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Black Diamond Eldorado Review

All-around uses are this model's forte, but it's still robust enough for when the weather turns gnar.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $730 List | $699.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Bomber, great durability, compact footprint, lighter than average weight, fantastic overall balance of strength, weight, and livability, best two pole model to get rained or stormed on in, ample guy points
Cons:  Poor ventilation, slightly tricky setup, insufficient guylines included
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 1, 2019
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OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 20
  • Weight - 27% 7
  • Weather/Storm Resistance - 25% 9
  • Livability - 18% 7
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 10
  • Versatility - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Eldorado is our Editors' Choice winner for the best all-around 4-season tent. If you are only going to have one shelter that does everything well, the Eldorado takes the cake. Sure there are stronger tents and lighter tents, but no model blends these two important aspects as nicely. Its strength has been proven time and time again in remote corners of the globe, but it isn't so heavy that you can't take it summertime alpine climbing in your local mountain range.


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Price $699.95 at Amazon
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Pros Bomber, great durability, compact footprint, lighter than average weight, fantastic overall balance of strength, weight, and livability, best two pole model to get rained or stormed on in, ample guy pointsStormworthy, highly resistant to snow loading, pitches quick from outside, great ventilation, multiple setup configurationsVersatile, lightweight, double wall design works far better in rain than single wall models, handles condensation well, big vestibules, easy to pitchIncluded removable vestibule, ventilation system, innovative anchor point, robust, external poles clips are quick and easy to set upExtremely strong, spacious, bomber three-point self equalizing guylines, tight flap-free pitch
Cons Poor ventilation, slightly tricky setup, insufficient guylines includedZippers are small and slightly harder to grab, less headroom than other modelsIsn't as strong as other 4-season models, offers a good but not excellent packed sizeHeavy, ventilation system is sweet but the canopy fabric itself is not as breathable as other models, okay internal dimensions, average priceBulky for a single wall tent, low ceiling height considering the floor space and weight, harder than average to set up, so-so ventilation, expensive, no vestibule
Bottom Line All-around uses are this model's forte, but it's still robust enough for when the weather turns gnar.Built for the worst conditions but still light and packable enough to consider for summer mountaineering.This ski and summer mountaineering focused design isn't quite burly enough for full on expedition use but is perfect for any other trip you can dream up.A solid, lightweight model that offers more versatility than a majority of other 2-pole bivy-style shelters.Easily among the most bomber tents in this review; extreme storm protection at a respectable weight and its ToddTex ePTFE single-wall fabric handled moisture and condensation better than any other single wall model.
Rating Categories Black Diamond Eldorado Hilleberg Jannu MSR Access 2 Nemo Tenshi Black Diamond Fitzroy
Weight (27%)
10
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7
10
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5
10
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8
10
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8
10
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5
Weather Storm Resistance (25%)
10
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9
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7
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8
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10
Livability (18%)
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7
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6
10
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8
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
10
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7
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9
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9
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5
Durability (10%)
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9
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7
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7
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10
Versatility (10%)
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7
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8
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9
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6
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6
Specs Black Diamond... Hilleberg Jannu MSR Access 2 Nemo Tenshi Black Diamond...
Minimum Weight (only tent & poles) 4.5 lbs 6.17 lbs 3.80 lbs 3.9 lbs (no vestibule) 6.28 lbs
Floor Dimensions (inches) 87" x 51 in. 93" x 57 in. 84 x 50 in. 85.1 x 48.1in 93" x 60 in.
Peak Height (inches) 43 in. 40 in. 42 in. 42.6 in 40 in.
Measured Weight (tent, stakes, guylines, pole bag) 4.9 lbs 6.87 lbs 4.1 lbs 5.88 lbs 7.06 lbs
Type Single Wall Double Wall Double Wall Single Wall Single Wall
Packed Size (inches) 7" x 19 in. 6" x 20 in. 18 x 6 in 16.2 x 9.1in 9" x 19 in.
Floor Area (sq ft.) 31 sq. ft. 34.5 sq. ft. 29 sq ft. 28.4 sq ft 36 sq. ft.
Vestibule Area (sq ft.) 9 sq. ft. (optional) 13 sq. ft. 17.5 sq. ft. 10.5 sq ft 9 sq. ft. (optional)
Space-Weight Ratio (inches) 0.38 in. 0.31 in. 0.31 in.
Number of Doors 1 1 2 1 2
Number of Poles 2 3 2 3 4
Pole Diameter (mm) 8 mm 9 mm 9.3 8.84 mm 8 mm
Number of Pockets Side: 4 Ceiling: 0 Side: 4 Ceiling: 0 Side: 2 Ceiling: 0 Side: 2 Ceiling: 1 Side: 4 Ceiling: 0
Pole Material Easton Aluminum 7075-E9 DAC Featherlite NSL Green Easton Syclone aluminum DAC Featherlite Easton Aluminum 7075-E9
Rainfly Fabric 3 layer ToddTex Kerlon 1200 20D nylon ripstop 3 layer ToddTex
Floor Fabric Unknown 70D PU coated nylon 30D nylon ripstop 40D OSMO waterproof/breathable nylon ripstop Unknown

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Black Diamond Eldorado is one of the most versatile models in our review. It strikes a fantastic balance of remaining reasonably light and compact, yet it's still exceptionally stormworthy and comfortable to hang out in. You can certainly buy lighter and more compressible models, but if it rains or is super windy, you'll be much happier in the Eldorado.

Few tents are as well-rounded as this one. It's light enough for summertime mountaineering and multi-day ski touring, but it's also stormproof enough for expeditions to the Alaska Range or Peru's Cordillera Blanca, or other winter ascents closer to home.

Performance Comparison


The Eldorado is a classic do-everything 4 season tent. It is strong enough for remote alpine climbs but still light enough for ski touring or summertime mountaineering. You can buy a lighter and more compressible model that might work better for short alpine climbs  but if you want a versatile model that is a bit more livable  the Eldorado is tough to pass up.
The Eldorado is a classic do-everything 4 season tent. It is strong enough for remote alpine climbs but still light enough for ski touring or summertime mountaineering. You can buy a lighter and more compressible model that might work better for short alpine climbs, but if you want a versatile model that is a bit more livable, the Eldorado is tough to pass up.

Ease of Set-Up


The Eldorado pitches from the inside, with the ends of the poles inserted into reinforced corners and plastic twist ties that wrap around the poles, helping to keep them in place. The poles are exceptionally well supported by the walls of that tent itself, providing the foundation for the strength of this tent. Here's how we rated its ease of set-up compared to the other tents we reviewed.


Setting it up can feel a little cumbersome at first, but with a bit of practice, it gets MUCH easier. If the weather permits (AKA not too windy), our testers even preferred to set up it up while standing up instead of crawling inside the tent while it's laying on the ground.

The Eldorado  Ahwahnee  and Fitzroy have small plastic twist tie clips to hold the poles in place. While we thought these twist clips were secure  they were a little finicky  especially in cold weather with gloves on.
The Eldorado, Ahwahnee, and Fitzroy have small plastic twist tie clips to hold the poles in place. While we thought these twist clips were secure, they were a little finicky, especially in cold weather with gloves on.

Weather Resistance


The Eldorado is the strongest two-pole model in our review and offers comparable strength to several three-pole models, like the REI Arete ASL 2 or MSR Remote 2.


The pitch of this tent is bomber and drum-tight when set up. The fabric is ultra sturdy and offers full-on expedition-style protection; its only drawback here being the lack of a third pole, which can provide a little more strength, headroom, and increased capacity to handle heavy snow loads. For over 90% of users, two-pole tents like this one are fine because they are lighter and still very strong, especially for trips in the lower-48 or Southern Canada.

Despite being a two-pole design  the Eldorado is stormworthy and has proven as such during hundreds of the world's most demanding ascents over the years. The internal poles are supported by the body of the exceptionally durable fly with six guy points for additional support. Photo: Camped out while climbing the North Face of Mt. Shuksan with Mt. Baker looming behind  North Cascades WA.
Despite being a two-pole design, the Eldorado is stormworthy and has proven as such during hundreds of the world's most demanding ascents over the years. The internal poles are supported by the body of the exceptionally durable fly with six guy points for additional support. Photo: Camped out while climbing the North Face of Mt. Shuksan with Mt. Baker looming behind, North Cascades WA.

The additional strength of 3-4 total poles is likely only necessary for high altitude mountaineering where you leave a tent pitched at a higher camp, or would be in grave danger without shelter when you came down from a summit attempt. With that said, this tent is still strong enough for expedition use, but other models perform slightly better if that is your shelter's primary purpose.

McKenzie Long climbing in Patagonia with the Black Diamond Eldorado  one of the toughest single wall products available.
McKenzie Long climbing in Patagonia with the Black Diamond Eldorado, one of the toughest single wall products available.

Livability


There's is a slightly above average amount of living space in the Eldorado compared with the other two-pole single-wall tents. It sports 31 square feet of interior space, more than all the other two-pole shelters in our review, and is only a little smaller than many of the more comfort-oriented expedition tents (but a lot less headroom).


When it's nice out, leaving the door of the Eldorado open (with optional bug netting window) works great, but during wet storms, when we were forced to zip it all the way up, it handled condensation so-so but better than most single wall tents. To help with condensation, there is only one tiny covered vent in the room of the tent. You can only leave the door slightly cracked open because a wire-stiffener in the door flap creates a tiny awning.

This tent has just enough floor space for two full-sized Therm-a-Rests (shown here) with a little extra room to spare. It's big enough that it's okay to hang out in for extended periods of time  but not great.
This tent has just enough floor space for two full-sized Therm-a-Rests (shown here) with a little extra room to spare. It's big enough that it's okay to hang out in for extended periods of time, but not great.

The ToddTex ePTFE fabric handles moisture and condensation as well as any single wall tent in our review, which helped make up for not having excellent venting. This is because the Todd-Tex fabric has thousands of micro-hairs in it that help wick moisture to the outside, a design element not seen in any other single wall tent (besides the other BD tents which use the same material).

The Eldorado during an early season snowstorm  shown here with its optional vestibule which is sold separately for $160.
The Eldorado during an early season snowstorm, shown here with its optional vestibule which is sold separately for $160.

Black Diamond also sells an optional hooped (AKA poled) vestibule. While the price is a little steep, for those willing to throw down on, it makes this tent even more versatile. With the additional space, it makes the tent much nicer to hang out in, as it gives you more room for your gear, and you can leave the main door completely open to help with condensation management, as it becomes completely covered by the vestibule.

Durability


Like all the other Bibler/Black Diamond tents, this model is bomber. Unlike PU coated fabrics that many single-wall tent manufacturers use, this contender uses a three-layer construction that is not prone to hydrolysis (chemical breakup of the coating) and is much more resistant to tearing.


Delamination will likely happen eventually but we don't know anyone that has experienced a problem with this. Tester Ian Nicholson has used the Eldorado well over 200 days, and it's still going strong.

The Eldorado  pictured here on Mt. Shuksan  is one of the more durable products out there. Tester Ian Nicholson has used his well over 200 days. While it isn't the most packable nor the lightest  it is lighter and smaller than most models we tested and is bomber and surprisingly pleasant to hang out in. Camped out below the Sulphide Glacier  Mt. Shuksan  North Cascades  WA.
The Eldorado, pictured here on Mt. Shuksan, is one of the more durable products out there. Tester Ian Nicholson has used his well over 200 days. While it isn't the most packable nor the lightest, it is lighter and smaller than most models we tested and is bomber and surprisingly pleasant to hang out in. Camped out below the Sulphide Glacier, Mt. Shuksan, North Cascades, WA.

Weight/Packed Size


The tent weighs a minimum of four pounds eight ounces. At an average packed weight of four pounds 14 ounces, this shelter offers up a decent weight.


The Eldorado is versatile, comfortable to hang out in, and will hold up in a storm. It's light enough for carrying with you on a route, but if you're looking for a pure bivy tent, there are lighter and much more compact options. This model is an excellent compromise for climbers who want a light and small shelter, but also want something they could spend storm days hanging out in because it's not quite as cramped.

There are two very small vents on the bug netting.
There are two very small vents on the bug netting.

Versatility


This tent is not super adaptable in the traditional sense, but works well at a wide range of four-season activities, particularly for the majority of the types of trips most people commonly embark on.


Though you can't pitch the tent in any snazzy ways, its small footprint makes it possible to pitch it nearly anywhere, which is an advantage during alpine climbing and mountaineering, where your only options might be a rocky moraine, a tight space between boulders, or a ledge mid-route.

It is versatile enough that you could take it up more expedition-style routes such as those on Denali, Mt. Logan or the Bolivian Andes, but will also work fantastically in places like the Wind River Range, Canadian Rockies, Tetons or on a Cascadian volcano, or multi-day ski tours.

The Eldorado (30.8 sqft) on the left is a little bigger than the BD Firstlight on the right (27.3 sqft). The Firstlight is  5" shorter and 3" narrower.
The Eldorado (30.8 sqft) on the left is a little bigger than the BD Firstlight on the right (27.3 sqft). The Firstlight is 5" shorter and 3" narrower.

This is a fairly lightweight and versatile product that excels at most alpine climbing and backcountry ski endeavors. There are lighter and more comfortable options  but the Eldorado strikes a nice balance between the two and will hold up fantastically in horrific weather.
This is a fairly lightweight and versatile product that excels at most alpine climbing and backcountry ski endeavors. There are lighter and more comfortable options, but the Eldorado strikes a nice balance between the two and will hold up fantastically in horrific weather.

Value


This model is certainly on the expensive side of the tents we tested but isn't out of the question. It becomes a bit spendier if you decide to buy the optional vestibule. For pretty much everything except fair weather summertime mountaineering and maybe shorter multi-day ski touring, we think the vestibule is a worthwhile addition. While more expensive than other two-pole single wall tents, the Eldorado asserts its value because it's tough, livable, and stormworthy.

This is one of the quintessential all-around 4 season mountaineering tents. Tried and true  it performs well at everything but isn't the absolute best at any one thing.
This is one of the quintessential all-around 4 season mountaineering tents. Tried and true, it performs well at everything but isn't the absolute best at any one thing.

Conclusion


Proven on countless epic suffer-fest climbing exploits around the world, the Black Diamond Eldorado is truly a generalist, all-around type of 4 season tent.


Ian Nicholson