User Review: The North Face Minibus 33
Price Paid: $225 US Closeout
I searched for a tent for literally years before investing in one that costs so much. Then I actually found this for almost half of retail. There are two models of this tent, the Minibus 33 and the Minibus 3, the latter, and newer version has a smaller window and MUCH smaller vestibules.
Personally, I find this tent to be almost perfect. It has more netting than any other I had seen, allowing you to see the stars all around you, allowing the breeze to cool you on warm nights, and allowing the sun to warm you on cold clear afternoons.
The tent may seem delicate, but is no less durable than most light tents, and much more than cheap ones. I would suggest: no drunks, no dogs, no kids, no morons, and no fire of any sort within twenty YARDS.
The biggest and most popular gripes I find in the reviews around the web is the heavy weight, and the resistance to wind.
- Don't use this tent in a hurricane. Seek solid shelter, i.e.: brick or concrete and steel structures.
- Don't pitch the tent where the wind will blow it down, i.e.: in the middle of a field, top of mountain, or in Antarctica. The rain fly is coated, therefore acts as a sail in the wind, yet blocks rain very well, hence the name, rain...fly.
- If you desire the lightest weight, leave the rain fly (which weighs more than the tent), at home, and then you only need four stakes, one for each corner.
I suggest purchasing the square gear loft, one set of extra stakes, and the ground cloth. With these accessories, this tent is seriously one of the best designs, ever. The near vertical walls provide so much headroom, that it feels much larger than it is. It has the biggest amount of floor space (not volume) in the vestibules (in the 33, not the newest 3 version), that I have ever seen.
One more thing that I absolutely love: Two of the large size NeoAir, Fast and Light pads, the original green ones, fit in this tent perfectly. Pure, unadulterated, luxury. Who says you have to "rough it" when you go backpacking?