If you are a camper with loads of gear or a family with piles of stuff, The North Face Wawona 6 is your go-to tent. Year after year, this tent continues to outperform the competition and receive our praise. The primary reason is that it's massive, sturdy, and easy enough to pitch. The vestibule is like a two-car garage, and the main tent area boasts 85 sq ft and 6' 6" of height. Though some of the features used for the updated fly system are not intuitive and even a little painful on the fingers, once set up, this tent is the gold standard for an outdoor living space, all at a very fair price.Editor's Note: We updated this review for The North Face Wawona 6 on April 19, 2022, with a closer look at value versus performance and suggestions for other directly comparable products.
The North Face Wawona 6 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Spacious, great layout, durable, very family friendly, high value
Cons: Not the easiest to pitch, only one door, odd bag
Manufacturer: The North Face
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The North Face Wawona 6
|Price||$449.28 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Spacious, great layout, durable, very family friendly, high value||Huge doors and large vestibule, lots of pockets, highly weather resistant||Quality materials, great height, perfectly sized vestibule||Spacious, easy to pitch, great views, inexpensive||Simple, quick to set up, lightweight|
|Cons||Not the easiest to pitch, only one door, odd bag||Runs warm, views are a bit more restricted||Hubebd poles, single door, awkward bag||Fiberglass poles, small pockets, lack of ventilation with the rainfly on||Cheap poles, bad door zippers, small footprint|
|Bottom Line||This tent has one of the best uses of space we have ever seen, a great choice for families or campers with lots of gear||An excellent mountaineering-inspired tent that is ready for both inclement weather and summer fun||An ultra high-quality 4-person tent that makes great use of space with quality components||Wherever this tent falls short in quality, it makes up for it in size, features, and overall value||A classic lightweight 4-person dome tent that gives a little extra headroom and has a few nice features|
|Rating Categories||The North Face Wawo...||REI Co-op Base Camp 6||MSR Habitude 4||Kelty Wireless 6||Kelty Tallboy 4|
|Space and Comfort (35%)|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Family Friendliness (15%)|
|Specs||The North Face Wawo...||REI Co-op Base Camp 6||MSR Habitude 4||Kelty Wireless 6||Kelty Tallboy 4|
|Weight||21.9 lbs||20.6 lbs||12 lbs||17.2 lbs||11.0 lbs|
|Max Inside Height||6' 6"||6' 2"||6' 1"||6' 4"||5' 10"|
|Floor Dimensions||10' x 8' 6"||9' 2" x 9' 2"||7' 11" x 7' 11"||9' 10" x 8' 10"||7' 1" x 8'|
|Floor Area||85 sq ft||84 sq ft||62.4 sq ft||86.9 sq ft||57 sq ft|
|Windows||2||Mesh top||2||Mesh top||Mesh top|
|Number of Doors||3||2||1||2||1|
|Vestibule Area (total)||44.7 sq ft||40 sq ft||23.5 sq ft||28 sq ft||0 sq ft|
|Packed Size||9.5" x 16.5" x 25.5"||11" x 24"||23" x 9" x 9"||27" x 8" x 8"||24" x 7" x 10"|
|Floor Materials||150D polyester||Polyester||DWR 68D polyester taffeta||68D poly 1800mm||68D Poly 1200mm|
|Main Tent Materials||150D polyester||Polyester||68D polyester ripstop, DWR, PU||68D poly 1200mm, 40D No-see-um mesh||68D Poly 1200mm, 40D No-see-um mesh|
|Rainfly Materials||75D polyester||Polyester||68D polyester ripstop, DWR, PU||68D poly 1200mm||68D Poly 1200mm|
|Number of Poles||4||5||3 hubbed||3||3|
|Pole Material||14 mm aluminum||Aluminum||7000-series aluminum||Fiberglass||Fiberglass|
|Extras||Internal dry lines, hang loops, Velcro lantern loop||4-Season||Porch Light||Pole pockets for easy setup||Light weight|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Wawona 6 is a long-standing OutdoorGearLab favorite, which remains true for this most current review. This tent got a pretty sizable update, with the newest version sporting a three-pocket storage wall on the back window and enhanced poles. The biggest change is switching from an all-in-one unit (single-walled) to a standalone tent with a detached fly (double-walled). This upgrade is a huge change for the better (despite making the setup a bit more complex) and allows the Wawona to be as glorious on hot summer nights as on cold, windy days.
Space and Comfort
It's no surprise that the Wawona scores well here. Boasting 85 sq ft of floor space, 45 sq ft of vestibule space, and a max height of 6' 6", this tent allows for all the space and comfort you can handle.
The Wawona easily fits a full-sized mattress and a twin with plenty of room for an extra sleeper or two on the ground. However, jamming a full and two twins didn't quite work out.
But because you can store all of your gear in the large vestibule, a family of 4 with two dogs can still be super comfortable. The 6' 6" ceiling is one of the tallest in our test group, so there is ample room for standing and walking around.
There are adequate pockets in the Wawona, but designers could add a few more at the lower level for bathroom break headlamps and phone alarms in the middle of the night. Also, the three-pouch storage area at the rear is an odd location choice because it blocks the view out the back. We wish they removed it when they ditched the back vestibule.
However, we can't stress enough the glory that the front vestibule offers. A large cooler, a bike, and a makeshift shower fit easily and still afforded a clear, open path to the door. You can stash a big wall bag of gear or a full fly fishing setup here.
Whatever type of adventures you are into, this tent can keep it covered and hidden. If you are so inclined, or maybe it is just too hot, you can ditch the fly and enjoy the breeze, the stars, and the scenery free from obstruction.
The Wawona is a well-built tent fit to battle the elements. With the guylines fully staked and some ok-sized stakes, this tent held firm against 50+ mile-in-hour winds in the California desert. When the wind died down and the heat came, the Wawona wasn't too stuffy either. Two top vents help the heat escape, and the uncovered top and front door that leads into the vestibule also help keep air circulating.
The rainfly is tricky to set up, but we will dive into that in the ease of use section. For now, we'll focus on the coverage. It is important to point out that this is not a full fly. It only covers the top, open sections of the main tent and doesn't cover the back window. There is, however, a fully rainproof zipper for that. The overlap from the fly to the side mesh isn't much, so while no water came in during our tests, time will tell how waterproof this new design turns out to be in horizontal rain situations.
The option to sport this tent without the rainfly is a great change from the previous iteration. This adds an entirely new use case for the Wawona. And being that this tent screams family, the ability to toss it up in the backyard or simply spare the hassle of the rainfly if you stroll into camp at midnight cannot be understated. This tent is ready for hot, cold, wet, and windy, so don't be scared to push it to the limit and try something new.
Ease of Use
Here is where the Wawona took a little hit. The updated design uses a pin and hook setup to attach the fly to the back of the tent, which is awkwardly hard to do. Also, the front vestibule needs to be fully staked and guy-lined to function. That is strike one.
Strike two comes from the fit of the poles to the grommets. Hopefully, this is just a "first season" problem, but the struggle is real, even for a strong human. The final strike, if you can even call it that, is the bag. Maybe The North Face is trying to nod to its climbing roots by mirroring a rope bag, or they just had extra stock, but the carry case this tent comes in leaves a little room for questioning. It just doesn't ever really close.
On the positive side, there are color-coded poles, and because of the way the fly attaches, it is practically impossible to put it on backward. This tent also comes with plenty of stakes and pre-attached guylines. All in all, it took a two-team crew 10 min 20 seconds to set up. Not bad for a massive 6-person tent – with a packed weight of nearly 22 pounds – but certainly not the fastest time.
Taking the Wawona down is the same as putting it up: get past the tight fit and awkward clips, and you are good to go. The fully open bag does make fitting everything pretty simple and affords you some extra wiggle should your tent roll be looser than it came the first time.
This is another metric where the Wawona excels. We have already mentioned many of the features that make this tent so family-friendly.
The huge vestibule provides a place to stage your gear, wipe off your feet, and even change clothes if the tent is full. It also gives you a place to cook and hang out should bad weather come around. And the main area easily sleeps four people with room for dogs and toys.
It is hard to knock the Wawona for storage. However, some pockets lower to the floor would help in this metric — as would some better hanging options in the vestibule space. If you have some lashing, adding some hooks for lighting and/or hanging wet clothes might come in handy.
Another factor in our family friendliness is "Can you and the family function in a storm?" Now, we don't pretend to know the inner workings of your family dynamic, but we can confidently say this tent will not make it worse. You can even have your own designated timeout corner or two if you so desire.
The tent is made from a brand known for durability, and they don't disappoint here. The main structure is made of 150D polyester taffeta, the floor out of 68D polyester, and the new version sports DAC MX poles that North Face says are "stronger, without a weight penalty." Time will tell on this front, but we can confirm that they are very strong and snap together like butter.
The mesh material on the doors and ceiling feels insanely strong and tight. The seams are sealed, and the tub floor should keep out ground moisture. The bag material is high-quality. This tent is clearly built to last.
Should You Buy The North Face Wawona 6?
The North Face Wawona 6 is superior at utilizing space. From strong floors to an open ceiling, huge vestibule, and functional back window, this is an awesome tent. The versatility means it is great for activities, concerts, backyard slumber parties, and bad weather adventures. A very fair price tag just adds icing to the cake.
What Other Camping Tents Should You Consider?
The Wawona 6 is a value-rich option: a high-quality build at a reasonable price point for a huge, 6-person tent. But we recognize that this is still rather expensive for a tent, and if you are looking for a more affordable option, the Kelty Wireless 6 is our choice for an outstanding value. If you don't need something quite as big and are looking for a tent with a bit more weather resistance, our top pick is the MSR Habitude 4.
— Rob Gaedtke
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