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.
Black Diamond Eldorado Review
Cons: Poor ventilation, slightly tricky setup, insufficient guylines included
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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