The North Face has been manufacturing geodesic North Star dome tents for nearly 40 years. In 1979, the design was a revelation, and they’ve since become go-to basecamp tents thanks to their maximization of liveable space and ability to withstand high winds. The updated North Star 4-person makes use of durable materials: bombproof 150D polyester flooring, a 75D polyester ripstop fly with a 1500 mm PU coating, and burly aluminum poles. Use it as a comfortable basecamp, in any season, any weather.
While we tested the tent in the desert of Utah and the snowfields of Colorado, our dream trip in this thing would be a bushplane flight into some faraway glacier to set up a camp, and then ski lines in the backyard for a week straight. We’ll keep you posted as we try to make that happen in the not-so-distant future...
There’s a reason the North Star is one of the longest-running tent models in existence. A great idea—updated with high-quality materials and tech—is destined to stick around. Shorter testers loved the ability to stand up in the tent: this thing tops out at 68”. Despite that height, it’s not top-heavy: the three main aluminum poles give the tent a solid curvature, while the additional lateral poles buttress the sidewalls.
Setup can be tricky without instructions for the first time, but just pay attention to the color-coded sections and you’ll be fine: golden poles go through golden fabric openings, etc. Also, another cool bonus is that if you’re in a pinch, you can set the tent up with only three poles, hunker down to get out of the rain, and add the rest later (assuming it’s not too windy to do so).
The single vestibule is 20 square feet, the size of a small tent—perfect for storing gear or cooking out of the weather. Our testers’ favorite feature was the ventilation system: between the doors and the triangular windows that wrap around the dome, the tent has an excellent cross-breeze, and could likely be used as a cooking tent for a smaller 2- or 3-person expedition, though we didn’t test it as such.
This tent is enormous, which, again, is to be expected given the fact that you’re lugging around the equivalent of a small cabin in a duffle bag. Still, at 13 lbs and 12 oz, you might want to rethink carrying this even a quarter mile to a campsite. For sled-, heli-, or plane-accessed backcountry basecamps, though, this mobile dojo is a dream come true.
The vents are accessible from both inside and outside of the tent. Should snow block the vents, you’re able to open the vents from the interior of the tent and knock the snow off in the middle of the night if you don’t fancy a 0-degree shovel session.
“We talk about liveability with tent reviews—how comfortable you would be in that tent for an extended period of time. This is the only tent in this buyer’s guide that I’d actually live in. Truth be told, you could probably rent this thing out on Airbnb!”
Key Attribute: Performance
Bottom Line: The North Face’s classic geodesic basecamp, updated with modern tech.
- Sturdy four-season tent for winter expeditions
- Geodesic design for maximum strength to handle harsh weather
- Large poled vestibule for dry entry and gear storage
- Waterproof coating keep snow from soaking through fabrics
- Multiple vents let release built-up heat and condensation
- Duffel-style stuff sack for easy transport and storage