The North Face Merlin 33

9 reviews
5-star:   2
4-star:   2
3-star:   1
2-star:   2
1-star:   2

Reviews

1

Overpriced. Poor design. Terrible build quality. I…

Rating: rated 1 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 300GBP

Summary

Overpriced. Poor design. Terrible build quality.

Pros

  • Spacious
  • Low weight (unless it's sodden!)

Cons

  • Build quality
  • Strength
  • Pitch time
  • Waterproofing

I bought a Merlin 33 intending to use it as my primary home for 3 months. I was willing to pay the inflated price for a North Face tent because I thought it would be reflected in the build quality. 

On the very first use the waterproofing on the flysheet broke down into a gooey mess. The first time it rained there might as well have not been a fly sheet at all. I got soaked, as did all of my kit. Fortunately I was still in a developed country so I bought a footprint (the ground sheet also leaked terribly) and a couple of cans of waterproofing spray. The footprint made it marginally better and the spray staved off the rain for a little while provided it wasn't too hard.

After a month of stubbornly refusing to give up on my expensive new tent I finally relented and bought a $40 tent from a hardware store. It might weigh a couple of pounds more but it's far, far superiour in every other way to the North Face tent.

Don't waste your money. Don't go anywhere near this tent. Having also been very disappointed by one of their backpacks I will never again buy a North Face product.

1

The layout and space under the vestibules are this…

Rating: rated 3 of 5 stars
Sleeps: 3

The layout and space under the vestibules are this tent's major strength. Two people can fit with plenty of room to spare; I imagine three would fit comfortably. You could probably squeeze four small people. Gear fits easily under the vestibules, and the double doors prevent waking up your tent mates for late-night bathroom breaks.

Unfortunately, the rainfly for this tent is defective. Mine broke down after the first use, developing a sticky/tacky feeling on the underside. When I sent it back to TNF, I was told that there was some defect in the way these rainflys were made, and that breakdown is likely to occur within a few years.

Fortunately this is covered by warranty and they will send you a new rainfly, but you will probably have to get multiple replacements over the lifetime of the tent. Also, be sure to insist that the customer service rep you talk with goes and consults with the "tent guy". Not all the reps know that it is TNF policy to replace these rainflys, and they may try to tell you this is normal wear and tear breakdown that is not covered.

0

Still bombproof in its 9th backcountry season. Spacious,…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $299

Summary

Still bombproof in its 9th backcountry season. Spacious, light, and never a worry about what the weather is doing.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Weather-proof (keep the fly drum-tight!)
  • Big vestibules; comfortable seating room for five

Cons

  • Gear nets only on one side
  • Some minor leaking via fly seams by toggles - easy fix

I purchased the tent in 2006 and I take it out for 12-20 nights per season, with the bulk of those being backcountry days in the Rockies. It packs well (I usually divide tent / fly / poles and leave the stuff sacks), and sets up fast and easy.

The poles stick a bit if the sleeves are wet, so rainy take-downs need a bit of planning. To make it more weather-proof I added seam sealer to the seams by the elastics on the fly, and extra toggles on the 'long' side of the fly for extra tension to keep the fly drum tight.

The tent has kept out the elements, withstanding days of heavy rain, wet snow and gale force winds without problems, and it's a great place for up to 5 people to sit to play cards out of the rain. It's now starting to show its age in spots, but has at least another full season of wear left.

If you find one used in good shape, grab it!

0

The whole production line of these tents seem to be…

Rating: rated 0.5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: >400€

Summary

The whole production line of these tents seem to be crap. The rainfly material gets sticky after a few years and all seam tapes and velcro tieups fall apart. Furthermore the initial contact to TNF was "sorry - warranted for 2 years only". This is not a singular incident — observed the same in 5 other tents.

Pros

  • Keeps the bugs out
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Very short life span for a pricey tent
  • Not rain proof - not even sprinkle ;-)

Nothing much to add to the previous writers. I suppose TNF has since given up as a serious manufacturer of high quality tents and other actual outdoors equipment and become yet another wannabe outdoor clothing brand. Sad story for an old-schooler who grew to rely on TNF equipment on the Alps and northern tundra.

0

I've had this tent for two years and have been very…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: Color coded foot print and fly
Weight: 6lbs
Price Paid: $300+

I've had this tent for two years and have been very happy with it. I camp at least 10 times a year and to date this tent has performed very well in wind, rain and heat.

No complaints about the structure, build or roominess. This is not an ideal tent for backpacking at 6lbs, unless of course you spread the gear out with fellow hikers.

A+ so far!

0

I bought this tent at a greatly reduced price after…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Design: Geodisic 3 - season dome
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: Easy,inner pitch first, 7 - 10 mins
Weight: Just over 3 kgs
Price Paid: £169.95

I bought this tent at a greatly reduced price after it had been on display outdoors for 3 months at a camping show. I've used it in relentless heavy rain without any leak through the fly, but the ground sheet leaked badly.

Apart from that though, a very stable and roomy tent which has proved to be very user friendly once used with a footprint to combat the dodgey groundsheet. The reflective guy lines work well and the pack size and weight is hard to beat for a tent of this size and spec.

0

Hello. I used this tent into the Carpathians (Romania),…

Rating: rated 2.5 of 5 stars
Sleeps: 3
Price Paid: 300$

Hello. I used this tent into the Carpathians (Romania), between 800m and 2000m alt. It was a great product, very resistant to heavy rain, a lot of space.

The problem is that it was actually crushed by a wind blast who last no more than 6 seconds... Anyway the wind blast was quite strong I think it was around 120km/h speed. The problem was that the wind direction was straight into the weak zone of the tent, the main entrance (the part with the yellow aluminium pole).

So by by Merlin 33, I think I will not by another North Face tent so soon.

0

Went on several day camping trips on the Appalachian…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Design: 3 season
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: super easy, no problems
Weight: about 7 pounds
Price Paid: gift

Went on several day camping trips on the Appalachian Trail in Northeast Tennessee. Steady downpour almost nonstop and tent did not leak at all. Vestibules kept my and my buddies' gear dry. Tent easy to put up and rain fly color coded to ensure put on correctly. Tent pack has compression straps keeping packed tent very small and easy to attach to pack. Great tent!!! Would not trade in for anything.

0

This is a fantastic tent in terms of weight and space.

Rating: rated 2 of 5 stars
Price Paid: £250

This is a fantastic tent in terms of weight and space. It's easy to put up. Unfortunately in light rainfall it leaks badly and leaked in several places. This was a perfect tent till it started to rain. Hopefully The North Face will sort out this problem.

I have found another review that reports that this tent leaks. Therefore it seems to be a problem with the design which is such a shame for a tent that seemed to be perfect

The North Face Merlin 33

Discontinued

The Merlin 33 has been discontinued.

previously retailed for:
$209.21 - $319.00

The North Face Merlin 33 is not available from the stores we monitor. It was last seen June 9, 2007 at Backcountry.com.

If you're looking for a new three-season tent, check out the best reviewed current models.