The Nebula Tent has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best three-season tents for 2021.
Reviewers Paid: $300.00-$449.00
This is the most versatile, spacious, lightweight tent period.
- Great design
- The sleeves
- Ground sheet is thin
I bought my Nebula tent 15 years ago in London. I traveled extensively and camped in Canada's National Parks for 30 days. I have used it all over in Africa as well and it stood up to all the weather.
It is very easy to pitch, even for one person; 10 min at a relaxed pace. I use a reflective ground sheet to protect the tent and as extra space outside the entrances of the tent.
Stability is great and no problems with condensation because of the large vents...the other writers must have pitched the tent wrong and did not notice the vents! The poles are excellent quality aircraft aluminum.
Room and storage is fantastic for a 3.5kg tent; the large dual entries are so practical; one wonder why the designers haven't thought of it before.
We use the one side for cooking in bad weather and the other side for storage; the doors zip all the way to the floor; this is useful for "working" inside and outside the tent and makes cleaning easy.
Headroom is fine for the tent's purpose; if they made it higher, it would be less stable in strong winds; I very seldom need to tie anchor ropes.
This is the first outdoor product I've used that actually fit back in its bag with ease.
The zips last well and the many stowage pockets are useful for keys and headlamps.
I can honestly say that I have worked in outdoor stores (Field and Trek) where we get to examine and test many outdoor products; with this tent the design team put a lot of thought into detail to give us a very versatile quality product that has lasted over 15 years and still as good as the day I bought it.
Well done, The North Face! I hope this design will return to your product range.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $300
- 3-4 season design has allowed for comfort in Wisconsin at -20 and Utah at 95+ due to mesh hiding behind solid material but accessible via zippering.
- Bit heavy (9 lb) if used solo, but I love the extra space and weight; not an issue if used by two
I’ve used this tent extensively for well over 20 years. Best tent I’ve ever used or seen, period. Discontinued by North Face years ago, but I think that’s because Diamond Brand started using it for their USMC Combat II and Freedome 2 1/2 models, the later of which they have just announced a discontinuance.
Hundreds of Scout campouts, family camping, canoeing, car camping, backpacking.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $200-ish but in 1990’s dollars.
Best of many three- and four-season tents I've owned. Supported 8 inches of wet snow in Minnesota. Held up to 50 mph winds in Utah. Didn't leak a drop in a heavy three-day rain in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge. Wish I could find another as a backup.
- Great design
- Sturdy under rough weather conditions
- Big vestibules
- Lots of ventilation when needed
- A bit heavy for lightweight backpackers
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $449
This is a decidely average tent with some puzzling design flaws. My basis for comparison is a 10-year-old Eureka! and a Sierra Designs Meteor.
The tent's two good points are its spaciousness and dual entrances.
On the downside, the fly touches the inner in moderate winds, and if it happens to be raining then water leaks in. Using the guy lines does not alleviate this problem. Secondly, despite being a dome design, the four corners have to be staked out tightly, otherwise the flex of the poles causes the tent to mis-shape slightly, exacerbating the fly/inner problem. Lastly, I think the use of full pole sleeves is both cumbersome for setup and reduces air circulation in warmer weather. Sierra Designs and other brands get along fine with clips for their three season tents.
I had expected better things of TNF, but this tent raised (in my mind) questions about the thoroughness of their design process.
Ease of Setup: Moderate (due to pole sleeves)
I was very happy with my first use of this tent. Up in Ontario's Agawa Canyon my son and I enjoyed a mid-October weekend. I found that it took the rain beautifully and the variability of the exits on both sides was great. I misjudged the condensation potential and should have left the vents more open.
Design: 4 season
Ease of Setup: was reasy to set up, pole pockets are very taut
Price Paid: $349
I have experienced some bizarre problems with this tent, and as a result I have great doubts over the reliability of the tent design team at North Face.
The initial model I purchased looked nice when set up, but no matter how you adjusted the inner and fly, the fly sagged to touch the inner, resulting in leakage. A disaster in strong winds and even in moderate rain. Anything more than a breeze would create severe flapping and possible ripping of the fly. Thinking that it was my mistake, I wrote to TNF for advice. Of course, they confirmed that the fly shouldn't contact the inner, and offered some obvious advice, all of which I'd tried.
Eventually, I returned the tent to TNF in the States for inspection. Bizarrely and suspiciously, the new Nebula tent they sent as a replacement had a totally different pole-sleeve system and 3 equal length black poles instead of the 1 longer gold pole system. In short, they'd had to re-design the tent. Pretty shocking considering that they'd had it on the global market and there was not a word of apology for the inconvenience and worry they'd caused.
I read in one of these tent reports that for the same design in the Stratos, foam is needed to seperate the inner from the fly! This is absurd, and TNF should recall the old designs.
As for talk of the Nebula or Stratos being a 3- or 4-season tent, the Instruction Leaflet says both, but this tent is clearly not strong enough for anything other than summer camping in the UK (admittedly, this means lots of rain and some wind).
If you buy this tent, make sure it is the new design or forget it!
Design: '3-season' backpacking
Ease of Setup: Pretty easy to set up, just tread 3 poles through the sleeves.
Weight: about 7-8 pounds
Price Paid: $365
I have done a total of 11 nights in the backcountry with this tent in less than a year in variable weather conditions. The 1st time I used this tent was mid Oct. of '97 in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of N.H. Weight was not a problem. My hiking partner took the fly and poles, I took the rest. 1st night was cool and damp. We zipped it up tighter than a two dollar drum. I fell asleep in total comfort. At 2 a.m. we awoke to a crash on top of the tent that my half conscience mind thought that there is a bear trying to claw its way into the tent. We got out and pulled a fairly large tree limb off the top of the tent. Nothing about the tent was out of shape or out of place. It's sturdy. In the morning we awoke to some serious condensation. Next night (at 4,500 ft) we remedied the condensation problem by zipping open the top panel completly and partially opening the front and rear vestibules. Only trace amounts the next two mornings.
In early April '98 we set out for The Great Gulf Wilderness on Mt. Washington's north side. At about a mile away from the G.Gulf ravine we set up camp on top of 3 1/2 ft of snow. It began to snow around 4 p.m., it got harder and heavier as the day wore on. The fly was able to shed the snow with no problem. By morning it was still snowing and the walls of the tent were somewhat pushed in from the weight of the snow. It wasn't too bad considering that after we dug the snow away from the front vestibule in order to get out to see that only the top half of the tent was visable. The temp shot up to the mid thirties that day. The snow turned to rain and at times it was pretty heavy. The tent kept us completely dry, and therefore, warm and happy.
I personally like this tent alot. It's definitly proven itself to be more than a three-season tent. Above tree line in mid winter I don't think so. But I hear it stands up to a 80 mph wind!
Design: 3-4 season convertible, 3 alum poles,roomy front and rear vestibules,front and rear doors,zip screen panel at top of tent body,gear pockets at head and feet,rain fly setup for guy ropes.
Ease of Setup: Fairly easy, 2 black and 1 longer gold pole, color coded sleeves on tent body eliminates confusion.5-6 minute set up with two people.
Price Paid: $365 bought for $315 on sale('97 model.)
A versatile tent. Surprisingly strong. Withstood 80+ mph shasta winds. Not a bomb shelter but not designed to be. Condensation is excessive. Roomy and airy with two large, full panel doors, this could be a good summer tent, but with fly it is really too heavy and bulky for long distance packing. Put that $365 toward a good $600 tent that suits a more focused need.
Design: 3-4 season convertible, 3-pole, dome with 2 front and rear integral vestibs.
Ease of Setup: relatively easy, but would be annoying in a storm
Weight: about 7 -8 lbs.
Price Paid: $365