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State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008)
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008) on 11/18/2008 19:02:30 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008)

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008) on 11/18/2008 22:16:59 MST Print View

This is great work...keep it up!

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008) on 11/18/2008 23:32:53 MST Print View

Fantastic work Will and Chris! This is a great update of our last single wall roundup and an instant classic on the site. This is what makes Backpacking Light so great- you won't find work like this ANYWHERE else!

Kudos- and thanks for the great read!


Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008) on 11/18/2008 23:39:18 MST Print View

This is a fantastic review of the present state of single wall tents. I like the wider view of what is happening outside the States, but was (a little) disappointed in the review limiting that to Europe. The interesting thing is that the MontBell tents reviewed here are unavailable for purchase in Japan.

One tiny gripe... and that goes for this entire community! I think I'm going to throw a conniption if I see one more person spell "taut" as "taught". Considering that the word comes up in almost every conversation here about tents, tarps, shelter fabrics, stakes, guylines, and pitching techniques, the misspelled word is almost daily visible. Come on guys, if we are going to use one word that often in our conversations, let's at least get it right! And Roger and Chris, as fellow writers it's a matter of pride to spell it right, no? (^J^)/"

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008) on 11/19/2008 02:12:30 MST Print View

This is a really excellent review, which has come out at exactly the right time! I am trying to find a well-ventilated, wind-stable shelter for me and my 80-lb. dog to replace a Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo. The LS is a bit too cramped for me and the dog, and the two of us together definitely overwhelm the ventilation system. Your article has given me a lot to think about!

The one item I'd take issue with is the "5" rating for ventilation on the Lunar Solo. On a foggy, drizzly night on Washington's Olympic National Park coast, my Lunar Solo, with just me in it (no dog), had significant condensation. My Tarptent Rainshadow 2, pitched right next door, with three people in it, had no condensation at all. I'd give the Lunar Solo a 4. On the other hand, the Lunar Solo is outstanding for wind stability, is very waterproof in drenching rains and hail, and deserves its higher ratings there. In fact, I'd give it a slightly higher wind stability rating than you did.

Edited by hikinggranny on 11/19/2008 02:25:34 MST.

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
single wall tents on 11/19/2008 03:11:10 MST Print View

They are quite a few european websites about lightweight backpacking.
But its true double walled tent are still the majority here.

My wife and i use 2 tents :
a double rainbow
a msr twin sisters.

at the opposite of this article if the weather is due to be raining a lot i prefer a single tent with no floor ( the msr) its great to be able to stake shelter and go immediatly under it, with gear, shoes on etc...
we both use a small silnylon sheet ( about 0,75x 230 ) as a floor and for a few grams i added a fixation and some elastics to my bacpackk to use it to protect it from rain when we walk.

if the weather is fair i prefer the double rainbow, wich have much less issue with condensation and is bug proof.

Edited by Fre49 on 11/19/2008 03:12:38 MST.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008) on 11/19/2008 03:24:57 MST Print View

I have to make a remark about that European perspective and the limited use of single wall shelters, tarps, etc ...
Apart from the lack of knowledge about single wall shelters, there's another and simple reason for that: people have a tendency to buy only one shelter for everything they do. That shelter has to handle everything from the nice Mediterrenean climate to the wet weather which is so typical for Northwest Europe. Cost is a very defining factor.
My impression from this forum is that backpackers in the US, particularly the ones who tend to go lighter, have a wardrobe full of gear, with multiple shelters, sleeping bags, ... For every possible situation, they have a different set of gear. Not so in Europe. Consumption patterns are way different in North America than in Europe. I don't want to start a discussion about the consequences of this for the global economy, but it is a factor that explains why the lightweight movement has much more difficulty in getting a real boost in Europe.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

No single wall for the very tall on 11/19/2008 03:32:17 MST Print View

"Tents for Tall Hikers - An ideal tent for tall hikers would be long and tall. Unfortunately, nothing really stands out in this roundup."

Ho Hum. I agree with your comment that the manufacturers should consider making tents for tall hikers, there are quite a few of us out there. I can see the problem though, So many designs, and a lot of them use the max fabric width. It's not like a sleeping bag where it's pretty easy to offer length options.

For solo use I've given up on headroom and gone light with good wind resistance with a GG spinn shelter.

When hiking with my partner we take a Hex 3 and lightweight home made bug liner. It's overkill and overweight for some conditions though, and I wish there was a lighter option.

kim fishburn
Stephenson's in the wind on 11/19/2008 08:38:42 MST Print View

I have a Stephenson's Warmlite 3R and its great in the wind as long as you can stake it out right. I once took a 45mph blast that sat me over an inch as I laid in it reading a book. Its suppose to be good to about 90mph. When the fabric stretches in the rain you don't have to get out to adjust the stakes. The straps go around the stakes and into the tent through a buckle so you can tighten it. My only complaint is the length. In the mountains its sometimes hard to find a place big enough to set it up, The 3R is 144" long.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Stephenson's in the wind on 11/19/2008 08:53:06 MST Print View

How tall is it?

I see they are now doing a shortened version. - 120"

Edited by tallbloke on 11/19/2008 09:00:03 MST.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: No single wall for the very tall on 11/19/2008 11:04:43 MST Print View

I hear you Roger! I'm 6'2" and many tents are eliminated from my choices due to this.

Being tall makes tent shopping difficult because the printed dimensions of floor space do not tell the story. Also, many manufacturers just plain lie about the dimensions. Between these two factors, it's nearly impossible to tell how big a tent is without being inside one that is set up.

Walls that slope inward can eat up usable space even before reaching the top of your sleeping bag! Also, the peak height, even if stated accurately, can apply to only a single point in the ceiling of the tent, depending on the design (such as my Hex3 tipi or A-frame tents). This can make one tent sound taller than another but in fact, you can't get a pull-over top on because their is no elbow room up high.

I just ordered a Tarptent Rainbow (one person) because of these issues. First of all, I believe Henry's specs to be accurate simply because of his stellar reputation. Also, his website depictions of just how the tent measurements relate to an occupant should be the benchmark by which all others should strive for.

My attraction to the Rainbow is the ample floor space that stays usable due to the steep walls near the floor. Also, the generous head room isn't limited to a single point; the long arch and the cross strut both spread the height over a useful area.

It's not the lightest tent option, but, for those of us not willing to give up everything for weight savings, it appears to be a pretty nice shelter that does many things well.

I'll do a full review once I receive it to confirm my expectations. It's on a UPS truck leaving California as I write this, Whoopie! Christmas is coming early!

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Re: No single wall for the very tall on 11/19/2008 13:31:41 MST Print View

I do like sitting headroom when duo camping, the double rainbow looks great, but my 2008 tent budget is overspent. I have a cheap tent with a fly similar shape to the Montbell just reviewed. I'm going to try modifying that for our next trip in January. It's a Jura Highlander, only £20, but a full two skin tent at 2kg. The polyester fly only weighs 650g though, so has potential. The pole is sleeved into it too, which I prefer to the tape and hook Montbell style. I've replaced the fibreglass pole with a quality alloy one, 220g. Next it gets a mesh skirt and 170 guage polythene floor.

Scott Smith
(mrmuddy) - MLife

Locale: No Cal
State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents on 11/19/2008 13:33:35 MST Print View


Simply Outstanding Report !!

Much better .. no comparision with ANYTHING that you'd find in Backpacker Magazine; Outside Magazine; etc.

Content, pictures, diagrams .. all GREAT !!!!!!!

Henry Shires
(07100) - F - M
re: Single Wall (Tarptent Sublite Sil) on 11/19/2008 14:27:37 MST Print View

Just one small correction to the Sublite Sil description "The entry does not have a vestibule, so rain will fall directly into the tent." The final version of the shelter does have a "rain flap" which, when deployed, does prevent rain from falling into the interior. It can be used manually--lift and enter/exit--or staked out in a mini-porch configuration.


Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Stephenson's in the wind on 11/19/2008 14:46:24 MST Print View

Roger asked How tall is it?

Technical data on Warmlite Tents

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Europe and lightweight on 11/19/2008 15:54:23 MST Print View

I think the real reason for the lightweight style, single wall shelters and all that jazz not catching up in Europe is basically human density and lack or really wild, remote places. It's kind of hard to find a place where camping out is not an option but a given and many backpackers choose to stay in huts or even villages at the end of the day. I believe this even has an impact on the kind of activities people do in the mountains: plain backpacking is often hut to hut and it's considered kind of the easy, non-technical approach to the mountains so the outdoor kind of person usually favors more technical activities.

In my environment, I meet all the time people that are quite proficient in their field (climbing, skiing, whatever) and don't really have a clue about camping, sleeping gear or anything related to being out there for more than one day at a time.

This kind of people go to the obvious when they get a shelter and they won't own more than one because they won't use it that much anyway. If they do, it'll often be in a big time expedition environment (Andes or Himalayas) where heavyweight is quite the standard.

Even when just backpacking locally, some will skip the shelter and most of the stuff needed to be self-suficient over an extended period and relay on the huts instead. Even if they plan on camping out, they won't need to carry 5 days worth of food. They won't easily feel the need to be weight conscious.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Stephensons and single wall on 11/19/2008 16:01:58 MST Print View

in theory, you can get any of the Stephensons tents in a single wall version, not only the 2X, contrary to what the photo caption says. Actually, the 3X would meet the weight criteria

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008) on 11/19/2008 16:45:32 MST Print View

Sublite Sil with rain curtain
(some of us like pictures...)
Sublite Rain curtain

Patrick Baker
(WildMan) - F
State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008) on 11/19/2008 16:46:00 MST Print View

Rankings without the Usable Space, Usable Vestibule, Durability, and Value weightings:

Revised Rankings

I personally have tried both the CloudBurst and the Lunar Solo.

I sold the CloudBurst after experiencing instability during a wind event in Yellowstone, although I admit poor site selection and I was not using the most recent version.

I returned the Lunar Solo after setting it up in the backyard several times, and finding out that no way was I going to be comfortable in that tiny thing, but I am 6'2" and over 200 lbs.

I just ordered a Gatewood Cape, but have not set that up yet. I realize that its also a poncho so I am not expecting the perfect shelter.

IMHO, MLD has some interesting Pyramid and Half-Pyramid designs:

Edited by WildMan on 11/19/2008 16:50:54 MST.

Tim Cheek
(hikerfan4sure) - MLife
Customized Single Wall Tents Ratings Summary on 11/19/2008 17:15:40 MST Print View

Great and helpful report.

I was wondering if it was technologically possible to produce the evaluation chart on this site in a format that would allow us to do what Patrick has done: eliminate from consideration a criteria unimportant to us.

For example, I feel rich, I own a large dog and I plan on pitching the tent above timberline on sharp rocks. I would want to eliminate the value criteria and rank the tents that are best for wind stability and durabiltity that have a large vestibule.

If not, could the spreadsheet be made available to subscribers?

Edited by hikerfan4sure on 11/19/2008 17:18:41 MST.