The LL Bean Microlight UL-1 is a single person double-walled tent that weighs 1 pounds and 14 ounces, including an inner mesh tent, aluminum poles, and exterior rain fly (but no stuff sack bags or tent stakes). While quite lightweight, the Microlight has a cramped interior and limited vestibule space that make it hard to use by larger individuals or people who want a lot of covered storage. It is however easy to squeeze into narrow or small campsites, making it a good option if you camp in heavily forested terrain where there aren’t a lot of good places to pitch a tent.
Pitching the Tent
The Microlight UL-1 tent comes with two collapsible aluminum poles, a long pole with two Y forks at the ends and a short cross pole to maximize the width of the roof. The inner tent hooks onto the pole with plastic clips, making setup fast and efficient. While the inner tent is technically freestanding, you still need to stake out the corners to stretch out the bathtub floor to its full extent.
Next, the rain fly needs to be staked out separately since the guy lines at the corners of the inner tent do not have jakes foot connectors, which would have been a nice convenience on this tent. Velcro tabs on the inside of the fly connect it to the tent poles for additional security in windy conditions.
Unfortunately, the tent stakes provided with the Microlight UL 1 are too big to fit the fly’s corner grommets, so you’ll need to supply your own, like the thin Shepard’s hook stake shown here. (Note, MSR Mini Groundhogs are also too big.)
The inner tent is a snug fit without a lot of room to move around or store gear. While it has more room, especially head room, than a bivy sack, the Microlight UL-1 isn’t a tent that you’re going to want to use for much else except sleeping.
The dimensions of the inner tent are:
- 35″ wide at the head of the inner tent, tapering to 24′” wide at the feet
- 85″ in length
- 34″ max height
- 5″ deep bathtub floor
But those measurements don’t tell the whole story because the walls of the bathtub floor slant sharpy inwards, making it impossible for your sleeping bag or pad to avoid touching the side walls and picking up internal condensation. When you factor in the slant of the floor (where your bag/pad will touch), the width at the head end decreases to 30″ and at the foot end to 16″. That’s noticeably cramped at the foot end.
Side entry is pretty convenient however when the vestibule door is rolled back and secured using the toggles provided. It’s also nice to lie in the tent and watch the world go by through the big picture window.
But the vestibule space is fairly cramped when the door is shut and air flow through the tent diminishes. This can result in some internal condensation at night and moisture transfer onto your gear in the narrow confines of the inner tent, especially when you bump against the back wall, despite the double-walled construction. If you need to sleep with the vestibule closed, you can mitigate condensation build-up by using a separate set of stakes to pitch the rain fly, which is cut a bit higher than the inner tent floor to promote air flow. The actual amount of condensation you experience will still depend on the amount of airflow you can encourage through the tent, but every little bit helps.
While the LL Bean Microlight UL 1 is among the lightest weight doubled walled tents single person tents available today (1 pound 14 ounces), it suffers from the same interior space challenges that you find with many double-walled, one person tents from other manufacturers. I’m 5’11” tall and find the Microlight UL 1’s dimensions on the short side, making it a better for shorter statured backpackers or kids. Fabric weight and pole technology what it is, if you want a lightweight double walled tent with more interior space and livability, I suggest you get a lightweight two-person tent instead. The incremental weight difference is often worth it in terms of improved comfort (even if it’s still a tight fit for two people.)
- Easy to pitch.
- Fits into small campsites and tight spaces.
- Inner tent can be used as a standalone bug bivy in shelters or under a tarp.
- Packs up small.
- Cramped interior for larger individuals.
- No interior hang loops. One small corner pocket.
- Poor rain coverage over door.
- Tent stakes don’t fit rain fly.
- Minimal weight without tent stakes, stuff sacks, and extra cordage: 1 pound 14 ounces
- Poles: 10 ounces
- Rain Fly: 10.7 ounces
- Inner Tent: 9.3 ounces
- 15-denier ripstop nylon coated with silicone and polyurethane
- Packed size: 16½” x 6½”
- Peak height: 31″
- Floor space: 19 sq. ft
- Vestibule area: 6.8 sq. ft
Disclosure: Philip Werner received a sample Microlight UL 1 Tent from LL Bean for this review
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