User Review: The North Face Tadpole 23
Design: Three season three-pole frog shape
Ease of Setup: Easy
Weight: 4 lb 14 oz with a dozen stakes and guyline
Price Paid: $189
This is roomy for a light tent. Properly set up, it provides a terrific weather shelter. I spent two days alone in a blustery October gray-out storm in the Appalachians' Shenandoah National Park, with night temperatures around 30 and in the day around 50. I was warm, dry, and fairly comfortable.
The two-star review preceding this one is unfair, her tent was clearly not set up properly. One cannot be careless with any tent's setup in foul weather. Other reviews criticizing moisture ventilation are fair, but should come with disclaimers. Yes, the thin sil fly does a great job of condensing moisture in low temps, which is not a great thing. The fly will be damp come morning in those conditions. Users of single-wall sil tents will be familiar with this property, but here we have a two-wall tent. No need to get wet.
The shape of the tent prevents any condensed water from pooling, and the moisture runs down the fly's sides. So, since the fly sides are close to the tent body near the base, it is important to stake out the fly in the given locations when expecting moist conditions, which causes moisture to drop outside the tent, not in. Side staking also increases ventilation, and the front fly zipper has a flap over it and double zippers allowing it to be opened about six inches at the top as a roof vent. It is a pretty good design. Pitching the tent with the feet facing the wind and the fly door cracked, keeps most moisture moving out of the tent and not collecting on the walls, but collect it will when very cold and damp outside.
The tent weighs about one pound more than small solo tents, making it a roomy alternative to a solo. The shape does dictate that one can only sit up near the door; this is true of this form of tent in general -- look at the many other frog shape solo tents with a hooped door. This one, unlike those, is freestanding and comparatively roomy. It is more wind-stable than two-pole pure dome shapes. Good compromises.
I and my equipment were completely dry after two days of cold wind and rain. Use a groundsheet and select your spot; if I ever pitch one in a ditch with no ground sheet I should get what's coming. The taped seams worked. I did not need to seam grip the floor. The fly has three inside velcro loops for attaching to the poles at the guy-out points for wind stability. They are separately taped, but I never trust the tape at those sorts of things, so did seam grip mine on both sides (using the silicon formula). As my tent subsequently did not leak even a single drop in some really bad weather, other owners might also consider it.
The vestibule is surprisingly large for a tent this size, larger than my other 2-person tents which are larger/heavier. Very useful to cook in and keep boots and gear under.
I am 6'3" and fit along the floor plan okay. Not exceptional room at the feet, but okay.
I was grateful to TNF for this light and reliable shelter and recommend it to those with similar requirements of high weather reliability, medium room and lighter weight.