The North Face Tadpole Tent series has been on our shelves since 1987, and has spawned many copies and imitators. The Tadpole’s design has been so successful The North Face have used it as a starting point for the Meso, Mica, Big Fat Frog and Rock series. It is no surprise, that twenty five years after the original Tadpole, The North Face have released a number of updated versions, including the Tadpole 2 and Tadpole 2 DL series. Update: We are not currently selling the TNF Tadope and instead recommend the Ion 2 from Force Ten.
Tadpole 2? Tadpole 2 DL? Whats the Difference?
Firstly the Tadpole 2 and 2 DLs are 3 season Semi-Geodesic tents, sleeping 2 adults, with a side opening porch. Both tents weigh-in fully packed around 2.4kg.
The Tadpole 2 DL is noticeably taller (10cm’s) than the standard Tadpole 2 and its steeper sides give what feels like significantly more space as well as more usable area. As well as subtle changes in the tent’s structure the main difference can be seen in the fabric of the tent inner, the Tadpole 2 DL has been designed for camping in the European climate which is wetter and windier than North America, as a result the inner tent has less mesh than the standard Tadpole 2, increasing warmth and wind resistance.
The main difference between the Tadpole 23 DL and the 2 DL is that the 2 DL has undergone a make-over, gone is the Citronelle Green and in its place is a much more sombre Bamboo Green, which for me is a great improvement as the tent doesn’t stand out as much, indeed the new colour should appeal more to wild campers and those who like to fit in with nature.
Improve Ventilation, Reduce Condensation
The biggest single feature on the Tadpole 2 DL and its predecessor is that The North Face have worked to create a tent which through better ventilation reduces condensation.
On many smaller and ultralight tents condensation can be a buying concern. Whilst no tent can fully eradicate condensation. The Tadpole 2 DL has an extremely useful zipper-able air vent in the tent inner, which can be opened and closed to increase/decrease airflow or temperature. Combined with this is a fixed vent opening covered by mesh on the corresponding section of the fly sheet. All this aids ventilation into the tent and between the tent inner and fly, reducing the risk of condensation. The Tadpole 2 DL’s inner door has been designed with improved ventilation and operates in the same way as the inner vent, the door has two layers, where one layer can be removed to leave a mesh door which increases ventilation and light or can be used as two layers which will increase warmth.
The easy pole clip system is an absolute joy to use, the three poles that make up the Tadpole 2 DL’s Semi-Geodesic frame are colour coded, one yellow and two green. They attach into colour coded clips and sockets which enables you to erect the inner tent in a couple of minutes. The erection of this tent is so simple that I was able to put it up without poking out my eye out or breaking anything and without referring to the instructions, which having examined them later may account for their briefness. The fly is also easy to put on, you simply match the single red toggle on the fly sheet with the red toggle on the inner and then simply attach the tent to the frame with two velcro fasteners and 5 other anchors. Be aware though, the North Face logos are printed on the inside of the fly where they are more visible making it is easy to get the fly inside out, as I somehow did on a speed test, something I am still trying to work out how after already putting up the tent!
Tadpole 2DL Sleeps 2 Adults
The tent itself benefits from the added room created by the raised height and steeper sides of the DL series. This greater feeling of space is certainly a benefit when sharing with another person, although the Tadpole 2 DL will fit two six footers (I myself am over 6ft), like most tents in the 2 person lightweight tent market you wouldn’t want to be spending more than a couple of nights together! But being fair this is a lightweight backpacking tent, not a base-camp tent, its designed to be lightweight and compact.
Compression Sack = Great Idea!
The Tadpole 2 DL has a number of other features which add to its usability and leaves me with a good impression. I have mentioned previously the two layer door and open-able vent, both of these features as with the porch door are stow-able with elasticated toggles which allow them to be tied away when not in use. There are also two mesh storage pockets in the inner tent and compatibility to hang the optional North Face Gear Loft Triangle.
I find the compression sack that comes with this tent to be a huge plus, not only does it make stowing the tent away more easily as you can compact the pack size with the handy straps. You can also easily attach the tent to the outside of rucksack or if cycle touring you panniers which saves space inside your baggage. The compression sack is also very handy if taking you tent on a plane as you can reduce the area it takes up in your bags. It is a feature which would be useful on all smaller-medium sized tents.
The Tadpole 2DL I used had an excellent build quality, the various fabrics felt strong, tough and robust, and the zip on the various doors and vents moved well. The tents poles are strong and had to have considerable pressure applied to make them bend and take the tents shape, all this adds to the Tadpole 2 DL’s feeling of quality.
The Down Side, 3 Pegs Short
Negatively, I feel that The North Face have been a little cheeky in including only 8 pegs with the tent, when to peg out the tent and guy-lines you need 11. This is ok if you don’t wish to attach the guy-lines and having tested the Tadpole 2 DL in calm conditions this wasn’t a major problem. I feel that camping in any other conditions and with the tent’s steeper sides guy-lines are a must, especially for my own peace of mind. With all the positive features of the Tadpole 2 DL, for the cost of three extra pegs I feel the North Face have missed a trick. The pegs supplied are the North Face DAC Featherlite NSL™ stakes which are a lightweight peg, again as I am natural worrier and for my own peace of mind I would for blustery conditions upgrade them to pegs with a bigger notch to hold the tent.
The Tadpole 2 DL’s porch according to The North Face specifications we received, is slightly smaller in terms of volume than the Tadpole 23 DL, which is a surprising change or a printing error by The North Face! The porch is adequate for one person to store their rucksack, but I feel you would struggle to get anything more than a couple of 40L packs if you were sharing. The porch entrance is like all side doors depending on conditions is either a blessing or hindrance.
I also feel that it is important to point out that whilst the Tadpole 2 DL can be pitched fly only, you need to use the optional ground sheet protector. This is not a major issue as people don’t as rule buy a tent to then never use the inner, I would always recommend that you buy your tent’s groundsheet protector as it protects you tent, provides a little more insulation from the ground and in the long run I feel it saves money as tent replacements and repairs are cut down.
A Good Buy and our Great Offer!
Overall the Tadpole 2 DL won’t disappoint, the best features of the Tadpole series have been built upon and the increased ventilation adds a great deal more practicality to this tent especially in the British weather where temperatures and humidity are changeable. With an RRP of £300 (June 2011). The Tadpole 2 DL is well priced against its’ main competitor the Hubba Hubba HP, which with a RRP of £400 is slightly roomier with the advantage of being lighter. Whether this justifies the price difference is your call.