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The North Face Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT Review

Perfect for shorter trips and is packed full of features
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $659 List
Pros:  Inclued hooped vestibule, lightweight, excellent ventilation, good headroom, compressible, robust
Cons:  Exterior fabric isn't as breathable as other models and absorbed moisture, guylines are light duty
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 15, 2020
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 13
  • Weight - 27% 9
  • Weather/Storm Resistance - 25% 6
  • Livability - 18% 6
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 10
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Versatility - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The North Face Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT is a relatively versatile single-wall tent. It's packed full of features that are typically found on more weight-focused, bivy-style designs. Despite all of its additional features, the Assault 2 checks in a mere 5-8 ounces heavier than the lightest models, which were generally less livable and versatile. We appreciate the removable vestibule, which significantly adds to its versatility and value, and is not always an included feature. While it's not our first choice for extended hangouts in fierce weather, it's excellent for most four-season conditions and is perfect for alpine climbing and backcountry skiing in the lower-48 and Southern Canada. Best of all; it's constructed with waterproof material.

Compare to Similar Products

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.

Performance Comparison


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.
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 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.

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.
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 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 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 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 bit of a "sail" depending on wind direction, and it performance in the wind is not as strong as others in our fleet.

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.
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.

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.

This tent didn't handle condensation or rain as well as some of the Black Diamond single wall tents (like the Eldorado). 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.
This tent didn't handle condensation or rain as well as some of the Black Diamond single wall tents (like the Eldorado). 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.

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.

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.
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 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.

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.
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 for a single wall bivy tent.


A shorter (quarter length) pole, which is inserted cross-wise in the middle of the tent, increases headroom.

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.
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.

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.
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.
This was the only single wall model in our review to come with a hooped detachable vestibule.

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 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 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.
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.
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.
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Value


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 Assault might not be the best do-everything 4 season tent  but it does perform well on a variety of trips and locales.
The Assault might not be the best do-everything 4 season tent, but it does perform well on a variety of trips and locales.

Conclusion


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