Early Draft Review by Mark Verber (incomplete)
Gossamer Gear Squall Classic based on the original Squall design from
Weight: 25oz including shelter, guylines, 6 stakes, and rear pole
NOTE: The description in this review is based on a newly arrived squall classic. Discussion of performance and use is taken from my earlier experiences with the original sil-nylon tarptent squall, the tarptent squall2, and the gossamer gear spinshelter.
Looks just like the original Tarptent Squall :-) Nicely curved rear hop, catenary ridgeline, reasonably sized front vestibule. The vestibule has a high vent. The vestibule attaches to the right side of the shelter with velco and has roll away tabs on the left side of the shelter when you want it out of the way. The vestibule doesn't go all the way to the ground, but is low enough to give a sense of privacy (unless someone is laying on the ground next to you) and blocks all but the worse wind blown rain. There is mesh around the sides of the shelter which tends to stay under the shelter thanks to the new floor design. The zipper for the front door using a two way zipper the goes along the bottom and the right side of the door when facing out. This is different from the original squall which had a zipper in the middle and two along the bottom. Not sure if this is an improvement or not.
The floor works better than previous shelters from tarptent. The guylines for the corners of the shelter are looped around a stake and then go to the corners of the floor. This helps keep the floor well tensioned without pulling the shelter's walls down too much. All of the guylines terminate into small plastic tabs sewn into the shelter which makes adjusting the guyline quick and easy. I have never seen these tags slip accidentally.
The ribbon that the rear pole connects into now has a small buckle that lets you adjust the tension. This is useful because sometimes people found it difficult to insert and remove the rear pole.
I found the Squall Classic was exactly the weight listed on the Gossamer Gear website. The shelter needs a front pole. Depending on the trip I will use my hiking pole or the optional pole (which is also used as the front pole on my spinnshelter). I am a bit worried about using the optional pole... I fear that it could snap. The worse conditions I have faced using that pole was 25 mph winds against the Spinnshelter. Until I have more experience with the optional pole in heavy winds I will make sure I have at least one hiking pole with me as backup.
I don't use a ground sheet, and rely on the integrated floor for protection. Because I am careful, I have not had a problem puncturing or wearing out the floor.
Setup quick and simple. You only need four stakes. Thread the back pole through a sleeve, use one stake for the back, stake out your front pole, and then stake out the two front sides. Takes less than two minutes. The cut makes it easy to get a reasonable pitch... but I was unable to get as taut a pitch as I did with the original squall. Maybe because sil-nylon would stretch a tiny bit lets me compensate for a cut which wasn't exactly perfect? So while I got a decent pitch, there was definitely some flapping of the fabric in the wind. Until the spinnaker gets broken in, it will be a bit noisy. I think this is one of the most visually attractive shelters going... it has good lines. Since I am often camping places with very hard ground which makes re-staking a pain, I find the the line adjusters very handy Under strong winds you might want to stake out slide pullouts, and either stake out (or strategically places) rocks in front the the rear hoop so it doesn't move.
Good ventilation. No significant condensation problems. For example, one trip the weather was in the 70s, dropped to the 40s at night, 70% humidity, netting closed (but the beak rolled up) a small patch of condensation with two people in the tarptent. Custom SilNylon tent on same trip was quite wet, as was the fly on a 2 walled tent. Most of the time I have no condensation when using solo, even when the night air has been still.
Plenty of room for two people (you don't even need to be friendly unless in a storm.) Not quite large enough for two people plus packs unless the packs are ultra-light and fold up.
The original squall was stable in 45 mph winds provided you pitch the tarp at the recommended height (I normally set the tarp up higher for better ventilation) and have rocks or logs on top of the stakes to prevent them from pulling out. I believe this uses the same material as my spinnshelter. I have used the spinnshelter in 45 mph winds and been very pleased with it's performance. In particular I didn't experience the material stretching and therefore reducing the space under the tarp. I expect that the Squall Classic will have similar performance characteristics. It is also nice that the spinnaker cloth doesn't shrink or expand as temperature and humidity chance. Get it set up and you are unlikely going to need to fiddle with the shelter over night.
Keeps bugs out.
Gossamer Gear is great to deal with.
Don't use it when you are expecting snow. Spindrift will get in through the mesh and it won't take a heavy snow load. I have had snow fall on me using a Squall. When the wind was blowing I found a bit of spindrift got through the mesh. Most of the snow slipped right off and did not accumulate on the walls of the Squall.. though I did need to tap on the sidewalls a couple of time to encourage the snow to slide down.
This is a 1.5lb shelter which is a castle for one, and decent sized for two adults and a modest amount of gear.