Rating: 5 / 5
THE GENERAL STUFF
Purchased: Fall 2004
Options purchased: bug screen, extended beak, sewn floor (non-bathtub)
Seam sealed by "yours truly" with Silnet in 2004; no re-sealing of any part has been required, and I've never had a seal leak
Single wall shelter weight: 28.3 oz (seam sealed, includes factory guylines, with purchased options extended beak and sewn-in floor)
Curved pole for tent foot: 3.1 oz (required for setup)
Straight pole for tent front: 1.9 oz (optional, I don't used mine, but replace it with a more versatile trekking pole)
Silnylon stake bag: 0.1 oz
Ti stakes that came with tent: 0.5 oz (came with 4, if I remember correctly; I replaced these with lighter ones that come in at 0.2 oz)
Stuff sack: mailed in one, I don't use it as it's too narrow for me to use on the trail
My location: piedmont of NC
Hiking locale: SE Appalachian Mountains
My rating of a 5 is based on my feelings LATER with this shelter, rather than during the earlier trials and tribulations. If I'd rated this tent after my 3rd trip it would have received a big fat ZERO! However, after I learned to use the tent more effectively, I have changed my opinion 180 degrees.
Most of the issues I've experienced with this tent is not due to its construction but due to the downsides of silnylon.
I am a solo hiker. I believe this contributes to the fact that it takes me longer to catch on than it does others (or, maybe it's the fact that I'm a natural blonde, ha ha!)
The Squall is my first tent purchase, my first single-walled tent, AND my first experience with silnylon. As I'm analytical by nature (I'm an analytical chemist by trade and enjoy financial analysis as my indoor hobby), I research gear extensively prior to a purchase. This tent got raves by experienced hikers, but the key descriptor here is EXPERIENCED. I EXPERIENCED a significant learning curve with this tent.
I want to share my experience, review the tent, and give hints to others that my help them experience a shorter learning curve.
I first took the Squall on a short weekend jaunt to a local forest in early fall for an easy two-dayer to try it out. It was my first overnighter ever; this trip exhibited weather that was dry, low-elevation, and clear. The tent performed marvelously.
The next few trips I experienced at elevation included thunderstorms, extended rain that turned into snow, and below freezing temperatures that began as a windstorm with light rain and turned into a freak snowstorm. I failed, and failed, and failed, but luckily lived through each of these!
Yes, you will experience condensation in this tent under many circumstances. The worst is extended rain, as the condensation will build up on the inside and splash the occupant every time a drop of rain hits the shelter. Luckily these circumstances don't normally occur that often in the scheme of things; this type of weather will cut into sleep time, though. Later I began to carry a small piece of packtowel to wipe down the tent prior to my early morning "wiggly period". The shell of my each of my down sleeping bags is water resistant as well, so there is no fear of wetting out this most important warmth item.
This tent WILL collapse in only a very small amount of wet snow when set up normally. The snow tends to accumulate at the foot of the tent in from of the curved pole (which is in a sleeve) and pulls on the front guyline until it pops out of the ground (scary if you're sound asleep and didn't even know it was snowing and the sob falls in right on top of you). A hefty rock on top of the stake at the front guy helps. If caught in snow, you will not get a good night's sleep as you have to stay awake to smack the snow off the roof. Per my research, this is typical of a 3-season tent, and is why you spend the mega moolah for a 4-season one.
I have had tremendous difficulty getting over the breeziness in my tent. It's great on those muggy 75F nights, but it's almost unbearable when temperatures hover around 0F. Lowering the front pole and staking the sides of the tent directly to the ground helps cut wind with no modifications required. Alternatively, if you get cold during the night and refuse to exit your sleeping bag, you can stuff items in the mesh of the side of the tent into which the air is flowing. The down side is that you may experience condensation in the morning due to the more restricted air flow.
I experienced considerably rain splash into the sides and foot of the tent, even with the ample drip line. If it's raining this hard the only remedy is to lower the roofline of the tent, which may not eliminate the problem but will reduce if so you can get sleep.
The Tarptent.com is considered a cottage industry. I have had to contact them only once. I needed to replace my curved pole as my original one got bent (though I'm unsure how, as I got it out for a trip and it was already bent from the previous one). The pole was promptly delivered. In addition, I emailed a request to get scrap silnylon to repair a hole I melted in the extended beak while cooking in the rain one winter. Ample scrap was mailed to me in the package with the replacement pole I purchased, for free. I repaired the hole per Henry Shires instructions by cutting a round piece of scrap and using ample Silnet as "glue". The repair has held for nearly 2 years and shows no sign of deteriorating.
All guy lines and seams have remained intact. The edges, where scissors cut the silnylon fabric, are beginning to fray a bit, but the stitching seems to stop the fraying from progressing.
This tent is quite roomy for one person, though to sit up you have to sit right at the doorway. It is tight for two. The extended beak doesn't provide any extra gear storage as coverage is insufficient.
Things I like about the tent:
Ample space for one
Light for a two person tent
Different minor configurations for changing weather
Durable and easily repaired
Great customer service from Mr Shires
Things I don't like:
Tight for two people
Beak doesn't make a good gear vestibule
Silnylon has a learning curve