The North Face Bedrock 55
Ease of Setup: hahahahaha - a joke!
Great looking tent and plenty of room for 3 or 4. Stayed dry inside last year in a week of heavy rain and wind.
BUT.....putting the tent up is fiddly. The inner goes up fine with no problems, but the fly sheet is a bastid. Vestibule pole is really hard to put through the sleeve, and then it's pain in the rear attaching it to the inner tent - in hot weather you end up getting wet from sweat while under the fly trying to attach it, with that nice sticky fly inner draping over your head, then in wet and windy weather it's a pig as you have to duck and dive under the wet fly trying to secure it before throwing the rest over the tent. Not easy, not fun.
AND....to really pi55 me off...this year we went to put the tent up, again in wind and rain, and found that over the course of 12 months, in dry storage, having been put away dry, all of the shockcord in the poles had deteriorated and become string...about 3 feet longer than needed. Buggered around for ages shortening it all to hold the poles together, then finally got the inner up fine, got the fly over, went to just straighten the fly up and "PING"...one of the yellow alloy poles snapped at the top of the tent. Removed the fly - luckily no damage to the fly, but did make a small hole in the sleeve. Took all the poles out in disgust, chucked the tent in its bag, and me and my lad shared a Coleman Avior X2, my wife and one kid slept in the minibus, and my other 2 kids slept in friends' tent.
The pole snapped at the point where the end ferrel finishes and joins into the pole. On checking all the other poles I found another had a longitudinal crack in exactly the same place. None of the poles had been over-bent and there is no reason for the failure other than poor construction - I suspect the load bearing section of the inner ferrel is too short and possibly the interference fit is too tight which has led to the pole tube being stretched too much.
This experience has really put me off TNF. While I'm kind of fond of this tent, I get the impression that TNF are selling over-priced cheaply made stuff off the back of their good reputation for expedition stuff. I certainly will NOT be buying another TNF tent that is made in Kprea and finished in China - it would surely be no better than any other cheaper tent!
Design: 3-season dome tent
Price Paid: $370 (US)
I wanted a big tent for car-camping with a kid. I chose the North Face Bedrock tent for various reasons:
* it is big -- if you have to it would sleep five adults, with four it is comfortable and an adult can stand in the tent
* the inner tent has a mesh ceiling so ventilation is good
* there are two big doors
* the outer tent has two big vestibules and it covers the inner tent well
So far, so good. The tent is big, it ventilates well and you can put tons of gear in the vestibules. It is heavy (I don't even want to know how heavy, but then it is a car tent. You could take it in a canoe as well, but forget carrying it in a backpack.)
The tent gets delivered with the absolute minimum of tent pegs and without guy lines.
Unfortunately the design has some serious flaws.
The big vestibule relies on a brow pole. The sleeve for the brow pole is sewn into the outer tent. Whoever did this never tried to insert the pole. The sleeve has the PU coated side on the inside, generating enormous amounts of friction. Every time I have to insert that pole I am afraid to rip the whole thing apart. Once you have the pole in its sleeve you have to deal with a cumbersome construction to attach it to the inner tent. This connection is not just a nuisance. It is not stiff enough either. In slightly stronger winds -- and I am not talking about a storm; this is just strong winds behind some trees breaking the wind -- the whole brow pole is pressed downwards, allowing the outer tent to touch the inner.
The set-up of the inner tent is easy. What you would want to do with a tent like this one is to put up the inner and keep the outer tent ready in case of bad weather. But putting the outer tent up takes sometime between 5 to 10 minutes, so if you wake up in the middle of the night you'll never have the outer tent in place before you're thoroughly wet.
And mentioning wet:
Yes, you do get wet. Some seams are not factory sealed. This is ridiculous enough, given the fact that the original price is $450. Worse is that some of the leaks are really hard to seal. The sleeve of the brow pole is leaking on its entire length, and seam sealer just doesn't like it when you work in that pole the next time.
When open the doors are hold back by elastic loops on the outer tent. Nice idea although the run-off from the outer tent flows nicely through the door opening onto the inner tent. But the elastics have been sewn through the material of the outer tent - the proper way to do this would have been to attach a loop each at the outside and the inside of the outer tent. The elastics are very effective at channeling water through the outer tent and releasing it drop-wise right onto the mesh insert of the inner tent.
I don't believe that anybody at North Face tested this tent. I've sent their customer service a letter. Their answer:
the owners manual states that some seams have to be sealed (correct, but it does not mention the elastics nor the sleeve of the brow pole). As far as the brow pole goes they state that the high friction is intentional to give the tent more stability. The fact that the tent is virtually blown to the ground because the brow pole is not stiff enough demonstrates in their opinion that 'the tent flexes to the conditions'.
Well. I guess this proves that researching gear on the internet can't replace actually seeing it at a dealer, but what do you do when there is no dealer around?
I can't trust this tent in bad weather - which is why you take a tent with you in the first place. If I settle for a tent where I get wet in and where I just have to pray that there is no storm coming I can as well get one of these Walmart tents. At least they're cheap.
Design: 3-season dome can free stand
Ease of Setup: One person can very easy with two
Weight: approx 14 lbs. not a back packing tent unless you slpit it up and used the full capacity
Price Paid: $250+/-
I think I may have gotten one of the last production models in the U.S., It sounds like it may still be available in Europe. I've had the tent for over three years and purchased it for car camping. Usually I really research a purchase of this size but trusted it to be a good quality tent coming from North Face. Had I read reviews ahead of time I would not have ever purchased this tent and I have to say I would have missed out on a really nice tent.
I've spent more nights in it in the rain than not and it is one of the driest tents I've ever owned. I've been camping and sleeping in tents a long time. I recall when a floor in a tent was a novelty. I've read complaints about the vestubules being too large and what would you ever use it for. I'm not as flexible as I used to be and I have to say I really like the ease of getting in and out of this tent.
Water can drip in off the brow through the mesh so you do have to be carefull how far you open the vent in rainy weather. The brow pole sleeve on mine has the PVC out so even though it is snug, it does slid fairly easily. I did seam seal my tent before use but only once in three years, I think the only tent I never seam sealed cost me $14 at K-Mart 25 years ago and it still doesn't leak today.
Anyhow it seems the Bedrock 55 got itself a lot of bad reviews and maybe the earlier productions models deserved said reviews but my tent apparently had the concerns addressed, and yes it did come with all the guys cords and enough stakes. I've been out it some failry windy conditions and have never fully needed to guy it down. I haven't had it in desert conditions so can't speak to sand or dust blowing up under the fly but my exerience has been that nylon tents can't get enough ventilation so I wouldn't trade it away any of the mesh.
I like the fact that I can set it up with the footpring and fly. I would never really seriously consider it a backpacking tent but suppose you could split it up for five people and the weight might be tolerable but why. Really comfortable for a base type camp tent.
Overall I'm very happy with this tent maybe if you are buying used you should look for the later model. Everybody is different I've had tents that are supposed to be great that cost hundreds of dollars that aren't as relaible as my cheapy K-Mart model so go figure and good luck. I hate to get out there and get wet but it's still better than being cooped up inside. A wet camping trip is still better than a dry day in the office.
Design: three season freestanding
Ease of Setup: difficult for 1 person, OK for 2
Weight: 14 lbs
Price Paid: $400
This was my first camping tent that I ever purchased. I originally thought I wanted a big, strong, cool looking tent. Well, after almost three years of owning it, I know better now.
While I won't trash the tent, it does have some problems. 1. it leaks...it leaks BAD. In my third or fourth trip with the tent an unexpected rain storm resulted in the tent leaking continuosly. A constant drip...while condensation was also forming!! 2. the design of the vestibule pole is a nightmare to to put on if not done in the proper sequence, and even then it can be tough. 3. no snap buckles for the rainfly; need to use the rivet holes. 4. setup for this large tent is difficult with one person, this is a 2 person job minimum. which means if I go by myself or with my wife, I need another tent...
While the space is great, I've realized that it's overkill...look at the 14 lbs weight! The vestibule is huge, but I've never used it to its full potential and doubt most people would. While the tent is very stable thanks to its 4 pole design the large amount of mesh was actually a negative for me. The mesh came down so low that in desert camping gusts of wind would blow sand into the tent through the mesh. I had a nice pile of sand by morning on the floor and a nice layer of my mouth, eyes and ears. No thank you!!!
If you're looking for a large sturdy tent maybe consider it...for anyone else...no not really..plenty of other choices out there for less with better quality.
Design: three season dome
Ease of Setup: average
Price Paid: $325
I bought this tent last year from a person on eBay for $325 with footprint. It had never been used and set up in the yard once. This I could tell was true. I have used the tent twice for approx 12 days. I am not impressed.
The front vestibule is real funky and way oversized. Most of the tent body is mesh and I do not know how long this will last. For the money I guess I did ok, but would not buy another one (or pay $450 retail). It also leaked in a rain storm. The rear vestibule is fine, but the front one has a pole off the tent which looks like in time will be a problem, due to stress at the connection points. The front of the vestibule should also be poled out, but is not.
I wish I put my money in a Cabela's Alaskan tent.
I have a North Face VE-25 and love it, but this tent needs to be re-designed. I wish I could trade it in.
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