|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – November 2008
At right around two pounds per person, these three-season, double-occupancy shelters do everything but weigh you down.
The North Face Vario 23
Single-walls and hybrids like the Vario offer smart weight savings when used in relatively dry climates: You benefit from the lightweight construction (less fabric) without suffering much from the unavoidable penalty (more condensation than with a double-wall tent). That made the Vario, with its roomy interior and stable, gust-busting pitch, a favorite for trips in the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest, where prolonged wet weather is unusual. Setup is fast, and the pitch is taut: "I could do it at night and in the rain; once up, 40-mph gusts barely fluttered it," said one tester. Two D-shaped doors conveniently hang to the side–not on the floor–and each camper gets a small but functional vestibule. The easy pitch and convenience of twin doors and vestibules elevated the Vario above some larger digs, but it's hardly tiny: The spacious floor and 41-inch-high ceiling are plenty roomy for a pair of six-footers. And packed into its compression sack, the Vario squashes down to the size of a gallon jug. Just note that condensation is fierce in humid locations and long storms. Testers in the drippy Northwest had problems even with only one occupant. Reader service #103