Gear Review: L.L. Bean 2-Person Backcountry Dome

A tough, spacious two-person tent for under $400.

[bargain]

When an injury caused a group trip to stop early one day in the Grand Canyon, our tester had to pitch this tent on an exposed ridge. He thought it might be windy, but he didn’t expect the howling 50-mph gusts that followed. “The flapping fabric and incredibly powerful winds woke me up, and I became worried that the fly was about to tear right off,” he says. The tent wasn’t initially guyed out fully and bowed down nearly to the tester’s face, but the thick, 9.2-mm-diameter aluminum poles didn’t snap (two other tents in the group suffered breaks). Once guyed, it was smooth sailing.

On a winter trip to Mt. Moosilauke, Maine, the 75-denier ripstop polyester dome didn’t deform under seven inches of snow. Nor did it leak a drop in a pounding rainstorm at the base of Mt. Washington. Inside, the interior is spacious enough for three, or two with full winter kits, and even a 6’5” tester fit with room to spare. The dual vestibules (16 square feet up front, 5.8 square feet in the back) were adequate, but tended to fill up with gear fast. All in all, this tent has the best space-to-price ratio of any we tested. Weight-wise, the Backcountry Dome 2 is a bit chunkier than others in its class (blame or credit goes to the durable 40-denier nylon canopy), but for the price, every tester thought it was worth it. $389; 9 lbs. 11 oz.; llbean.com