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The North Face Wawona 6 Review

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
The North Face Wawona 6
Photo: The North Face
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $450 List | Check Price at Backcountry
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
By Rob Gaedtke ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 5, 2021
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85
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 11
  • Space and Comfort - 35% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Durability - 15% 9
  • Family Friendliness - 10% 9

Our Verdict

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 living space, all at a very fair price.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award   
Price Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$469 List
Check Price at REI
$299 List
Check Price at REI
$159.99 at Amazon$69.99 at Amazon
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Pros Spacious, great layout, durable, very family friendly, high valueHuge doors and large vestibule, lots of pockets, highly weather resistantSpacious, lightweight, quick to pitchSuper easy set up, good views, very nice priceSimple, very cheap, lightweight
Cons Not the easiest to pitch, only one door, odd bagRuns warm, views are a bit more restrictedUses a hub pole system, not wind friendlyLow headroom, poor overall constructionToo simple, cheaply made, not durable
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 gearAn excellent mountaineering-inspired tent that is ready for both inclement weather and summer funThis spacious and user-friendly tent is a feature-rich option that is very fairly pricedThis tent is fast, easy, and inexpensive, though it falls short in some key areasA starter tent that works for those looking to get into camping on the cheap
Rating Categories The North Face Wawo... REI Co-op Base Camp 6 REI Grand Hut 4 4-Person Cabin with... Coleman Sundome Dome 4
Space And Comfort (35%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
5.0
Weather Resistance (25%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Durability (15%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
3.0
Family Friendliness (10%)
9.0
8.0
6.0
3.0
4.0
Specs The North Face Wawo... REI Co-op Base Camp 6 REI Grand Hut 4 4-Person Cabin with... Coleman Sundome Dome 4
Weight 21.9 lbs 20.625 lbs 13.7 lbs 18.2 lbs 9.8 lbs
Max Inside Height 6' 6" 6' 2" 6' 3" 4' 11" 4' 11"
Floor Dimensions 10' x 8'6" 9'2" x 9'2" 8'4" x 7'2" 8' x 7' 9' x 7'
Floor Area 85 sq ft 84 sq ft 59.7 sq ft 56 sq ft 63 sq ft
Seasons 3-season 3-4 season 3-season 3-season 3-season
Windows 2 Mesh top 3 3 2
Pockets 6 14 8 2 1
Number of Doors 3 2 2 1 2
Room Divider Yes No No No No
Vestibules 2 2 2 0 0
Vestibule Area 44.7 sq ft; 21 sq ft 40 sq ft 35 sq ft N/A N/A
Packed Size 9.5" x 16.5" x 25.5" 11" x 24" 24" x 10" x 10" 39.5" x 8" x 8" 6.75" x 6.75" x 23.75"
Floor Materials 75D polyester Polyester 150D coated polyester 150D Polyester Polyethylene 1000D-140g/sqm
Main Tent Materials 150D polyester taffeta Polyester Mesh 150D Polyester Polyester mesh 68D
Rainfly Materials 68D polyester Polyester 75D coated polyester Polyguard 2X Polyester taffeta 75D
Number of Poles 4 5 1 hubbed 4 3
Pole Material 14 mm aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Fiberglass
Extras Internal dry lines, hang loops, Velcro lantern loop 4-Season Ceiling zippers to reach top clips Integrated rainfly protection E-Port

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Wawona 6 is a long-standing OutdoorGearLab favorite, and that 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 the switch from being an all-in-one unit (single-walled) to a standalone tent with a detached fly (double-walled). This is a huge change for the better (despite making setup a bit more complex) and allows the Wawona to be as glorious on hot summer nights as it is on cold, windy days.

Performance Comparison


Both vestibule doors open allows for a great view while still...
Both vestibule doors open allows for a great view while still getting coverage from the sun.
Photo: Rob Gaedtke

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.

Chilling out in style. Take note of the open floor in front which...
Chilling out in style. Take note of the open floor in front which can easily extend the sleeping area.
Photo: Rob Gaedtke

There are adequate pockets in the Wawona, but there could be a few more added 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 in here. Whatever type of adventures you are into, this tent can keep it covered and hidden. That said, 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.

A rare view of the Wawona without the glorious rain fly. Note that...
A rare view of the Wawona without the glorious rain fly. Note that massive entryway!
Photo: Rob Gaedtke

Weather Resistance


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 a little tricky to set up, but we will dive into that in the ease of use section. For now, we'll focus on the coverage. This is not a full fly. It only covers the top, open sections of the main tent and doesn't cover the back window at all. 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 ring and pin mechanism used to attach the fly to the tent. Looks...
The ring and pin mechanism used to attach the fly to the tent. Looks strong but it isn't easy to feed through.
Photo: Rob Gaedtke

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. All in all, 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.

The above look gives perspective to the massive size of this tent
The above look gives perspective to the massive size of this tent
Photo: Rob Gaedtke

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 ten which is awkwardly hard to do. Also, the front vestibule needs to be fully staked and guy-lined in order 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 give a 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.

The hearty and roomy but somewhat questionable carry case for the...
The hearty and roomy but somewhat questionable carry case for the Wawona 6.
Photo: Rick Baraff

On the positive side, there are color-coded poles, and because of the way the fly attaches, it is pretty much 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, but certainly not the fastest time.

Taking the Wawona down is pretty much 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.

The North Face Wawona 6 poles are a tight fit, getting the last one...
The North Face Wawona 6 poles are a tight fit, getting the last one in the hole is a struggle, though you'll sleep confidently knowing your home is secure.
Photo: Rob Gaedtke

Durability


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 the ceiling feels amazingly strong and tight. The seams are all sealed, and the tub floor should keep out any ground moisture. Outside of the function, the bag material is really high-quality. This tent is clearly built to last.

The back side view of the Wawona after a night of howling winds
The back side view of the Wawona after a night of howling winds
Photo: Rob Gaedtke

Family Friendliness


This is another category 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, 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 definitely help in this category — as would some better hanging options in the vestibule space. If you have some lashing, it might come in handy to add some hooks for lighting and/or hanging wet clothes.

Cooking up dinner in the Wawona's covered and spacious vestibule.
Cooking up dinner in the Wawona's covered and spacious vestibule.
Photo: Rob Gaedtke

Another factor in our family friendliness is "in a storm, can you and the family function." 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. In fact, you can have your own designated timeout corner or two if you so desire.

Value


As one of the highest quality tents in our lineup, you would expect the Wawona to be one of the most expensive. But it isn't. Thanks to This tent is affordable and quality — highly value-rich in our book.

Value is important, and the Wawona 6 has lots of it.
Value is important, and the Wawona 6 has lots of it.
Photo: Rob Gaedtke

Conclusion


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. Slapping a very fair price tag just adds icing to the cake.

Rob Gaedtke