The North Face O2 tent is touted as the brand’s lightest 2 person tent, weighing in at just 1020 grams for the total packed weight. The packed weight is more useful than the trail weight for this particular tent, as the latter does not include the stakes; since the O2 is not a freestanding tent, I cannot imagine a circumstance where I’d be willing to leave them behind for only a few ounces. However, if you’re one of those people who uses a scale for every piece of equipment and has sawn off the end of your toothbrush to reduce weight, this may pique your interest. Just be sure that you and your travel companion are both minimalists in size too, or your good night’s sleep might be more cramped than cozy.
The ultimate goal of the O2 is to provide full weather protection for the least amount of weight in a shelter that could fit two people. The O2 lived up to this promise even after a consistently rainy day and night. The tent itself is a very barebones design because, simply put, features add bulk and weigh more. The desirability of this tent is therefore relative to the user’s values, are large vestibules or ample space important to you? Or does the idea of further minimizing the weight in your pack make you excited for your next adventure? If you said yes to the second question, read on.
The light grey areas are fine nylon mesh, while the slightly darker grey on the edges and the ends is ripstop nylon with 1200 PU coating and silicone water-resistant finish.
- Fly Fabric: 15D durable ripstop nylon, 1200 mm PU coating, silicone water-resistant finish
- Mesh Fabric: 15D lightweight nylon “no-see-um” mesh
- Floor Fabric: 20D durable ripstop nylon, 1200 mm PU coating, silicone water-resistant finish
The super lightweight design is made possible due to the 15D nylon used in the fly and the body of the tent and the three pole construction. 15D refers the thickness of the individual fibers that make up the fabric, otherwise known as the denier. Most lightweight tents use 20+ denier fabrics due to the difficulty of creating such a light yet resilient material. The O2 has managed to incorporate the ultralight fabric by using high quality ripstop nylon, which feels silky to touch without being too fragile. However, if durability is a primary concern, I would recommend adding another $60 and 113 grams to your budget for the O2 footprint.
- Tarp style fly for full weather protection
- Large entry door
- Three peak design to maximize internal space
- Colour-coded tabs for quick set-up
- Optional fly only pitch
- Two interior pockets on roof
- One moderate vestibule- the other side could be used too, but there is no zipper access
Two round clips and two regular clips attach tent body to centre arch pole.
Simple pull system stretches fly out easily.
Door flaps are easily rolled aside.
Two internal pockets stow electronics and other delicate items safely out of the way.
The three pole construction includes an arch in the middle of the tent and two short poles at either end. The two end poles provide good space for the head and foot, while the middle arch allows both people to sit upright comfortably. While the head space is respectable, the interior space is considerably less expansive, as it is designed for two people sleeping head to foot from each other. This is fine as long as your travel companion doesn’t have exceptionally stinky feet or if you’re not too fond of their face. As a moderately sized couple sleeping side by side, our shoulders were pushing against the sides of the tent. In short, this tent will fit you and your friend as long as neither of you is too tall or too wide- it is also designed for people not more than six feet tall. The brand claims that the interior length is 208cm, however, I am 173cm tall (5’8”) and if I pushed my head up to the far end, there was no more than 15cm from my feet to the end.
My head is pushed up against the far wall and there is only a modest amount of extra length. This would be a very cramped space for anyone over six feet tall.
Since none of these poles are attached, this tent absolutely requires the user to stake out the sides in order to create enough tension for a stable shelter. As a personal preference, I would rather a free standing tent for backpacking trips, as it can prove to be surprisingly challenging to pound stakes in solidly in certain environments without stashing a hammer in your bag (which would weigh more than the tent itself) or to even find purchase in sand or shale.
Both ends use a triangular pitch to pull the fabric tight. Notice how the upper end of the pole extends out farther length-wise than the lower end.
According to the North Face, there are several different ways of using this tent, yet none of the alternatives seemed to produce anything shelter-worthy. One of the suggested minimalist adaptations is to swap the two end poles for collapsed hiking poles. While it is possible that the poles I own are simply too long, I had difficulty imagining how it could work properly given that the upper pole grommet must be pulled out farther than the lower grommet to create tension for the inner walls. The fly has a divot where a hiking pole handle would fit nicely, but the tent body has no such design to help keep it in place. As for the fly only pitch, this works if all you want is a tarp; otherwise you’ll have to purchase the accompanying footprint.
The pole is too long in the upright position, lifting the tent body off the ground.
At first the lower angle appeared to be a good idea, until it became clear that I could not create sufficient tension for it to stay there.
The pole more or less collapsed once there was a bit of weight inside; note that the original tent pole was still in place on the other end. This could arguably still be used as a shelter, as long as you don’t mind getting wet from condensation and sleeping with mesh on your face.
While impressively lightweight and packable, this tent lacks versatility as a two person tent. It would be better suited to the minimalist solo traveler looking for a feather light tent that offers more interior space than a traditional one person.
Packed tent in stuff sack - placed next to a hiking pole for scale.
Price: $379.99 CAN
Weight: 1.02kg / 2lb 4oz
Footprint Weight: 113g / 4oz
Fastpack Weight: 560g / 1lb 5oz
Packed Size: 15.2 x 53.3cm / 6 x 21"
Floor Area: 2.38sq m / 25.6sq ft
Vestibule Area: 0.09sq m / 5.13sq ft
Head Height: 94cm / 37”
|Interior Space 1/2
Quality / Price 2/2
Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in below and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation.