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Black Diamond Eldorado Review


Four Season Tents

  • Currently 4.0/5
Overall avg rating 4.0 of 5 based on 2 reviews. Most recent review: August 22, 2013
Street Price:   Varies from $562 - $600 | Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Above average durability, average livability, sharp peak sheds snow well, compact footprint.
Cons:  Poor ventilation, slower than average to setup, clunky metal zipper pulls, insufficient guy line, low quality stakes.
Best Uses:  Alpine climbing, high altitude mountaineering.
User Rating:     
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 (4.0 of 5) based on 1 reviews
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ August 18, 2013  
The Black Diamond Eldorado is an expedition style two-person single wall tent. It uses a super tough three-layer ePTFE membrane with a durable face fabric that has proven to be more durable than many other polyurethane coated fabrics found in other single wall tents. Durability is the primary reason to opt for the Eldorado over other tents. Unfortunately, Black Diamond hasn't updated this tent in ages and many of its features and even fabrics are no longer cutting edge. That is, other fabrics provide could provide the same amount of strength and durability for less weight.

Though proven on countless epic suffer fest climbing exploits around the world, the Eldorado ranks in the middle of the pack of the 24 tents we've tested. For alpine climbing, the Eldorado's best application, our testers almost always reach for the Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2, which weighs roughly 1.5 lb. less, or the Nemo Tenshi, which has much better ventilation than the Eldorado.

Check out our Four Season Tent Review to compare all of the models tested. Also consider a floorless tent—our testers' favorite type of shelter for 99% of fast and light trips—found in our Ultralight Tent Review.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Performance Comparison
Ease of Setup
The Eldorado pitches from the inside with archaic plastic twist ties. A host of other tents pitch from the outside with pole sleeves or clips that are much faster, easier, and arguably safer. This is why we give the tent 7 out of 10 points in this category. Other tents, like the Sierra Designs Convert 2 receive 9 points.

Weather Resistance
The pitch is super bomber and the tent's fabric is very strong. The Eldorado offers expedition style protection. Its only drawback here is the lack of a third pole, which can greatly increase the capacity to handle heavy snow loads. The Mountain Hardwear EV 2, for example, is much stronger. But 99% of the time our testers prefer two pole tents because they are lighter and still very strong. The additional strength of a third pole is likely only necessary for ultra badass high altitude mountaineering where you leave a tent pitched at a higher camp, or would die if it weren't there when you came down from a summit attempt.

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McKenzie Long climbing in Patagonia with the Black Diamond Eldorado tent, one of the toughest single wall tents available.
Credit: Luke Lydiard
There's an average amount of space, but the ventilation is well below average. The Nemo Tenshi offers much better ventilation, which can greatly reduce condensation and the "it's snowing on me" feeling when moisture vapor from your breath freezes and fall s back on you. We find that we sleep much better in tents with more air circulation. Those are also safer for cooking in.

This is the primary reason to choose the Eldorado. Unlike PU coated fabrics its three-layer construction is not prone to hydrolysis (chemical breakup of the coating). Delamination will likely happen eventually but we don't know anyone that has experienced a problem with this. The Eldorado has proven the test of time. It's ultra durable for a single wall tent.

Weight/Packed Size
The tent weighs a minimum of 4 lb. 8 oz. The Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 weighs nearly half as much!!

Though the tent much be pitched in the same configuration every time its small footprint makes it possible to pitch it nearly anywhere.

We hope that BD updates the Bibler series sometime soon. When they do, the tents (including the Eldorado) will likely be phenomenally good.

Best Application
High altitude mountaineering.

The tent is a good value if you're going on an expedition and need something that's super super durable, or just want something that's really durable. When it comes to climbing our testers feel that low weight always the number one concern.

Great moderately light expedition style climbing tent if durability is your top priority.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: August 22, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Aug 22, 2013 - 07:36pm
Jon Rhoderick · Climber · Terrebonne
OK I have the I-Tent, previously used the First Light, here are my thoughts.
I sold the Firstlight because it is not durably waterproof, if you want to use it as your primary tent, it will perform great for a short period of time, then the water resistance you originally enjoyed (essentially waterproof) erodes to pretty much nothing.

my I-Tent (and presumably the Eldorado) offers these benefits over the First Light:

Taped Seams — not sure if every Bibler is getting this, but the seams are professionally taped, which will be far more durable than the seam grip job you'll do

Nicer Fabric — I would wear a rain jacket (or better yet a pull-over) made of Todd Tex. It has a nice tricot like inner that makes it feel drier when it has condensation, the Firstlight was a flimsy material that was once torn 18 inches by an exposed stay from a back pack. That doesn't cut it for me.

Space-- you can guy out the sides of the Bibler tents which makes a remarkable improvement over the Firstlight, especially once you encounter wind from the sides.

Ventilation-- the First light does have a better roof vent, one big one instead of two silly small vents. However the Biblers come with three zips on the front door, as well as a small nylon tab on the lower center of the door. Attach a guyout here, stake it out, and you can ventilate from both the top and the bottom of the front door during a storm. An ingenious idea that was lost on the Firstlight. The Firstlight (and the Ahwahnee) have doors that zip towards the ground, which soaks them if it is raining, horrible design compared to the zip to the side of the I-Tent and Eldorado. No single wall tent is going to be as breathable as a similar double wall, but they will be lighter and more bombproof for the weight.

The I-tent and Firstlight are not precisely the same tent as the website would indicate, I had no luck fitting the lighter Firstlight poles into the I-Tent as it should have if they were the same. As for velcro vs twist ties for securing the poles, I am finding that they are about equal, but the plastic ties are replaceable whereas that velcro is not.

Sure it's heavier but what your getting is a much better designed product that is far more durable. The packed size of the I-Tent is over estimated, if it had a stuff-sack similar to the first light that accommodates the poles with elastic loops the fabric portion would stuff into a far smaller space.

This time I got the vestibule which is pretty essential for 2 person camping in either model, you'll need the space for the backpacks, boots, and wet stuff. It also allows you to totally unzip the front door and run just the mesh, and its not too heavy either. It has guy out points and attaches in a very secure way to the tent, making it quite bomber.

One thing I would change would be to move the guyout locations of ALL Black Diamond tents higher up. They are merely 2 feet off the ground if that, no matter how well you guy it out, a 40mph wind is going to have its way with the upper portion of any Black Diamond tent.

Overall despite the weight and price difference, I could not recommend a Firstlight over an I-tent for all season use, its going to be leaky in the 3 season and flimsy in a true storm.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Black Diamond Eldorado
Credit: Black Diamond
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