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Backpacker Magazine – April 2009

Gear Guide 2009: The North Face Minibus 33 Tent Review

The Minibus is just like its namesake: Roomy, big, and heavy.

by: Kelly Bastone

The North Face Minibus (Seth Hughes).
The North Face Minibus (Seth Hughes).

Gear Guide 2009: More 3-Person Tents
Search through our extensive library for more reviews.

Best Headroom
Everything about this tent is oversize. It has the highest ceiling (48 inches) in this category, and other dimensions are equally large (92-inch length and 14-square-foot vestibules). Downside: The Minibus is also the heaviest tent among the three-person shelters reviewed here, making it best for shorter treks and car camping.

The freestanding, double-wall tent is surprisingly easy to pitch given its size, and it's also plenty stable, thanks to short brow poles. The tops of the doors angle out slightly, which prevents rainwater from penetrating the interior when the vestibules are opened. $429; 6 lbs.12 oz. Thenorthface.com

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READERS COMMENTS

southcovekayak
May 29, 2011

Great space, ventilation. Very hard to get pitched just right - sags in any kind of rain! The vestibules collapse over the middle - really TNF?, didn't you field test this? It could be fixed very simply with a middle brow pole. Way too fiddly, should I have to tie out 10+ guy ropes - doesn't get used unless there is no rain forecast, otherwise great space; a odd colored palace for canoe camping. .

Alan Cameron
Aug 21, 2010

Tent looks great and pitches easily. This would be a great tent if it doesn't get too windy. The pole clip which attaches the cross pole to one of the main poles, came apart during the wind and the rain. The entire side of the tent collapsed and the entire contents on the inside of the tent got soaked. Also, if the wind comes directly to the side of one of the vestibules, you lose the entire vestible, as the wind blows the vestibule door inwards, regardless of how well the tent is pitched.

cMason
May 27, 2010

Seriously... check out the Black Diamond Squall! We looked at and seriously considered the Stormtrack but went with the Squall. Has a 48 height, offers 48.1 sq ft of space and only 8 lbs. but is a four season tent versus this mesh based 2.5 season unless your willing to freeze your but off tent.

jason
Jul 29, 2009

Just used this up in the Adriondacks, If anything I would say the person above didn't know how to pitch the tent. It rained doubly hard and Me and a friend of mine stayed totally dry. You have to have the thing secure at the bottom. and sides tied to trees, I used cooking twine, the couplers will fall if you don't have everything pulled taught. My only complaint was that the directions were not that great, took me a while to figure out how to pull the bottoms like a belt buckle. I also put twine around the bottoms of the poles too.

Will
Jul 20, 2009

This tent isn't effective in high winds and rain.
The plastic couplers that are used tend to slip off the brow poles and that let the center section sag and collect water. This has happened reliably every time I've left the tent overnight in wind and rain. Sad, for a North Face tent!

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