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North Face Tadpole 23 Review

North Face Tadpole 23
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Price:  $219 List
Pros:  Simple and strong.
Cons:  Very heavy and small for its weight.
Manufacturer:   North Face
By Chris McNamara and Max Neale  ⋅  Dec 21, 2012
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Our Verdict

While this tent is no longer made, we have a slew of backpacking tent selections for your style of backcountry travel.

The North Face Tadpole 23 is very strong tent that's very heavy for the amount of space it provides. It uses a three pole design that was popular in the 1990's but has largely been replaced by other designs that offer more space for less weight. The Tadpole weighs over five pounds which is very heavy for backpacking. Many people do not need the static strength this tent provides and would be better off with a lighter tent; others weigh the same amount and have two doors and much more space.

Our Analysis and Test Results


The North Face Tadpole 23 is a strong budget three-season backpacking tent. It employs a time-tested three pole design: two cross corner to corner lengthwise while a third pole arcs over the door. The two longer poles run through a combination of sleeve and clips, making the tent very easy and quick to set up. Three pole intersections and a low profile give the tent a strong and stable base; the Tadpole has the greatest amount of static strength of any tent tested.


The Tadpole is very heavy (5.44lbs) for its size (26sq ft). It has the lowest space to weight ratio of any tent in its class. This is a bad thing. Low quality DAC Pres-Fit poles are heavier than higher quality poles.

We like the design and strength of the Tadpole, but wish it was two pounds lighter. Better poles and a lighter fly would help with this.

Best Application

Budget backpacking in exposed windy environments.

Other Versions and Accessories

Tadpole 2
The North Face Tadpole 2 Tent
  • 3 season tent for backpacking
  • Sleeping capacity - 2-person
  • Minimum trail weight - 3 lbs 15 oz
  • Floor area - 29 square feet
  • $300

Chris McNamara and Max Neale