Gear Review: Tarptent Squall 2

The Squall 2 is a non-free standing two person tent that utilizes one or two hiking poles to pitch.  The tent packs small and has a minimum foot print in your pack.  It has a great space to weight ratio, making it popular with ultralight backpackers.  Please note the photos don’t show the tent complete taut.  It was 95 degrees outside at 9:00 AM in the morning when I was pitching the tent in a few of the photos.

Fly Creek UL2, Tarptent Squall 2, Mountain Hardware Scout

Quick and Dirty
Gear Type: Tent
Material: Sil-Nylon
Trail weight: 34 oz
Price: $249
Link:  Tarptent Squall 2
Pros: Light, collapsing tub, uses four stakes to pitch, great wind stability, larger than comparable tents, very small pack weight
Cons: Condensation, misting during the rain, difficult to pitch in rocky or hard packed dirt Setup

Set up is not too difficult, but there is a learning curve for those moving from common free standing tents.  Scouting for a good flat camp site with dirt is important for a successful pitch.  The tent includes a Easton aluminum hoop that forms the rear of the tent.  Slide the hoop into the tent and pitch the rear, followed by pitching the front three stakes.  Return to the rear to adjust the tent.  Site selection is important as you need a flat spot with good soil to pitch the tent.  We had an issue with the tent collapsing on us due to soft sandy soil.  DSC_0421 DSC_0419 DSC_0413 Space

One great advantage to single wall tents is the amount of space you get.  Compared to the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2, the Squall 2 has two inches of extra width at the foot and a full 10 inches of extra space at the mouth.  The large mouth makes getting in and out of the tent easy, something not common on single door tents. We are able to fit two 20 inch sleep pads and a Ruffwear sleeping pad for our dog.  I was very impressed with the size and space . DSC_0445 Head Room

Because of the shape of the tent, headroom is lost.  The catenary roof slopes down towards the foot of the tent, reducing the usable head room.  Even with the extra height advantage over other 2 person tents, we still found the Squall 2 is short of head room, making it somewhat difficult to work with our gear towards the foot of the tent.  We would constantly hit our heads on the roof, causing the tent stakes to become loose.

Rain Fly

There is no rain fly.  The single wall acts as a rain fly.

Doors

The Squall 2 uses a massive simple single zipper front door.  Unlike other tents, the door is the whole front wall of the tent, allowing you to fold away the door to create a large space to enter and exit freely.  We liked not tripping over the tub or walls of the tent when entering and exiting.  While the door was great, the zipper left much to be desired.  The L-shaped zipper was difficult to close completely. DSC_0423 IMG_20130706_104721 Tub

Most Tarptents have a bathtub floor (except some pre-2004 tents).  The high floor keeps running water out of the tent and does not get in the way of air flow vents.  Dropping the tub increases air flow and floor space.  DSC_0432 Ventilation

Ventilation is okay on the Squall.  With all single wall tents, condensation is expected especially with less breathable fabrics like Sil-Nylon.  As such, pitch is very important to maximize air flow in the tent.  We have not had any condensation issues with our tent as we fully maximize our vents.   To maximize the ventilation (or reduce ventilation), you can guy out the sides and adjust the flaps.  On warmer summer nights, we leave the front door open. DSC_0433 Overall Strength

While the design reduces head room, Tarptent really designed the tent  to be strong and aerodynamic.  The tent sheds water well and reduces drag.  In addition, the catenary roof also creates a very strong and stable structure against high winds.

Final Thoughts

There are many options in the price similar to the Squall 2, but there is no other tent that will offer the price, weight, and space ratio. When stepping inside our Squall 2 and then moving over to our Fly Creek UL2, you quickly notice the space difference.  However, with the weight and space, comes a price – site selection is extremely important and should be on the top of your mind when you are trip planning with this tent.

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