Packing for one person is easy when you set out to do a weekend backpacking trip, or longer when you are by yourself. But what happens when you have to pack for two? When you have a “Hiking Partner”, who carries the tent? Normally I do. I’m usually out in the backcountry with just me. But when I had a chance to take a novice out to thier first backpacking trip, weight and room became an issue for the first time.
I did several searches for lightweight tents that could stand the tests of Mother Nature, and provide room for two at the same time. I narrowed them down to several quality tents. But the one that kept coming up was the Tarptent Squall II.
The first Tarptent was born in the spring of 1999. Then an 18-ounce solo shelter, now a battle-tested warrior, it’s still going strong after 3,000 miles on the trail. Tarptent has a good reputation for quality of service and when I called, they were polite and helpful.
The first test was a big one: Camping at 13,000 feet in a boulderfield. Within 3 hours of set up, a major thunderstorm rolled in and it hailed. Tarpent did pretty good, but a little water did manage to get in. The Tarptent does need some room to be set up property. Don’t try and squeeze it in a small tent space. Once set up however, you have plenty of room for two, plus two backpacks, sleepingbags and stuff. You have more than enough room. Wieghing in at only 2.2 pounds, the Tarpent was easy enough to carry. In fact, I didn’t even pack it in my backpack, I carried it on the bottom next to my thermarest. I used my hiking pole for the pole in front, saving even more wieght.
Issues: The one pole set up works ok, two work better. The zipper should be on both sides of the “no-seeum screen so both parties can get out without reaching over to one side. Also, I noticed the Vestibule could have been a little easier to get at once inside the tent. Maybe it could reach farther down to the ground to keep more wind out.
All in all, I would buy the Tarptent Squall II for a two person tent. It’s lightweight out “weighs” the cons of the tent.
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