User Review: The North Face Tadpole 23
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $200+?
It is a tent that will last for years, as it will stand up to the elements and perform predictably. If you are average to big in size, and are two, then you will find it a little cramped and hard to get in and out. The quality is good, and it will be reliable.
- Sturdy/strong - stands up to the elements
- Dry - reliable in the rain
- Easily assembled
- Cramped for normal to large people
- Difficult entry/exit
- Collects lots of condensation
My wife and I have owned our Tadpole for several years (6-7?) now and it has served us well on many a backpacking trips. It has proven very durable and has held up to a lot of abuse over the years. Ours has seen rain, snow (unexpected), wind and sun. It has been to the ocean, the depths of Death Valley and the peaks of the Sierras. In all of the scenarios it has served us well, though not without its flaws.
One of the downsides is that it is not too roomy for a two person tent, as I am only 5'7" and my wife is a tiny 4'11" and we fit okay inside. So for two averaged sized people I could see it getting cramped really easy, and anyone larger will definitely get the sense of claustrophobia. The vestibule also becomes cramped when you try to stuff two backpacks underneath. Then getting in and out can be a challenge, especially when combining the vestibule and the door setup.
Like many people I try to avoid wearing shoes inside the tent, so I sit in the tent, take off my shoes, but then I am forced to spin around into position. This gets complicated when my wife is already in the tent. Also, if you climb inside in the opposite manner it can also prove a little difficult. Therefore I am not the biggest fan of the door/vestibule design.
Another issue is that the rain fly breathes poorly (the tent breathes wonderfully as it is all netting), so in the morning it is drenched with condensation.
What is great about the tent is that, as aforementioned, it is very sturdy with the three pole design, as can adequately handle wind and snow. It is easily assembled, and can be done in the dark, so long as you don't confuse the one of the longitudinal poles with the transverse one. Finally, it will keep you dry, and is not too heavy.