User Review: The North Face Minibus 3
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.