The North Face Mountain 25 remains a staple in mountaineering circles and has been a popular choice for many climbers and guide services over the years. The tent performs well and offers excellent value for use in even the most extreme conditions. Many people might also consider the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2, our Top Pick for Expedition Use,, and the Hilleberg Tarra. The 25 is at least one pound lighter than the either of these similar tents but is also slightly smaller when compared to the Trango.
The North Face Mountain 25 Review
Cons: Not as light as other models, pole sleeves aren't as quick to set up, more care must be taken while pitching the tent
Manufacturer: The North Face
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The North Face Mountain 25 is a top-notch expedition and winter camping tent that is easily among the most robust models in our review. It's best for applications where storm-worthiness, versatility, and ample livable space are appreciated, and its heavier-than-average weight is less of a big deal. Its lighter than several other of the most classic expedition models like the Trango 2 and the Tarra. It is heavier than the Hilleberg Jannu or the Black Diamond Fitzroy but more spacious and livable than either of those models and costs $300-$400 less.
Ease of Set-Up
The inner tent pitches with a combination of pole sleeves and a few clips on the lower sections of two of the poles. This sleeve design is ultra bomber once the entire tent is set up, but does require slightly more caution when setting up in high winds so that you don't bend or break the poles in the process. The problem with pole sleeves on a dome tent is they can turn the inner tent into a sail in strong winds while erecting the tent. If it is very windy, you'll have to hold onto the poles securely to support them, making sure they don't bend or break.
The Trango 2 addresses this problem by using pole clips that do not bend the poles as much and are easier to control; simply start by clipping all of them from the bottom moving upward during windy set-ups. 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.
The poles of the Mountain 25 fit securely into grommets, while the fly attaches via the same grommets underneath the main body. We think attaching the fly to the body in this manner is incredibly easy and secure. This tent has 16 much nicer-than-average DAC aluminum stakes and four snow parachutes, something our testing team found to be an excellent extra touch.
As a whole, this contender's performance was average when it came to ease of set-up, though it does become a bomber shelter once pitched. We do think the Trango 2 and the Hillberg Jannu are easier to set up in general, especially in windier conditions. Most people will still find the Mountain 25 easier to set up than the BD Fitzroy, which is comparable in strength but sets up with poles on the inside.
This is where the Mountain 25 excels; it is an extreme conditions tent that has been proven to offer high performance in absolutely atrocious conditions. It excels in nearly all mountain conditions, as it features a bomber pole design, a nice tight pitch, and several strong guy points that make it one of the strongest tents in our review.
The only other tents that can offer similar performance are the Black Diamond Fitzroy, the Hilleberg Tarra, and the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2. While the Jannu is bomber and offers other advantages, it isn't quite as burly as the Mountain 25. This model is undoubtedly stronger than the Black Diamond Eldorado or Hilleberg Nammatj 2.
Compared to most of the 4 season tents in our review, with nearly all of the tents offering limited ventilation options, this tent's inner fabric handles moisture and condensation better than most. Some moisture would be present if we zipped it up in cold and dry environments, but the Mountain 25 gets noticeably less condensation than the Trango 2 or BD Fitzroy.
It has snow flaps on the vestibule, which create a tight seal; this can help keep new snow out when buried. This not only made the tent more secure but also minimized the amount of spindrift that would enter during a storm.
Offering 32 square feet of floor space, it feels super cush inside and is a great option for expedition style climbing and base camping use. Its main competitor, the Trango 2, has an additional eight sq. ft. of interior space. We appreciated the increased living room in the Trango 2, it is a little over one pound heavier than the Mountain 25.
That said, the Mountain 25 is one of the more comfortable and livable two-person 4 season tents we tested. If you are looking for a base camp style tent for Alaska, Patagonian, or Himalayan living, then it should be near the top of your list. Despite offering a slightly more significant floor area (36 square feet), the Black Diamond Fitzroy didn't feel much bigger. Compared to our other top scoring tents, the Mountain 25 feels a little roomier than the Hilleberg Jannu or Black Diamond Eldorado.
For comfort and livability, our testers loved all the mesh pockets, and spacious (8 square foot) hooped front vestibule; the vestibule easily fit two packs and still has enough room to get in and out of the tent while shedding wet layers before entering the central part of the tent. We cooked over two dozen nights in the vestibule, and we made extensive use of the snow flaps. They helped create a nice secure place that also helped anchor the entire tent. The smaller three square foot vestibule was big enough to store boots or one to two mostly empty packs, but only if you leaned them against the main wall of the inner tent.
Overall, this is a pretty bomber tent that is certainly one of the burlier options in our review. The latest version uses a different fly than the older one. While technically thinner, it should hold up better over time in several ways. The new fly features 40D nylon and 1500 mm PU/silicone coating, which offers superior longevity and will hold its water resistance longer than the previous polyester fly. The previous fly was considerably more prone to hydrolysis (chemical breakup) than silnylon fabrics (now featured on the current version) that might last twice as long in wet conditions. It uses high-quality DAC poles that are an industry standard. Beyond most company warranties, our testers found the newest model to be above average for construction quality, and we even felt like it was better than the previous model.
We love that this tent tips the scales at around eight and a half pounds. The Mountain 25 weighs a pound less than the Trango 2 and the Hilleberg Tarra. This weight savings can be huge when you're huffing and puffing, trying to suck in thin air. While it is lighter than the Trango, it isn't as light as the comparable-in-strength Hilleberg Jannu, which weighs about a pound and a half less at 7 lbs 1 oz.
The design allows the tent to excel in a wider range of conditions and seasons than nearly all of the lighter single wall tents (with the possible exception of the Black Diamond Ahwahnee) and many of the double wall tents in our review). For example, the Mountain 25 is a better choice for most three-season low elevation camping endeavors because of its above average ability to handle moisture and condensation.
This tent performs best when used for general and high altitude mountaineering, winter camping, and base camping. While it's okay for three-season use (compared to tents designed for that use), its performance is average among 4 season tent options. If you're looking for a 4 season tent for alpine climbing and mountaineering, primarily in the lower 48, we might recommend getting something a little lighter like the Hilleberg Jannu or Black Diamond Eldorado. If you want something you can climb with but is also a little more comfortable for winter camping, and you have greater range ambitions, we'd recommend the Mountain 25 over the Hilleberg Tarra or the Mountain Hardwear Trango; it's noticeably lighter and a little more packable than either of those models.
A $590, the Mountain 25 is a decent value if you need an expedition tent. It is $60 less than the very comparable Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 ($650), and $210 less than the similarly designed, but single- walled Black Diamond Fitzroy ($800). While it is heavier, the 25 is comparable to the Hilleberg models, which are $200-300 more.
The North Face Mountain 25 is a sweet expedition and winter camping tent. It is light enough that it's serviceable for other applications like general mountaineering in the lower 48. However, if you see yourself mostly mountaineering in the lower 48, we might recommend something a little lighter and more packable.
— Ian Nicholson