The North Face Minibus 3

The Minibus 3 replaced the The North Face Minibus 33 as of Spring 2012.


rear vestibule
Trail Weight 6 lb 3 oz / 2.82 kg
Capacity 3
Area 43 sq ft / 4 sq m 11.5 sq ft / 1.1 sq m (front vestibule) 11.5 sq ft / 1.1 sq m



I use this tent for motorcycle camping. Just like…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: ~$300


I use this tent for motorcycle camping. Just like hiking, size and weight are critical factors. The Minibus 3 provides a big tent for the weight and size when packed. Fits great on the back of my Harley!


  • Light
  • Packs down small
  • Quality


  • None so far

Underrated and hated. I disagree. Keep in mind that…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $225


Underrated and hated. I disagree.


  • Clever
  • Interior volume
  • Two vestibules
  • Easy setup


  • Doesn't block drafts (YOU'RE OUTSIDE!)
  • Doesn't come with gear loft.
  • Doesn't come with footprint.

Keep in mind that this is the updated version. You will see the Minibus 23 and 33 out there and those are the older versions. They have made basic improvements to the Minibus 2 and 3.

There are people out there that will hate anything TNF puts out because it has heavily commercialized and thrown its products into pop culture. These people see this and think, "Anything you can buy at Nordstrom doesn't belong in the woods."

Maybe TNF is brilliant in doing so because the profits can be put toward the research and development of better products. I understand where they are coming from but you need to look at gear objectively. Is this a good product or not? Well, here is my opinion...

Setup at first took a little bit of head scratching but after setting it up twice you'll become a pro. Once you set it up and stake it down properly it is very stable. I haven't once in windy conditions had to stake the guy lines. 

The Minibus 3 performed well in the rain. In my case I didn't experience the water collection in the middle of the fly. Maybe I'm lucky. Stayed dry. No Problems.

Waking up in the morning there was no condensation in the tent. Being that it's all mesh combined with vents in the fly there was more than enough air circulation.

This tent is very roomy for backpacking. The reason I bought it was the space/weight ratio. I use it for two people and a dog and it provides more than enough space. Having two vestibules and two doors is awesome. Gear on one side and enter/exit on the other.

So far this tent has held up very well. We have used it quite a few times and I have learned that the more care you put into maintaining your equipment the longer it lasts. 


This tent is very roomy, and great for summer car…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: +/- $400


This tent is very roomy, and great for summer car camping or backpacking.


  • I'm 6'4" and feel very comfortable inside this tent
  • The rainfly creates two huge vestibules for stowing gear in rain or dewy conditions


  • A bit of an erector-set to pitch
  • Not stable without being well-staked

We got this tent as a roomy 3 or a tight 4, for summer backpacking. It's great. On summer trips, this becomes the card-playing mosquito refuge in the evening — it's got great headroom and is very simple and boxy inside. We also use the tent for carcamping.

The tent has "symmetrical" access — to fully equal doors on the sides. Makes getting in/out for multiple folks convenient.  The fly stakes out over the doors to create two really big vestibules. Our dog sleeps in one, and we have plenty of room for boots and packs, too.

We've used it in light rain and light/medium wind, and in heavy dew conditions. No leakage, and no undue problems with flapping.

Like with any tent, first time setup is tricky, and it becomes automatic after that. The tent is prone to looseness on the walls and fly — needs to be well and firmly staked to avoid flapping and pooling of water on top of fly. 

Tent packs well. The fly is big.  We had an old REI Half Dome before this...Minibus is roomier, more compact, and lighter.

I've read other reviews...many serious backpackers are Minibus haters, and claim that in high winds the plastic pole couplings (there are four main ones, and many smaller ones) pop loose.  I've been in light/medium winds with no issues. 

This is NOT an expedition or winter tent--its very zipper-y and the plastic couplings which hold the pole structure together are probably too weak to rely on for a long, remote trip.  The upper sides and roof of the tent body are all net — great for summer but totally impractical for winter.

The North Face Minibus 3


The North Face Minibus 3 is not available from the stores we monitor. It was last seen August 11, 2013 at OMCgear.

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