamond shape to create a little more headroom, and provide features that expand headroom as part of the pitch (such as guylines designed for this purpose).


Citation

"MontBell Monoframe Diamond Tent REVIEW ," by Don Wilson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/montbell_monoframe_diamond_tent_review.html, 2006-01-17 03:00:00-07.

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