Hands on Review
Comfort & Livability
One of the biggest advantages of the North Face Stormbreak 2 Backpacking Tent is the roominess of its interior. To save a few ounces, many lightweight backpacking tents sacrifice a good deal of floor space and head room which often results in cramped quarters. Not so with this tent, which can comfortably sleep, two people.
While it’s true that all two-person tents can claim the same, there is frequently a lack of usable floor space inside of these tents. If you or your hiking partner are taller than average, or if you simply enjoy using a wider sleeping pad, you’ll find the Stormbreak 2 a better fit than many ultralight tents. At 50 inches wide and 87 inches long, you should even have enough room at the end of the tent for your bags or your canine companion.
With a center height of 43 inches and plenty of elbow room, you’ll be able to sit up comfortably and easily and will have ample room to dress inside the tent. The unique four pole design of the Stormbreak 2 means that the interior walls are nearly vertical. While there isn’t enough room for an adult to stand up, this tent has one of the tallest interior spaces of any tent in its class.
Like a lot of two person camping tents, the Stormbreak 2 has two entry doors. This not only allows for better ventilation but also means you won’t need to crawl over your hiking partner during nighttime bathroom trips. The doors are D-shaped, which makes it easy to unzip only the bottom edge of the door and reach gear in the vestibule without leaving the tent or allowing insects to fly into the interior. The D-shaped doors also make putting on muddy boots a breeze. Each door has a large and protective vestibule for storing gear. Unlike some tents whose vestibules close with velcro tabs, these vestibules zip closed which offers better protection from the elements.
Like most double walled tents, the Stormbreak 2 has factory sealed seams and is reliably waterproof. The rain fly is made of polyester taffeta and has a polyurethane coating and water-resistant finish. When zipped closed, the vestibule door has a storm flap that keeps water from being forced into the entryway and leaves the vestibule dry. The tent itself does an admirable job of shedding moisture, and thanks to the many mesh sections, condensation should not be an issue despite the nearly vertical walls of the Stormbreak 2. The bottom of the tent is bathtub style and is also coated with polyurethane to prevent water from seeping in through the floor.
It’s important to note that some users report tiny holes near the stitches of their particular tents, but this seems to be rare. Most other users say that the Stormbreak 2 holds up better than expected during inclement weather and will repel even the heaviest torrential downpours.
Ease of Setup
The North Face Stormbreak 2 has a surprisingly straightforward and intuitive pole structure. The aluminum poles are magnetic and are shock corded, so they snap together easily. Simple hook clips attach the tent to the poles.
Based on a classic X-shaped configuration, the four pole design can be set up in minutes with very little instruction. This makes the Stormbreak 2 ideal not only for camping novices but for anyone who wants a quick pitch shelter for shorter outings such as a day at the beach. Since the rain fly and footprint can be erected separately from the tent itself, this also means that during a sudden storm, the rainfly can be set up first to provide shelter before the tent is set up.
Backpacking Related Topics
To ensure ease of access and a proper weight distribution, check out our guide on “How to Correctly Pack a Backpack“. Alternatively, learn about Ultralight Backpacking, and how you can start shaving weight off your next trip.
The Stormbreak 2 is technically a freestanding tent, meaning that it does not require guy lines or staking out to be stable, but doing so is recommended so that you’ll have more room in the vestibules, and so that your tent remains in place during windy or stormy conditions. The stakes provided with the tent are of poorer quality than average, but it is still relatively easy to stake out the corners and guy lines in a handful of minutes.
Because North Face used a heavier fabric for the Stormbreak 2 than the majority of ultralight tents use, you shouldn’t see excessive wear or rips in either the tent or the rain fly. In fact, if you choose, you can reliably use this tent without a footprint if you take some precautions. However, if you plan to camp on stony ground or in conditions where abrasions are more likely, it is worth purchasing the footprint which is sold separately by North Face.
Weight & Packed Size
Not including the footprint, this tent packs down into a tidy 7 inch by 22-inch stuff sack. While it may take one or two tries during your first use to fold the rain fly and tent correctly, so they fit inside, you’ll find that it isn’t a struggle to pack everything away. For a two person tent, this is a perfectly average packed size and is comparable to most tents in its class.
However, the North Face Stormbreak 2 backpacking tent is several pounds heavier than many of the lightest two person backpacking tents. Its lightest configuration – using the footprint and rain fly alone – puts it at three pounds and 14 ounces. Packed weight excluding the footprint, gear loft, and all other optional accessories is 5 pounds 5 ounces. This is to be expected given the price point of the Stormbreak 2, and while it is twice as heavy as its competitors, it also costs half as much.
Still, if you are an experienced hiker looking for an ultralight backpacking tent, you may want to consider saving up for a lighter option such as the Nemo Hornet 2P. Even tents such as the MSR Elixir 2 cost only a little more and yet weigh half a pound less.
Like other tents in this class, the Stormfront 2 is a three season tent, and while it performs well in stormy conditions and can even handle some snow, it’s not the ideal choice for winter camping or high-elevation camping.
The most obvious downside of the North Face Stormfront 2 backpacking tent is, of course, its weight. Although it compares favorably to other inexpensive two person tents designed for camping out of a car or for backyard slumber parties, it’s nearly double the weight of pricier two person tents specifically designed to be used when backpacking. This disadvantage means that serious ultralight hikers or individuals who are planning a multi-week hike should probably search for a lighter tent. Good alternatives include the Nemo Hornet 2P, which weighs in at around two pounds and the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 which is just over three pounds.
If you are willing to pay a few more dollars for a slightly lighter tent, then the MSR Elixir 2 Person Tent is a budget-conscious alternative to the Stormbreak 2. Like the Stormbreak, the Elixir has a roomy interior and won’t break the bank, but weighs about a half a pound less.
Camping gear can be expensive. Once you factor in the cost of clothing, a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, a backpack, a stove, and all of the other necessary gear, you can easily spend several thousand dollars. While it is always advisable to buy the best equipment that you can afford, there are quality items that can be found for backpackers on a budget. The North Face Stormfront 2 is an excellent example of a well-made tent with most of the features of more expensive tents offered at a much lower price point. The tradeoff is a heavier pack weight.
Nevertheless, the Stormfront 2 is anything but mediocre. It’s quite clear that North Face put thought and effort into offering a tent that isn’t only cheap. While the Stormfront is heavier than other tents in its class, it can easily be used in any situation where a more expensive two person hiking tent can be used and offers a roomier and more comfortable interior to boot. Multi-day hikes, backcountry backpacking, or even a hike along the Appalachian trail aren’t out of the question.
Other Versions & Accessories
North Face is a well-known company among outdoor enthusiasts, and they offer an ever-growing number of tents which range from top of the line geodesic four season summit tents to simple shade structures for beach trips. The Stormbreak series of tents come in three sizes: one person, two person, and three person. The Stormbreak 3 is nearly identical to the Stormbreak 2, but has slightly larger dimensions and is about ten ounces heavier. The Stormbreak 1 is much lighter than its cousins, as it only has one door, one vestibule, and a simpler X-shaped two pole design. At 3 pounds 7 ounces, it’s perfect for a solo adventurer.
There are a number of accessories made by North Face worth considering for the Stormbreak 2. A footprint is advisable if you plan to camp in muddy areas or if you will camp in an area where sharp rocks, cactus, or sticks might pose a risk to the bottom of the tent. It also makes it possible to travel with just the footprint and rain fly for a quickly assembled and lightweight shelter. If you require more gear storage, North Face sells a gear loft that snugly clips to the roof of the Stormbreak 2.
For rainy days, North Face also sells a ‘tentertainment center’. This accessory doubles as a gear loft and has a see-through tablet holder on one side for movies and a chess or checkers board printed on the reverse.
|Minimum Trail Weight||5 lbs. 5 oz.|
|Fly / Footprint Pitch Weight||3 lbs. 14 oz.|
|Packaged Weight||5 lbs. 14 oz.|
|Packed Size||7 x 22 inches|
|Floor Dimensions||87 x 50 inches|
|Floor Area||30.56 square feet|
|Vestibule Area||9.78 + 9.78 square feet|
|Peak Height||43 inches|
|Number of Doors||2 doors|
|Number of Poles||4|
|Pole Diameter||8.5 millimeters|
|Canopy Fabric||Coated polyester|
|Floor Fabric||Coated polyester|
|Rainfly Fabric||Coated polyester|
BEST BACKPACKING TENT
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2
The Copper Spur tent line is a favorite among devoted outdoor enthusiasts for a good reason. Striking a rare balance between utilitarian needs and comfort, the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 weighs in at just over three pounds. A recent redesign in 2017 introduced D-shaped doors and more durable fabric to an already outstanding list of features. The UL2 also offers eco-friendly polyurethane seam tape and clever details like reflective guy lines. If ultralight pack weight is your key need, but you still want a large, livable tent, the UL2 may be for you.
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BEST ALTERNATIVE TENT ON A BUDGET
MSR Elixir 2
Like the Stormbreak 2, the MSR Elixir 2 person tent offers many of the same features of more expensive competitors at a much lower price. Along with two generous vestibules, the Elixir offers a roomy interior thanks to its unique pole geometry. Although it is a few inches shorter than the Stormbreak, it provides plenty of space for two hikers and their sleeping mats. At 4lb 10oz, it isn’t as light as high-priced ultralight hiking tents, but it is a great option for budget-conscious campers looking for a lighter alternative to the Stormbreak 2.
BEST SUMMER BACKPACKING TENT
The Kelty TN 2 is an ideal summer backpacking tent thanks to its breezy mesh walls and unique stargazer rainfly which can be rolled back for unobstructed views of the night sky. When rain threatens, the rain fly can be instantly deployed without even leaving the tent. While the light fabric of most ultralight tents means they are at their best during warm weather, the airy mesh of the TN 2 offers a uniquely comfortable humid and hot weather camping experience. When maximum airflow and unobstructed views are key, the TN 2 is an unbeatable choice.