This model offers a variety of features that make it a really livable tent. From its doors to its vestibules, pole configuration and storage pockets, our testing showed that this is a great option when you need a day or two to just hang around in camp. It's a tent that we really like to spend time and can be pitched in almost no time. It is the heftiest model in our review, so we wouldn't recommend toting it terribly far (or at all if you can avoid it), but if you want a prime car camping tent at a reasonable price point, you can't go wrong with the Stormbreak 2.
The The North Face Stormbreak 2 earns big points for its comfort and ease of set up. Compared to the rest of the pack, it is easy to see why this product earns a Best Buy Award.
This tent is meant for relaxing. It is sort of stealth against a beige landscape.
This tent has a pole structure that makes for the best headroom in this review. It has an 87" length and 53" width — both adequate for two people (even if they are taller) but still average for a budget backpacking tent. Where this model excels is in its peak height and its dual cross poles that create a huge area at the top of the tent that maintains the 43" peak height all around, as opposed to just in one small spot.
We like tents with doors that open up all the way to let in the morning breeze and sunshine.
We also like that the two circular side doors open up almost all the way around and can be stored in a couple of the side pockets of the tent. Speaking of pockets, there are four huge ones, one at each corner. We had plenty of space to tuck away all of the items that we needed easy access to. The trapezoidal vestibules offer enough space for a pack and boots, leaving even more room for you on the inside.
The two side doors open all the way for easy entrance and exit.
One small bummer is that there is a large square panel of white fabric instead of mesh at the top of the tent. If you are going to lounge around during the day, it does keep the sun out of your eyes if you don't have the fly on. However, it also obstructs stargazing at night.
One of the four large gear storage pockets (holding a puffy outer layer).
Ease of Set Up
This tent has more poles than a typical model, but it is still straightforward to pitch. It has a standard X-pole design. Each pole end slides into a grommet at the corner of each tent. There are also two cross poles that are the source of all of that extra headroom. They also attach to the tent by sliding into grommets at the top. The fly and tent each have a color-coded red corner to make it easy to orient properly.
We also found that attaching and staking out the fly was more simple than some other models, which could be difficult to tension properly all the way around. We were able to pitch this tent in under four minutes.
The basic design and easy-to-use clips make this tent quick to pitch.
Our Editors' Choice REI Passage 2 is another easy-to-set-up option.
It's not perfect, but our experiences tell us that this tent more or less lives up to its name. Though there is a lot of surface area to this tent for wind to really hammer it, the solid pole structure and easy-to-tension fly limit rattling and flapping. The fly runs fairly low to the ground, and though there is some minimal splashback on the ends where the fly doesn't quite go all the way to the ground, it holds up well in a storm.
The other nice piece is that the fly opens up in many different configurations. Depending on how hard it is raining, you can even keep the bottom flap open to keep air moving through the tent without getting the inside of the tent wet. There are no roof vents, which is a little bit of a shame but the fly can be tied back in a variety of different ways to minimize condensation.
With just the bottom of the tent fly open, it's possible to maintain good ventilation while staying protected.
It even comes with (gasp!) enough stakes. There are ten total; four at each corner of the tent, four more (two on each side) for the vestibules and two more (one for each end) for the remaining sides of the fly. There are also four guy points with line already attached. We do admit that the stakes are those nice thin cheap ones. You may have found a couple still lodged in the ground at your last campsite. They are easy to lose and easy to bend.
Good weather resistance can be hard to come by in a budget tent, but if you need solid protection, we also recommend the REI Passage 2 or the Slumberjack Nightfall 2.
We are confident in this tent's durability. Its 68D polyester floor and fly are abrasion resistant. The seams were solid during testing. The clips, grommets, and webbing are not as 'high performance' as more expensive tents in our regular backpacking tent review, but they won't snap or break easily. The high-tension areas on this tent are nicely spread out and reinforced, specifically the four corners that the cross poles attach to at the top. This means that there isn't just one point that is responsible for the upper canopy tension.
The stakes, discussed above, are cheap, but they are also a really easy and relatively inexpensive upgrade when they go missing or get to bent out of shape. All-in-all, we are happy with the long term prospects of this model.
The top of the tent with main poles crossing in the middle and auxiliary poles on the side, distributing tension (and maximizing headroom).
Weight & Packed Size
The Stormbreak 2 is the heaviest tent in our budget review and also one of the bulkiest. It weighs in at 5 pounds, 14 ounces and a packed size of 7" x 22". We certainly wouldn't want it to be our regular backpacking tent — to us, it's just worth the extra money to have a tent in the long run that ways half as much or less.
However, there is somewhat of a paradox here: the more a tent weighs, the less weight seems to matter. That is, at a certain point (in our experience, just over 5 pounds), that the negatives of a few extra ounces are way less of a burden than the positives of additional space are an advantage. This tent is heavy and it does take up a lot of space, we just didn't seem to mind too much.
The North Face Stormbreak 2 compared to two of the more compact contenders, the Big Agnes C Bar and the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2.
If you want to go to the opposite end of the spectrum, the lightweight Big Agnes C Bar 2 can be used on longer backcountry trips (but you will have to sacrifice some space).
Because of this tent's heft, we think that its best applications are car camping and short 'in and out' overnight trips. Its dimensions make it a tent that you would want to spend time in and around anyway, not one that you want to be carrying on your back for long distances. If you are inclined to take it out into the backcountry, we think there is plenty of space inside that it is well worth splitting the weight between two people and camping with a buddy.
This tent is meant for relaxing.
At $160, this tent is right around the average price for this budget tent review. However, given that it offers excellent headroom and other comfort features, we think that it is a great value. We think you get more than you pay for with this tent and its durable 68D polyester tent and fly mean that it will last for many adventures to come.
The The North Face Stormbreak 2 is a wicked choice for weekend lounging. Its roomy interior makes it a tent that you would want to spend more time inside of than carrying on your back. In fact, it wins a Best Buy because of its headroom and comfort. It has flexible vestibule configurations and excellent gear pockets. It's easy to set up and durable enough to withstand years of adventures. If that all sounds like a good deal for a tent, that's because it is.