The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent review in a nutshell: a brilliant 2-person backpacking tent with large vestibules and inside space, DWR and windproof cover, and dumb-proof construction. And it's not terribly expensive, either.
The North Face recently launched their Technical Collection full of exciting items, including some very decent waterproof jackets, fleeces, hiking shoes and more. However, of all the new releases, I was most excited about The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent, which, as it turns out, is the best backpacking tent around.
There are many excellent lightweight tents, some of which are lighter than the Trail Lite 2-Person Tent, but none combines ample inside space, portability, and waterproofness this well. And considering how premium it is, the Trail Lite 2-Person Tent isn't that expensive (although it's not a cheap tent as such). Read my full The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent review below to learn more about why I think this is one of the best tents right now.
(First reviewed May 2023)
The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent review: price and availability
The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent is available to buy now directly from The North Face UK and The North Face US for the recommended retail price of £360/$300 (approx. AU$442)—AU price and availability TBC. The Trail Lite 2 Footprint, a recycled fabric barrier between the tent and the ground, is sold separately for a recommended retail price of $45 (approx. £35/AU$66). I couldn't for a life of me find the Footprint in the UK for a strange reason.
The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent review: specifications
- Style: dome tent
- Sleeps: 2
- Weight: 2.01 kg (4 lbs)
- Seasons: 3-season
- Main area: 2.8 m² (30.1 sq²)
- Vestibule area: 2,8 m²
- Peak height: 107 cm
The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent review: design and build
The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent is made up of a 20D nylon Ripstop fly with 1.200 mm PU coating and non-PFC Durable Water-Repellent (Non-PFC DWR) finish, a 20D nylon mesh second payer and a 75D polyester floor with 5.000 mm PU coating and Non-PFC DWR finish. There are three 9.5 mm aluminium poles and 10 pegs to fix the guylines.
There are two oversized doors on the tent and the fly. All of these can be clipped up, allowing plenty of air to enter (and leave) the tent. The internal mesh-floor structure can be used without the outer shell in the summer if you don't care about privacy (the mesh is practically see-through).
Inside the tent, you'll find my favourite feature: ceiling pockets (see above). These can hold headlamps, lights, tablets or whatever else you want to store outside your hiking backpack inside the tent.
Covering the tent with the fly not only offers some privacy but also protects whatever is inside from the rain and the wind. It also creates two spacious vestibules to fit backpacks and bulkier items inside the tent. However, these items are stored on the ground unless you have The Trail Lite 2 Footprint or a similar underlay.
The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent review: ergonomics and comfort
I tested The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent in the gorgeous Cheddar Gorge on a rainy day. I hoped there would be rain – not a sentence you'll often hear me saying – so I could test the fly as well as the main body of the tent. Of course, I could throw the fly over the tent even if it isn't raining, but I thought it would be best if I could try the DRW coating of the fly in action.
Anyhow, we hiked for a couple of hours to find a flat clearing, and once it was located, it was time to assemble the tent. It wouldn't have been easier to erect The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent; the poles practically assemble themselves, and the clips on the tent are fool-proof. It took me around five minutes to put everything together.
Once assembled, The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent stands like a rock, no matter the weather. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but it felt safe to be inside the tent in the windy, rainy conditions we had during testing. The North Face claims the guylines on the rainfly align with pole architecture to withstand heavy storms – I don't know if I ever want to test this feature!
The oversized doors are easy to open and clip up. I liked the two large vestibules on either side of the tent; we could fit two hiking boots and a 65L backpack in one of them. The large doors also allowed us to take off our shoes easily by sitting inside the tent and dangling our feet over the ground in the vestibule.
The inside of The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent is surprisingly spacious – the floor space is 130 x 200 cm (approx. (51 x 74 in). Better still, the peak height in the tent is around 1 metre, which felt mighty fine for my fiancee and me (5'10" and 6', respectively). I loved the storage pockets and the lightness of the tent, although I appreciate it might be a bit annoying if I had to go to sleep during the summer months.
We used the tent without the Footprint, but despite the wet ground, the inside stayed completely dry. The DWR-treated bottom layer also curls up a bit, which helps prevent water and mud spills from entering the tent. Air, on the other hand, can enter and leave The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent easily, thanks to the large openings.
The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent review: verdict
The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent is an impressive lightweight backpacking tent. Considering the weight and the packed size, it allows two people to comfortably sit inside, even if you're considerably tall. It's easy to assemble and dismantle and also quick to dry. Plus, thanks to the oversized doors and the closed internal unit, you'll never feel stuffy inside, and you don't even have to worry about the mosquitos.
You could get cheaper popup tents, but those are usually own-brand options that significantly vary in quality. You won't have this issue with The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent; it's quality through and through and will last for a long time. If you like the outdoors and prefer to travel light, buying this tent isn't an expense – it's an investment. And a good one at that.
The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent review: also consider
Speaking of own-brand tents: Decathlon's Quechua 2 Seconds Easy Fresh & Black popup tent is incredibly easy to pitch and pack up, the design is functional and well thought-out (and includes that all-important blackout fabric), and it's also keenly priced. Casual campers and festival-goers looking for a faff-free camping option should look no further. Read Ruth's full Quechua Camping Tent 2 Seconds Easy - 2-Person - Fresh&Black review.
Backpackers on the go will find lots to like about Sea to Summit's Alto TR2, from its easy packing and pitching to the great space and ventilation it offers for one person. It's a bit of a squeeze for two people and more expensive than the Trail Lite 2-Person Tent, though. Read Sian's full Sea to Summit Alto TR2 tent review.