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Time-Tested Gear: Tents

A-frames, domes, party tents–we've tested them all.
november 2011 tents TNF VE-25 445x260The North Face VE-25 (Courtesy Photo)

Tried and True
The North Face VE-25

Of all the categories of gear we test, tents have undergone some of the most dramatic changes over the last few decades. Poles have gotten lighter and tougher, fabrics have gotten more weatherproof and packable, and designs have been revolutionized by hubbed pole systems that increase strength and space for the weight. That’s why the VE-25 is so astounding: It’s virtually the same tent we tested in the 1970s (it was called the VE-24 back then), and it still stands out among competitors.

Back when most tents were hoop or A-frame affairs that tried testers’ patience when it came to setup or wild weather, this sturdy, freestanding geodesic dome was a revelation. After pitching the 2010 version on 12,000-foot ridgelines in Colorado’s Indian Peaks Wilderness, our current tester says it’s as bomber as ever. “It’s spacious for three, well-vented, and reasonably light considering the absolute protection it provides.” Our prediction? We’ll be writing about it again 20 years down the road. $569; 9 lbs. 12 oz.; thenorthface.com.

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