Owner review: Tarptent ‘Scarp 2’ lightweight all season tent for cycle touring

Owner review: Tarptent ‘Scarp 2’ lightweight all season tent for cycle touring
Tarptent Scarp 2 - with optional cross poles in Normandy, France

Tarptent is a small American company with some big ideas and a solid reputation for making good value, high quality, ultralight and lightweight tents suitable for a wide range of activities.

I spent a few months earlier this year researching the different options for a tent to use while cycle touring, as well as hiking and general use where a comfortable, functional and lightweight tent would be useful. My criteria was fairly standard. I wanted a 3/4 season tent that was less than $500 delivered, free-standing, less than 2.5kg (gross), waterproof, well ventilated, and big enough for two people (or one person and some bags). I looked into a variety of options during my search, including: MSR Hubba Hubba, Exped Mira II and Venus II, Hilleberg Allak, and the Tarptent Scarp 2. All of these tents were generally well reviewed. However there were also issues when it came to price, shipping costs and availability in/to Australia (many Cascade Designs items cannot be sold from the US to Australia, this includes MSR gear).

The Scarp 2 stood out to me in particular due to it’s all-season, freestanding design with optional cross poles, options of mesh or solid inner (summer/winter), reasonable light weight (~2.15kg with the optional cross poles), and good value ($339 for the basic tent with mesh inner, plus $30 for the cross poles, and ~$50 for shipping from the US to Australia). Another bonus of the Tarptent is that they are a small cottage industry company which make all their own tents in America. Sure I’d love to buy Australian made, but at least buying from a small American company is the next best alternative rather than a mass produced, factory made offering from China or Taiwan.

Tarptent Scarp 2 – with optional cross poles in Normandy, France
Tarptent Scarp 2 – without optional cross poles in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

After using the Tarptent Scarp 2 while cycle touring through Germany and France recently during the late summer / early Spring months, I have to say that I am genuinely impressed and happy with my purchase. There’s only a few small niggles with the tent that I experienced such as the slippery floors (fixed by putting some diluted silicon spots everywhere on the floor), and that it doesn’t come seam-sealed; you have to buy the silicon sealant (Tarptent sell some for cheap) and mix it up and apply it yourself. This job takes a couple of hours with a larger tent if you do a proper job. However I actually enjoyed doing this, if you don’t mind a bit of DIY as well then it won’t be an issue either. Another small issue was that although it is ‘freestanding’ without being pegged out, a handy option to have as we found many campgrounds in Europe to have hard clay grounds, the tent does not sit very balanced without the pegs as the cross poles do not extend all the way to the ground, they sit about ~20cm above it. It’s not ideal, but not the end of the world either.

I found the 2-person tent to be a little too large and heavy for solo touring (I spent the first week with my brother and the next two weeks solo, so I needed to take a 2-person tent). I’ll be looking into a single person tent now to add to my collection, first place I’ll be looking is Tarptent and also Hilleberg as a backup option.

Value: 4.5/5

Design: 4/5

Ease of use / functionality: 4/5

Customer service / support: 5/5

Overall: 87.5% – Excellent, highly recommend!

6 Comments on “Owner review: Tarptent ‘Scarp 2’ lightweight all season tent for cycle touring

    • Hi Annie

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m really enjoying my Scarp 2. I’ve even been using it for weekend trips away car camping down the beach as it is so functional and well designed. I really want to get a 1-person tent next for fast and easy trips.

      Happy cycling

  1. Just wondering how you got on with the inner tent staying attached to the fly when you take it down wet. We use a Big Agnes but want a bit more wind solid tent. Any other issues? We are just about to go through 36,000Km on the road and are getting ready to replace kit that is nearing the end of its life.

    • Hi Warren

      It’s no hassles as the way the tent is packed up the inside mesh is kept separated from the wet outside of the fly. The material also dries very quickly so usually we would leave it out and pack it up last in the morning, by then it was mostly dry even if it was a bit wet the night before. The tet is very strong and stable on it’s own and especially with the optional cross poles. I’ve used it on the south-west coast of West Aus in very windy conditions and it stood up to the strong wind and rain with absolutely no issues. My only issue is that this tent is more on the lightweight side than rugged, meaning that the zips aren’t the toughest and although I’ve had no issues with them I can imagine that if you are using them for daily use over an extended period of time they will wear out. I’ve spent around 30 nights in my Scarp 2 all up now and it still looks brand new and works perfectly. Who knows how it will go after a few hundred nights though. Let me know how you go and if you have any other questions.

      Happy cycling

  2. I have the Tarptent Contrail that I take hiking and biking. It’s a fantastic, light and compact shelter for almost any conditions. OK, it struggles against tropical storms and the tub floor is a bit thin, but I love it. Only downside is that if you’re tall, you can’t sit up inside it and have a meal / get changed when the weather is foul outside.

    I had an Oztrail Razorback before that. They are excellent value for money and really quite compact too. Just not as light as a single skin tent but probably more robust and have more headroom.

    • Hi Sunny

      The Contrail is an awesome looking light-weight and simple hiking tent. Actually I have been thinking about getting something like that for solo touring, hiking and overnight trips to the beach where I don’t need any fancy features, just a shelter to keep the bugs and critters away in the night.

      Thanks for stopping by


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.