Hands-on Gear Review

The North Face Triarch 2 Review

Price:  $379 List | $378.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Weather-beating, easy-access doors, lightweight
Cons:  Expensive, narrow interior width
Bottom line:  A good choice for those seeking a sturdy tent for mixed conditions.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Measured Weight:  3.75 lbs
Floor Area:  27.8 sq ft
Packed Size:  7 x 22 in
Manufacturer:   The North Face

Our Verdict

Although The North Triarch 2's floor space didn't really stand out from the other tents we tested (REI's Half Dome 2 Plus boasts nearly eight more square feet of interior space), it felt like one of the roomiest. This can perhaps be attributed to a peak height of 43" and good use of multiple mesh colors on the interior tent, allowing for the illusion of more space while also maintaining privacy. The tent weighs in moderately at 3 lbs. 12 oz. for a trail-ready configuration, but at a packed size of 7" x 22", we'd like to see a smaller packed size for true backcountry travel. It's a comfortable, weather-resistant choice for casual backpacking and car-camping, but other tents in the review stood out as leaders for longer-duration backcountry trips where space is at a premium.

Product Update
The North Face updated the Triarch 2 since we tested it. See the photo above of the new version, and read on to learn about the overhaul!



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Backpacking Tents of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jess McGlothlin

Last Updated:
Friday
April 20, 2018

Share:

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.

The North Face Triarch
  • 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.

Comfort


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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Triarch 2 without its fly.

Weather Resistance


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.

Durability


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.
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.

Best Applications


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.
Interior of the Triarch 2.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.
The Triarch 2 set up sans-fly.

Jess McGlothlin

You Might Also Like

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: April 25, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Person Icon

Apr 25, 2018 - 02:19am
 
Kurt

But how do you set up the fly only?



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Runner

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   May 27, 2017 - 02:14pm
Sherpa Dan · Runner · Florida
This is a robust and solid tent in my opinion, first time set up is a learning curve but after that first time it's now easy to do. I seriously considered the MSR hubba hubba at first but chose the Triarch because it came WITH the footprint and has a 75 Denier floor. It also is a rectangle shape and not a tapered floor meaning it doesn't matter which end your head goes. It is narrow however and I consider most 2 person tents as a luxurious 1 person tents.
It help up Very well and stayed dry during a windy thunderstorm in the Big horn mountains of Wyoming last year. A friend along on the same trip suffered a tear to the rainfly of his Hubba Hubba and my sons 1 person REI quarterdome held up great thru the storm too.
It's important to note the included footprint adds 8 oz. to the listed weight.
My only beef with the tent oddly is the rain fly color, it really seams to attract flying insects for some reason. A coat of permethrin really helped curb this issue last time out at the same base camp site. I'm really interested in the copper spur but not sure if I could give up the 75 Denier floor of the Triarch for a tent that has such thin materials.
We all have to consider what we're willing to give up for savings in packed weight. I think for Me personally the Triarch is good compromise of weight vs durability.
I also think the extra few ounces of weight over that of a one person tent is well worth the extra space if your a solo hiker or one that travels with a dog.
Cloud Peak base 10 000 ft
Cloud Peak base 10,000 ft



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...