The North Face Mica FL2 is a good all around backpacking tent. It borrows some of the best ideas in each tent we have tested, including a lightweight pole design similar to the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2, comfortable and spacious double doors, as well as durable materials. It is not the lightest or the most comfortable of tents we tested, but we think it is a good compromise as a lightweight backpacking tent for two.
The North Face Mica FL 2 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Light, two doors, more sturdy than the Fly Creek
Cons: Narrow interior, zippers difficult to do up, vent cover collapses, inner attachment points fell off
Manufacturer: The North Face
Our Analysis and Test Results
The double doors, weight conscious design, and durable materials make The North Face Mica FL a great choice as a backpacking tent for two.
Ease of Set-up
The Mica FL is not an entirely freestanding tent. This adds an extra element to the set-up process. It has a similar design to the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2, with a single pole that is hubbed at the front and goes straight to the ground at the back, and you have to stake out the corners for support. However, the Mica has two side doors that make the structure much more stable. We also like that the corners that require staking have built in tension adjusters on both the body and fly, making them easier to adjust than the Fly Creek's. The Mica did not come with any additional guy line, which would have been nice to help pitch it with rocks on firm ground, or to further fortify it from winds using the existing guy points. It came with enough stakes for the corners and guy lines that were already attached to the tent. There are small grommets that attach the tent fly to the body and we noticed they are difficult to connect once the tent is tensioned, and should be done up before you stake out the rear corners.
We think the Mica FL 2 is quite livable. It has a moderate amount of space, comfortable for two people who don't mind getting close, with a width of 50 inches — the same as the Tarptent Double Rainbow and the MSR Hubba Hubba NX. It also has two doors with surprisingly large vestibules to stash your packs and shoes. The North Face has added a center cross pole for additional head room inside the tent. The whole tent is rather triangular in design, with triangular inner doors and three small triangular pockets. These pockets provide enough space for a few small things that may otherwise get lost inside the rest of the tent. We had two rather tall (6'1 and 6'3) testers sleep in this tent, they found it adequate but definitely not roomy.
The tent is rather low profile, with a peak height of 39". The doors are low and difficult to get in and out of. The two zippers that create the triangle shape of the inner doors are somewhat annoying to do up because they get caught on the outside zipper cover. We prefer a door that has one D shaped entry and zipper like on the Mountainsmith Morrison 2. It requires less zipping and may disturb your partner less when you're getting out in the middle of the night.
This tent withstood several nights of driving rain and strong winds where in the same storm the Double Rainbow was blown right over. We think this design is much stronger and wind resistant than the Fly Creek that has a similar pole shape because it has two side doors that act to reinforce the middle pole when staked out properly. It has a lot of mesh in the body to help prevent condensation (we experienced very little condensation) and the bathtub floor seems to come up high enough to prevent splashback. This mesh also means that the tent will not be as warm as others with solid walls like the Hilleberg Anjan 2, and will allow dust and spindrift in.
One concern we have is that the fly door vent covers have a somewhat rigid edge that seems to buckle inward on their own when set-up. We are afraid that this may let some moisture into the vestibules and also prohibit good air circulation through those vents.
Because this is a double walled tent that requires that its corners to be staked out to be fully set-up, there is very little adaptability in the Mica's design. You can sleep with the fly off on warm and clear nights.
The North Face uses high quality 70D silicone and polyurethane coated nylon for its fly materials. This tent's materials are more durable than the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 and could stand up to abrasion much better than the Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL 2. However, we discovered one issue with its construction. The attachment points where the body connect to the fly are small strips of fabric glued to the inside of the fly. We discovered that after a few days of being pitched in strong winds and sunny conditions, a strip simply fell off the inside of the fly. This is a design flaw that can be easily addressed if TNF is willing to put a few stitches in.
Weight and Packed Size
Weighing in at 55 ounces, our testers were surprised to find out that the Mica is actually an ounce lighter than the MSR Hubba Hubba NX, and has a better space-to-weight ratio because of its large vestibules. Its semi-lightweight materials pack down relatively small, but we still like the Hubba Hubba NX's stuff sack better.
Because the Mica is not free standing, this makes it more difficult to pitch on firm ground or rock slabs. You have to get creative with sticks and rocks to be able to solidly anchor the corners, which can be tricky. With its two doors, it also has a larger footprint size than the Fly Creek UL so you need a larger space to be able to pitch it in.
The Mica FL 2 is a great choice for a two person, 3 season backpacking tent.
We think the Mica is a decent value, retailing for $380. It is cheaper than the Hubba Hubba for a tent that weighs about the same and is more durable, although not quite as strong in storms as the Hubba Hubba NX with its double hub design.
Grab your friend and the Mica FL and head out on a backpacking adventure! We think The North Face's Mica FL 2 is a great compromise between weight savings and comfort and is a good choice for any three season backpacking trip.
— Jessica Haist