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3 Pounds, 4 Seasons, 1 Person: Sierra Designs Introduces the Single-Wall Assailant

Bomber one-person, four-season, single wall tent with waterproof/breathable fabric and enough room for gear.

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by Will Rietveld | 2007-01-27 21:55:00-07

Overview

At Summer 2006 Outdoor Retailer we reported on Mountain Hardware's new 3-pound Bunker, which is a 1-person 4-season tent. This time we found the Assailant from Sierra Designs to continue the warfare theme. While the Bunker has only 16.7 square feet of floor space, the Assailant provides 22.5 square feet, enough room for one person plus gear, and weighs only 3 ounces more (based on trail weight). Both are single wall with waterproof/breathable fabric.

The Assailant has three poles with sleeves and is quick to set up. Entry is from the side through a nearly full height and wide zippered door with no vestibule. It's pretty roomy inside for one person plus gear. It will accommodate a tall person up to about 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) (BPL tested) without hitting the ends, but a taller person would have to bend a bit to avoid touching the ends with a sleeping bag (the max length is 93 inches or 2.36 m). Headroom is only 30.5 inches (775 mm), not enough to sit up.

The fabric is Sierra Designs' Drizone laminated fabric, which is a two-layer PTFE laminate with a breathability rating of 28,000 g/sq m/24 hr and waterproofness rating of 18,000 mm, which are outstanding numbers. The breathability rating is in fact 4% higher than that of eVENT fabric measured by the same test. The Assailant has three vents to help exhaust moisture and maintain comfort.

One concern we have about the Assailant is that the roof is fairly flat and the pole sleeves will prevent snow from easily sliding off.

Specifications and Features

  • Manufacturer: Sierra Designs
  • Capacity: 1-person+
  • Dimensions: 82 / 93 in long x 47 in wide x 30.5 in high (2083/2362 x 1193 x 775 mm)
  • Fabrics: Shell is 40d ripstop nylon 2-layer laminate, floor is 70d nylon taffeta (3000 mm)
  • Poles: DAC Featherlite NSL 8.5 mm
  • Weight: 3 pounds 3 ounces trail weight, 3 pounds 11 ounces total weight (1.45 kg, 1.67 kg)
  • MSRP: $319

Citation

"3 Pounds, 4 Seasons, 1 Person: Sierra Designs Introduces the Single-Wall Assailant," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/02735.html, 2007-01-27 21:55:00-07.

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3 Pounds, 4 Seasons, 1 Person: Sierra Designs Introduces the Single-Wall Assailant
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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
3 Pounds, 4 Seasons, 1 Person: Sierra Designs Introduces the Single-Wall Assailant on 01/29/2007 16:05:06 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

3 Pounds, 4 Seasons, 1 Person: Sierra Designs Introduces the Single-Wall Assailant

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
WELL... on 02/03/2007 21:57:20 MST Print View

Give me a Hilleberg AKTO any day. A TRUE 4 season lightweight tent. At 2 lbs. 14 oz. and 18.3 sq. ft. it is truly light, truly double wall and can be used as a single wall if desired or for lunch breaks on a downpour day.

For a single wall 3 season tent I'll take my 24.5 oz. Tarptent Contrail.
LOTS of room there.

Eric

Edited by Danepacker on 02/03/2007 22:01:37 MST.

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: 3 Pounds, 4 Seasons, 1 Person: Sierra Designs Introduces the Single-Wall Assailant on 02/04/2007 09:29:18 MST Print View

I'm interested in others' thoughts comparing this to the Integral Designs MK1. They're identical in trail weight, but this SD tent is purportedly more breathable and looks more aerodynamic (their website says its been tested in a wind tunnel). The 3 pole design looks more stable, the side entrance allows better views, and it appears to have a smaller footprint (closer to a bivy than a tent, but I haven't comapred the numbers). Also, at 6'2" I'm too tall for the MK1. Best of all, it's $150 cheaper. However, you can sit upright in the MK1, and this article points to a potential weakness with snow loads on the BD. Also, the MK1 appears to handle 2 people better. Nevertheless, barring any major problems with snow loads, could the BD be the new gold standard for solo 4-season alpine camping/seriously wet/buggy conditions?

Edited by jcarter1 on 02/04/2007 09:38:06 MST.

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Integral DesignsMK1 Lite eVENT Tent on 02/04/2007 09:57:35 MST Print View

Hi John,

It is unfortunate that Integral Designs dropped all of their eVENT versions of their tents after the decision by GE about the usage of eVENT for tents. I was able to purchase one of the last Integral DesignsMK1 Lite eVENT Tents before they were no longer available. I have yet put it into service since I have not gotten out to use it in the appropriate conditions and I am not looking to sell this gem.

You may still be able to find one somewhere that is sold possibly used.

Ryan Jordan was very impressed with the tent and reviewed it here:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/integral_designs_mk1lite_event_tent_review.html

The eVENT versions of all of ID's mountain tents were lighter and much more breathable that the same tents made with Tegraltex.

You may also find the comments that Ryan makes about the tent in this article useful as well:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00278.html

Rich

Edited by naturephoto1 on 02/04/2007 10:43:37 MST.

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
re: Assailant on 02/04/2007 11:04:25 MST Print View

Richard,

Thank you for the info. It was with these articles in mind that I pose my question (though I forgot that the new Tegraltex is heavier). I should have specified the Tegraltex version of the MK1 for those of us who do not already own an eVENT version.

This is precisely what intrigues me about the assailant; it claims to be slightly more breathable then eVENT and fully waterproof, yet passes fire retardent requirements. Is this too good to be true?

I recall a recent post by Ryan Jordan responding to a gear list inquiry for a 2 day August trip to the top of Rainier. He reccomended the ID Unishelter for solo or the eVENT MK1 for 2. That's strong praise for the MK1 in addition to his formal reviews. He also mentiones the MK1 for foul weather in print magazine #6.

So, for those of us without hope of an eVENT MK1, I would like to know if this Assailant is the new repacement of the discontinued eVENT MK1, or, as I postulate, if it surpasses even the eVENT MK1. I know this will only come from testing, but I'm interested in comparisons/educated guesses before I lay down the $320.

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Assailant on 02/04/2007 11:35:10 MST Print View

Hi John,

Even if the Sierra Designs Assailant is only close to the performance of the ID MK1 Lite eVENT Tent, the SD only costs $320 while the eVENT version of the ID tent sold for $530. Even the new Tegraltex version of the ID MK1 Lite tent is $500.

Others however will have to make the comparison, presuming anyone besides perhaps the BPL staff has or will have the experience.

Rich

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Assailant on 02/06/2007 17:34:07 MST Print View

Can anyone who was at the Outdoor Show confirm if the Assailant door is backed by mosquito netting? I cannot find any info from their website regarding this. By claiming "4 season" one would hope this does not neglect the summer season!

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Assailant on 02/07/2007 09:29:56 MST Print View

I just recieved an email from Sierra Designs. The door is fully backed by mesh, and all the seams are taped and ready to go. This is getting quite tempting!

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Assailant on 02/07/2007 09:33:52 MST Print View

Hi John,

Maybe you will be the first Guinea Pig here at BPL to purchase the tent. :):)

Rich

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Assailant on 02/07/2007 11:05:48 MST Print View

It's looking more and more like that's going to have to be the case! I'm just trying to decide whether or not to keep the Integral Designs eVENT Crysallis Bivy & small tarp setup that I am experimenting with, or to return the Crysallis and go with the Assailant (12oz heavier setup). Both have their pros and cons, and neither are particularly lightweight. I can't afford both right now. I'm going to set up my Crysallis & tarp in the rain tonight and make a final decision.

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Assailant on 02/07/2007 11:14:26 MST Print View

Hi John,

Are you going to be carrying or requiring the protection from inclement weather for any of your gear? Just consider if you are and weight differences between the bivy/tarp and the Assailant.

Since I am a photographer and will carry camera gear (camera, lenses, tripod, meter, filters, etc.) and film up to 4 X 5 into the field I have been reluctant to use a bivy and tarp. That is why I have my Six Moons Lunar Solo enhanced and the ID MK1 Lite eVENT Tent. But for me, it is like having 2 people and I need to protect the expensive gear and film.

Rich

Edited by naturephoto1 on 02/07/2007 11:41:37 MST.

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Assailant on 02/07/2007 18:59:00 MST Print View

Yes, those are important considerations. I've often dreamt of owning a medium format camera to capture all that stunning detail and DOF. But alas, it was not to be my hobby or profession. Regarding extra space for gear, there's also a somewhat ethical decision of extra space for stranded hikers in need of shelter that a bivy would not offer.

Before I continue, I should mention my backpacking style. I have a strong preference for camping above treeline. To me the biggest advantage of backpacking over day-hiking is the spectacular sunset/sunrises and the incredible night sky. Here in the heavily forested Pacific Northest that means getting above treeline. It also means being subject the PNW's unpredictable weather. So I made a decision a while back that my shelter would be one that could shed wind and rain more so than a cuben fiber tarp and pertex quantum bivy.

I also have a strong preference for simplicity, sometimes over weight. I have a SMD Gatewood Cape, and like the shelter quite a bit, but I always struggle to pitch it correctly. It's not that it's an inherently difficult tarp to setup, it's all the repositioning to get everything properly taught that takes me forever, on any tarp or taptent that I've used. Then, once it's taught, I've had stakes pull out in wind, and I have to put a lot of faith into the seams holding up the ridgeline. And doing all this with a storm blowing in..., well, there's other things I'd rather do with my time.

So those are my criteria. With that in mind I selected the Crysallis, which will withstand the strongest of winds with the least amount of setup. The small tarp is an option to make camp more comfortable, but not a neccesary part of my survival in the wilderness. It can be ripped off the side of the mountain and I'll still be safe in my bivy. There's a real sense of satisfaction I get with that safety margin that is worth the extra weight.

The disadvantage, of course, is that if stuck in a real storm, the bivy will get real cramped real fast. There is no place to dry gear. And it will not deal with snow loads without constant monitoring.

For me it boils down to a question of expecting a storm or not expecting one. With the Crysallis, I can just lay the bag down, crawl in and enjoy the stars. If it rains through the night, I zip up, no problem. So long as I bring my rain gear into the bivy, I can get fully dressed for rain the next day before unzipping. If it's raining when it is time to make camp, I deploy my tarp as a type of awning in order to get out of my rainwear and slip into the bivy. If it's windy too, well I'll have to look for a sheltered spot before setting up the tarp, something I'd be doing anyway if a storm was blowing in. But if the majority of the time the weather will be fair, I reap the benefit of sleeping under the stars, where combatting incoming wind, rain, or bugs with the Crysallis is a simple matter of zipping up. Zen.

With the Assailant, of course now I get space to move about in a storm, a simpe setup relative to setting up my tarp, and a similarly small footprint. I also don't need to worry about the right type of stake for the often loose volcanic soil. And I don't have to set up the poles if I don't want to; I can get in it like a bivy and leave my head out the front door. But it does mean getting out to pitch the tent if a storm does come though the night, and when pitched, I loose half of that beautiful night sky (though not an issue in a storm).

Last consideration: I can sit upright under my tarp, though not with a very stormworthy pitch. Once in my bivy, I can sit upright as well, but not much can be done in that position besides stretch my back. In the Assailant I can't sit up as high, but I have much more wiggle room during a storm, and managing the gear I do have would be much simpler.

So this is my conundrum. If I stick with the bivy, my base pack weight is 11 lb even (this includes an eVENT jacket and pants for total rain protection, a synthetic sleeping bag, and an Ursack for critters and above treeline bears). If I switch to the Assault, my pack weight inceases to 11 lb 12oz. Not a huge increase, but still, my tent would be 1/3 my entire pack weight.

My experience has been that I learn more in 5 minutes testing gear in adverse conditions than I do in 5 days of thinking about how the gear will perform in those conditions. Thus I need to wait for a good storm in which to test the Crysallis, to see if I can really handle the confined space for an extended time. Of course, the store may not let me return it after that!

Edited by jcarter1 on 02/07/2007 19:06:55 MST.

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Six Moons Lunar Solo enhanced on 02/07/2007 19:23:54 MST Print View

Hi John,

For 3 to 3+ seasons (presuming you could stake or weight it down) you may want to consider the Six Moons Lunar Solo enhanced. It only weighs about 23 ounces with the ultra lightweight floor (not including poles or stakes). The price is only $235 and it has 27.5 square feet sleeping area, 10 square feet vestibule, and 46" of height. You will either need a hiking pole (proper height) or a tent pole to pitch the tent. It is basically a hybrid single double wall tent.

Rich

Edited by naturephoto1 on 02/07/2007 19:26:24 MST.

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Six Moons Lunar Solo enhanced on 02/07/2007 21:11:33 MST Print View

Thank you for the reccomendation. I have seriously considered that tent, and put it in the shopping basket twice! In fact, I've met Ron Moak at his house here in Portland, OR when I went to pick up the Gatewood Cape. I currently use his Starlite pack and plan on getting his Essence 2007 pack when it becomes available. I have nothing but the highest repect for him and his designs. But again, I really like sleeping under the stars when possible, and it requires a larger footprint than what I'm looking for. For summer season I'll probably still use the Cape with a bugnet, partuclarly when camping below treeline.

I'm currently looking for a shelter for my favorite hike here near Portland. It's on the side of Mt. Hood, above timberline, and just below the glaciers. You get this unparralelled view of the valley, as well as views of Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Jefferson. I've spent several evenings watching the clouds come in from the coast and fill the valleys below me. But, being a volcano, there are only 3-4 flat camping spots on the entire route, large enough for 1-2 tents. My favorite spot is a rock precipice overlooking a 2500ft drop out to the valley. There's a tiny flat spot amongst the meadows just before the lip, with volcanic pebbles for soil. And being the highest hikeable point on the western slope, it is notorious for picking up bad weather and high winds, even when things are calm in the valley. It is for this type of backpacking that I am seeking a shelter.

I still think about the Lunar Solo now and again, but I've already got a Shires Tarptent, a Hex 3 for the family, and a Hennessy Hammock. Too many more purchases and I'll start getting in trouble with the spouse!

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Six Moons Lunar Solo enhanced on 02/08/2007 03:46:04 MST Print View

I'm such an idiot. I've been using 39oz for the Assailant in my gear calculation spreadsheet instead of 51oz. This was based on multiplying 3lbs by 12 instead of by 16, confusing oz with in. So replacing the Crysallis with the Assailant would add 23.6oz, not the 11.6oz I had been assuming. This becomes substantially more weight. This would bring my base weight up from 11lbs to 12.5lbs, higher than I want. If I knew I was heading out into really foul conditions, I could double up my Crysallis with a battened-down Gatewood Cape and still come out 15.2oz lighter than the Assailant. That's a pound lighter for basically a bomb-proof setup. Granted, I still have to deal with staking out in volcanic soil, but if there are high winds or stormy weather forecast, I wouldn't want to be camping that high anyway. And the Crysallis would still give me protection if the Cape blew away. 15.2oz to spare buys me a whole lot of Y-shaped tent stakes for the Cape! Oh well, I still think the Assailant is a nice tent, but now I see why it's best left for winter camping, where a freestanding dome can be helpful. Knowing I can get almost as much protection and more interior headroom for a pound less with gear I already own settles the debate for me. Someone else will have to do the testing on this tent!

From a photographer's point of view, I would think your current eVENT MK1 would still make a better choice due to the increased height. I imagine you do a fair bit of prep and post work in the tent. That could get uncomfortable with only 30 inches of headroom in the Assailant.

Edited by jcarter1 on 02/08/2007 03:58:09 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: English and Metric Confusion on 02/10/2007 15:53:04 MST Print View

John - Don't be so hard on yourself. If it will make you feel better -- NASA's brainy scientists screwed up English and Metric as well -- and wrecked the $125 MILLION Mars Space Orbiter!

http://www.cnn.com/TECH/space/9909/30/mars.metric/

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: English and Metric Confusion on 02/13/2007 17:52:32 MST Print View

Haha, thanks for the encouragement! I forgot about that one. I read an interesting book on the history of measurements in America called "Measuring America." The first two-thirds were rather dull to me, but the last part was fascinating, partucularly learning about the very unique circumstances that led the West to build grid-lke cities and highways despite the obvious contours of the land.

Anyway, I bring this up because of a fascinating story I learned. I've only read it once, and it was months ago now, so my facts will be all wrong, but the general gist was that a prominent scientist was on the verge of convincing America and Europe to adopt a unified system of measurements. After decades of setbacks, many European governments and the American Congress were ready to seriously consider the matter. Alas, when the scientist was on his way from Europe to debate the issue in congress, his ship was taken over by pirates, and he was held prisoner for years in the carribean. He finaly escapes, heading for America, only to be shipwrecked along the way, never to be heard from again. By the time the issue is considered again, too much of the West had been mapped and settled with American measurements, so it was deemed too costly to switch.

To think how different things might have been if he had made it to America!!

Edited by jcarter1 on 02/13/2007 17:59:29 MST.