The New Triarch 2 vs. the Old Version
The North Face has made a few updates to the Triarch. In addition to some aesthetic updates, the square footage has decreased slightly, and some new materials are being used. The stuff sack has also been redesigned to function as a gear loft on this new model! See the new version below in the photo on the left, followed by the version we tested on the right.
- Updated gear loft — The stuff sack on this tent now doubles as the gear loft.
- Decreased area — The area of the floor space has decreased from 29.2 ft² to 27.8 ft².
- Increased vestibule area — The vestibule area has greatly increased, from 14 ft² total on the previous version to 26.6 ft² on this new model.
- Material updates — The new Triarch employs 20D nylon for the body and rainfly and 30D nylon for the floor, whereas the older model used a combo of 15D nylon and 75D nylon taffeta.
- Price increase — The Triarch 2 now retails for around $30 more, ringing in at $379
Since we haven't gotten our hands on the newest version yet, the remainder of the review refers to the older Triarch.
Hands-On Review of the Triarch 2
The complex-looking pole geometry in The North Face Triarch 2, while somewhat of a pain to set up, means stability — even during a springtime windstorm. We loved the fact that despite rainy conditions we and our gear stayed bone-dry, and the included footprint helped insulate and keep things dry from a muddy camping spot. The pole geometry (poles supporting all four corners and the ceiling) increased stability in windy conditions, and we felt confident leaving this tent pitched on a windy day. Stand-out features included an integrated ample tabs inside for hanging gear, wet clothes, and an included gear loft. When drying out soggy gear inside in even wetter conditions, we appreciated the excellent ventilation in the fly — drafting away both the wet-sock smell and oncoming condensation. A door and corresponding vestibule on each side of the tent offer convenient access and gear storage for two people.
Despite its roomy feeling when setting up and settling inside, once two adults lay down in the tent the somewhat narrow 50-inch width became apparent; two wide-shouldered adults bumped into each other fairly significantly when trying to sort gear inside.
The Triarch 2, set up with fly.
Sloping walls also contributed to a bit of a compressed feeling once inside. In contrast, the REI Half Dome 2 Plus has a roomy 56-inch width, and the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2 boasts a full 60 inches.
The interior pockets were roomy and offered considerable storage in the Triarch 2.
On the upside, access in and out of the tent is comfortable — movement in and out is helped by two triangular doors which extend all the way to the brow pole. Each side features a 7-square-foot vestibule which comfortably offered space to cook in and then later shelter packs and boots from rainy weather. The shape of the doors was our favorite out of all the tents tested, providing the largest doorway space.
The views offered from the Triarch 2 allow for stargazing.
All-mesh walls mean airflow is excellent, banishing condensation and encouraging air movement. The fly even features ventilation ports and allows enough space between the interior tent and fly walls for breathability.
We liked the increased height of the sidewall at the head of the Triarch 2.
Ease of Set-Up
The Triarch 2 did not excel in ease of set-up. Two different testers, both with outdoor industry tech experience, had to reach for the directions while setting up the tent for the first time. The only other tent in the review that required help from formal directions was the TarpTent Double Rainbow. We found the poles cumbersome and the heavy-feeling fabric awkward for one person to set up solo. If you're looking for a tent with no-brain-required assembly, we'd recommend the REI Half Dome 2 Plus, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 or the Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO.
The Triarch 2 without its fly.
Thanks to the heavy-duty-feeling fly and excellent ventilation, we felt like the Triarch would hold up well in bad weather. We wished the fly would come down lower (like on the Rattlesnake SL 2 mtnGLO Tent), but the bathtub walls on the interior tent were high enough to prevent splashing. The fly's 15D nylon ripstop with a PU and silicone coating held up well to drizzly spring days. While our favorite foul-weather tent is still the Hilleberg Anjan GT 2, we'd trust the Triarch when the weather turns, as well as the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 and NEMO Galaxi 2.
The Triarch's fly features a 15D nylon ripstop with both a PU and silicone coating, and we feel confident it would hold up well to repeated use in the field. The 75D nylon taffeta floor felt sturdy and ready for action, and we appreciated the added protection of the PU coasting. Similarly, the NEMO Dagger 2 uses 15D Sil/PU Nylon Ripstop for the rain fly, and this tent scored very highly in our durability category. The Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO and the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 also came away with strong durability scores.
Weight and Packed Size
The tent weighs 3 lbs. 12 oz. for a trail-ready configuration, including gear loft, footprint, and poles. This was a very competitive weight in comparison to the other tents we reviewed, many of which landed in the 4-lb.-something category.
Packed size of the Triarch 2.
However, the Triarch feels slightly bulky for its weight, packing down to 7" x 22". As light as this tent is, we'd like to see a smaller packed size for extended backcountry travel. It's not limiting, but we feel perhaps the heavier nylon fabrics inhibited the packed size slightly. The NEMO Dagger 2 came in at the exact same weight but packs into a slightly smaller — and more manageable — 19" x 5". The Anjan GT 2 comes away at an even smaller 19" x 4", though it's heavier at 4 lbs. 1 oz., compared to the Dagger's 3 lbs. 12 oz.
The Triarch 2 is suitable for backcountry use in both windy and damp conditions. This is a tent to reach for if you're heading into a rainy week, though be wary if you are traveling to sandy climes as the mesh interior tent can allow sand to blow inside the tent in breezy conditions. A smaller interior width means tall or broad-shouldered hikers may be best served looking elsewhere.
Interior of the Triarch 2.
Coming in at $349.90, we reviewed other tents in the same price range that we felt held more value to the backcountry traveler. The REI Half Dome 2 Plus, by comparison, costs $220 and offers 38.1 square feet to the Triarch's 29.2 square feet. If interior space is not at a premium and you're seeking an attractive tent that can stand up to varied weather conditions, the Triarch is worth looking at. The NEMO Galaxi 2 overall scored higher in our tests and retails for $200, with the REI Half Dome 2 Plus and Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 winning our Best Buy awards.
The North Face's Triarch 2's lightweight, freestanding architecture features vaulted arches at the head and footbox as well as vertical side walls for plenty of moving space, helping maximize a smaller interior space. An ample selection of tabs and a roomy gear loft inside maximize storage space. Large, triangle-spaced double doors offer easy access, and each door features vestibule space for convenient gear storage. Inside. This is a solid, weather-beating choice for backpackers in mixed conditions.
The Triarch 2 set up sans-fly.