[GEAR REVIEW] The North Face Stormbreak 1

The quest for an appropriate shelter has been a tough task for me. I’m an ultralight geek but find that tarp is too spartan.  I’m uncannily paranoid toward creepy crawlers and flying bugs, less resilient to cold weather, and had a traumatic experience sleeping in a tarp in the middle of a storm.

I guess that makes me a poser among those ultralight purists but… who cares? As long as I sleep in peace, nothing really matters.

Finding a lightweight 3-season solo tent with a reasonable price is difficult since tent like MHW Supermega UL 1, Big Agnes Flycreek UL 1, and MSR Hubba NX are all above $200. They’re too pricey and I’m too cheap.

Then I stumbled upon a tent that is unfamiliar to me: TNF Stormbreak 1. I already heard some of TNF legendary tents like VE25 or Tadpole, but Stormbreak? Never heard of it.

It weighs 1,47 kg, has an inner construction that’s perfect for me (not made with full mesh), and has a side entrance. With a $129 price tag, it’s a bargain and it’s the tent I’ve been looking for.

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FEATURES

Stormbreak 1 has one side entrance. It’s not a mandatory feat for me but I find it very convenience than the front entrance tent.

The tent has no vent but the entrance door has double zippers, it means that I can pull both zippers to make a small opening like a vent to reduce condensation, especially when the weather get nasty and forced me to cook inside.

There are 4 additional loops for guylines that I rarely used. But if I want to go camping in an open field without natural wind barriers, I always bring additional guylines and stakes, adding ± 100 grams to the weight, anchoring the tent firmly against foul wind.

The guylines
For some people, Stormbreak 1 could render them claustrophobic, but for me it’s quite comfy. I’m 173 cm tall so there are plenty of rooms at the end of the tent to store some stuffs. The only downside is when I put an inflatable sleeping pad like Thermarest NeoAir Trekker, there wouldn’t be enough room for my head when I’m sitting inside. I usually bring my closed-cell sleeping pad or not fully inflate the NeoAir so I can make some space for my head.

Headroom

Happy feet
There’s a side pocket inside, enough to store the essentials. I usually put my glasses, headlamp, cellphone, and gloves inside the pocket. There are two loops at the top to hang a lantern or whatever, but I often use one of the loops to hang my Protrek watch to measure the temperature.

Side pocket

Two hanging loops and a grasshopper
The vestibule is not spacious, but roomy enough to store my backpack, shoes, trekking poles, and importantly, allows me to cook when the weather’s getting bad.

Vestibule area, enough for emergency cooking space
The tent comes with 6 cheap heavy iron stakes. They weigh 156 grams. I immediately replaced them with third party alumunium alloy stakes that only weigh 84 grams. Well I guess the price speaks for itself, you get what you pay, in this case: cheap inferior stakes.

PERFORMANCE

I’ve brought Stormbreak 1 into various conditions and so far, the tent did excellent jobs protecting me from the elements.

In a storm-like windy conditions in an open field, the tent held up very well. I almost didn’t feel the wind shake when I put all the guylines in place. The tent also performed perfectly in the rain.

Once, I pitched the tent in the wrong place which was lower than surrounding area. When the rain poured for 2 hours, my tent surrounded by water and it looked like a yellow boat floating on water, the soil slowly became mud.  Nevertheless the floor did a good job, there was no leak.

My tent, right before the rain renders the campsite into a pool of mud
The inner tent construction –which is not full mesh like most ultralight solo tents– proves very helpful even in a very windy situation. This is the main reason I bought Stormbreak  1.  In a cold night, it prevents chilly air that creeps beneath the flysheet getting inside the inner tent and adds some warmth.

The main reason I bought this tent: Its inner construction
THE VERDICT

The North Face Stormbreak 1 isn’t an ultralight tent and doesn’t even fit in today’s description of lightweight. Nowadays, for a 1.5 kg weight, you’d getting a 2-person tent instead of a solo tent. But the extra weight they put on the inner tent construction makes me comfortable even in the coldest night.

With its $129 price tag, I think TNF Stormbreak 1 is one of the best value-for-money tents available on the market, although the specs are a little outdated.

The most important thing is I always feel safe and sound in my lovely little yellow home, in hot sunny days, in the middle of torrential rain, or against a foul storm.

My lovely little yellow home

 

 

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