The O2 Tent earned good scores for ease of use, livability, and weather resistance. Only a lack of adaptability and heavy weight limit its overall rating. Although it is the second heaviest model in this review, its 2 lb 7 oz weight would make it one of the lighter models if we judged it against the products in our Backpacking Tent review.
The O2 Tent from The North Face is one of the lightest dedicated-pole, double-wall tents we've tested. It pitches quickly, and provides all the traditional protections of a 'tent.'
Weather resistance is one of the metrics where the O2 Tent earned an above average score compared to the other ultralight shelters we evaluated. It mostly meets the traditional protection goals of a double-wall tent: rain, wind, bugs, and wet ground. With no fly guy out points other than the standard stake out points, we were reluctant to use this model in high winds. To reduce weight, the fly does not completely cover the two ends of the tent, rather the inner tent itself has waterproof fabric here. High wind can drive rain inside easier than a to-the-ground fly like the Fly Creek Platinum's. The fly does attach to the overhead pole in two spots with Velcro. It would be nice if there were two fly guy out loops here.
Weighing in at 2 pounds 6.7 ounces with all included parts and stuff sacks, this is the second heaviest model we tested. Other than the Fly Creek HV2 Platinum, this is the only tent in the ultralight review that comes with everything you need for set-up included. The O2 Tent is a full 4 oz lighter than the Marmot Nitro 2P, which requires an additional trekking pole as well.
Weight Bottom Line:
Inner Tent, Fly, and Poles = 2 lb 2.4 oz
Included stakes = 4.3 oz
Stowed in the included cylindrical stuff sack, this model measures 16" x 6" round.
The North Face O2 Tent earns a good score for livability. Two average size folks fit with a little room to spare in the 26 sq ft of floor space. While snuggling couples will want to sleep with their heads at the same end of the tent, it is more comfortable to sleep two folks head to toe. The five sq ft vestibule outside the door is just big enough for a couple of pairs of shoes.
Interestingly, the way the fly stakes out creates another covered area on the side of the tent opposite the door. If you have equipment you want to stow and do not need access to from inside, this doubles the outside storage space. Two overhead pockets provide quick access storage, and are in line-of-sight rather than blocked by your sleeping bag on the side; the toggle door tie backs also work fine. Our 5'11" tester has about 3" of overhead room when sitting up. The similar-in-geometry Haven Tarp creates exceptional headroom all the way across for two folks to sit up. If you are attracted to the roominess and side entry door of the O2, but hike with trekking poles, consider the Six Moon Designs Haven Tarp. It is a bit larger than the O2, uses your trekking poles for support, and has TWO side entry doors.
This O2's U-shaped pole overhead creates good interior headroom. Our 5'11" tester has a few inches overhead, and two folks can generally sit up without rubbing heads on the ceiling much.
Like all dedicated-pole, double-wall tents, this one must be set up the same way every time. For the overwhelming majority of established campsites, this is not a liability.
Dedicated-pole double-wall tents are not adaptable, but are quick and simple to pitch without adding the waterproof fly for bug protection in non-threatening weather.
The O2 tent earned a low score for durability. We feel the PU coated nylon ripstop will not be as durable over the long term as the SilNylon used on most high-end ultralight shelters. Additionally, even the bug-proof mesh feels lower quality. During our testing, we experienced no functional problems with this tent, other than the fly door zipper snagging sometimes. All that said, we don't expect top-quality fabrics on a tent that costs significantly less than competitors.
Ease of Set-up
The North Face O2 tent earned good scores for ease of use. Our trial set-up in the backyard took eight minutes; there is a little bit of a learning curve. An instruction card comes in the package, and matching red string is used at the common corners of the fly and inner tent (rather than the yellow elsewhere) making aligning the fly simple. Four to five minutes saw us all set up at camp in the mountains. This tent is also one of the easier models for one person to pitch. All poles are included; one long articulated pole goes over the top reminiscent of a hoop tent, and two shorter straight struts support the ends. Ten stakes come in the package, and that's just the right amount. A reflective strip in the guy lines and stake out string can be useful for finding your tent in the dark.
This tent has color-coded strings on matching tent body and fly corners to aid in set up. This tent is symmetrical, and the fly fits perfectly rotated 180degrees, til you find out the doors aren't on the same side. Learn to pay attention to the red strings like we did.
We feel the O2 Tent is a great choice for the budget conscious backpacker who wants to lighten their load. We would choose a lighter shelter for thru-hikes and long trips, but the extra roomy interior is quite nice if you don't mind carrying an extra half pound. Above or below treeline, this is a good tent.
At $299 retail, and often on sale, The North Face O2 tent is a great value. It is not the lightest, but at half the price of the highest scoring ultralight shelters, it's compelling. Our only concern in the value department is durability.
The North Face O2 Tent is an affordable and roomy lightweight tent. It is available from most retailers and is a great way to get started lightweight backpacking on a budget. This tent has above average roominess relative to weight, and the side entry door is convenient.
The O2 is an excellent choice for the budget-conscious backpacker looking to lighten their load.
North Face Mountain 25
- Strong, double wall winter tent