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The North Face Eco Trail 2 Review

A hefty but durable tent that does well as a car camping standby
The North Face Eco Trail 2
Photo: Backcountry
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Price:  $250 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Excellent headroom, durable rainfly, large vestibules
Cons:  Small storage pockets, trickier for one person to pitch
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 27, 2020
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55
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 14
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Weight - 25% 3
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 5
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 6
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Packed Size - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The North Face Eco Trail 2 is a surprisingly comfortable tent with massive amounts of headroom. Its durable floor and fly ensure that it will last you for many adventures to come. There is a lot to like here, but this tent is not without its drawbacks. It is very heavy for a product in this category, meaning that it works much better for car camping than for backpacking trips. We also found that its gangly poles make it slightly more difficult to set up than your average tent. At the end of the day, it's a durable tent at a decent price point.

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Pros Excellent headroom, durable rainfly, large vestibulesTwo side doors, easy to pitch, large vestibulesLots of headroom, large vestibule, easy to pitchLightweight, easy to pitchSetup with fly attached, flexible vestibule configuration, below average price
Cons Small storage pockets, trickier for one person to pitchHeavy, not so stable in high windPoles pinch together under fly tensionSmall interior, single door and vestibuleSingle door, can't remove fly while keeping tent pitched
Bottom Line A hefty but durable tent that does well as a car camping standbyThis basic tent is easy to set up and provides comfortable nights of camping on a budgetThis inexpensive tent is just a good as a 1P as it for twoA budget tent for those who want to minimize weight and don't mind sacrificing a fair bit of comfortThe unique design and really reasonable price of this tent have us finding new ways to enjoy it again and again
Rating Categories The North Face Eco... REI Co-op Passage 2 REI Co-op Passage 1 Big Agnes C Bar 2 Slumberjack Nightfa...
Comfort (25%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
7.0
Weight (25%)
3.0
6.0
6.0
9.0
5.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
5.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Packed Size (10%)
4.0
5.0
5.0
8.0
5.0
Specs The North Face Eco... REI Co-op Passage 2 REI Co-op Passage 1 Big Agnes C Bar 2 Slumberjack Nightfa...
Measured Packaged Weight 6.15 lbs 5.23 lbs 4.21 lbs 3.96 lbs 5.68 lbs
Floor Area 32 sq ft 31 sq ft 20 sq ft 28 sq ft 31.4 sq ft
Packed Size 22 x (6.5 x 7.5) in 8 x 18 in 7.5 x 17 in 6 x 19 in 6.5 x 21 in
Dimensions 86.5 x 52 in 88 x 52 in 88 x 36 in 86 x (52 x 42) x 41 in 85 x 52 x 39.5 in
Vestibule Area (Total) 17 sq ft 19 sq ft 9.5 sq ft 7 sq ft 9.3 sq ft
Peak Height 42.9 in 40 in 40 in 41 in 39.5 in
Number of Doors 2 2 1 1 1
Number of Poles 2 2 2 2 3
Pole Diameter Not provided 8.5 mm 8.5 mm Not provided Not provided
Number of Pockets 4 2 1 3 2
Gear Loft No No No No No
Pole Material Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum DAC pressfit aluminum 7001 aluminum
Guy Points 4 4 4 7 4
Rain Fly Material 75D recycled polyester Polyester Polyester Polyester taffeta 68D polyester
Inner Tent Material 75D recycled polyester, PU coating Polyester Polyester Polyester & mesh 40D Polyester No-See-Um Mesh
Type Freestanding Freestanding Freestanding Freestanding Freestanding

Our Analysis and Test Results

Made from recycled plastic, this tent is marketed toward the eco-conscious. The floor, canopy, and rainfly are all recycled material, making it a unique option among competitors in the category.

Performance Comparison


This roomy tent is good for car camping on a budget.
This roomy tent is good for car camping on a budget.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort


This tent proved to be more comfortable than we originally expected it to be. Listed at only 86 1/2" inches long, we were initially skeptical that we wouldn't press our feet up against the end of the tent in the middle of the night. Though that did happen to some extent (as it so often does), we found that we didn't miss the few extra inches too much. This is made possible by a closer-to-average width of 52", combined with a 43" inch peak height and a crossbar pole configuration that ensures that the peak height extends from sidewall to sidewall.

The two large side doors open almost all of the way around and can...
The two large side doors open almost all of the way around and can be stowed in an overhead pocket allowing for unobstructed views of your surroundings.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The double teardrop side doors store quickly and easily in the pockets right above them, and steep head and foot end walls give the tent a more spacious feel. Our primary issue with the interior comfort is that the storage pockets are oddly shaped. Given the tent's size, we would also expect some sort of additional overhead pocket, but there is none to be found.

Two people can lie down comfortably with room to spare. There is...
Two people can lie down comfortably with room to spare. There is also tons of room overhead.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weather Resistance


The Eco Trail has a stable enough footprint to stand tall in stiff wind if it is staked out properly. However, it also comes with a huge amount of surface area, so it is more susceptible to getting hit by a gust in the first place. The rain fly performs about as advertised.

At the top of the tent, there are two small vents with kickstands...
At the top of the tent, there are two small vents with kickstands that are meant to facilitate the escape of condensation while keeping the rain out.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

There are two fly vents — one above each door. They are on the smaller side, and we didn't find them to be highly effective. The vestibules are sufficient for a pack and boots, but they aren't huge. In practice, we found that portions of our gear were left exposed to the elements. And though there is a flap that covers the zipper on the rainfly, the zipper itself is nowhere near waterproof, so some seepage and dripping are possible.

There are flaps on the fly that cover the zippers, however, the...
There are flaps on the fly that cover the zippers, however, the little pinpoints of light that are shining through in this picture also mean that water can come into the vestibule as well.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ease of Setup


It's not overly complicated, but we do think that this tent is one of the more difficult to pitch. It's not that it is conceptually complicated (it isn't); we just found that the H-shaped pole structure can be harder for one person to get a handle on. There also isn't always quite enough guyline at the head and foot end stake points to actually reach the ground.

This tent is symmetrical so the the 'H'-shaped pole structure is...
This tent is symmetrical so the the 'H'-shaped pole structure is simple to set in place.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

However, once you can wrangle all four corners into the tent grommets, then it's just a matter of clipping the tent body to the poles. The fly attaches with a clip at each corner, and eight stakes hold it all in place. We do appreciate that this model also comes with 12 total stakes, so you can use them to secure some additional guyline or just carry a couple of extras in case you lose one.

We appreciate that this tent comes with more than enough stakes to...
We appreciate that this tent comes with more than enough stakes to pitch it. It turns out that they are also stronger than we expected them to be.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Durability


The tent floor and fly and are both made from 75D polyester, which is on the thicker end of the tent fabric spectrum. This adds a lot of bulk, but also can offer peace of mind if you are the type of camper that isn't always the most careful with their gear. We also found that the included stakes stand up to more stomping than we ever would have expected.

The cord, clips, and webbing are the most noticeably cheaper-looking...
The cord, clips, and webbing are the most noticeably cheaper-looking components.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Our primary concerns about the durability of the Eco Trail are relatively small details. The webbing at each corner of the fly is thin, and the design of the top of the zipper near the fly vent, as well as the kickstand that keeps the vent open, appear liable to rip in the long run.

Weight and Packed Size


Tipping the scales at 6 pounds, 3 ounces, this tent is one of the heaviest in this review. This largely owes to its hefty rainfly, which is the same 75D polyester fabric as the tent floor. It is certainly not winning any ultralight contests, but that's not particularly what it is designed for.

At over 6 pounds, this model is by no means a lightweight, but it...
At over 6 pounds, this model is by no means a lightweight, but it packs down well with the rest of them.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Similarly, this shelter takes up a ton of space inside a pack. Again, the fly is thick and bulky, and the pole hubs are chunky. Sometimes, a 2P can be carried by just one person without too much extra effort. This is not one of those tents.

Value


This tent offers plenty of value, but we also think that there are superior options at the same price point. The thick fabrics ensure you will get your money's worth in the long run, but some design features leave us looking elsewhere.

Conclusion


The The North Face Eco Trail 2 is a sturdy, reliable tent that offers great utility but not a lot of elegance. We wouldn't want to take it for a long backpacking trip, but for car camping or a weekend on the lake, it's an adequate option.

This tent is great for kids or for a car camping weekend.
This tent is great for kids or for a car camping weekend.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch