Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $539 - $594 | 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 has been a staple in mountaineering circles for years. The tent performs very well and offers a great value for use in extreme conditions.
Though significantly inferior in many ways to the Hilleberg Jannu and Hilleberg Tarra, the Mountain 25 is lighter than the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 due to its smaller size. Choosing between these two models can be tricky. We prefer the Trango for three reasons: (1) because its outer tent clips to the pole structure in 32 places, rather than the Mountain's 20 attachments. This creates a more secure connection and tightens up the entire system better, which increases resistance to high winds and distributes snow loading more evenly. (2) We also prefer the Trango 2 to the Mountain 25 because it is considerably larger (9 sq. ft.) and can comfortably fit a third person, thereby increasing versatility by allowing you to use one tent for 2 and 3 person trips as well as making the tent more comfortable for basecamping and for general car camping. The Trango is also considerably more comfortable to sit up in than the Mountain 25. (3) Finally, the pole sleeves on the Mountain 25 contribute to a bomber pitch but are notorious for snapping poles when you're trying to insert them in high winds.
For us, these benefits are worth the Trango's extra pound. But we know how important it is to save weight and, if that's more important to you, we recommend the Mountain 25.
Check out our complete Four Season Tent Review to compare all of the tents tested. Also consider a floorless tent—our testers' favorite type of shelter for 99% of fast and light trips—found in our Ultralight Tent Review.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Ease of Setup
The inner tent pitches with a combination of mostly pole sleeves and a few clips. Our testers have snapped several poles while trying to pitch the Mountain 25 in high winds. The problem with pole sleeves on a dome tent is they can turn the inner tent into a sail in high winds. You have to hold onto the poles really well to male sure they don't break. The Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 addresses this problem by using pole clips that do not bend the poles as much and are easier to control. Hilleberg dome tents like the Jannu and Tarra address this problem by using short pole sleeves at the bottom and pole clips for everything else!! In high winds the Mountain 25 is a pain in the ass to setup!!
The best design for pitching in high winds is found on the SlingFin Hardshell, a 3-4 person dome tent.
This is an extreme conditions tent that has been proven in some absolutely heinous conditions. As described above, we find that the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2's mechanism for attaching the fly to the inner tent is more secure and increase strength by distributing force more evenly across the tent. But the difference is slight and only likely to be significant if you are in really high winds or leave the tent for a long time and lots of snow piles up on it.
The Mountain 25's fabics are good, but nowhere near as strong as those found on Hilleberg, SingFin, and Crux tents. They could be equally strong and lighter.
It's super cush inside. However, the Trango 2 offers an additional 9 sq. ft. that further increases cushiness—all of that extra space for about 1 lb. more.
It's altra bomber but still not as tough as the Hilleberg Tarra. The interior PU coating on the fabric is considerably more prone to hydrolysis (chemical breakup) than silnylon fabrics that might last twice as long in wet conditions.
The 3-4 person SlingFin Hardshell also blows the Mountain 25 away in terms of durability and strength.
We love that the Mountain 25 weighs a pound less than the Trango 2. This weight savings can be huge when you're huffing and puffing trying to suck in thin air.
But there are lighter tents that offer comparable strength. Though smaller, the Hilleberg Jannu weighs only 6 lb. 1 oz.!!!
Unlike Hilleberg tents the Mountain 25 cannot be pitched in a strong floorless configuration. This is a bummer because going floorless can be great if you want to go fast and light, or want to use the tent as cook tent by digging down into the snow.
High altitude mountaineering and basecamping.
The Mountain 25 is a fantastic value if you need an expedition tent. However, if you don't need tip-top strength consider the REI Arete ASL 2.
Other Versions and Accessories
The North Face Tadpole 23 is a strong budget three-season backpacking tent, though it is a little on the heavy side, weighing in at 5.44 pounds.
The VE 25, $620, is a three person yurt for camping in the most extreme conditions.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 3, 2014
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