User Review: The North Face VE 25
Price Paid: $500?
I got my special-edition PRO-Peace North Face VE-25 in 1986. I lived in it every day for 10 months as I walked across the United States. It has served me faithfully since then and only now is the UV degradation reducing it to a fair-weather friend.
In Lincoln, NE, properly staked out, the tent, a friend, and I endured a thunderstorm that had clocked wind gusts of 114 mph. Mostly, we just weathered lots and lots of rain, some icy cold mornings, and baking sunshine. The tent does well in all of those conditions. Set up, it will dry out in just a 15 minute break in the weather.
Especially if you actually have three people sleeping in it, on chilly and cold nights, condensation from your breath will drip back on you from the inside of the rain fly. This is not a big deal; if it's REALLY cold, it will freeze up there!
The vestibule was an uncommon special feature when we got our VE-25s, but now they are really common, because of course, they are very useful. It's great to have a dry place to put your muddy shoes.
Over time, my additions have included a small gear loft in the top (this also helps with the breath-condensation-drip issue), a piece of sheet cut the right size to cover the top of the tent to make shade on a sunny day without using the rain fly (doing so is a nice way to create a sweat lodge if you need one) and new stakes. I also wish it had sewn-in stuff pockets under the windows, but that's a minor gripe.
I had the door zipper repaired once at REI for $5. Considering the duty cycles, it seems ridiculous to expect the zippers to last forever.
On the whole, I might very well buy a modern VE-25 for my next tent.