Outdoor Vitals Dominion

Gear Review: The Outdoor Vitals Dominion 1P Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Outdoor Vitals' one-person tent is made for the serious backpacker.

When it comes to serious camping trips, you need a backpacking tent that is light, durable and able to handle the elements. Recently Outdoor Vitals, a company specializing in ultra-lightweight gear, released a new one-person tent designed for the serious backcountry camper.

Enter the Outdoor Vitals Dominion 1P Ultralight Backpacking Tent.

So, what did we think of this tent? And how did it stand up to early spring Michigan rains? Read on for our full tent review to find out.

Design and materials

Outdoor Vitals Dominion

Travis Smola

In the past, I've reviewed the Outdoor Vitals Lofttek Adventure Jacket, and more recently, their Rhyolite backpack. I've really enjoyed their gear so far, as they've all been high-quality products. The Dominion 1p comes out not long after they released their Outdoor Vitals Dominion 2.5, which is a two-person tent.

Knowing this was a one-person tent, I figured it was going to be small. But as expected, it is also made out of some pretty premium quality materials at a great price point in typical Outdoor Vitals fashion. The Dominion 1 features a three-season, double-wall construction with plenty of ventilation.

The bathtub floor and rainfly are made of ultralight, ripstop fabrics. The bathtub floor is made of 30 denier ripstop nylon and the rainfly is made of 15D nylon. Outdoor Vitals boasts both are given silicon waterproof coatings right out of the factory, so I decided not to use any seam sealer and just see how it handled the predicted rains right out of the box. More on that later.

My inspection of the Dominion tent once it was set up showed no hanging threads or other obvious factory defects on the tent body, pole system or rainfly right out of the box. Usually I expect at least one loose thread or two, but there were none that I could see on the Dominion 1. There was one small piece of thread about 4 inches long on the bottom of the tent when I set it up. But I feel pretty confident it was just a scrap byproduct from manufacturing that got in by mistake.

I did have to re-thread the upper of the weather proof YKK zippers on the rain fly because it had come apart somewhere between the factory and my front door.

Outdoor Vitals Dominion

Travis Smola

Let's talk about the size of this tent a little bit. With 85" x 32" x 28" dimensions in one-person backpacking tent, this isn't a very spacious floor plan! I'm 6 feet tall and let me tell you, there is no ample head room for me to sit inside here. It might be different for a shorter person.

Once inside, there's room for one person and a sleeping bag and that's about it. This tent seems to be more function than comfortable design. There are two mesh storage pockets inside for small items, but other than that, there isn't much in the way of storage space for your gear inside. You'll likely be leaving it in the vestibule.

As far as weight goes, the tent weighs 2 pounds, 14 ounces packed. Because this tent features a modular system, that means you can also use just the rainfly, footprint and poles to drop that weight to just two pounds in "Ultralight Mode." Although, I feel like you'd have to be a pretty hardcore, ultra-light backpacker to care that much about the 14 extra ounces of the tent body.

Tent Setup

Outdoor Vitals Dominion

Travis Smola

There were no instructions included on how to set this tent up. I'm not sure if that's just because this was a review model or if that's standard. Thankfully, the free-standing aluminum pole design is one piece, so it was simple enough to figure out on my own with a little trial and error. It uses a pretty simple grommet system and plastic snaps for attaching the poles to the tent body. But I've also set up quite a few tents. I'd hate to see the newbie camper who buys this trying to figure it out, especially in the dark.

One thing I should mention about the footprint, though, is it didn't come packed in the tent's storage compression bag and it's pretty small. You'll want to double-check and make sure you have it with you before you head into the field. The durability of the product is very nice, and you can certainly use the tent without it, but it's always nice to have that added layer of protection.

Outdoor Vitals includes some nice quality stakes with this tent, which was an added bonus. Once everything was staked down, it didn't go anywhere.

Tent Performance

Outdoor Vitals Dominion

Travis Smola

I decided to set up and test the tent up in my backyard simply because it's still early in the year and I haven't planned any camping adventures yet. Despite my 6-foot-tall stature, there was still plenty of room for me to sleep in this tent lengthwise, but it does feel a little narrow for someone my size. I sleep on my side and it was hard to turn over or adjust to get comfortable without brushing the vertical side walls. I also couldn't sit up in the tent without my head touching the ceiling.

Understand I'm not knocking the size of the Dominion 1, I just think this tent is going to be much more comfortable for someone much smaller than I am. For a backcountry adventure where weight is at a premium, this definitely a viable option. I don't think I'd personally use the Dominion 1 for more than three nights. But that's just my personal preference because I like my tents to be a little roomier.

There is also the Outdoor Vitals Dominion 2-person backpacking tent that is a little larger and comes with more headroom. It is much heavier at 5 pounds, but if you're larger like I am, it might be worth the tradeoff for weight and comfort. It really all depends on what you're looking to get out of this tent.

With rain in the forecast here in Southwest Michigan, I decided to leave the Dominion 1 out several days even when I wasn't sleeping in it. Because every camper wants to know just how dry a tent will stay. Remember that waterproof coating we mentioned earlier? It works pretty well. After a night with intermittent rain, it didn't take long at all for the rainfly to be completely dry.

Outdoor Vitals Dominion

Travis Smola

The next night it rained much harder, but the next morning there was no moisture on the inside of the tent, just the way one would want it. Generally, I always check the corners where the seams are because this always seems to be the place where moisture accumulates after a rain, but I could find none. Consider me impressed.

The bottom line

The Outdoor Vitals Dominion 1 is a great tent, and a serious piece of camping equipment. I'd just caution to be aware of the size of it before you buy. Again, the size isn't exactly a knock against it. It's just not something I would want to use for a particularly long trip because I like my space when getting dressed or sheltering from bad weather.

For individuals my size or larger, you might want to look at the next largest tent in their line. But for anyone looking for high function or anyone looking for a super-compact backpacking tent that is lightweight and holds up great in a rain, this may be the perfect tent for you.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and General Outdoor YouTube Channels