The North Face Tadpole 23
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Featuring the classic three-pole geodesic design, the Tadpole 23 has its highest point at the front of the tent. This has dual advantages: when you awake in the morning, you can sit up without receiving a faceful of nylon; whilst the resulting porch is simply huge for a tent of this weight and packed size. Please note, this page also applies to the new North Face Tadpole DL (which is better ventilated due to it's proper inner - as opposed to the mesh inner of the earlier model).
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The North Face Tadpole 23 Reviews
Reviewed by Andy Casely (Edinburgh) on 2006-02-07:
General comments: I've used the Tadpole 23 since the summer of 2003 trekking on fieldtrips in Iceland and camping trips in Scotland. It's an excellent compact and lightweight tent, ideal as a comfortable 1-man + kit tent for trekking into mountian areas in summer. It is very easy to pitch (8 points + 3 guys). I've used the tent in a variety of conditions, including camping on stony ground around 2000ft in Iceland, wild camping in Scotland, as well as on lower and more sheltered ground. It has not leaked in the time I've owned it, although it's suffered some minor damage from rock scrapes on the flysheet. It's also been subjected to deluges both in Scotland and Iceland with no ill effects. The only negative might be that the inner is part mesh, which is distinctly draughty at windy camping spots! However, this contributes tot he compactness and light weight, and is cooler on those rare occasions of a hot campsite.
Pros: Compact, light weight, waterproof, easy construction.
Cons: The bag it comes in is just a little too small and is a tube style, so can be quite fiddly to repack, especially when wet - would've been better with a zip down the length of the bag. The inner tent is part mesh, and can be quite draughty if it's windy.
Reviewed by Sam W (UK) on 2006-02-18:
General comments: I've used this tent in the lakes for some valley camping last summer and for that it's pretty good tent.
It claims to be a two man tent, and it's ok for 1 night backpacking, but a tiny bit small for you to want to live in it fr very long. Two people sleeping very close together and its not too bad, a bit tight though.
The porch is pretty small too, barely enough room for two large sack and this is a problem if using the tent for a prolonged period of time.
The structure is the standard geodesmic design with 2 crossed poles so would be pretty strong in the wind, although I only used it in summer so can't really comment too much.
The inner is all mesh too, so pretty light and airy rather than the standard coffin feel of most tents this small. This mesh however, isn't very good if the tent is to be used in winter as it did feel slightly colder than some other tents I have used.
My only other niggle is that the tent must be pitched inner first, like with all TNF tents I have used, which is fine if it's sunny and dry, but a nightmare if the weather is standard britsih fare!
OVERALL, a nice superlightweight tent for backpacking in summer conditions, probably not the best for long periods of time, or winter
Pitches outer first
Reviewed by John (Somewhere) on 2006-03-19:
General comments: This tent has performed well beyond my expectations. It is lightweight, comfortable, and stable. The tent is almost completely foolproof to pitch and as it is freestanding and semi-geodesic is withstands strong winds well. The tent is however prone to snow loading. I know it is not designed as a winter tent, but in its limited use during this winter it has coped extremely well. It is not the warmest of tents, and it can get drafty inside but these points make it a more comfortable summer tent. The tent is advertised as a 2 man, and at a push it is, however it is more accurately a 1+ man. 2 people can fit in it when necessary but it is a much more comfortable 1 man. The same reflective and glow in the dark features as many of the north face tents make it very user friendly and practical. This tent is in my opinion a viable alternative to bivvying on all but the super light trips, offering more comfort, security and shelter. The colour is also subtle (the blue version) so it is practical for one night wild camps where drawing attention to yourself is not ideal.
Pros: Lightweight, stable, easy to pitch, 3 and a half season use
Cons: poor pegs supplied, limited guy points, stuff sac
Reviewed by Matthew (Norwich) on 2006-04-05:
General comments: TNF tadpole is a good 2 man, 3 season semi-geodesic tent. I have found that it has suited well to trekking expeditions in the UK, however have not used it in other regions. The best thing is the large porch area at the front which allows lots of gear to be stored. The tent is very easy to pitch in all conditions and is very stable. The circular entrance to the fly is not a great idea, it makes it harder to get in and out, and I find that I often trip over the groundsheet left at the bottom. It is not that heavy at 2.2kg, and this is divided between two making it quite light. The pegs provided with the tent are useless, so add £20 on the price to buy some decent ones. Another point that I should mention is that I find it receives far more condensation than any other tent I have ever slept in. I am unsure why this is as I can normally feel air movement inside the tent, due to the fly/outer spacing. The footprint is a good idea for use in base camps, but this is an extra £20 as well, but will protect your tent from stones, are damage from long stays.
Pros: Light, competitively pricce and very stable
Cons: Condenstaion, Poor quality pegs
Reviewed by Alan (Malvern) on 2006-09-02:
General comments: I have had a tadpole 23 for 3 years now and have yet to have any unexpected problems with it. It has stood up to extremes of weather admirably considering the relatively low cost. I have had it up in a gale that flattened three other tents ranging from a Hilleberg to a Vaude, and it hardly even moved. I have never had any leaks or condensation problems with it, possibly the large mesh panels help to keep it condensation free.
The supplied pegs are fairly cheap and bend easily, but they are pretty durable, I just bend mine back and use them again. A little irritatingly it was supplied without any pegs for the guy ropes so I had to buy some extra. I have never had a problem getting it into the bag, and think the compression straps are a welcome addition too.
Unlike to a lot of the competition, this tent is actually a two man tent; I had no problem getting two people plus gear for a multi-day expedition into the tent in bad weather.
Pros: Very reliable, strong and weather resistant.
Cons: Inner pitched first; consider buying a footprint.
Reviewed by thomas (peterborough) on 2006-09-04:
General comments: i've been using this tent now for a couple of years. it has always proved to be functional and reliable. the only points against this tent that can be raised are usually human error, for example if the tent is not pitched well on uneven ground rain can pool on the canopy and slowly drip in through the inner mesh, as we found out in a very, very wet and relatively high altitude welsh forest. also pitching in the driving rain can be a bit of a race against time, because the fly has to be pitched first, and is about as water resisitant as a teabag. also if pitching alone its worth pegging the fly while preparing the canopy, especially in high wind, as it has a habit of flying away into the hills while your back is turned. otherwise, the tent (and not the soft organic lump pitching it!) is very high quality, and does its job well. the porch may be a little small for loads of gear, but some creativity can overcome that. the only thing that may let it down is the crap pegs that come supplied with it, but hey, for a couple of quid just get some good ones. contary to other reviews of this tent, i think that the stuff bag is magic, as it compresses down nicely and can be strapped to the side of a rucksack easily and descretely. yes, i think this tent is very good indeed. :-)
Pros: does what you want it to, simply and without any fuss. a good quality, reasonable weight tent suitable for most situations in the british isles (winter in the cairngorms withstanding, but hey, its not hyped as an expedition tent).
Cons: crappy pegs, can be stroppy if pitched wrong, sometimes a bit windy and can be a bit of a race against time to pitch in very heavy rain.
|This review has 1 comment(s):
Thomas responded : Following this weekend in wales (cadair idris) the tent finally failed. Idris bent her poles and ripped her skin. Scary stuff! still a good tent, just maybe not for full fat welsh winter. :-) (2009-12-07)
Reviewed by Emma (Bristol) on 2008-10-17:
General comments: I've been using this regularly for four years as a lightweight tent for two on multi-day trips or a luxurious base camp for one. It pitches inner first, which is not ideal in wet weather, but it's quick enough not to get too soggy except in the heaviest downpours. The mostly mesh inner means I've never had problems with condensation, in fact the only water that gets inside comes from below - it tends to seep through the groundsheet if pitched on very wet ground.
This is not a winter tent but, if you're prepared to cope with draughts, it will stand up to any amount of wind and rain thanks to the geodesic design and a decent flysheet. The porch is impressively large for a tent this size and has space for storage (necessary if there are two of you) or cooking. Unfortunately, opening the outer door leaves part of the inner exposed, which strikes me as a bit of a design flaw.
Pros: Quick and easy to pitch, lightweight, spacious and very stable (I've used the guy lines only once). Probably as good as you'll get for the price.
Cons: Dodgy design on the outer door, draughty, groundsheet a bit flimsy - but then it never claimed to be a four-season tent.
Reviewed by M Lewis (UK) on 2009-04-13:
General comments: I have owned this tent for quite a number of years, great 2 person tent, light and very stable design. I have an older door configuration and would prefer the new design. I was out on the English coast in severe weather and this was only one of a few left standing. I also own a North Face Particle 13 Tent and do really love the quality of them.
Pros: Light and very roomy, easy to pitch. (I prefer tent first, rather than fly) Stable in wind
Cons: Condensation on slope of front door, getting out means getting a damp back. I carry a rag and wipe it first. Other than that, a great tent.
Reviewed by davidjwbailey (bedford) on 2010-02-01:
General comments: 2 years of serious use, 2 person mountain marathons, one man weekend camps, DoE expedition support, Explorer Scout Camps, overnights on long walks.
Tough, easy to pitch, sheds wind and water (IF you pitch the tail into the wind), warm, dry and well vented. A nice place to be in the wet and wind, and loads more storage, pockets, apron space than you might think.
Dries off after camp in under 12 hours if hung up.
Pros: light, warm, dry, small when packed, tough, easy
Cons: inner first pitching (not really an issue - it only takes 4 minutes to pitch
care needed to keep 'tail' pegged out -we sewed on a small extra guy line to stop the wind blowing the tail onto the liner
slippery silcone treated fabric is a complete SWINE to fold up in the wind - needs practice!
Reviewed by Ray (North Wales) on 2010-04-18:
General comments: A fantastic tent for 3 season (4 at a push!) UK use. Simple to pitch solo even in moderate wind. Extra robust pegs required as the stock ones are only suitable for soft grass. No problems with leakage or condensation in my experience. This may be due to the fact that I have used the tent for sole occupancy only. I like my space and comfort. I agree with previous reviews regarding the mesh inner. The tent can tend to be a bit chilly, especially in a howling winter wind. I highly recommend this tent to anyone looking for a sound, lightweight, well constructed and versatile 3 season shelter.
Pros: Lightweight, fast drying, easy to pitch, stable, well constructed, decent stuff bag,
Cons: Stock pegs, can be draughty when the wind gets up.
Reviewed by john (thailand) on 2012-11-20:
General comments: Don't buy this tent
Cons: Bought Tadpole 23 DL in 2008 and despite little use fly has degraded and lets in water.
Seam tape, velcro straps all fallen off and coating on inner fly 'melting' (becomes sticky) Got no useful response from North Face, terrible company.