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The North Face Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT Review

A versatile single wall tent that works well for a greater range of conditions than most other 2-pole bivy-tent models
the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review
Credit: The North Face
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $800 List
Pros:  Included removable hooped vestibule, above average breathability among single wall tents, excellent ventilation, good headroom, compressible, robust
Cons:  Guylines are light duty, not quite as storm worthy as other models, fabric is less resistant to tearing and long term exposure to UV
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 11, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 17
  • Weight - 27% 9.0
  • Weather/Storm Resistance - 25% 6.0
  • Livability - 18% 7.0
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 7.0
  • Durability - 10% 7.0
  • Versatility - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The North Face Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT is a relatively versatile single-wall tent. It's packed with features not typically found on more weight-focused, bivy-style designs. Despite its additional features, the Assault 2 checks in a mere 5-8 ounces heavier than most other 2-pole bivy-style tents. It is livable and versatile. We loved the removable vestibule, which significantly adds to the versatility and value of this shelter. While it's not our first choice for extended hangouts in fierce weather, it's excellent for most short-duration trips above treeline or in the snow in the lower 48 and Southern Canada.

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $800 List$900 List$660 List$626 List$449 List
$449.00 at REI
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Pros Included removable hooped vestibule, above average breathability among single wall tents, excellent ventilation, good headroom, compressible, robustBomber, great durability, compact footprint, lighter than average weight, fantastic balance of strength, weight, and livability, ample guy pointsVersatile, lightweight, double wall design works far better in rain than single wall models, handles condensation well, big vestibules, easy to pitchBomber, light and compact, small footprint lets it be pitched anywhereLightweight for a double wall tent, inexpensive, versatile, easy set-up, interior fabric handles condensation well, and longer-than-average dimensions make this a better option for taller people
Cons Guylines are light duty, not quite as storm worthy as other models, fabric is less resistant to tearing and long term exposure to UVPoor ventilation, slightly tricky setup, insufficient guy lines includedIsn't as strong as other 4-season models, offers a good but not excellent packed sizeNo bug netting, not very breathable, only 24 square feet of interior spaceTiny vestibule, one of the weakest 3(.5)-pole designs in our review, only one door
Bottom Line A versatile single wall tent that works well for a greater range of conditions than most other 2-pole bivy-tent modelsAll-around uses are this model's forte, but it's still robust enough for when the weather turns gnarThe ski and summer mountaineering focused design perfect for almost any trip you can dream upPerfect for trips where weight and packed volume are at a premiumA solid 4-season shelter at an excellent price. Great for summertime mountaineering or winter camping near treeline
Rating Categories The North Face Assa... Black Diamond Eldorado MSR Access 2 MSR Advance Pro REI Arete ASL 2
Weight (27%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
10.0
6.0
Weather/Storm Resistance (25%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Livability (18%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
3.0
7.0
Ease of Set-up (10%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
10.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
10.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Versatility (10%)
6.0
7.0
9.0
3.0
8.0
Specs The North Face Assa... Black Diamond Eldorado MSR Access 2 MSR Advance Pro REI Arete ASL 2
Minimum Weight (only tent, fly & poles) 3.5 lbs (no vestibule) 4.5 lbs 3.80 lbs 2.88 lbs 5.75 lbs
Floor Dimensions 82 48 in 87" x 51 in 84 x 50 in 82" x 42 in 88 x 57/60/44 in
Peak Height 42 in 43 in 42 in 44 in 43 in
Measured Weight, with tent, stakes, guylines, pole bag 5.44 lbs 4.9 lbs 4.1 lbs 3.22 lbs 6.25 lbs
Type Single Wall Single Wall Double Wall Single Wall Double Wall
Packed Size 7 x 22 in 7" x 19 in 18 x 6 in 6 x 18 in 6 x 6 x 20 in
Floor Area 27.3 sq ft 31 sq ft 29 sq ft 24 sq ft 32.9 sq ft
Vestibule Area 10 sq ft 9 sq ft (optional) 17.5 sq ft 0 sq ft 8.7 sq ft
Number of Doors 1 1 2 1 1
Number of Poles 4 2 2 1 4
Pole Diameter 9.3 mm 8 mm 9.3 mm 9.3 mm
Number of Pockets Side: 2 Ceiling: 0 Side: 4 Ceiling: 0 Side: 2 Ceiling: 0 Side: 2 Ceiling: 0 Side: 2 Ceiling: 2
Pole Material DAC Featherlite NSL Easton Aluminum 7075-E9 Easton Syclone Easton Syclone Aluminum
Rainfly Fabric FUTERLIGHT 3 layer ToddTex 20D nylon ripstop 20D ripstop nylon 2 ply breathable 1000mm Nylon ripstop
Floor Fabric 40D ripstop nylon w/3,000mm PUR/silicone coating Unknown 30D nylon ripstop 30D ripstop nylon 3000mm Durashield polyurethane & DWR Nylon taffeta

Our Analysis and Test Results

The North Face Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT is the latest in a long line of ever-evolving Assault tents. The latest version has the most breathable fabric yet with The North Face's FUTURELIGHT air permeable fabric and a few less obvious updates such as an easier-to-insert cross pole.

It is a versatile single-wall shelter that is packed full of features which help 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 pound of the absolute lightest models. More importantly, it's within ounces of its closest competition but is much more versatile. It's light and compact enough to be used as a bivy tent. It has enough ventilation and livability for slightly more extended mountaineering objectives and multi-day ski tours and still offers enough strength for certain types of expedition applications (like a carry-on-route shelter). We loved the included removable hooped vestibule, which adds both versatility and value.

Performance Comparison


the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - the assault was one of our favorite all-around models, particularly...
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.
Credit: Ian Nicholson


Ease of Set-up


The Assault 2 is not one of the easier tents to pitch. It requires that two of its three poles are set up from the inside. The poles have fixed points and velcro tabs to hold them in place. This support the poles along their entire length. The body of the tent requires a little more practice and care while pitching, especially in windier conditions.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - joshua jarrin prepares to set up the north face assault 2...
Joshua Jarrin prepares to set up The North Face Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT in Boston Basin.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

In the wind, we stood up and pulled the tent over our heads in order to secure the poles in their respective spots. The composite poles are also particularly vulnerable during pitching, and care must be taken not to over-flex them. They are strong once in the tent but are particularly exposed to breaking if set up in strong winds.


The 1/3 cross-length pole is now inserted and tightened from the outside. This is a big improvement over the previous model.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - the latest version of the assault pitches from the inside. while...
The latest version of the Assault pitches from the inside. While this has some advantages such as greater strength (once pitched) and lower weight, as there are no full-length sleeves or plastic clips; it does take more practice and care to pitch especially in stormier conditions.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

The vestibule is easy to attach and remove. It snaps in to connect to the main tent in three places. The Assualt FUTURELIGHT was far easier to pitch than any Black Diamond single-wall tent models. It was faster to pitch than the majority of double-wall models.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - highlighting the third, 1/3-length pole which is attached from the...
highlighting the third, 1/3-length pole which is attached from the outside that is secured via a simple webbing and buckle-cinch design.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Weather and Storm Resistance


The Assault has decent storm resistance, fending off wind, rain, and snow respectably when compared to other four-season models we tested. Like many single-wall tents, it is just okay in the rain because of internal condensation as well as outside precipitation. The current FUTURELIGHT material is significantly improved from the previous version, which saturated quickly.


There are six bomber guy out points (or up to nine with the vestibule on) to help tie this shelter down. It easily handles big snow loads and winds. The small awnings that cover the "window" vents on either side of the tent don't catch that much light to moderate wind. However, they are not ideal in more extreme winds.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - one of the more versatile single wall models and not much heavier...
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.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

The Assault's third pole creates a bit of a "sail" depending on wind direction, and it performance in the wind is not as strong as others in our fleet, which is one of the main reasons we didn't find this tent to be as strong as other 2-pole models like the Black Diamond Eldorado.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - the assault has six nicely reinforced guyline points on the main...
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.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

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-time adventures. It's perfect for alpine climbing and ski touring in ranges similar to the Cascades, Canadian Rockies, Sierra, or Tetons. It's worthy enough for use in greater ranges in places like Alaska or the Himalayas as a short-term shelter for light and fast ascents.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - the assault 2 is okay for lower elevation expedition climbing and...
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 stormworthiness for most people's alpine or winter adventures though and is perfect for mountaineering in ranges similar to the Cascades, Bugaboos, Sierras, or Tetons.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

The times when this model didn't perform so well was in wet weather (like rain or wet snow), and this model didn't do as well as any double wall model we tested or the thicker single wall models like the Black Diamond Eldorado or Ahwahnee. It performed about the same as the Mountain Hardwear AC2 and notably better than the Black Diamond Firstlight or Hilight in the rain or during wet snow storms.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - this model uses easton's carbon-fiber syclone which are very low...
This model uses Easton's Carbon-fiber Syclone which are very low weight and strong once inserted but care must be taken while pitching not to break them.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Weight and packed size


The Assault 2 has a three pounds Six-ounce minimum weight and a three-pound 12 ounce packed weight (this includes tent plus pole bag, guylines, and stakes but not the vestibule), and comes in at four pounds 15 ounces (2240g) with the vestibule.


The Assault is slightly heavier than the Black Diamond Firstlight, Hilight, or MSR Advance Pro (all just barely sub 3-pounds) and is similar in weight to the Mountain hardwear AC2 but is far more versatile for only a few extra ounces.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - the assault has 27 square feet of interior floor space. the short...
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.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

While we generally just pack the tent loosely around harder, less packable items, we do appreciate the included compression sack, which actually does a good job and reducing the packed volume of this tent. We also liked that they didn't try to compress the tent with the poles and instead featured a few elastic loops to attach the poles to the compression sack. We liked this design more for helping us to keep track of the poles in storage rather than somehow carrying them in this configuration in the field.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - the assualt offers some of the better livability for its weight and...
The Assualt offers some of the better livability for its weight and amongst single wall tents. Its' third pole creates respectable headroom for a tent of its weight and all the ventilation makes it easier to manage condensation. Joshua Jarrin enjoys some morning coffee in the Assualt.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Livability and Comfort


The Assault offers decent livability for a single wall bivy tent, and our review team found it far more "livable" than most 2-pole models in our review. This is because the shorter (quarter-length) pole, which is inserted crosswise in the middle of the tent, increases headroom to the point that two people can sit up can face each other. This model's 27 square feet is average in size among 2-pole bivy tents but its 2.25 pole design are what help it feel more spacious.


The FUTURELIGHT material also is among the more breathable and vastly out preformed the Mountain Hardwear AC 2 and MSR aDvanced Pro for its ability to handle condensation. FUTURELIGHT fabric is actually The North Face's proprietary air-permeable fabric, but they must be able to tweak the level of air permeability as this model, which is quite breathable, is not as breathable as some of their waterproof jackets made of the same FUTURELIGHT Material.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - geoff unger looking out the second 1/2 door. this opening was more...
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.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

This model has two mesh-lined windows and a third window which is more of a half door (we dubbed it the escape hatch). Besides offering good ventilation also added to the livability of this tent by increasing airflow and just generally making the tent feel less cramped and stuffy. It also made it fairly comfortable for a model of its size to hang out if the weather ended up being poor, so long as it wasn't so windy that the tent's vents needed to be zipped up.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - looking from the main body of the assault into its included and...
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.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

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.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - this was the only single wall model in our review to come with a...
This was the only single wall model in our review to come with a hooped detachable vestibule.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Durability


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 enough durability for most people for years of use, embarking on several 2-4 day trips into the alpine every summer (or winter).


Adaptability and Versatility


The Assault 2 offers 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) aren't really an option if it is raining, as there is no awning over it. If you carry the vestibule, you can increase ventilation by leaving the front door wide open.


While not as versatile as most double wall 4-season models in humid, wet, three-season conditions, all of the Assualt's venting truly make it one of the more versatile single-wall options second only to the Black Diamond Awhanee for a single-wall tent with both 3 and 3-season versatility.
the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - the assault has a short pole (shown here) that increases the...
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. Credit: Ian Nicholson
Credit: Ian Nicholson

The Assualt still isn't a model that we'd pick for purely backpacking uses (something we'd consider the Awhawnee for) it is suitable for shorter, low-elevation trips or long approaches prior to getting above treeline and into the alpine. This is because ventilation features and FUTURELIGHT material helps this model handle moisture and internal condensation better than most single-wall models. The

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - looking out the front door of the assault.
Looking out the front door of the Assault.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Should You Buy The North Face Assault 2?


If you are looking for a weight-focused bivy-style 4-season tent primarily for summer mountaineers but want a little more versatility than a number of other single-wall 2-pole models, then The North Face Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT is certainly worth looking closely at. Providing very good versatility for its weight, The North Face Assault 2 strikes a nice combination of weight versus ventilation, and along with its included hooped vestibule, we found this model suitable for most 4-season trips to mountain ranges of the continuous-48 states and Southern Canada. This is because most trips into the "alpine" have some lower elevation camping that might be wet or buggy. This model is light enough for all but the most weight-focused users but packs in a LOT of extra versatility (and headroom) for just a little extra weight. It is okay for occasional climbs as an "on-route" bivy-style tent in further regions like the Andes or Alaska, but there are far options for those looking for a more svelte option or something to hike in and "base camp with."

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - the assault might not be the best do-everything 4 season tent, but...
The Assault might not be the best do-everything 4 season tent, but it does perform well on a variety of trips and locales.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

What other 4-season tent should you should consider?


The North Face Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT competes with a host of other smaller, single-wall,m weight-focused shelters. However, it is a little heavier than most due to its plethora of vents and an included vestibule. If getting the lightest and smallest shelter you can get is your number one priority, then we'd recommend looking at the Black Diamond First Light or MSR Advance Pro 2. If you like the Assualt 2 but wish it was just a little more versatile, then we'd recommend looking at the Black Diamond Eldorado, Mountain Hardwear Outpost 2, or the MSR Access 2. All three of these tents are more versatile, but all are also heavier and less packable too. Lastly, if you like the idea of a super versatile single-wall option, then you should certainly check out the Black Diamond Ahwahnee.

the north face assault 2 futurelight 4 season tent review - looking out at the 1/2 sized back door. as we mentioned earlier...
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.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Ian Nicholson
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