Hands-on Gear Review

The North Face Wawona 6 Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:  $399 List | $399.00 at REI
Pros:  Fast set up, built-in large vestibule, lots of ventilation, tall ceiling height
Cons:  Can't stand in vestibule, limited views when laying or sitting, poor duffel/stuff sack
Bottom line:  This one of the best family camping tents we have ever seen at a reasonable price.
Editors' Rating:   
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Seasons:  3-season
Weight:  20 lbs 15 oz
Windows:  2
Manufacturer:   The North Face

Our Verdict

The Wawona is the first tent to seriously challenge the REI Kingdom 6. The Kingdom 6 scores a little higher for comfort, but the Wawona has some clear advantages. The Wawona is much faster to set up, especially with one person. It doesn't require managing a separate fly. It's better in windy conditions. But most of all, the Wawona is a better value. The Kingdom 6 is only $40 more expensive; however, if you want a big vestibule like the Wawona, that costs you an extra $100 for the "Kingdom Garage" and then another $70 for poles to hold up the garage awning. So for comparative setups, the Wawona is $130-200 less expensive. We still think the Kingdom 6 is the best if you want ultimate comfort. However, if you want a faster set up time and a built-in vestibule, get the Wawona and save some money.

Looking for something a bit smaller?
The Wawona 4 is a good option if you don't need a tent quite as big as the Wawona 6.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Camping Tents of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Chris McNamara

Last Updated:
Monday
January 22, 2018

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Performance Comparison


North Face Wawona 6
North Face Wawona 6

Comfort


This is one of the most comfortable tents we tested. The main tent has a peak height of 6'8", and most of the tent is over 6 feet tall (once you get to the edges of the tent, a six-footer will have to duck a little). The vestibule is about a foot lower, and only people 5' 6" or shorter can stand upright. It would be nice if the vestibule were a little taller, but it's passable. The Kingdom 6 Garage is also much lower and requires you to hunch over. Overall, the Kingdom 6 scores higher for comfort because it has two rooms and more versatility with a fly that will go on, stay off, or go half up. That said, the Wawona comes with the vestibule built in which makes set up faster and means it is more weather resistant than the Kindom Garage which costs an extra $100 ($170 with poles). Some people may also prefer the simplicity of the Wawona. The Kingdom requires installing a fly and then adjusting it if you want to see out the sides. The Wawona comes with flaps that are easy to open and close to get better views and ventilation.

Comparing the Wawona vestibule (left) with the REI Kingdom 6 vestibule (right). The Kingdom 6 in this configuration costs $610.
Comparing the Wawona vestibule (left) with the REI Kingdom 6 vestibule (right). The Kingdom 6 in this configuration costs $610.

Like most 6-person tents, it's a little tight for six people. Four people fit better. The Wawona has a bit more space than the Kingdom 6. That said, the Wawona just has one big room where the Kingdom 6 lets you divide the tent into to two compartments for separate couples or kids.

The Wawona will sleep 6  but most people will only want to sleep 4 in order to keep a little breathing room between sleeping pads.
The Wawona will sleep 6, but most people will only want to sleep 4 in order to keep a little breathing room between sleeping pads.

There are many options to ventilate the tent. Two large flaps roll up to both give good views and allow cross drafting.

You get two large "picture windows" to roll up. These offer light and ventilation but you only get a view from the side of the tent if you are standing. Also  if it starts raining  you have to walk outside to close the flaps.
You get two large "picture windows" to roll up. These offer light and ventilation but you only get a view from the side of the tent if you are standing. Also, if it starts raining, you have to walk outside to close the flaps.

Also, there are two vents at the top to keep condensation down. They have smart little stays that prop the vents open. Because the vestibule has two doors, and there is a third door at the end of the tent, you have three large doors total to get air circulation. Add the two big windows and the two big vents, and you have seven different ways to control air circulation to control moisture built-up and stuffiness.

These clever stays pop over two panels for ventilating the top of the tent and reducing moisture. This is an advantage of the Wawona over the Kingdom 6.
These clever stays pop over two panels for ventilating the top of the tent and reducing moisture. This is an advantage of the Wawona over the Kingdom 6.

There are ten pockets to hand and sort things. Also, a line runs around the inside of the ceiling for hanging items to dry out.

Kids love the space to play. Note the large mesh pockets on the left for storing gloves  headlamps and misc items.
Kids love the space to play. Note the large mesh pockets on the left for storing gloves, headlamps and misc items.

Weather Resistance


This is one of the more weather resistant tents we tested and scores just behind the Big Agnes Flying Diamond 8. One big advantage over the Flying Diamond is a bigger vestibule area to cook and hang out during storms. The vestibule area is big enough for two full-size camp chairs and a small table. Alternately, you could get four small stools around a small table.

The tent comes with loads of burly stakes. Bring a hammer for easy installation.
The tent comes with loads of burly stakes. Bring a hammer for easy installation.

We give the Wawona a higher weather resistance score than the Kingdom 6 for a few reasons. First, its shape is much better in the wind and the tent doesn't bend and shift much compared to the Kingdom 6 (See how it performs in 20+ MPH winds here.)

To get optimal rain protection from sideways rain, you need to buy the Kingdom 6 Garage. However, the Garage connection to the main tent is not as air and water tight as having a built-in vestibule like on the Wawona. The Wawona has vents at the top of the tent to lower condensation during a rainstorm if everything else is zipped up. The Kingdom 6 lacks this feature.

For maximum weather resistance and tent protection, you can buy a footprint for another $65. The footprint fits perfectly and is a lot more compact than a giant tarp. But a tarp is a lot cheaper. Or just choose your site carefully and don't bring a tarp or footprint.

Ease of Set Up


This is one of the fastest tents to set up. One person can quickly assemble the tent in less than 7 minutes. Put the gold poles on the gold sleeves with gold clips. Put the gray poles through the gray sleeves with gray clips. Next, raise the gold poles and then the gray ones. Add the clips last. Stake out the tent and use guylines if expecting wind. It's that easy.

While the first time setting up any big tent is intimidating  this tent is one of the easiest to set up and the fastest. It's one of the few tents of this size that is relatively easy to set up with one person.
While the first time setting up any big tent is intimidating, this tent is one of the easiest to set up and the fastest. It's one of the few tents of this size that is relatively easy to set up with one person.

Gold clips to the gold poles and gray clips to the gray poles. What could be easier?
Gold clips to the gold poles and gray clips to the gray poles. What could be easier?

The Kingdom 6 is much more involved and set up almost requires two people. The Kingdom 6 and Flying Diamond have an extra step to install the fly which nearly requires two people. The fly also takes extra time to take down and pack. The Wawona comes with a generous stuff bag that is easy to get the tent into. Only a tent like the Coleman Instant Tent 6 is faster to set up. But the Instant Tent is far less comfortable or weather resistant. Compared to other top-scoring tents, the Wawona is the easiest to set up. One note about the duffel storage bag: it doesn't close that tight. It's hard to keep the contents from spilling out. Some cross compression straps would have helped a lot and we found adding one or two helps a lot.

Packed Size


This tent has a relatively standard packed size for this category: it's about the size of big camping sleeping bag. It comes in a big duffel with handles that is easy to stuff - you don't have to carefully and precisely role it up to get it to fit in its bag. It's doesn't have the backpack straps that some tents do, but it is still relatively easy to pack and carry.

We approve of the large carrying sack that is easy to stuff the tent into. No "tent origami" required to fit this tent in its bag.
We approve of the large carrying sack that is easy to stuff the tent into. No "tent origami" required to fit this tent in its bag.

Workmanship


We expect the Wawona to have a longer life than most tents. Most of the components, including the tent poles and stakes, are sturdy. Because the gold poles do have a bend, we recommend using extra caution when setting up the tent to not bend them the wrong way.

Value


While this tent is not as cheap as the Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 ($280), it's a little like comparing apples and oranges. The Carlsbad is not nearly as comfortable and doesn't let you walk around in a vestibule or the main tent as easily. The Carlsbad is also not very weather resistant. The Carlsbad is for the fairweather or occasional camper. The Wawona is a tent for all conditions that more frequent campers will gladly pay extra for in exchange for more features, comfort, durability, and weather resistance.

Best Applications


This is a great tent for group camping in warm and cool weather. It has good ventilation but is not ideal for hot weather camping.

Conclusion


For many people, this is the best family camping trip you can buy.
Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: April 19, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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  • 5
 (2.0)

0% of 1 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 50%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Apr 19, 2018 - 10:31am
BEH
I used this tent twice and am very disappointed. Thanks to The North Face for allowing return: 1. Footprint extends to middle of vestibule only and must be staked. Tripping hazard. 2. Two long pole sleeves for each of the main poles are cumbersome to insert/remove with pre-bent shock corded poles. Must stand or crawl on tent to insert into second sleeve. More clips and shorter or no sleeves would be better. 3. Retaining loops and clips for back door/screen are too small/short to retain both when rolled together. Should have two sets of clips or longer loops. 4. Can only open/close windows from outside. Window clips on outside are too high if under six feet tall (Me in skivvies, rain, on camp chair, 2 a.m.--Not pretty). 5. Carry bag too small. Tent must be precisely folded to fit in bag.
Tent is pretty to look at, wind and rain resistant, easy to ventilate, has great vestibule, but the negatives should be considered. I am an experienced tent camper (since the 60s). My other tents: Optic 6 by Mountain Hardwear, Kodiak Kanvas, Eureka Octagon. BEH

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.


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