Out of all the tents tested this past year the one that stood out the most is hands down the L.L. Bean Microlight UL 2-Person Backpacking Tent. Perhaps you’re wondering how that old “catalog brand” aka L.L. Bean could make a tent to rival the big-name players in the camping space?
L.L. Bean Microlight UL 2 Tent Review
The L.L. Bean Microlight UL 2-Person Backpacking Tent is the sort of 2-Person tent you can actually enjoy sharing with someone, heck you might even be able to fit a third person inside, regardless this tents defiantly dog and kid friendly too thanks to its roomy 30.5 sq. ft. of floor space.
There are 2 doors to access the tent with vestibules on each side allowing for an additional 6.8 sq. ft. of storage at either end. Even if this tent only had one door it would be really easy for 2 people to use this tent for entry and exit, and with the second door, you can quickly see why this tent has become a favorite.
I used this tent while camping up in the Absaroka Mountains where mosquitoes are thick, the sort of place you can easily get a hundred plus bites within minutes. Once I pitched the tent (in the dark) well get to that part later, I was able to keep the mosquitoes out. In the morning I woke to hundreds of mosquitoes buzzing between my tent and the rain fly. Thankfully I had the 15-denier ripstop-nylon full-coverage fly on as none of the buggers made it inside.
I always recommend pitching your tent for the first time indoors. It makes things in the field that much easier, especially if you routinely get to camp at dark. Although, sometimes I’m better at giving advice than actually using said advice, so I took this tent out and had my first opportunity to put it up around 2 AM.
By this point, I was wet, cold and just wanted to make some food and get to bed, shoot I still need to get my tent up.
To set the tent up I laid the tent on the ground and pulled out the poles, there are only 2 of them. The main poles form an X pattern with I got lucky and put the correct end of the X at the front of the tent, more to follow on that later. In under 2-minutes, the poles were in place, the plastic snaps were attached and then the fly was tossed up. A few stakes later and I was ready for food/bed when I noticed my friend was still trying to figure out the poles on his “new” ultralight tent, (which he hadn’t pitched before). 20 minutes of fiddling with his tent later, and I was finally back to cooking…
The best part of this tent is the roominess inside, it’s the sort of tent you can sit on a 3″ air pad and still have plenty of space above your head. Even when sleeping the LL Bean Microlight Tent felt a bit longer and wider than it’s competitors while still keeping the weight down to 3 lb. 2 oz. total weight or even lighter if you forgo the stuff sack and stakes bringing the weight down to only 2 lb. 11 oz.
The only hiccups with this tent happened to me twice which I was able to quickly learn from. There was a time when I pitched the tent and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get the rain fly/vestibule to line up. Nothing seemed to be working, adjusting the straps, moving the fly around when I finally had that ah-ha moment.
The tent is not the same size on each end and perhaps the rain fly was on the wrong side? I tossed it around the tent and all of sudden everything lined up perfectly.
Another time I was in a rush and thought I had this tent dialed, as clearly I could pitch it in the middle of the night, so… I tossed the X pole down atop the tent went to pitch it and realized the plastic pieces didn’t want to attach to the poles. I thought what the heck, this tent was super easy to put up the first time and then I remembered the vestibule switch. So I took the poles down and flipped them over, within a minute the tent was pitched. So moral of the story goes, there are specific sides for the front and back of this tent, same with the sides of the vestibule.
When it comes time to pack the L.L. Bean Microlight this tent rolls up to just a little bit bigger than a roll of paper towels. Even better L.L. Bean made their tents stuff sack with extra space, which is rad as you won’t have to worry about damaging the tent when stuffing it inside along with the poles and stakes. Instead, everything fits in nicely with plenty of room to spare.
Overall it’s going to be tough to find a better tent for the price. Don’t let the L.L. Bean name scare you off, instead look for this gear for your next camping adventure. I can’t believe it took me this long to use one of their tents, which seems to be getting better and better each year, in fact, their Microlight UL Tent ($349) is now 30% lighter for 2016 making it their lightest backpacking tent in the lineup.
Recently awarded one of the best backpacking tents of 2018.