LL Bean Microlight UL 2
- Very light and packable
- Big doors and vestibule
- Lots of mesh
- Cramped quarters
- Delicate materials
- Limited ventilation
For the weight weenies of the world who count every gram, the LL Bean Microlight UL 2 will be hard to resist. Where other tents in this weight range typically exceed $500 this one is $300. The difference will be felt when hanging out in such a small space during a storm or to get away from the bugs.
On paper this is an average looking tent, with 30-square feet of floor space. Even set up it looks good, with vertical sidewalls and two doors and vestibules. There’s plenty of space for two to lie down without spooning and to store gear. But sitting up most will find the headroom lacking. At only 34 inches, a 5’9” tester was pushing the roof. Sit up headroom matters, particularly when the weather’s not good.
In redesigning the Microlight series, LL Bean managed to ditch 30 percent of the weight, cutting down the theoretical weight to 2.8 lbs, though we found it closer to 3.2 lbs. Regardless, it’s very light and very packable, stuffing down to a football thick tube.
The simple double pole and asymmetric design makes set up simple. A cross pole over the doors pushes the walls out to add more room.
To the ground fly coverage and a relatively steep roof angle kept rain running away from the tent. The fly and floor are on the lightweight side, so care should be taken. In testing during rain the tent never leaked and it’s narrow profile helped deflect the wind. Without vents, breathability is left to the all mesh walls. It worked okay, but condensation was an issue.
In an effort to cut weight LL Bean kept the features to a minimum. We did appreciate the big doors and vestibules—one on each side. They were easy to open, climb through and pin out of the way.
How We Tested It
The tents in this test were used over five months—they were soaked in Pacific Northwest storms, baked in the Baja sun, shoved into sea kayak hatches, and schlepped to the Himalaya. The most important factor was weatherproofing. Everything else is secondary to how a tent performs in the wet and wind. The testers honed in on other factors that take tents from good to great: weight, packability, ease of set up, features, creature comforts, and lay out.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
About the Author
Commentscomments powered by Disqus
> Climbing Gear Reviews
> Camping & Hiking Gear Reviews
> Fishing Gear Reviews
> Running Gear Reviews
> Skiing Gear Reviews
> Watersports Equipment Reviews