Design: small 2-person single wall
Ease of Setup: harder than you would think, especially the vestibule
Weight: 5.7 lbs w/ vestibule
Price Paid: $720 w/vestibule
The Eldorado is a single wall (Gore-Tex type fabric) tent that has gotten good reviews and is lighter than most four-season winter tents. The poles go inside the tent and are secured by 13 velcro tabs. The tent has no integral vestibule, but Bibler offers two add-on vestibules, the 1 lb. zip on and the 1.5 lb 'original'. Based on what I had heard about and thought of the design, I thought it would be a good light, strong, easy to set up winter tent for mountaineering use (albeit a bit expensive).
I was wrong, and would not buy the tent again. Here is why:
Weight: The tent is advertized as 4.2 lbs, but that does not include the vestibule, which in my opinion is highly necessary for winter use with a liquid fuel stove (those who use gas cartridge stoves would want a second door on the tent instead for cooking inside, which adds weight and cost itself). The lighter, cheaper zip-on vestibule is very poorly designed and HAS NO DOOR so is unusable unless you get the optional two door model of the tent for more money and weight. The 'original' vestibule adds 1.5 lbs so the total weight of the tent is only 2-3 lbs lighter than, say, a North Face Mountain 24 or a Sierra Designs Tiros Expedition. And even this weight savings is obtained at a great sacrifice of . . . Strength: The Eldorado has only two poles (plus one more for the vestibule), compared to four for most winter tents. The result is the tent has very little resistance to lateral winds. I spent half a night awake on Mt. Rainier last summer holding the side of the tent up to keep it from being completely squashed by only moderately strong winds above treeline. The tent has two guy attachments on the sides which are necessary to increase the interior space but are too low to provide much strength. As a result I cannot recommend the tent for use above treeline. Snow walls help of course, but the very reason for using a tent is to avoid having to spend hours with a shovel. This lack of wind resistance is not really a fault of the tent, just a consequence of the design which trades strength for weight. Four pole tents are inherently MUCH stronger.
Ease of Setup: It is much harder than I expected to set up, with 13 little velcro tabs used to secure the poles inside the tent. The velcro is really needed when there is any kind of wind at all, but just try messing with them before you have removed your boots (i.e. with your feet sticking out the tent door) and with cold or gloved hands. the vestibule is a real pain in the butt too, with a narrow, sticky pole sleeve, grommets, and yes, more velcro. Overall, I think even with no fly to put on, setting up the Eldorado is harder than a similarly sized clip or even pole sleeve tent (I prefer clips, myself).
So sorry, Todd, I don't know how you get those great testamonials from people who used the Eldorado for three months in the Himalayas, but you won't be getting one from me.
Incidently, Bibler makes a larger four pole model called the Fitzroy, but not only is it 7.5 lbs with the vestibule, and costs about $900, but also it has even MORE Velcro tabs!
Design: Four season two pole modified dome
Ease of Setup: Simple and wonderful in a storm
Weight: 4.57 lbs complete
Price Paid: $625 + $150 vestibule
I collect tents and also have a TNF Mtn 24. The MTN 24 is more rigid but weighs 8.5lbs, has integral vestibule, and is a WET tent. I don't always use the vestibule in the Eldo and it adds 1.5 pounds.
The Eldo is the driest tent I own--I have never had any condensation at all except a few wisps of frost on the poles. When setting it up in a storm you anchor the front tabs with your skis, pull it over you and your pack like a poncho, shake off the snow, then zip the door, then you're inside. Pull out the poles and mostly set it up from the inside, though you have to open the door quickly to seat the poles, and at some time you have to stake the rear and put on the vestibule if two persons are using it.. but I have no problem with the vestibule.
I use it almost exclusively in the winter at altitude. It does flap some in bad winds, but I have been in it in 50 MPH winds and 5 below and was glad that I had it along. I find that the side pull out work well and the velco tabs are a nuisance, but once inside the tent I have plenty of time to fuss with them. In deep snow the roof vents work perfectly and you just push out against the snow now and then to keep the walls from caving in.
I cook in the vestible if I have it, or inside with a hanging stove if I don't. I wish I had bought it first and saved all the rest of the money spent on my other tents.
Design: four season
Ease of Setup: Easy
Weight: 4.2 pounds
Price Paid: $575
If you want to stay DRY buy this tent! No water. No condensation, save for tiny, tiny drops in the poles on only the worst days. I've camped in snowstorms, thunderstorms, high winds, you name it, you stay dry!
I've also used it in the high winds of Glacier National Park on 10 feet of snow. Yes, the wind will beat on it, but the trick is to set it up so it doesn't collapse. In other words, have it face the wind (or have the rear face the wind and anchor it down properly).
My only complaint is that it doesn't pack down very small, particularly when it's frozen, but that's not enough to dock it any points. I would rather sleep in this tent than my own bedroom. Anyone having trouble with the two pole setup isn't doing it right. The two poles are easy, and breaking down camp is even easier. I'm a professional photographer and my gear has to stay dry. This tent gets the job done.
Design: Single wall
Ease of Setup: Easy
Weight: 5 pounds
Price Paid: $450 (six years ago)
Have used this tent extensively in Alaska, and agree with most of the comments on the other review here. Advantages are light weight and ease of set up (if you don't bother with Velcro tabs on poles, which aren't needed if no wind).
Disadvanges: lack of strength in high wind. Wind demolished this tent on a '94 trip in the Chugach Mts. -- one pole broke and numerous tears in the fabric -- even though the tent was fully guyed. (Incident occurred while I was off hunting sheep.) Bibler fixed the tent, but charged me steeply for the favor, so I'm not all that impressed with their service.
Other flaws include poor ventilation, which means lots of condensation running down the interior poles in cool, humid weather. And you can't enter the tent in the rain without getting everything wet inside, even with the rather sad vestibule.
Still, it has been absolutely waterproof in the worst rainstorms, and I generally like it. It's probably best used in winter, below treeline. Wouldn't buy another one, though, especially at current price.
Where to Buy
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