Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter

Tarptent Squall 2 Tent REVIEW

Winner of the 2005 Lightitude Award for best single wall shelter, the Squall 2 improves on the classic Squall with several important updates.

Print Jump to Reader Comments

by Doug Johnson | 2006-10-10 03:00:00-06

Tarptent Squall 2 Tent REVIEW

Introduction

The Tarptent Squall 2 is an update of the popular Squall single wall tent. It offers full weather and bug protection in a lightweight 2 pound package. It features a floating bathtub floor that keeps the sleeping area dry while taking tension off the fabric, increasing floor durability and waterproofing. The doorway can be set up with single or dual poles, the dual pole pitch giving better entrance access and wind stability. The Squall 2 can be set up with only four stakes in just a few minutes and has simple adjusters for easy tensioning. However, it is more complex than the original and not all the design changes are perfect. How does the Squall 2 stand up to the original design?

And how does it stack up against the Six Moon Designs Europa (which gives the Squall 2 a serious run for the money)? Read Comparison: Tarptent Squall 2 and Six Moon Designs Europa for a detailed discussion of the differences between these two fine tents.

What’s Good

  • At 2 pounds, it’s very light for a floored shelter with full rain and bug protection
  • Increased headroom and usable space
  • Floating bathtub floor is waterproof and durable
  • Dual trekking pole set-up opens entryway and increases wind stability
  • Beak-style vestibule offers good protection while still allowing airflow
  • Doors and beak are easily rolled up for full ventilation and views
  • New guyline adjusters are simple, lightweight, and easy to use

What’s Not So Good

  • Less wind stability when set up with a single pole
  • Front strut needs to be removed to easily fit in the tube-shaped stuff sack
  • Front vent is not very functional
  • Condensation issues in still, high humidity conditions
  • Water can pool slightly near the rear hoop

Specifications

  Year/Model

2006 Tarptent Squall 2

  Style

Two person single wall tent with optional sewn-in floor

  Fabrics

1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silicone impregnated ripstop nylon, 1 oz/yd2 (34 g/m2) no-see-um netting

  Pole Material

Easton 7075 aluminum, 5/16 inch (8 mm) diameter

  Weight Full Package
As supplied by manufacturer with all included items

Measured weight: 2 lb 3.0 oz (0.99 kg)
Shelter 1 lb 11.5 oz (0.78 kg), 3 poles 5.4 oz (0.15 kg), 4 titanium stakes 1.5 oz (43 g), stuff sacks 0.5 oz (14 g)
Manufacturer’s specification 2 lb 3.0 oz (0.99 kg)

  Weight Manufacturer Minimum
Includes minimum number of items needed to erect tent

2 lb 0.3 oz (0.92 kg) measured weight (assumes using a trekking pole for the front pole)

  Weight Backpacking Light Minimum
Same as Manufacturer Minimum but with 0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes and Spectra guylines

1 lb 15.9 oz (0.90 kg) measured weight (assumes using a trekking pole for the front pole)

  Area

Total covered area: 36.0 ft2 (3.35 m2), sewn in floor is 27.9 ft2 (2.60 m2); vestibule area (beak-style): 8.1 ft2 (0.75 m2) (based on Backpacking Light measured dimensions)

  Area to Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

1.13 ft2/oz

  Dimensions

Length: 94 in (239 cm), Width: 78 / 51 in (198 / 130 cm), Height: 45 in (114 cm) variable with adjustable trekking pole (measurements by Backpacking Light)

  Dimensions Sewn-in Floor

Length: 80 in (203 cm), Width: 59.5 / 41 in (151 / 104 cm) (measured by Backpacking Light)

  MSRP

$230 with optional sewn-in floor, Floorless model is $195

  Options

Front poles are $5 for one or $9 for two (each weighs 1.8 oz (52 g), Tyvek ground sheet (usually used in floorless version) $12

Performance

The Tarptent Squall has been a favorite among ultralight backpackers for years. The updated Squall 2 won the Backpacking Light Lightitude Award for Best Single Wall Shelter in 2005, and for good reason. It has several important updates that increase its comfort and usability while maintaining much of the simplicity and aesthetics of the original.

The Tarptent Squall 2 is a single wall tent that is constructed of silicone-impregnated ripstop nylon. It uses a single hoop in the rear, a short horizontal strut pole at the front, and the option of one or two poles or trekking poles for front support. The tent features dual catenary ridgelines, as opposed to the single catenary ridgeline of the original. Like the original, the Squall 2 sets up with four stakes and has the option of using two more with side guyouts. Also like the original, the Squall 2 provides full perimeter bug netting for complete bug protection and a front door that opens in an inverted “T” and stows away with Velcro tabs.

Included with the shelter are the tent body with attached floor, silnylon tent stuff sack, rear hoop pole and front strut (both Easton 7075 aluminum), four stakes, and a silnylon stake pouch. While this tent came with titanium stakes, Tarptent now provides Easton aluminum stakes that are stronger and hold better for the same weight. Single or dual front poles aluminum poles are available for those who don’t use trekking poles.

Tarptent Squall 2 Single Wall Tent REVIEW - 1
New guyline adjusters are found on all front guyline attachments and make tensioning a breeze.

With some practice, setting up the Tarptent is possible in just a few minutes. The rear pole easily slides into a rear sleeve and is held in place by a grommet on each side. The front pole is then inserted into a grommet and erected with a single guyline. Corner guylines are staked and tensioned. Finally the rear hoop is repositioned to even out the sidewall tension by moving it back slightly. Unlike earlier Tarptents which required restaking for tension adjustments, the Squall 2 has guyline adjusters at all front guyline attachments that make proper tensioning (and nighttime adjustments) very easy.

Tarptent Squall 2 Single Wall Tent REVIEW - 2
By using adjustable trekking poles (left), headroom of the Squall 2 can be greatly increased. The dual ridgelines (right) increase headroom without decreasing wind stability (when using two poles).

At just over two pounds, the Squall 2 provides comfortable living space for two large adults. The flat top and dual ridgelines caused by the front strut increase headroom dramatically in the Squall 2 and the more vertical sidewalls add to the usable space. Unlike the original, it is now possible for two adults to sit up side by side instead of having room for only one. With the floating floor design it is also possible to increase the front height of the tent using extendable trekking poles, further increasing headroom and usable space. Two inside pockets provide storage for small items and in clear conditions, the mesh area alongside the tent outside of the bathtub floor provides tons of extra storage.

The dual ridgelines do make a difference in wind stability when compared to the original Tarptent Squall. When using only one pole, the front strut causes some side to side sway that wasn’t present in the original. However, using two poles in the front eliminates any loss of wind stability. In fact, I found that the dual poles actually increased wind stability over the original; while the Squall 2 is not a shelter for high winds, it is quite stable in moderate winds when using two front poles and the optional side guyouts.

Tarptent Squall 2 Single Wall Tent REVIEW - 3
The Squall 2 can be set up with one or two poles or trekking poles. Using two poles increases wind stability and opens the entryway. Right image shows dual front guylines which make the entryway even more open.

The floating bathtub floor of the Squall 2 is a huge improvement over previous floored models. The floor is attached at the corners with elastic cords that give the protection of a bathtub floor while adding no tension to the main tent body. The result is a floor that stays drier in splashing rain and stays cleaner in dusty conditions than in previous models. The design has adjustable tension, works perfectly, and is brilliant in its simplicity.

Tarptent Squall 2 Single Wall Tent REVIEW - 4
The floating floor design adds no tension to the outer tent, instead relying on sewn seams and attached elastic cord to give its bathtub design.

For those that prefer floorless shelters, a floorless model is still available that has bug netting that tucks underneath a ground sheet and saves 7 ounces. However, those that live in rainy environments should seriously consider the floored model because it addresses a major problem with earlier Squalls and floorless models: splashing rain.

In rainy conditions, the silnylon body of the floorless Squall 2 overlaps the ground sheet below, providing solid rain protection. When camping on hard surfaces in driving rain, though, it is difficult to keep things dry due to splashing rain, particularly along the sides and in the front corners. With earlier models of the Squall 2 (with or without a sewn in floor), it was often necessary to move all of the gear to the middle of the tent and under the middle of the beak-type vestibule. With the bathtub floor of the Squall 2, this is no longer an issue; as long as gear is inside the floor area, it will stay dry in all but the worst windblown rain conditions.

The Squall 2 also has a beak that comes lower to the ground than previous models (this became an option in 2003 and is now standard). This lower beak does a much better job of protecting gear stored outside the tent while still providing good ventilation. A clip attachment to the front guyline is easy to use and the beak rolls away to the sides with Velcro tabs when not in use.

Tarptent Squall 2 Single Wall Tent REVIEW - 5
The Tarptent Squall 2 with the Rainshadow 2 and Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic in the background. Note the extended vestibule of the Squall 2.

Ventilation in the Squall 2 is very good for a single wall tent. In conditions with even a slight breeze, the full perimeter mesh and mesh front door provide good airflow that keeps things dry. When bugs and precipitation are not a problem, leaving the mesh doors open eliminates any possibility of condensation. In still, high-humidity conditions that require closing up the door and vestibule, such as I experienced in Washington and Newfoundland, condensation in the Squall 2 becomes more of an issue. However, moisture is easily managed - condensation that accumulates on the tent walls runs down and drips outside of the floor area (another bonus for the bathtub floor design).

Durability of the Tarptent Squall 2 was never an issue in my testing but extra care is needed when using silnylon shelters. If you keep fire away from the tent and make sure not to pitch it on rough surfaces such as gravel, a Tarptent will give many years of reliable performance in the field. My only issue is with the long, tube-shaped stuff sack that is typical of Tarptents. The tube-shape is difficult to stuff and I blew the drawstring seam when trying to insert the tent. I quickly learned to remove the front strut when stuffing the tent into the provided sack. While the system is designed for rolling rather than stuffing, I did not find this to be an easy solution either.

Tarptent Squall 2 Single Wall Tent REVIEW - 6
All Tarptents come with tube stuff sacks which are difficult to stuff, placing stress on the seams. The drawstring on the tent bag tore out quickly and needed to be repaired.

While the Tarptent Squall 2 is approaching perfection in a three-season single wall shelter, not all of the improvements are perfect. The beak found in earlier Tarptents was one piece that attached permanently at one side and attached to the other with a Velcro strip. The beak of the Squall 2, though, splits down the middle and secures in the center with a long strip of Velcro. While this gives the additional flexibility of leaving just one-half of the beak closed, it is also more difficult to neatly close because the Velcro strips have to be aligned under tension. It is also difficult to close while inside the tent. This is not a big deal but can be a little annoying at times.

Another aspect of the new beak design is the addition of a front vent. While the front corner of the tent can now be left open to aid in ventilation, the lack of a stiffened brim or flap means that the vent also allows rain to enter the vestibule area. I consider the front vent more of a work in progress than a functional vent.

Tarptent Squall 2 Single Wall Tent REVIEW - 7
Without any stiffener to protect from rain, the front vent is only usable in dry conditions but does give additional ventilation options over previous designs.

One reviewer noticed a very minor issue with the flat ridgeline - the tendency of water to pool slightly near the rear hoop. This is more of a problem after the tent has sagged slightly after heavy downpours. This slight pooling never caused any water to leak.

Tarptent Squall 2 Single Wall Tent REVIEW - 12
Some minor pooling can occur near the rear hoop with a small amount of tent sagging.

What’s Unique

The Tarptent Squall 2 is nearly perfect as a three-season single wall shelter. Several design improvements such as the dual pole/dual ridgeline, floating bathtub floor, adjustable front guylines, and extended beak add features and versatility for a weight penalty of less than 1/2 pound over previous designs. It is a marvelous tent that definitely deserves its 2005 Lightitude Award for Single Wall Tents.

Recommendations for Improvement

While the Squall 2 is nearly perfect, I would like to see a design change with the vestibule and front vent. Going back to the previous design where the beak was permanently attached to the side is one idea. Another possibility is to use a wire-stiffened brim or a vent support to make the vent fully functional in all conditions.

I would also like to see the tube-shaped stuff sack change into a shorter, rounder sack with a separate pole stuff sack or an integrated pole sleeve. It is a hassle to remove the aluminum strut, which is necessary to relieve stress on the seams of the stuff sack. I quickly ditched the included sack in favor of a different shaped bag. However, many people seem to love the tube design for easy packing so this may be only a personal issue.


Citation

"Tarptent Squall 2 Tent REVIEW," by Doug Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/tarptent_squall_2_single_wall_tent_review.html, 2006-10-10 03:00:00-06.

Print

Reader Comments

You must login to post comments.

New Visitors: Create a new account
Username:
Password:
Remember my login info.

Tarptent Squall 2 Tent REVIEW
Display Avatars
Sort By:
Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Tarptent Squall 2 Tent REVIEW on 10/10/2006 23:30:24 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Tarptent Squall 2 Tent REVIEW

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Tarptent Squall 2 Tent REVIEW on 10/11/2006 13:49:18 MDT Print View

An interesting review which corresponds a lot with some of my experiences: tensioning of the beak, front vent as a work in progress, ... But definitely a very fine shelter.
2 question though:
1) it appears I've got an earlier version of the squall é withut the guyline adjusters. Can these be refitted afterwards by myself?
2) I've got the impression that the bathtub floor is not sewn in but that it uses some elastic cord instead to attach it. I currently have a floorless modell and use a footprint from my 4-season tent which matches perfectly but it's pretty heavy. Is this bathtub floor seperatly available?

John Brown
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Pitching Squall in Wind on 10/11/2006 14:12:21 MDT Print View

How is it possible that the review completely omitted the issue of pitching the Squall 2 with the tail into the wind?

I've used one all summer in Rockies, Olympics, Sierras, Utah, with great results. To be clear, I'm a big fan, and intend to keep using it as my summer shelter for seasons to come.

But the wind issue is a big one. In windy conditions, you must pitch the tail into the wind if you want any kind of stability. This presents two problems:

1) If the wind changes direction, you're screwed. In the Wind River range, the wind did a 180 reverse at sundown, necesitating repitching the tent in the rain. It was nice that it wasn't dark and I wasn't in bed already. And, the beauty of the tarptent is that re pitching is quick. But it's an issue.

2) the other issue is that the optimal alignment for sleeping comfort (flat, or head slightly uphill if necessary) isn't always in aligment w/ wind direction. So you often find yourself w/ your head at the low hooped end, or rolling sideways down the tent. Not a disaster, but an important factor to consider.

How have other users dealt with this?

Last comment on the stuff sack issue: I found rolling let me stuff easily. But as the summer wore on, I just skipped stuffing it and threw it in my pack w/ fine results.

Edited by johnbrown2005 on 10/11/2006 14:20:10 MDT.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
High winds in a Squall 2 on 10/11/2006 15:31:09 MDT Print View

Hi John,

These are good comments. You are correct that pitching the rear into the wind is important during windy conditions. However, I find that pitching it low and wide with the side guyouts used and dual trekking poles is the best approach, regardless of tent orientation. When the front is dropped as low as it can with the floor at full tension, the tent does a good job of handling wind from any angle. Pitched at standard height, though, it is definitely better to have the rear into the wind.

It's important to note also that this is no bomber tent. While it handles wind much better than the original Squall, it still isn't designed for extreme conditions.

Thanks for the feedback!
Doug Johnson

John Brown
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Squall in wind on 10/11/2006 15:59:29 MDT Print View

Doug, thanks for the quick reply. When you say pitch the front low, did you pitch it lower than the height of the optional poles (what I've been using rather than treking poles)? One could do that by digging the poles in a bit, or angling them in... Also, did you stake the sides almost to the ground?

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Squall in wind on 10/11/2006 17:28:57 MDT Print View

Hi John,

Yes- when using fixed length trekking poles or the optional TT poles, I do this by angling the poles to the sides and have also dug out holes in extreme conditions. With collapsible poles it's obviously much easier. From memory, I believe that the corners were almost to ground level but not quite due to limitations caused by the floor. I'd have to play with it again to respond more accurately.

When pitched this low, condensation becomes much more of an issue; I've only done this when conditions were abnormally windy.

Have a good one!
Doug

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Squall in wind on 10/11/2006 18:23:59 MDT Print View

I have also found that if you pitch the squall2 low and wide that it can handle wind, even when it's not coming from the tail. I have been just fine so far with winds clocked at 37 mph (45mph in the original squall a few years ago). With winds like just a little gap provided ample "ventilation" to keep condensation down.

--mark

R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Squall 2 Tent Review on 10/11/2006 23:53:13 MDT Print View

Doug

Thanks for the informative review.

I would also be interested in your thoughts concerning the Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic.

Regards

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Squall 2 Tent Review on 10/12/2006 00:24:23 MDT Print View

GREAT QUESTION!

Look for the review of the Gossamer Gear / Tarptent Squall Classic coming out later this month! I also tested it with Fibraplex carbon fiber poles. Cool stuff!

Doug

Edward Silva
(pcmodem)
Squall 2 Comments on 10/19/2006 14:12:58 MDT Print View

Howdy, I am in agreement with the issue regarding the front strut. The Rainshadow 2 has the same issue.

Observation: if you roll up the Squall 2in a certain fashion, having the front strut makes it EASIER to achieve the right shape to fit into the stuff-sack tube.

However, that same feature makes it difficult to roll or fold the tent into any other shape. Did not want to attempt to remove the strut, for fear of damaging the Rainshadow 2.

Perhaps Henry Shires could make an easily removable front strut a feature for the Squall 2.1, Rainshadow 2.1, et al?