Berkeley Backpacking Biz - Old School, New School, No School

The Oval Intention Walkthrough - LP Version

Powered by Drupal

The Oval Intention was a watershed product that altered the course of tent design in architecture, construction, and materials (particularly in the use of arrowshaft aluminum poles.)

This is one conversation about the Oval Intention.  We will ulimately combine this with a second video shoot and break it all out a collection of youTube friendly short videos on topics such as The Name, Construction, Bucky Fuller's Role, etc, etc.

For now, here's the full long-playing nerd-a-licous version. If you've got anything to add, please use the comment form below.

Thanks much to Katy Hoffer for piecing this together and adding captions and archival photos to set the context!

by Author
adminzard adminzard's picture

This Story is part of a Series...

Here's a message board discussion by some of the TNF originals on the OutInUnder article about... Read Story
Here's the first appearance of the Oval Intention in the 1975 North Face catalog. It's easy to see... Read Story
The Oval Intention was a watershed product that altered the course of tent design in architecture... Read Story
[Note from Al Tabor: Both Mark Erickson and Bruce Hamilton had let me know that they had good... Read Story
Q: Wasn't there some sort of 'harmonic convergence' involving inspiration from Bucky, you &... Read Story
Mark’s recollection is, as usual, very accurate.  And, he is spot on about the benefit I saw in... Read Story
adminzard's picture
by Author adminzard


AlanTabor's picture
Joined: 03/23/12
I thought folks might dig the
I thought folks might dig the following thread from - Kudos to TNF! pine sap - 5:30 a.m. on May 23, 2016 (EDT) Thank you Alan for introducing me to Out In Under. I love reading about the history of gear and the era when it all began! With the weather finally warming up here in Estes Park CO I finally was able to set up the Ring Oval Intention the other day with the aid of 3 pole splints. I found that all the poles except one need to have sections replaced. I have learned there were issues with the early Easton poles but don't know whether they were resolved before or after the manufacture of my tent. I found full length splits, broken section connector inserts and broken section ends where the pole slips over the connectors. Amazingly, the shockcord within each has nor broken and still has elasticity. I'm going to contact TNF and see if the warranty will cover the damage. I hope they don't give me what seems to be their standard response these days ie 'We will give you 1/2 off on a new tent' as that is not what I am after. I would like to rehabilitate the tent and have the experience of camping in a Ring Oval Intention. Cheers, Norm PS: Do you know of a source for the pitching instructions? Anyone? Thanks- ------- Alan Tabor - 1:36 p.m. on May 24, 2016 (EDT) Let me know what they say at TNF. I still know a few folks there. re: pitching instructions - I don't think printed instructions still exist. It sound like you got it pitched, right? If you search OutInUnder for the Oval Intention Walkthrough you can see one pitched in some detail. That might help with pole position and relative length. ----- pine sap - 11:12 p.m. on May 24, 2016 (EDT) Yes, got it pitched through trial and error but I wondered if TNF had advised a procedure.....say a certain 2 poles first to get it standing and then add others..... that worked best especially with one person doing the set up. No worries though , once I get some decent poles and begin using it I'm sure the best method will reveal itself. Thanks! ------ pine sap - 1:51 a.m. on June 19, 2016 (EDT) Glory be! The North Face has been extremely supportive to my efforts of rehabilitating the Ring Oval Intention. I have just received an entire replacement pole set. Each of the original poles had at least one damaged section. I sent the poles in with a note and without any discussion the new poles came in the mail. Now that's customer support at its finest.
Rex Sanders (not verified)
Thank you for bringing back a
Thank you for bringing back a flood of memories as a long-time TNF customer. A few short stories to add to the pile. Bucky Fuller and geodesic domes were a pretty big deal in my circle of college friends. Winter of 1974 we collectively built a roughly 2-meter dome from cardboard, bolted together, and painted with house paint. We took it to Yosemite Valley over winter break for it's first real world test. Under the rain and snow, the dome melted into a soggy mess within a couple of days. In 1977, four of those friends took an Oval Intention as their only tent on a PCT thru-hike. I'm pretty sure it was the Ring Oval. The OI was beautiful, roomy, bombproof, heavy, and challenging to set up. They soon discovered that two couples in one tent didn't work very well, and switched back to separate A-frame tents for more privacy. In 1980, my best friend and I carried a VE-23 for our own attempt at a PCT thru-hike. We planned to carry it only for the snowy High Sierra, but ran into snow in Southern California and started carrying the dome. Loved the room and wind stability, especially walking across the desert on roads from Palmdale through Mojave, before the PCT re-routed through the Tehachapis. Didn't like the weight, and used a much lighter tent when we could. I continued using that VE-23 for backpacking, car camping, and whitewater rafting until it was stolen in 1989. In one poorly-chosen camp, the tent was virtually floating on several inches of water; any movement triggered waves in the floor like a waterbed (remember those?), but it never leaked. Thanks for designing, making, and selling amazing products. -- Rex
Dee (not verified)
I need poles to a 1980
I need poles to a 1980 Northface Oval Intention dome tent. Are there replacement poles?

Your comments are loved and appreciated.

Start a Story of Your OwnStart a Story Icon


Do us a favor - 
Please take 2 minutes and give us feedback. Thanks!

Story Copyright