The North Face Assault 2 is a versatile single-wall shelter that is packed full of features, which helps it adapt to a wide range of conditions. While not the lightest tent in our review, it strikes a nice balance between weight and versatility. It's within a half-pound of the absolute lightest models but has several features that make it more versatile for a range of trips. It's light enough to be used as a bivy tent, has enough ventilation and livability for a majority of mountaineering objectives and multi-day ski tours, and is sufficiently bomber for certain types of expedition uses. It used to be a better deal, but it is still reasonably priced compared to similarly versatile single wall tents and includes a removable hooped vestibule, which adds to this model's versatility and value.
Hands-On Review of The North Face Assault 2
The Assault was one of our favorite all-around models, particularly for alpine climbing and multi-day ski touring in the lower-48 and southern Canada. There are several venting options (which were useful because the fabric wasn't all that breathable), making it more versatile. It also comes with a detachable vestibule.
Ease of Set-up
The Assault 2 was one of the easiest tents to set up. It has two external pole sleeves that guide the pole into position automatically.
The third pole is a little tight to get into position and can be marginally challenging if it's windy, but our review team found it got easier with time as we developed a good method for getting it locked in.
One of the more versatile single wall models and not much heavier than the lightest options, the Assault has proven itself both on alpine-style ascents in Alaska and moderate summertime mountaineering in the lower-48.
Weather and Storm Resistance
The Assault has great weather and storm resistance as long as its pretty cold, but like most (but not all) single-wall tents, is mediocre in the rain.
There are six bomber guy out points (or up to nine with the vestibule on). It handles big snow loads and decent winds well; it performed well in moderate to high winds nearly as well as most traditional double-walled 3-4 pole designs.
The Assault has six nicely reinforced guyline points on the main tent with an additional three once the vestibule is attached. The position was a nice height to maintain leverage against the wind while still supporting the poles as much as possible. We like the built-in plastic cam/adjusters, though the diameter of the guylines themselves was a little on the thin side.
The Assault's third pole creates a little bit of a "sail" depending on wind direction. It isn't that this tent did terrible in the wind, but it wasn't as strong as others.
The Assault 2 is okay for lower elevation expedition climbing and has been on dozens of hard alpine climbs as an "on-route" tent, but it isn't the burliest 4-season shelter. It does offer plenty of storm-worthiness for most people's alpine or winter adventures though and is perfect for mountaineering in ranges similar to the Cascades, Bugaboos, Sierras, or Tetons.
While the Assault 2 isn't the burliest of 4 season tents, it offers plenty of storm worthiness for most people's alpine or winter adventures. It's perfect for alpine climbing and ski touring in ranges similar to the Cascades, Sierra, or Tetons.
This tent didn't handle condensation or rain as well as some of the Black Diamond single wall tents (like the Eldorado, Fitzroy, or Ahwahnee). When humid enough, the fabric got slightly saturated (as you can see in this photo of the roof during a light rain) but we didn't find this any worse than similar ultra-light bivy tents like the Firstlight or Advance Pro.
The times when it didn't perform so well was in wetter weather (like rain or wet snow), where just a handful of other models had better weather resistance. On several occasions, the fabric would become saturated faster than other models.
Looking at the exterior of the Assault after some rain. The fabric didn't stand up to liquid moisture quite as well as some of the beefier Black Diamond models, but it certainly did better than the Firstlight or HiLight.
Weight and packed size
The Assault 2 has a three pounds four ounce minimum weight and a three pounds nine ounce packed weight (tent plus pole bag, guylines and stakes but not the vestibule), and comes in at four ounds 15 ounces (2240g) with the vestibule.
The Assault has 27 square feet of interior floor space. The short cross pole added more headroom, making this tent feel roomier than most other ultra-light bivy-tents.
Livability and Comfort
The Assault offers decent livability.
Geoff Unger looking out the second 1/2 door. This opening was more of a window and was great for adding additional ventilation if it wasn't too buggy. While we'd hardly call this a "door," we did use it as such many times, it just took a little more balance.
Thanks to the half-length cross-pole, the Assault felt roomy.
Looking from the main body of the Assault into its included and detachable vestibule. The vestibule added 10 square feet of additional storage and our entire testing team loved that this feature was removable because it allowed us to save weight on fair weather trips.
The included vestibule also increases the livability of this tent, and on trips where we brought the vestibule, it was nice to leave the internal door open, making it feel even more spacious inside.
This was the only single wall model in our review to come with a hooped detachable vestibule.
Like most of the other lighter weight models that we tested, the Assault sacrifices a bit on durability to stay under four pounds. While it won't last as long as some of the burlier options on the market, which are built for expedition use, it will provide exceptional durability for most people.
Adaptability and Versatility
The Assault 2 has some of the best versatility and adaptability of any of the lighter-weight single wall models in our review.
There are venting options on all four sides of the tent; however, the front door and back "escape hatch" (half door) will not perform well if it's raining hard. If you carry the vestibule, you can leave the front door wide open in a storm to increase ventilation.
The Assault has a short pole (shown here) that increases the interior headroom and creates two small awnings for the vents. While this does decrease this tent's overall strength in the most extreme conditions, the ability to ventilate even in the rain is a significant advantage.
Looking out at the 1/2 sized back door. As we mentioned earlier, this "window" provides awesome ventilation on calmer nights or at times when the bugs aren't too bad (as there is no bug-netting option). We'd be bummed if this was the only door, but this "escape-hatch" is just that, and we crawled out of it several times.
The Assault 2 includes a removable hooped vestibule and is one of the better values for a single wall tent. It's one of the least expensive single wall tents that's actually waterproof, and is the type of 4 season tent that most people are looking for.
The Assault might not be the best do-everything 4 season tent, but it does perform well on a variety of trips and locales.
The North Face Assault 2 might not be the best all-around 4 season tent, but it will perform well on the types of trips a majority of alpinists, mountaineers, and backcountry skiers embark on. It's perfect for trips to the places like the Canadian Rockies, High Sierra, or the North Cascades, and will still work for occasional climbs in further regions like the Andes or Alaska. It provides an exceptional blend of low weight, pleasant livability, and storm worthiness - all for a very reasonable price.