The Tarptent Scarp 2 on a late winter visit to the alpine tundra in southern Colorado. The Scarp 2 is a two-person double-wall three-season tent weighing 3.25 pounds, or a winter-light four-season tent weighing 4.5 pounds, and it has two doors and two vestibules and loads of interior room.
Until recently, hikers looking for a really lightweight (around 3 pounds) two-person double-wall tent had to choose from a short list, namely the Big Sky International tents (Evolution, Convertible, Montana, and Revolution), Terra Nova Laser, and MSR Carbon Reflex 2. Selecting an ultralight double-wall tent can be frustrating, because in order to cut weight, some manufacturers have made compromises in tent size, fabrics, features, and durability. The addition of the new (May 2009) Tarptent Scarp 2 may make the selection a little easier because it has two doors with vestibules, loads of interior room, good ventilation, value pricing, and it weighs just 3.25 pounds. Is the Scarp 2 the new standout in this category, or does it have some limitations of its own?
|Year/Manufacturer/Model||2009 Tarptent Scarp 2|
|Style||Three- or four-season, two-person, double-wall tent with floor and two side entry doors with vestibules; freestanding in four-season configuration|
|Included||Tent body, fly, one aluminum hoop pole, six aluminum stakes, stake sack, tent stuff sack|
|Fabrics||Fly and floor are 1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silnylon; mesh interior is 0.7 oz/yd2 (23.7 g/m2) ; nylon interior is 1.1 oz/yd2 (37.3 g/m2), uncoated but calendared for water resistance|
|Poles and Stakes||One Easton 0.340 in (8.6 mm) 7075-T9 aluminum center hoop pole, PitchLok corners and center supports contain a total of ten 18-inch (46-cm) carbon fiber struts in webbing sleeves, six Easton aluminum tubular 8-inch (20-cm) stakes|
|Floor Dimensions||Manufacturer Specifications: |
Length: 86 in (218 cm)
Width: 52 in (132 cm)
Height: 45 in (114 cm)
Length: 86 in (218 cm)
Width: 50-52 in (127-132 cm)
Center Height: 45 in (114 cm)
End Height: 24 in (61 cm) at sleeper’s head
|Features||Single lateral hoop pole, fly and interior pitch as one unit, two side entry doors with vestibules, two top vents, truncated ends with PitchLok corners, two mesh storage pockets, three- and four-season configurations|
|Packed Size||20 x 5 in (51 x 13 cm)|
|Total Weight||BPL Measured Weight Three-Season Version: 3 lb 4.9 oz (1.49 kg)|
Manufacturer Specification: 3 lb 6 oz (1.53 kg);
BPL Measured Weight Four-Season Version: 4 lb, 8.1 oz (2.04 kg)
Manufacturer Specification: 4 lb 9.5 oz (2.08 kg)
|Trail Weight||Measured Weight Three-Season Version: 3 lb 4.1 oz (1.48 kg)|
Measured Weight Four-Season Version: 4 lb, 0.1 oz (1.85 kg) (excludes stuff sack and stake sack)
|Protected Area||Floor Area: 31 ft2 (2.99 m2)|
Vestibule Area: 12 ft2 (1.11 m2)
Total Protected Area: 43 ft2 (3.99 m2)
|Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio||13.2 ft2/lb for three-season version, 10.7 ft2/lb for four-season version|
|Options||Opting for the nylon interior adds US$20 (adds 2.5 oz/71 g), US$135 if purchased separately; two exterior Easton 0.340 aluminum cross poles US$30 (17 oz/482 g)|
Design and Features
The Tarptent Scarp 2 incorporates some unique design characteristics to increase interior space and minimize weight. The tent is supported by one lateral hoop pole in the center that spans the living space plus two vestibules, and the ends of the tent are truncated by means of Tarptent’s patent-pending PitchLoc corners and struts. These design elements are not totally new – Terra Nova, Exped, and Hilleberg use a single hoop pole in certain models – but the implementation is typical Tarptent ingenuity.
Another unique feature (for the US) is the Scarp double-wall tents pitch as one unit (interior plus fly), so setup is faster and dryer than the typical two-step setup of attaching poles to the inner tent then laying the fly over it. Further, the Scarp 2 is available with either an all mesh or a solid nylon interior, and exterior cross-poles are available to make the tent more wind stable and storm worthy for four-season use. Although none of these elements are new (except the PitchLoc corners), what is new is combining these space-making and weight-saving elements into one tent.
The Scarp 2 is available in three-season (top left and right) and four-season (bottom left and right) versions. The three-season version has a mesh interior and single hoop pole. The four-season version has a solid nylon interior and adds two exterior cross poles to tension the fly.
Some hikers prefer a solid nylon interior in a three-season tent, rather than a mesh interior (many Europeans do). There are several advantages: there’s more privacy, it’s warmer, and it sheds any condensation dripping from the fly. Opting for the solid nylon interior adds 2.5 ounces to the weight and US$20 to the cost.
Like the Big Sky International Convertible and Montana, the four-season version of the Tarptent Scarp 2 is rated for light-duty winter use, meaning it will withstand moderate winds and snow loads. It is not a bomber/alpine/expedition tent capable of withstanding extreme conditions. The advantage is light weight (4.5 pounds) and versatility. Many hikers want to go on an occasional winter camping trip in better weather to backcountry ski and experience the winter splendor, and a winter-light tent is a good choice for that situation.
Views of the Tarptent Scarp 2. The side view (top left) shows the single lateral ridge pole (in yellow sleeve) used in the three-season version. The end view (top right) shows the tent’s PitchLok triangular corners and straps on the fly used to attach exterior cross poles for four-season use. The top view (bottom left) shows how effectively the exterior cross poles extend and tension the fly, and also shows the tent’s dual top vents. A downward view (bottom left) shows the tent with the vestibules open.
Outside features. The ends of the tent are truncated (left) resulting in more usable inside space. Tarptent’s new PitchLok corners (center) enable the truncated ends and add stability. They consist of carbon fiber struts inside a webbing sleeve and fold together for packing. The tent’s two top vents (right) face opposite directions, and partially close with a clip and loop.
Inside features. Each vestibule (left) has 6 square feet of storage area, enough for a large pack, boots, and more. There are two small mesh pockets (center) at the head end that lie on the floor. Each vestibule door has a side-release buckle at the bottom (right) to relieve tension on the zipper.
For a better viewing experience, please download the Flash Player. Video tour of the Tarptent Scarp 2 in both three- and four-season configurations.
Editor’s Note: we are having technical difficulties getting our Flash player to work. To watch the video tour, please click the down arrow and watch in the new page, then go back in your browser to return to the article. We are working on this bug and hope to get it resolved soon. Thank you for your patience!
Setup is similar to the Tarptent Rainbow tents, except the hoop pole is lateral rather than longitudinal. Insert the pole into its sleeve and attach the ends to grommets, stake one end of the tent, stake the other end, then adjust stakes and tension. The center hoop pole extends and tensions the vestibules. I found the Scarp 2 a little fussier to adjust compared to other tents, but it has a total of ten Line-Lok tensioners to keep the tent taut.
The ergonomics and usable space of the Scarp 2 are excellent. The dual side entries make it very convenient for two people to inhabit the tent, and each person has his/her own vestibule for storage. When the vestibule doors are closed, the entry doors in the inner tent can be left open to incorporate the vestibules into the tent’s usable space. And the Scarp has loads of usable space for two people: the floor is an honest 50 inches wide, the inside length is 86 inches, minimum height at the ends is 18 inches, and maximum height in the center is 45 inches. The Scarp is an excellent tent for tall hikers. My only complaint is the tent’s design does not allow for large and convenient storage pockets; the Scarp 2 has only two small mesh pockets at the head end, and they are just big enough for a pair of glasses.
Late winter and spring is a good time for testing tents, because of the frequency of snow and wind storms. I tested the Scarp 2 in numerous storms, and found:
- Without the exterior cross poles, the canopy compresses a lot with a coating of wet snow or a strong wind. It also flaps a lot in the wind.
- With the exterior cross poles installed, the tent deflects snow and wind well.
- The supplied Easton 8-inch tubular stakes hold well in soil, but they do not hold well in snow or sand. Specialized snow stakes are necessary for snow camping.
- The PitchLok corners and cross poles have a tendency to pull the stakes out of the ground, especially in snow and sand, unless they are inserted at a 45 degree angle.
- Wind-driven snow and rain can enter the tent through the top vents. There is no way to close them completely or adjust them from inside the tent.
- The bottom of the fly is 6-8 inches above the ground. Sand and dust blow in during a desert windstorm, and spindrift comes in during a windy snowstorm. A fly with snow flaps is not available for winter camping, but it helps to pile snow around the perimeter of the tent to reduce spindrift.
- The nylon interior is essential for snow camping. It prevents spindrift from entering the interior living space, and retains heat. I measured a 15 F inside/outside temperature difference one cold morning.
- When not in use, the straps on the fly used to connect the cross poles blow around in the wind and abrade the silnylon fly. I recommend removing them to save 0.5 ounce and eliminate their flapping around.
- The inner tent is not tensioned very much because it basically hangs from the fly. This creates a lot of space between the inner tent and fly (6-10 inches) for good ventilation.
- The Scarp is well ventilated due to its raised fly, abundant air space between the inner tent and fly, and two top vents. On a windy night, a breeze circulates through the tent, but the mesh interior does a good job of minimizing it, and the nylon interior provides even more protection.
- Because of the Scarp’s corner and end struts (total of 10) the tent can’t be stuffed, rather its best to gather the struts at each end, fold the tent body to their length (18 inches), roll it up, and insert it into the stuff sack.
Without the exterior cross poles, a small amount of wet snow really compresses the tent’s canopy (left). With the cross poles installed, dry snow readily slides off (center). The vestibules are raised 7.5 inches off the ground, so snow comes in at the bottom (right).
the PitchLok corners and exterior cross poles have a tendency to pull stakes out of snow and sand (left), so it’s important to use long stakes and drive them in at a 45 degree angle. The Scarp has a 6-10 inch air space between the inner tent and fly (center), which helps ventilation. Dust and pollen stick to the silnylon fly (right), which is true for any silnylon tent.
The Scarp 2 can be pitched with the fly and poles only to create a very roomy single wall floorless tent weighing 2 pounds 6.6 ounces. I tested the fly-only configuration on one trip, by myself, and found it big enough to sleep three people! The raised sidewalls allow breezes (and bugs) to pass through the tent.
The Scarp 2 has excellent ventilation, consisting of raised sidewalls, a large space between the inner tent and fly, and two top vents. I experienced little or no condensation in the Scarp 2 when there was some air movement. However, I still had heavy condensation on the inside of the fly on several occasions (a calm, still night with a large temperature drop), which is normal. Many people prefer a double-wall tent because it “eliminates the condensation problem”. That’s a myth. A double-wall tent’s insulating air space avoids the formation of condensation to some extent, but there are still many occasions when condensation forms on the inside of the fly. The inner tent provides a buffer from direct contact with the condensation (which is nice), but you still pack up a wet tent in the morning.
How does the new Scarp 2 compare with the competition? I assembled the following table to provide some comparative specifications. For a fair comparison, all of the tents listed are three-season, two-person, double-wall, with aluminum poles (except the MSR Carbon Reflex 2, which does not have an aluminum pole option), and weigh less than 3.5 pounds.
|Tent||Mfr. Total Weight||Floor Area (ft2)||Number of Doors||Number of Vestibules||Vestibule Area (ft2)||Floor Dimensions and Height (WxLxH)||MSRP (US$)|
|Terra Nova Laser||2 lb 12 oz||20.7||1||1||8||35x88x37||420|
|MSR Carbon Reflex 2||3 lb 4 oz||23.3||1||2||14||40x84x40||500|
|Big Sky International Evolution 2P||3 lb 0.1 oz||32.7||2||2||16.8||56/46x84x42||372|
|Big Sky International Convertible 2P||3 lb 4.4 oz||32.7||2||2||16.8||56/46x84x42||390|
|Big Sky International Montana 2P||2 lb 10.1 oz||32.7||1||2||16.8||56/46x84x42||350|
|Big Sky International Revolution 2P||3 lb 0.9 oz||32.7||2||2||16.8||56/46x84x42||372|
|Tarptent Scarp 2||3 lb 6 oz||31||2||2||12||50x86x45||325|
Some highlights from the information in the table:
- The floor area of the Terra Nova and MSR tents is small and the cost is high.
- The Terra Nova Laser is definitely the lightest, but the interior is rather cramped and it has only one vestibule.
- The Big Sky International tents are a bit lighter than the Tarptent Scarp 2, and have a little more floor area and much more vestibule area.
- The Tarptent Scarp 2 holds its own compared to the competition. It costs a little less, but it’s also a bit smaller than the Big Sky tents and weighs a little more.
The closest comparison is between the Tarptent Scarp 2 and the Big Sky International Convertible 2P, because both tents set up as one unit and have three-season and four-season versions. The differences are in the details. The Convertible has four large mesh storage pockets, uses two poles in an X-pattern, has larger vestibules, and costs $45 more, but it’s available with only one fly with snow flaps. The Scarp 2 has two small pockets, uses one lateral hoop pole plus ten struts, has smaller vestibules, costs less, and also is available with only one fly that has attachments for external cross poles. Both tents have two top vents. The Scarp 2’s longer length and truncated ends give lots of interior headroom, but the Convertible has steep endwalls and also has good headroom. There is no clear standout in this comparison, and the final choice depends on user preferences.
In my opinion, the Scarp 2 is an excellent choice for a three-season tent, but I have a few reservations about it in four-season mode. The attachment of the exterior cross-poles is a bit funky and time consuming (but they work well). I asked Henry Shires at Tarptent about the possibility of using clips instead of the tie-down straps, and he explained that he tried hard to develop a clip attachment (which would be faster), but it simply didn’t work out. Another issue is the large gap under the fly, which is an asset for three-season use, but allows snow to come into the vestibules when snow camping. The only solution I can suggest is to pile snow around the perimeter of the tent, as needed, to keep wind-driven snow out of the vestibules. Finally, there’s little that can be done to prevent wind-driven snow from entering the tent through the top vents (except for stuffing something into the vent to seal it, or orienting the tent sideways into the wind, which is not recommended).
I personally like the Scarp 2 with the nylon interior. It weighs 2.5 ounces more, but it retains heat when cold weather camping, and it sheds condensation and spindrift. Another advantage of choosing the nylon interior for three-season use is that it only requires the addition of the exterior cross-poles (US$30) to have the versatility of a three-season or four-season tent.
- Roomy two-person double-wall tent weighing 3.25 pounds
- Utilizes a one pole hoop design and truncated ends to minimize weight while maximizing interior usable space
- Inner tent and fly pitch together as a unit
- Mesh and solid nylon interiors available
- Three- and four-season versions available
- Four-season version is very wind stable and storm worthy
- Large air space between the inner tent and fly
- Two doors and two vestibules
- Plenty of space for two hikers plus gear
- Good tent for tall hikers
- Excellent ventilation
- Stakes are included with the tent
What’s Not So Good
- Storage pockets are very small and lay on the floor
- Three-season version flaps in the wind
- Dust and pollen stick to the silnylon fly
- Exterior cross poles are time-consuming to attach
- Four-season version allows wind-driven snow to enter
Recommendations for Improvement
- Larger storage pockets
- Offer a separate fly for the four-season version that has snow flaps on the bottom and closable vents on the top. This would allow the removal of the pole attachments on the summer fly.