L.L. Bean Microlight FS2 Tent

Published on 06/01/2012

By Peter Reese

LL Bean Microlight 2

LL BEAN, the classic boots-on-the-ground gear company, is stepping out in the lightweight camping world.  The challenge of shedding leather and lace for ultrafine fabrics is one they’ve embraced in products like the Microlight FS2 tent.

BEST APPLICATION:  Lightweight, three-season camping below tree line for adventurers determined to stay under $200.

LL Bean microlight sideHere, testers found thoughtful design and construction details wrapped into a sub-$200 package weighing in at a respectable 3 lbs. 12 oz.  While others had questioned the 7’6” x 4’6” footprint’s suitability for taller people, Active Junky had little concern given the ML’s generous sit-up room (36” peak height) and easy vestibule access.

Testers are used to tents eclipsing $350 in price, but found reasons to appreciate LL Bean’s efforts to trim ounces and dollars while preserving all-weather function.  Easy assembly was accelerated by the stuff sack’s cheat sheet and the tent and fly were ready in well under 10 minutes.

Corner pulls created workable floor tension after poles were sleeved and tent clips attached.  Poor soil conditions were handled by the tent’s included peg set, one that’s easily changed out if T-stakes are preferred.  Fly assembly, apart from a trio of smallish Velcro pole connectors, progressed quickly.

Active Junky testers found the dual corner attachment of tent and fly to the same pole end workable.  More fly tension was possible if a second stake was attached up to 6” away from each corner for greater separation from the tent’s mesh top.

LL Bean microlight insideWinds well over 30 mph grew and gusted during the first testing experience.  FS2 luffed only minimally, particularly with the two side vestibules zipped up completely.  Interior conditions stayed bright and energizing as the tent created a sense of spaciousness well beyond the actual dimensions.

Areas for improvement?  The mesh interior pockets could be bigger and the mesh door tie toggles doubled up for two per side.  Floor thickness, as on many light tents, suggested a footprint is warranted in rockier conditions.

FS2 excelled at smooth zipper operation and overall tent stability in uneven terrain, both characteristics of far-pricier options. Warmer days took advantage of generous side openings while well-placed fabric reinforcements meant confidence in the tent’s integrity during heavy wind loading.

Consider giving your current rag-tag or over-5 lb tent a new home in a move to the FS2.  Tweak the staking configuration, snag a groundsheet and turn summer, 2012 into even better backcountry experiences thanks to this lightweight LL Bean model.

Earn cash back on the L.L. Bean Microlight FS 2 Tent (Paste TA275206 into the search bar)

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