Black Diamond Squall

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What category does a tent review live in when there are only three choices? You can’t put it on your feet, land on it or belay with it? What do I do? Who will help me solve this… sod it, I’ll make another.
My one and only use of a Squall ever was at Craigieburn campsite on an exceptionally chilly but overall brilliantly fine July weekend. A proper test would have had me running up a big white snowy hill in a blizzard while showers of rain, snow, snowy rain and pigs rained down on me in true showery glory. I should’ve been testing its staunchness in 5000km winds, or in a bar where I could watch it staunch out other tents. I should’ve dropped the elbow from a tree to test the strength of its poles, chucked Keas’ at it to test the fly’s durability, lit 15 gas stoves inside to test its ventilation! What I actually did was pitch it near the snow (I mean it had to have been a good 3 inches away from, okay, 5 feet away, fine, ten meters away from the nearest patch but it was pretty close, alright?), and under nice sheltering trees for three nights. The next best thing would’ve been to pitch it inside and have a sleep-out. Probably would’ve yielded marginally more reliable results.
Anyway, what I did test was some other aspects. How did they fare? Spectacular. There, vague enough for you? The tent is huge. Massive. Behemoth. It says 3 person on the tag, but what that means is 3 people plus a midsized sports sedan and five boisterous German sheppards. Not to mention all of our gear, PLUS my climbing-shoe bag, which is quite large.  So in the ‘how roomy is this tent?’ part of the test, the Squall scored a healthy ‘BH’. Which stands for Bloody Heaps.  We (that is myself, Carmilla and Chris) also tested another very important aspect of any tent: its pitch-ability. Sad to say while the tent scored commendably well: YNPG (yeah-nah pretty good), unfortunately the 3 of us didn’t quite measure up: SH (Sucky Humans). It took us 20 minutes to construct it and its smaller cousin the Mirage. Admittedly it was roughly -355degrees, although Carmilla had seen a how-to video prior. In conclusion, and upon close and thorough examination, I concluded that at the conclusion of the test, it was the tents fault.
Next test was a biggy. Perhaps the biggest when it comes to the radness of a tent: its floor. Unfortunately, while the Squall scored highly  in every other possible arena, the floor left a little to be desired. Rated to 5000mm water column (can’t anybody come up with a simpler rating system? Water Column? Sounds like something to do with plumbing). As soon as it was knelt on the minuscule amount of moisture in the dirt below (and it really was small because of all the ice: 10,000 below ultimate Kelvin is usually pretty icy) came straight through: EF (Epic Fail). But before you wail and bemoan the Squall to the seven winds, the floor can be bolstered by the addition of a ground sheet ($49.90) which makes it impervious to everything, including gunfire.
While I may not have tested up on an actual mountain, I stand by my claim that our test was comprehensive, exhaustive, festive and convective. The thing’s huge and yellow. We put our gear down by one corner and lost it for about an hour when we turned our backs to put up ANOTHER tent inside it because we were a bit scared. We strapped a chandelier to the ceiling and ate at a 25 meter long dining table. Passing the salt took a very long time, so a let down there. But overall I rate the Squall and wouldn’t hesitate to take it, spread between a party of several dozen others, along on any extended adventure from base camp to the crag. It weighs around about the same as five dead cows, packed-up, okay that was a lie, it’s actually only 3.58kgs. So while on short trips its little brother the Stormtrack might be a bit more manageable, if you’re looking for pure dirtbag comfort on your missions, the Squall is most definitely the best option.

Price? $1099
Verdict? 4  stars.
Suited for? snowline warriors, and people with trailers and plenty of time on their hands.

 

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