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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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; unlike the Nemo Tenshi, which zips completely on to the body, the Assault's vestibule clips on in three places. However, in the windiest of storms, the Tenshi's design created a better seal.
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