The North Face Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT Review
Cons: Exterior fabric isn't as breathable as other models and absorbed moisture, guylines are light duty
Manufacturer: The North Face
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The North Face Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT
|Price||$750 List||$730 List||$659.95 at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$625 List||$449 List|
$449.00 at REI
|Pros||Inclued hooped vestibule, lightweight, excellent ventilation, good headroom, compressible, robust||Bomber, great durability, compact footprint, lighter than average weight, fantastic balance of strength, weight, and livability, ample guy points||Versatile, lightweight, double wall design works far better in rain than single wall models, handles condensation well, big vestibules, easy to pitch||Bomber, light and compact, small footprint lets it be pitched anywhere||Lightweight for a double wall tent, inexpensive, easy set-up, interior fabric handles condensation well, longer-than-average dimensions make this a better option for taller people|
|Cons||Exterior fabric isn't as breathable as other models and absorbed moisture, guylines are light duty||Poor ventilation, slightly tricky setup, insufficient guy lines included||Isn't as strong as other 4-season models, offers a good but not excellent packed size||No bug netting, not very breathable, only 24 square feet of interior space||Vestibule is tiny, fine for most four-season applications but one of the least bomber 3-pole designs in our review, only one door|
|Bottom Line||It's perfect for shorter trips, is versatile, and is packed full of features||All-around uses are this model's forte, but it's still robust enough for when the weather turns gnar||The ski and summer mountaineering focused design perfect for almost any trip you can dream up||Perfect for trips where weight and packed volume are at a premium||A 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|
|Weather/Storm Resistance (25%)|
|Ease of Set-up (10%)|
|Specs||The North Face Assa...||Black Diamond Eldorado||MSR Access 2||MSR Advance Pro||REI Arete ASL 2|
|Minimum Weight (only tent, fly & poles)||3.24 lbs||4.5 lbs||3.80 lbs||2.88 lbs||5.31 lbs|
|Floor Dimensions||82" x 45 in||87" x 51 in||84 x 50 in||82" x 42 in||88" x 60 in|
|Peak Height||42 in||43 in||42 in||44 in||40 in|
|Measured Weight, with tent, stakes, guylines, pole bag||3.62 lbs||4.9 lbs||4.1 lbs||3.22 lbs||5.87 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 20 in|
|Floor Area||27.3 sq ft||31 sq ft||29 sq ft||24 sq ft||32.5 sq ft|
|Vestibule Area||10 sq ft||9 sq ft (optional)||17.5 sq ft||0 sq ft||9.1 sq ft|
|Number of Doors||1.5||1||2||1||1|
|Number of Poles||3||2||2||1||4|
|Pole Diameter||9 mm||8 mm||9.3 mm||9.3 mm||9 mm|
|Number of Pockets||Side: 2 Ceiling: 0||Side: 4 Ceiling: 0||Side: 2 Ceiling: 0||Side: 2 Ceiling: 0||Side: 2 Ceiling: 0|
|Pole Material||DAC Featherlite aluminum||Easton Aluminum 7075-E9||Easton Syclone||Easton Syclone||DAC Featherlite NSL aluminum|
|Rainfly Fabric||50D DryWall durable ripstop polyester||3 layer ToddTex||20D nylon ripstop||20D ripstop nylon 2 ply breathable 1000mm||Coated ripstop nylon|
|Floor Fabric||40D ripstop nylon, 3000 mm PU coating, silicone water-resistant finish||Unknown||30D nylon ripstop||30D ripstop nylon 3000mm Durashield polyurethane & DWR||Coated nylon taffeta|
Our Analysis and Test Results
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 lightest models but has several features that make it more versatile. It's light enough to be used as a bivy tent, has enough ventilation and livability for mountaineering objectives and multi-day ski tours, and is bomber for certain types of expedition uses. It includes a removable hooped vestibule, which adds to the versatility and value.
Ease of Set-up
The Assault 2 is one of the easiest tents to set up. It has two external full-length pole sleeves, which guide the poles into position, with the ends of the poles held into place via grommets. This was significantly easier and quicker than the majority of single-wall models that pitch from the inside.
The third pole cross-length pole is a little tight to get into position and can be marginally challenging if it's windy. Our review team found it became easier with time as we developed a good method for getting it locked in. The vestibule is also easy to attach and remove; the vestibule clips on in three places.
Weather and Storm Resistance
The Assault has decent storm resistance, fending off wind, and precipitation. Like many single-wall tents, this one is mediocre in the rain. A light rainstorm is fine but an extended one will eventually wet out the side fabric.
There are six bomber guy out points (or up to nine with the vestibule on) to help tie this shelter down, and it handles big snow loads and winds.
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.
While the Assault 2 isn't the burliest of 4 season tents, it offers plenty of stormworthiness for alpine or winter 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 Himalaya, and is strong enough for light and fast ascents.
The times when it didn't perform so well was in wet weather (like rain or wet snow). On several occasions, the fabric would become saturated faster than other models.
Weight and packed size
The Assault 2 has a three pounds four ounces minimum weight and a three pounds nine ounces 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 Firstlight, but is far more versatile for only a few extra ounces.
Livability and Comfort
The Assault offers decent livability for a single wall bivy tent.
A shorter (quarter length) pole, which is inserted cross-wise in the middle of the tent, increases headroom.
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.
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 increase ventilation by leaving the front door wide open.
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 perfect for most trips. While the Assault is a great price, The North Face continues to raise the price, and it's no longer the incredible deal it once was.
The North Face Assault 2 performs well on most trips that alpinists, mountaineers, and backcountry skiers embark on. It's perfect for trips to the Canadian Rockies, High Sierra, or the North Cascades, and performs well for occasional climbs in further regions like the Andes or Alaska. It provides an exceptional blend of low weight, pleasant livability, and stormworthiness — all for a very reasonable price.
— Ian Nicholson
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