Gear Watch: Best Deal on an Ultralight Tent?--it May Be the L.L. Bean Microlight FS2

The L.L. Bean Microlight FS2 is a free-standing two-person backpacking tent that weighs less than four pounds and costs less than $200an almost unheard of price-point for such a lightweight tent. Even better, Backpacker Magazine awarded the tent ($199) one of its coveted 2012 "Editors' Choice Awards" in the magazine's recent Gear Guideone of only 10 or so products to garner that distinction.

To achieve its low weight (minimum weight: 3 pounds, 12 ounces), the tent combines extensive mesh on the tent body with an ultralight 30-denier silicone-coated rain fly. (Siliconized fabrics are usually markedly more expensive than their non-treated counterparts, which makes the low cost of this tent all the more remarkable.)

Two large doors on either side of the tent provide ample access. Each door is covered by a large vestibule, which allows each tenter their own entrance and storage areaa boon for tent dynamics. As lightweight tents go, this one is on the wider and longer end of the spectrum (54" x 90") and provides adequate room for taller campers, another hard-to-find feature in the ultralight tent category.
L.L. Bean also offers a one-person version of this tent, the Microlight FS1 ($169), which features a minimum weight of 2 pounds, 11 ounces. It's basically the same tent design with a third less width. It's also one of the better deals on an ultralight one-person double-wall tent.

There are certainly some über-lightweight backpacking tents out there that weigh less than the Microlight tents, such as the one-person Big Agnes Fly Creek 1 (minimum weight: 1 pound, 14 ounces) but you start to pay some extreme prices to save those extra ounces—the Fly Creek 1 will run you $319.

For more on ultralight tents and shelters, check out some of my past Equipped articles and posts:
Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.

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