The Gossamer Gear / Tarptent Squall Classic is a collaborative effort to create the lightest floored two-person shelter available. By combining the original triangular-front Tarptent design, the current floating bathtub floor, and lightweight spinnaker and silnylon fabrics, the Squall Classic delivers the usability, storm resistance, and ventilation of a Squall, while trimming the weight of the Squall 2 by 7 ounces. Add a pair of Fibraplex carbon fiber poles and you’ve got the lightest floored two-person shelter out there! Is the Squall Classic a through-hiker’s dream or can it be even lighter?
- At 1 pound 8.9 ounces, it’s very lightweight for a single wall shelter with floor
- With a Fibraplex pole, the tent weighs an even 1 ½ pounds and has an area to weight ratio of 1.62 – the highest of any floored shelter we’ve reviewed!
- Enough space for two full-sized adults
- Floating bathtub floor protects from splashing rain and is more durable than tensioned floors because it resists punctures
- Beak-style vestibule offers good protection while still allowing airflow
- Door 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
- Not as much headroom as the Tarptent Squall 2
- Old-style Tarptent vestibule attachment is simple but lacks adjustability of new Tarptent designs
- Spinnaker cloth is a little noisy when new (but gets quieter with use)
- Condensation issues in still, high humidity conditions
|2006 Gossamer Gear / Tarptent Squall Classic|
|Two-person single wall tent with sewn-in floor|
|0.9 oz/yd2 (31 g/m2) spinnaker cloth, 1.1 oz/yd2 (37 g/m2) silicone-impregnated ripstop nylon floor, 1 oz/yd2 (34 g/m2) no-see-um netting|
Poles and Stakes
|Easton 7075 aluminum, 5/16 inch (8 mm) diameter rear pole, four Easton 5.5 in (14 cm) 7075 aluminum tubular stakes|
|Outside length 89 in (226 cm); width 75/51 in (191/130 cm); height 42 in (107 cm), variable with adjustable trekking pole|
Bathtub floor length 80 in (203 cm), width 60/40 in (152/102 cm)
|20 in x 4 in x 3 in (51 x 10 x 8 cm)|
|Measured weight 1 lb 9.3 oz (717 g); shelter 1 lb 4.4 oz (578 g), 1 pole 3.0 oz (85 g), four Easton aluminum stakes 1.4 oz (40 g), stuff sacks 0.5 oz (14 g)|
Manufacturer specification 1 lb 10.9 oz (763 g)
|1 lb 8.8 oz (703 g) measured weight (assumes using a trekking pole for the front pole)|
|Total covered area 38.9 ft2 (3.61 m2); sewn-in floor 27.6 ft2 (2.56 m2), vestibule 7.7 ft2 (0.72 m2)|
Floor Area/Trail Weight Ratio
|17.8 ft2/lb based on 27.6 ft2 floor area and 1.55 lb trail weight|
Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio
|22.8 ft2/lb based on 35.3 ft2 floor + vestibule area and 1.55 lb trail weight|
|Front pole $14, 1.8 oz (52 g)|
Specifications: Fibraplex Poles
|Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 custom|
|Carbon fiber with carbon fiber ferrules and aluminum tips|
|Rear hoop 2.1 oz (59 g), front pole 1.2 oz (33 g)|
|24.0 oz (0.68 kg) measured weight (assumes using a trekking pole for the front pole and Fibraplex CF pole for the rear hoop)|
Floor Area/Trail Weight Ratio
|18.4 ft2/lb based on 27.6 ft2 floor area and 1.5 lb trail weight|
Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio
|23.5 ft2/lb based on 35.3 ft2 floor + vestibule area and 1.5 lb trail weight|
|$52 for the two poles|
The original Tarptent Squall has been a favorite among ultralight backpackers for years. With its front strut and dual-pole pitching option, the Tarptent Squall 2 won the Backpacking Light Lightitude Award for Best Single Wall Shelter in 2005. However, with features added over the years, the current Squall 2 also increased in weight and complexity. Through a collaboration of Gossamer Gear and Tarptent, the Squall Classic was designed to retain some new features while stepping back to the earlier non-strut, single pole design, and utilizing ultralight fabrics to create the lightest floored single wall tent available.
The Gossamer Gear / Tarptent Squall Classic is better that the original Squall in several ways: the beak-style vestibule extends lower to the ground, the floating floor is a bathtub design, and it’s lighter.
At first glance, the Squall Classic appears to be an earlier Tarptent Squall. This is because it uses a single pole for front support that creates a triangular front opening instead of the front strut and trapezoidal entry of the Squall 2. The vestibule is also similar to earlier Tarptents, attaching on one side instead of down the center. Lighter fabrics are used in the Squall Classic; instead of the 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon found in standard Tarptents, the Squall Classic uses a lighter 1.1 oz/yd2 silnylon floor and 0.9 oz/yd2 spinnaker body.
There are several important similarities between the Squall Classic and the Squall 2. They share the floating bathtub floor, single rear hoop, catenary ridgeline, Easton aluminum poles and stakes, an extended vestibule, easy four-stake setup, and full perimeter bug netting.
Included with the shelter are the tent body with attached floor, spinnaker cloth tent stuff sack, Easton 7075 aluminum rear hoop, four Easton aluminum stakes, and a stake pouch. An optional front pole is available for those that don’t use trekking poles and adds 1.8 ounces to the tent weight.
New guyline adjusters at the lower front corners (left) make adjustments easy. The vestibule is also easy to tension while inside or outside the tent, using a clip and a sliding knot that attach to the front guyline (right).
With some practice, setting up the Squall Classic is possible in just a couple of minutes. The rear pole easily slides into a sleeve and is held in place by a grommet on each side. Stake out the rear. The front pole or trekking 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 Classic has guyline adjusters at the front corners that make proper tensioning (and nighttime adjustments) very easy. While other Tarptent models have an adjuster for the ridge guyline as well, the Squall Classic does not and requires restaking for adjustment there (a minor hassle).
The Squall Classic comes with Gossamer Gear EZC Spectra-core guylines that are orange and easy to see.
The Squall Classic provides ample room for two full-size hikers to sleep and one to sit up at a time.
With a 27.6 square foot bathtub floor, the floor area of the Squall Classic is virtually identical to a Tarptent Squall 2. That means that there is plenty of space for two large adults and gear. However, the lack of the front strut really affects the usability of the space; while two hikers can sit side by side in a Squall 2, sitting up in the Squall Classic is a one-person affair. Not having the strut also makes it easier to bump into the walls – an issue during times of heavy condensation.
The Squall Classic has a beak-style vestibule that covers 7.7 square feet of space. Compared to the 9.3 square foot vestibule of the Squall 2, it is definitely smaller but still large enough to cover a couple of packs and shoes. While the Squall 2 has a vestibule that closes with Velcro in the middle, the Squall Classic returns to the earlier one-piece vestibule that closes with Velcro on the side. To deploy the vestibule, simply release the Velcro tabs, pull it across, attach to tabs on the opposite side and clip the front bungee loop to the adjustable plastic clip on the guyline. It is very simple and effective but difficult to set up from inside the tent. A raised center peak on the vestibule protects the fabric from trekking pole tips that extend through the front grommet.
While the Squall 2 has a vestibule with center closure and a small, somewhat functional vent, the Squall Classic returns to the side Velcro closure with no vent (left). The simplistic design is easier to use and works perfectly. The raised center protects the tent from sharp trekking pole tips (right).
At just over 1.5 pounds, the Squall Classic drops a full 7 ounces off the weight of a Squall 2. That is a significant weight savings and makes the Gossamer Gear / Tarptent Squall Classic the lightest floored two-person tent on the market. The Protected Area to Weight Ratio of 22.8 ft2/lb (with aluminum pole) is second only to this same tent used with an after market Fibraplex carbon fiber pole.
By using a pair of custom Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 carbon fiber poles ($52 for the set), I was able to drop an additional 0.8 ounce off the tent. That raised the Protected Area to Weight Ratio to an amazing 23.5 ft2/lb, the highest area-to-weight ratio of any two-person tent we’ve reviewed! Comparing optional front poles, the Fibraplex pole is 0.6 ounce lighter than the Easton aluminum pole without any decrease in stiffness (but a trekking pole is much stiffer).
The catenary ridgeline and single front pole of the Squall Classic make it easy to achieve a taut pitch in just a couple of minutes.
Like the Squall 2, the Squall Classic uses a catenary ridgeline that makes it very easy to achieve a taut pitch and improved wind stability. While not quite as stable as the Squall 2 pitched with dual trekking poles, the Squall Classic stands up nicely to moderate winds. Lowering the front trekking pole and aiming the rear of the tent into the wind also helps when wind speeds increase. Using the side guyouts further stabilizes the tent in these conditions.
In rainy conditions, the spinnaker body of the Squall Classic overlaps the floor below, providing solid rain protection. Further, the triangular entrance and single ridgeline of the Squall Classic eliminate the slight water pooling that can occur with the Squall 2. During a surprise snowstorm in the Cascades, the Squall Classic did a good job of shedding the white stuff (although this is no four-season bomber tent).
With a single front pole and no flat spots, the Squall Classic sheds water and light snow extremely well.
The floating bathtub floor that the Squall Classic shares with 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. No floorless version of the Squall Classic is available (but I would sure like to try one!).
The floating floor design adds no tension to the outer tent, instead relying on sewn seams and attached elastic cord to give its bathtub shape. The floor of the Squall Classic is 1.1 oz/yd2 silnylon versus 1.3 oz/yd2 fabric in the Squall 2.
Ventilation in the Squall Classic is very good for a single wall tent. In conditions with even a slight breeze, the full perimeter mesh and mesh front door allow good airflow that keeps things dry. When bugs are not a problem, leaving the mesh door open (which unzips in the middle and along the bottom in an inverted T) eliminates any possibility of condensation. In still, high-humidity conditions, condensation 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 Squall Classic was never a problem during extensive field testing but the lighter fabrics of the tent need to be handled with care. If you keep fire away from the tent and make sure not to pitch it on rough surfaces such as gravel, the Squall Classic should provide years of reliable performance in the field.
I’m not a fan of the long tube-shaped stuff sack that is typical of Tarptents but without the front strut to deal with, the Squall Classic was quite easy to stuff or roll into the included sack.
Having spent a lot of time with an earlier Tarptent Squall, the Squall 2, and now the Gossamer Gear / Tarptent Squall Classic, I must say that this is one gem of a tent. While I love the extra headroom of the Squall 2, losing this is a good tradeoff for the increase in simplicity and lighter weight of the Squall Classic. If you’re looking for the lightest two-person floored tent available, you search ends here.
Compared to the $195 Tarptent Squall 2, the $275 price tag of the Squall Classic is pretty steep (spinnaker fabric is much more expensive than silnylon). You are paying an extra $80 to save 7 ounces, which isn’t bad. But the Squall Classic could go even further – by dropping the sewn-in floor and including a carbon fiber rear pole and 6-inch titanium stakes, the weight of the tent could be reduced down to 1 pound! Now that’s really exciting! Many potential purchasers of this tent will want the lightest and roomiest tent possible, so I believe there would be strong interest in a floorless version of this tent. Hardcore ultralighters would be fine using a Gossamer Gear Polycro groundsheet instead of the sewn-in floor, and the weight savings would really justify the extra expense.
The Gossamer Gear / Tarptent Squall Classic is a brilliant blend of old and new Tarptent designs put together with ultralight fabrics. It’s bound to be a favorite of many ultralight backpackers.
Recommendations for Improvement
The Squall Classic is an excellent design, retaining the superb floor of the Squall 2 while dropping a significant amount of weight. Every change that was made with the Classic is thoughtful and well-executed.
However, it seems that the Gossamer Gear / Tarptent team only went part way with this tent. By offering a floorless model and including a carbon fiber rear pole (or offering it as an option) and 6-inch titanium stakes, they would be able to drop an additional 7 ounces or more, bringing the total weight of this tent down to an incredible 1 pound.