Owner Review - Squall 2 Tarptent - Ray Estrella
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Tarptent Squall 2
January 02, 2006
Name: Raymond Estrella
Height: 6' 3" (193 cm)
Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Email address: rayestrella@...
City: Huntington Beach
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over the state of
California, and also in Washington, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho
and Utah. I hike year-round, mostly in the Sierra Nevada, and average
500+ miles (800+ km) per year. As I start my 4th decade of
backpacking I am making the move to lightweight gear, and smaller
volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the
afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy
hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually my brother-in-law
Dave or girlfriend Jenn.
Manufacturer: Tarptent by Henry Shires
Web site: www.tarptent.com
Product: Squall 2 w/ sewn-in floor
Year manufactured: 2006
MSRP: $230.00 (US)
Size: 2 person
Weight (complete) listed: 2 lb 3 oz (1.8 kg) Actual weight: 2 lb 2.1
oz ( kg)
Interior height listed (at front): 45 in (114 cm) Verified accurate
but can change with setup
Height at rear (mine): 21 in (53 cm)
Length listed: 94 in (239 cm) Verified accurate but can change with
Width (foot & head) listed: 51 and 78 in (130 & 198 cm) Verified
Packed size listed: 20 x 4 x 3 in (51 x 10 x 7.5 cm) Verified accurate
Color: Dusty Green
Warranty: (quoted from company web site) "Tarptents are fully
guaranteed against fabric and workmanship failure and you may return
one uninjured for a full refund if not satisfied. That means you can
set one up, even try it out overnight, and then decide if it's
something that will work for you. We stand behind every Tarptent and
will make every effort to repair or replace products that fail due to
defects in workmanship or materials. Normal wear and tear repairs
will be done on a "non profit" basis and we will provide a price
quote before beginning the work. In many cases, we charge only for
the return shipping."
The Squall 2 is a 2-person Tarptent from Henry Shires. It sits
squarely in the middle of his Tarptent line-up.
The main covering or "tarp" part of the tent is made of "High
tenacity 1.1-ounce/yd^2 yd^2
(m^2) ripstop nylon, impregnated with silicone. Final fabric weight
is approximately 1.3 ounces/yd^2." (All quotes from manufacturer.) It
is very slick and slippery feeling. The body sits 4-6 in (10-15 cm)
above the ground when set-up to allow for ventilation. The front of
it is split to create an opening that utilizes two strips of Velcro
to join them together closing the shelter to the elements. Depending
on the pole height this beak/vestibule ends up being a foot (30 cm)
or so off the ground.
The optional floor, which I have, is made of the same material but is
black in color. The floor has little 3 in (7 cm) walls at the edges
to create a tub effect to stop running water from flowing over the
floor. They clip to the corners to help support them. Unclipping will
let the floor stretch out further to give more room. As I bought this
to use as a solo shelter I just leave the corners clipped up.
The floor is attached to the tarp with No-see-um netting along the
bottom at the back and sides. At the front of the shelter it goes
across the face from floor to peak to make it bug-proof. A small
gauge zipper runs down the center of this panel and each side has its
own at the bottom. Velcro keepers attached to the tarp allow the
netting to be gathered out of the way when not needed.
At the top front of the shelter are the "Dual catenary curves with
strut support". The strut mentioned is made of aluminum and sits in a
pocket centered over the opening. When one (centered) or two (at each
end of the strut) poles, trekking poles in my case, are inserted into
the grommets in front of the strut they become the support for the
front of the shelter. The catenary curves add strength and help to
create more head room for the Squall. Here is a shot of the front and
The rear of the Squall is supported by an Easton aluminum 7075-
T9 .344 in (8.74 mm) diameter tubing pole that runs through a sleeve
at the back and plugs into grommets at the corners. A single stake is
used with the attached triple-guyline to pull the top of the
resulting arch away from the front of the tent, keeping the whole
thing standing upright.
The front of the Squall uses a guy line also to support the shelter
and to hold the beak/vestibule when closed up. A small clip tied to
the guy-line with a prussic knot (allowing it to slide for
adjustment) holds tension against the beak. All of the guy-lines have
cool line-tensioners on them, maybe the strongest and easiest
adjusting tensioners I have ever used.
Inside of the tent is a small gear pocket.
I first used the Squall 2 on a five (supposed to be eight) day trip
to the western Sierra Nevada, leaving from Edison Lake and going over
three major passes. I started with a 37.5 lb (17 kg) pack. This trip
saw temps down to 29 F (-2 C) with rain and snow. This area is very
rocky especially above tree-line. At lower elevations it is packed
dirt with a good helping of rock mixed in. A tough area to get stakes
into the ground.
I also used it on two trips to the San Bernardino Mountains. The
temps got down to 27 F (-3 C). I was set up at 9250' elevation (2820
I bought the Squall 2 in May of 2006 but could not use it because of
testing duties. I decided to give it a thorough first use by taking
it on a 95 mile (153 km) hike from Edison Lake in the Sierra Nevada
west side to Roads End in Kings Canyon National Park at the beginning
of October. The weather had been forecast to be great. Sunny all
week with a 30% chance of rain one day in the middle.
Alas the weather forecast changed dramatically the morning we hit the
trail. By 1:30 PM our first day we were in rain gear. We found a good
spot to camp and since it had dropped to a sprinkle decided to take
it and hurry getting our Tarptents up. (Dave had the new Contrail.) I
had only set the Squall 2 up twice in the front yard before this
trip, yet I had it up fast. The following evenings went even faster.
I set it on a piece of Tyvek I had cut as a ground-cloth. As the rain
came down in earnest after getting it up I climbed inside to make
dinner. I was a little nervous about firing the stove up inside of
the little vestibule. Was it going to disappear into a few smoking
shreds from the slightest bit of escaping heat? No. I boiled water
for mine and later Dave's dinners with no mishap.
I went to bed after dinner as there is not much else to do when it is
pouring out and the temps is steadily dropping. While lying on my
back it was interesting to watch the play of the rain drops that I
could see very clearly through the sil-nylon of the tarptent. I guess
I did a good job seam sealing it as I had no leaks. The rain grew in
intensity as the night went on. I was concerned as to it coming
through the side mesh and over the little walls of the floor. But it
never did. I was very impressed by the way the Squall 2 handled the
precip. I noticed no build up of condensation even though it was
raining so hard. (I felt the walls each time I woke in during the
At 3:00 AM I woke up and noticed that the sound of the rain had
changed. It was pitch-black and even though I could not see something
felt funny. I turned on my head lamp to find the walls of the Squall
almost touching me everywhere. The rain had turned to snow and was
stretching the sil-nylon out quite severely. Henry Shires had told me
to expect this and to be prepared to know the snow off and tighten
the line to keep the tarp taut. I started banging off the snow and
was treated to a rain shower inside my tent! The walls that were so
dry earlier were heavily covered in condensation. I got water all
over the place. I had to beat snow off the rest of the morning until
I got up at 5:45 AM.
I had to break camp in heavy snow fall. I packed as much as I could
inside of the Squall 2 and then had to get it put away. I had wiped
it down inside with my washcloth, having to wring it out three times
in the process. I shook as much water as I could from the outside
then folded/rolled it up as quick as possible, shoving it inside of
the stuff sack. When I took it out the next evening I found that I
should have seam sealed the stuff sack. A lot of water ran out of the
sil-nylon and through the sack right onto my sleeping bag.
As we both had a lot of wet gear (Dave slept right through the snow
and when I could not wake him up I finally got up to check on him. He
was asleep with his Tarptent collapsed over him. Everything was
soaked.) we decided to stop early at a nice location to spread things
out to dry. I set the Squall up and strapped the vestibule back.
Within a couple of hours it was dry inside. As the weather was not
bad I kept the vestibule open that night. I had no condensation, and
in fact did not have any bad problems as long as it was not snowing.
It may help that I use the two-person Squall as a solo shelter
though. Here is a picture at this camp on the San Joaquin River in
Kings Canyon national Park.
The next day we went 24 miles (38 km) and found a suitable space for
the Tarptents with only about 45 minutes of daylight left. I whipped
out the Squall 2 expecting to have it up in a couple of minutes.
Aaah! I lost my stakes! I must have dropped them at our last camp
site. I used a combination of rocks and sticks. It was not very
secure and I had a hard time keeping everything taut.
Because of weather issues we had to backtrack a long way the same way
we came to get out of the Sierra ahead of a two-day storm that the
Forest Service told us was bearing down on us. (We had a satellite
phone.) I told Dave I would carry some of his gear to help him go
farther/faster if we could make it back to our previous campsite. He
asked why and I told that I would feel a lot better about getting
caught by the storm if I could have the Squall securely set up with
stakes. I did not like the way it was the night before. We made it
back almost at dark again. The stakes were there, thank God, so I was
able to set the Squall 2 up right.
On the two trips in southern California the Squall worked out
wonderfully. As I was on a peak bagging trip for one of them I set up
the Squall and put most of my gear inside of it. Then I took the
trekking poles back out and let the tent collapse over everything. I
put a rock on the collapsed beak area and left for the day to climb
two peaks. When I got back I just popped my poles under it again and
I was ready to go. Here is a picture of it at High Creek, south of
Mount San Gorgonio.
I have come to a few conclusions about my Tarptent. I am not
concerned about using it in wet weather. It handled the rain with
aplomb. I will not take it on any trip that I even think will get
snow. I could tell by the build-up of snow collecting around the
sides of the tent as I knocked it from the body that it would be easy
to get enough snow to block the venting capabilities of the design.
(Remember that this is NOT positioned as a winter tent. I am not
knocking it.) When I would pack it up I would look back and see a 3-
sided rectangle of snow where it was sitting.
I will also use this just in my lower altitude trips. One site that
we skipped on was because it was exposed and solid rock. There was no
place to get a stake in and the wind was blowing hard enough to think
we may have had a problem to try just gathering rocks to hold it. I
have placed free-standing tents in locations like this many times.
Maybe I am wrong about this, but I went with my gut feeling.
I would also like to mention that Henry Shires, the owner of
Tarptent, is the most helpful and approachable person I have ever
dealt with. I have purchased a Rainshadow and Contrail from him too.
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