The North Face Heron 33 Tent


Mar 8, 2005
Beautiful BC
I picked up a North Face Heron 33 tent -- this is a 3 person, 3 season tent that has a claimed trail weight of 2.7 kg (5lb 15oz).

My first impressions are quite positive. The tent is well made, the design is very nice allowing near vertical walls on the sides, the colour provides a pleasant atmosphere when inside the tent (making it much more pleasurable on rainy days), and the tent is very well ventilated.

The tent comes in a compression stuff sack, with separate bags for the poles and pegs. Packing the poles separate from the tent will make the tent easier to pack in a kayak hatch. The pegs (inset) are light aluminum and don't look like they'll stand up well to hard ground -- we'll have to see how they fare:

Tent body layed out with assembled poles:

One of two hubs. Four poles are connected to the hub by shock cording. A separate pole (the vertical pole in the photo) joins the two hubs together (not shock corded). Note the different pole diameters:

Nylon clips are used to fasten the tent body to the poles. The clips are easy to attach and hold quite securely. Removing the clips is also easy -- even if you had cold or gloved hands.

Attaching the tent body to the pole frame is a quick process -- which is nice if you're setting up the tent in pouring rain:

Front view of the tent body:

End view of the tent body -- note how vertical the walls are:

Close-up of the vestible "antennas" (that's what North Face calls them):

YUCK! Nice to have the warning, but it's huge! Printed on the floor at one of the entrances is this gargantuan warning sign. At 14" across you won't miss it -- but then I wouldn't have missed it if it were 4 inches across either.

There are four large mesh pockets -- 2 at each end of the tent:

Beside each doorway is a convenient stash pocket for storing the door:

The tent is plenty long for a standard length Thermarest:

The fly attaches to the antenna poles with a grommet in a web strap. (there is also a velcro strap that attaches around the poles on each corner):

The tent set up with the fly. The structure is very sturdy when staked out with the guylines:

There is a roof vent above each of the doorways. There is no way to close the vents but the openings through the fly are set back far enough and have a mesh covering (seen in the bottom photo) so they shouldn't create a problem when it's raining:

The doors roll up and can be held in place with toggles and elasticized cord. It would have been nice if there was an second set of toggles for holding the door up in the halfway position. The doors are quite large, making access and exit from the tent a breeze:

The vestibles are HUGE! Both vestibles are 14 sq ft -- that's a lot of storage space. As you can see, my size 10 1/2 shoes don't take up much of the available space. The antenna poles extend the top of the vestible over the doorway making it possible to leave the door open on all but the most rainy days:

An aerial view:

I'm looking forward to using the tent over the next couple of weekends and will further evaluate it's performance.

Very, very nice Dan. As I have no excuse to purchase another tent, I will have to live vicariously through your efforts. :wink:
That Herron is one great looking tent Dan. :cool: I look forward to your feedback.

Dan_Millsip said:
The pegs (inset) are light aluminum and don't look like they'll stand up well to hard ground -- we'll have to see how they fare:

The needle pegs that came with the Mutha should be able to penetrate through the toughest terrain, I’m just not sure if they’re beefy enough to hold a guy line in place, particularly on soft ground. Like you, I’ll just have to give them a try.


Dan, You had a post Dec 27 on the MSR Mutha Hubba. But it looks like the Heron 33 won out. I am looking for a good tent for my wife and I. I am looking at the MSR M.H. or the N.F. Heron 33. How did you decide on the N.F. Heron 33 over the M.H. ? Mac
I saw the Heron 33 in real life and was impressed by the two large vestibles.

I also thought that the Heron looked like it would take the wind better than the Mutha Hubba (we had a fair bit of wind on our Portland Island trip last weekend and I wasn't disappointed with how well the Heron 33 stood up to it).

Heron 33

Dan, When I had a tour of your tent at Portland Island, I was impressed. As you mentioned at the time, the inside was bright and cheery even on an overcast day. It was great to look over the tents in a practical setting. Mac
Heron 33 Tent

Now that you've had the Heron 33 for almost 6 months, what's the verdict. Great tent? I'm considering it, but all of the outdoor stores seem to push the MSR Mutha Hubba and the Sierra Designs units. I haven't even found anyone that carries it in the store. Anyway, I'm interested in it for backpacking and paddling - something light, sturdy, rain resistant, but with lots of room for 2-3 people and gear. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
I just finished a 10 day trip to the Bowron Lakes where I used the tent every day (including 2 very rainy nights previous to the circuit at Beckers Lodge campsite). I'm very pleased with this tent -- it works well and best of all, it packs down to a very nice small size for the kayak.

I've no problem recommending this tent (unless you're over 6 feet tall -- then it might be a bit on the short side).

Thanks for the reply (and all of your great posts). This is a great site.

I'm exactly six feet, so hopefully the tent is a good fit. I may buy it sight unseen, if I can't find a shop that displays it.