Distance- Riding around Boston
Wow, what a beautiful city Boston is, gorgeous parks and ponds, friendly (sometimes) people, heaps of nice basketball courts and tennis courts, and nice bicycle paths to cycle on (the roads suck!).
Anyway, Mari and Jen have been absolute champions letting us crash in their super cool pad in Jamaica Plains (although sadly I'm yet to meet a real life Jamaican) while we wait for Black DIamond to get back to us about our tent.
Most of our readers already know all about the problems we've been having with our tent, but in case you haven't already heard what's been going on with it, here's a short explanation of the saga. (And just a small note to Black Diamond in case they are reading this- we had 400 hits on this site yesterday, double the daily average, so thanks for logging on everyone!!!)
Before heading off on a year-long cycle trip around the world, I purchased and tested a number of tents – the Black Diamond Hilight, Black Diamond Skylight and BD Bibler Ahwahnee, Nemo Tenshi, MSR Elbow Room and MSR Hubba Hubba. Some of these we tested in the backyard, others we tested at places like Wilsons Promontory and Phillip Island (both places in Australia).
We decided to take the Black Diamond Bibler Ahwahnee, which we found to be well designed, and we thought (and still think) possibly the only true four season tent (useable in Summer) on the market.
Unfortunately for us the quality of workmanship has simply not matched up to its fantastic design.
About two weeks ago, whilst cycling across Ireland, our Black Diamond Bibler Ahwahnee tent began to let in water through the fabric. Now, even under light rain, water enters directly through all external surfaces of the Todd Tex fabric. All seams were sealed correctly and no water is penetrating these areas.
After a little research, I found that the problem with this tent has occurred for other people. Here is an example-
Prior to the leaking, we also had a major recurring problem with the state of the eyelets either side of the tent that the awning pole is meant to sit in. The first time I set the tent up in the lounge room the pole was extremely difficult to get in, but I figured that it might have been intentionally made that way so that when the fabric stretched with use, the pole would fit perfectly. Well this never happened and it is still a constant struggle to put the pole in.
Now I have to use electrical tape on a recurring basis to hold in the eyelets to prevent them from completely falling out of the tabs (this has happened a few times). I tried a few different ways of making a permanent fix, like using glue, squashing the eyelets down tighter against the fabric and taking the tent to a number of different repair shops to see if they could permanently fix it, all to no avail.
We had not taken the tent to Black Diamond to see if it can be fixed before now because I haven’t been able to. We’ve been cycling around the world for the last eight months, so we usually need it. It is also difficult to provide an address, particularly one for long enough to have the tent sent overseas.
Now that we’re in the US (and it is leaking badly– which we can’t live with) we’ve posted it with the receipt of purchase (it is still in warranty) to the Salt Lake headquarters. We are desperately hoping for a speedy resolution and return as we aredue to continue our world tour through America and into South and Central America.
Our first reply from Black Diamond expressed disbelief that the tent has problems, and hinted that we have misused it in some way. Here are some quotes:
‘Frankly I have never heard of this fabric leaking as you are describing.’
‘I have not known the Todd-Tex fabric to leak unless it has been damaged by mildew or contaminated with some type of oil.’
‘Please give me as much information as you can concerning the life/use of this tent that may explain why it has started leaking.’
‘Please understand we just don’t hear this. Something unusual has to be going on.’
The problems listed were not caused by misuse. and it appears that Black Diamond are aware of this but unwilling to accept it. When you spend a small fortune on a tent and it is the only home you have, you look after it well.
We wash, with water, the tent occasionally, and always make sure it has dried before packing it up and riding each day. And according to online reports at least two other serious cases of this kind of leaking of Todd Tex fabric have been reported to Black Diamond.
Having also purchased the Black Diamond Orbit Lamp, two BD Icon head torches, two other BD tents, the Skylight and Hilight, and a host of BD clothing, all of which had been fantastic (we'll do reviews on some of this stuff over the coming weeks if anyone is interested), this makes us think, and hope, that what has happened to us with this tent is a one off incident.
We still believe that Black Diamond makes fantastic products, and would consider purchasing many of these items again if the customer service meets what you would expect from one of the most integral and well known global out door brands.
Keep checking back and we will update this review as soon as we here back from Black Diamond.
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia