The North Face Vario 23 tent (2008)

This is a massive ultralight tent for the weight and it is ideal for two campers (most other very lightweight tents are really one-person tents that you can squeeze two into). But this is also incredibly stable. It is a single-skin design to save weight and it pitches very easily with poles being clipped to the outside of the tent and ladder-lock adjustment at the base. You get a porch and entrance on each side, which are accessed by zipped doorways that roll to the side. These doors have double zips so you can vent the porch or take a peek at the weather. The porches swallow a couple of rucksacks, while two can easily sit up inside this tent. As it is so massive it is ideal for two backpackers, and when you consider the space and weight it is altogether a great option. But it is a single-skin design, so condensation could be a problem. If you want to travel lightweight, you could also argue that this offers more space than you actually need, so you could save weight by just getting a smaller tent as there are plenty of lighter options.

Design dome
Poles shock-corded alloy
Inner none; flysheet 33D nylon ripstop, 1500mm hydrostatic head; groundsheet 50D nylon; 3000mm hydrostatic head
Internal dimensions length 215cm; width 125cm; height 100cm
Packed size 49 x17cm
Weight 1970g
Made in China
Stores in the UK 43
Stockists – tel. (01539) 738882;

If you want a truly spacious two-person tent that weighs as little as possible, then this is perfect, but it is far heavier than some other tents and only single-skin.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine August 2008