Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $539 - $561 | Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros: Strong, great pockets, reflective guy lines, strong zippers, glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls, Kevlar guylines with camming adjusters.
Cons: Fly attaches with grommets and comes undone, poor vestibule design, noisy and annoying vestibule fly flaps.
Best Uses: Mountaineeing, base camping.
Manufacturer: The North Face
The North Face Mountain 25 is a strong, stable and well-featured two-person mountaineering tent. Four strong poles that intersect seven times support the inner tent, while an additional pole creates an 8 sq. ft. vestibule above the front door and a 3 sq. ft. vestibule over the rear door. Tons of pockets, reflective guy lines, camming adjusters, and glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls make the tent highly livable. The Mountain 25 is ideal for gear laden mountaineering and has been used all over the world and on numerous 8000ers.
Unfortunately, the Mountain 25’s fly connects to the inner tent with grommets (less reliable and not as easy as clips), and the vestibule includes a impractical spindrift collar, which is good for camping on snow, but bad for bare ground. When compared to the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 ($525, 9 lb. 13 oz.), its closest competitor, the Mountain 25 is slightly lighter, easier to set up, and has better guy lines, but is also smaller, less strong, has an inferior vestibule, and has slightly fewer pockets. Despite its additional weight, we prefer the Trango. The differences between the two tents are small, however, and both perform very well in any environment.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more for the best mountaineering tent get either the Hilleberg Jannu ($735, 6 lb. 6 oz.), which is best when weight matters more than livability, or the Tarra ($835, 9 lb.) for conditions that demand absolute strength and a luxurious living environment. The Tarra is a Mountain 25 on steroids. With better poles, better fabrics, an easier to pitch design, two giant vestibules, better vents, and significantly greater strength, the Tarra is tremendously better, and lighter, than the Mountain 25 and Trango 2. Get it if your mountaineering needs demand it. You’ll be psyched.
For a strong a sturdy single wall tent, we recommend the Mountain Hardwear EV2 ($600, 5 lb. 14 oz). The EV2 is best for alpine pursuits where small ledges and tight spaces are the only site options. The smallest, lightest, and least livable single wall tent reviewed here is the Black Diamond Firstlight ($300, 3 lb. 5 oz.), a true champ on bold, fast and light alpine climbs.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The North Face Mountain 25 is a strong, stable, and well-featured two person mountaineering tent. Along with the MSR Asgard, Mountain Hardwear Trango, and Hilleverg Tarra and Jannu, it falls into class of the expedition worthy tents. The Mountain 25 uses four poles for the inner tent and an additional pole to support the vestibule. The two main poles run corner to corner, crossing once in the center. All poles insert through sleeves and clip in with grommets. This is faster to set up than a tent with clips, but also slower to take down; a tossup overall. A fifth pole inserts at either end and supports an eight square foot vestibule (the pole also slides through a sleeve). A smaller three square foot vestibule stakes out above the rear door.
Inside, 33 square feet of space provide plenty of room for two and enough for a cramped third. Steep walls and a reasonable peak height almost allow you to sit up – not quite. Three deep pockets on each side and two on the ceiling provide ample storage space for tons of gear. A vent in the ceiling reduces condensation and makes storm cooking safer. The door zippers are huge and super bomber and the zipper pulls glow in the dark! We originally scoffed at this feature, but then found it to be useful. They glow for several hours after the lights go out and help you find the door without turning on a headlamp. Is the added bulk and weight worth it? We think not.
Reflective Kevlar guy lines are another great feature on the Mountain 25. This is the only tent that includes reflective guy lines, which we absolutely LOVE because you can see the tent from afar and people don’t trip over the lines. The lines also have quick adjust camming adjusters, which make adjusting the tension super easy. The only other tents that have the same style adjusters are the Hilleberg Tarra and Jannu (but their lines are thicker, stronger, and come with even better adjusters).
While the Mountain 25 has been refined over the years and now includes some great features, it does have several drawbacks that force us to recommend other tents over it. Because the competition is so fierce between this tent, the Monutain Hardwear Trango and MSR Asgard, we’ve gone nitpicky.
First, the rainfly attaches to the inner tent at 20 points. This is 12 less than the Trango, which attaches with clips that are easier and stronger than the Velcro on the Mountain 25. More importantly, the fly attaches to the inner tent with grommets, not locking clips. This is inferior because they require a constant upward force to remain attached. We found that they came undone when setting up the tent (due to changing tension). This can be a pain when pitching the tent in strong winds. Because they don’t lock in, they’re also less storm worthy than clips (they could come undone). One tester experienced this with the vestibule pole, which came out of its grommet during a big storm, causing the vestibule to lose its shape (and sending the pole deep into the snow). This was caught early and nothing was broken.
The Mountain 25 is the only tent tested here that includes a spindrift collar (flaps of fly fabric that drape onto the ground at the base of the vestibule). This is designed to be buried under snow to keep the vestibule more secure and prevent snow and ice from blowing into the vestibule from below. Though beneficial for extended basecamps, the feature is unnecesssary for three-season use, and can be an annoying drawback when camping on bare ground in high winds (the flaps make a lot of noise and blow dirt into the bestibule). We much prefer vestibules and rainflys that extend all the way to the ground, but no further. Hilleberg employs such a design in their all-season tents. It works very well and is more versatile a spindrift collar and more stormproof than a fly that ends several inches above the ground.
All in all, this tent is extremely similar to the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2. For various reason stated in the Overview above, and in the Trango’s review, we prefer the Trango to the Mountain 25. Both tents are capable of enduring terrible conditions anywhere on the planet.
— Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: October 22, 2012
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