Owner Review: North Face Spectrum 33 (2006)
- North Face Spectrum 33 (2006)
name: Elizabeth Teel
location: Atlanta, GA
age: 22 yrs old
Backpacking Bio: I started camping with my family when I was five, but did not start to
backpack until middle school. Since then my trips have been primarily 2-4 days long, with
only a few 7-10 day trips over the years. I'm most familiar with the land in the Southeast
(as North as West Virginia and as South as Southern Florida). My average pack weight
Including food and water is about 30lbs for three days, but I'm trying to reduce that.
style: single wall, free standing
listed capacity: 3 people
use: three season (sometimes listed as 3.5 season)
retail price: $289
listed minimum weight: 4 lbs. 5 oz
listed packed weight: 4 lbs. 12 oz.
footprint (sold separately): 15 oz.
dimensions: 7'2" long x 4'7" wide x 2'6" high (interior)
listed floor area: 34 sq. ft.
listed vestibule area: 9 sq. ft.
pole: 3 DAC Featherlite
wall/roof material: 33D 244T Sil/nylon 1500mm coating
floor material: 270T 50D Nylon Taffeta 3000 mm coating
window netting: 20D No-See-Um Mesh
color: Orange and Cream
First of all, the price of this tent varies by distributor. I purchased this tent on sale for
$200, and am happy with it for that price. Had I paid a hundred dollars more, I might have
tried to return it after my first trip using it.
As with many tents, the capacity listed is something of a joke. This tent is comfortable
with two average sized people and no gear. I imagine that a third person could fit if that
person slept on top of the other two.
For a two person tent, though - 4 lbs. 12 oz. is still light. I have even started taking it on
solo trips if the weather looks foul. My previous tent was a true 3 person tent but weighed
close to 9 lbs. If I split that tent between two people, I was still left with a weight close to
the entire Spectrum 33. The light weight of the Spectrum 33 is achieved because it is a
single wall tent made of sil/nylon.
For anyone who isn't familliar with single wall tents, think of it as a breathable rainfly
attached to a tent floor. It is similar to a "fast pack" option on many double walled tents,
but still fully enclosed from bugs. The main problem with this is that the ventilation
generally can not match that of a double wall tent. If the ventilation is too poor, you could
wake up with all of your exhaled water vapor dripping back down on you from the tent
The Spectrum 33 uses two zippered roof vents to maximize ventilation. When I take this as
a "luxury" solo tent, there is never a problem with condensation. As a two person tent in
stormy windy weather, the rain is kept out completely and there is only mild condensation
inside. On calmer nights, however, the only way to prevent mass condensation is to leave
the vestibule and both vents wide open. Because I don't like to leave the vestibule open, no
matter what the weather is like on my trip, I have to set the tent up to dry after getting
home. I think that on longer trips without time to dry the tent out this could become an
At this point in the review, you might wonder why I didn't return the tent. The main reason
is its structural integrity. Living in the Southeast means that I can often extend 3 season
gear into 4 Southern-season gear. The "nano-knuckles" of the Spectrum provide
additional support without as much weight as if they were whole separate poles. I wouldn't
recommend it as a true 4 season tent by any means, but I've been able to use it all winter
in the South without ever fearing it being weighed down by light snow or ice that formed
in the night.
Another aspect of the tent that I've had to adjust to is that all of the materials are fragile
relative to my old clunker. I have not had the tent a full year yet but am worried that
"normal" wear and tear may add up quickly. Since in the past I've only had troubles with
tent floors ripping, I did buy the footprint for the Spectrum 33. I don't take the footprint
on solo trips or overnight trips, but when there are two people sleeping in the tent for
more than a night, I figure that it's worth the 15 oz. to take it along.
Set up even with the footprint takes next to no time. Even the nano-knuckles are intuitive
and the three poles use a combination of sleeves and clips for stability and easy set up. I
have only set it up in the rain once. Probably my favorite part of having a single wall tent is
how little rain gets inside during set up. I'm sure I could have set it up w/o any water on
the inside if I'd kept the vents zipped shut.
Overall, it's been a very useful tent. I appreciate the fact that I can use this one tent for all
of my backpacking. For others, however, I don't think it's worth $300. If you're looking for
a lightweight option - tarps, tarptents and hammocks are much lighter. If you're still
looking for a freestanding tent, most similarly priced double walled tents have much
better ventilation without weighing all that much more.
-lightweight as a two person tent
-easily setup, even in the rain
-not a true 3 person tent
-poor ventilation leads to excess condensation
-lightweight achieved with fragile materials
- Hi Elizabeth,
Welcome to BGT and thanks for posting your first Owner REview.
Before I can add it to the edit queue you will need to repost your
review with your email address included along with your Reviewer
Edit Admin Manager
--- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "Elizabeth Teel"
> North Face Spectrum 33 (2006)
> Reviewer Information
> name: Elizabeth Teel
> location: Atlanta, GA
> height: 5'10"
> weight: 160lbs
> age: 22 yrs old