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Tim Testa
(MichaelRedbeard) - F
Confused... on 07/24/2009 00:13:26 MDT Print View

What exactly is a tarp tent or a tent that you use with trekking poles? Ive learned what a dual wall tent is; basically a tent with a fly and then an enclosure. A single wall tent is a tent with a fly and tent in one. I just cant figure out what these otehr two are. You guys talk about them frequently and I figured its finally time to ask about them instead of remaining outside of the loop :)

Edited by MichaelRedbeard on 07/24/2009 03:29:15 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
TT on 07/24/2009 00:19:54 MDT Print View

Tarp tent is a small company that makes tents. They make all kinds (single wall, double wall etc). It is not a kind of tent unless 'tart tent' is something else entirely. You can check them out at

Tents that set up using trekking poles are just that. They usually happen to be non-freestanding tents (a tent that can not stand on it's own (tent body + poles) and it needs to be either staked, tied to something or both). BUt theorically you could make one that uses trekking poles and is still freestanding.

The setup of a non-freestanding tent can really vary in how difficult it is. Some shelters (ie. Carbon Reflex 2) just need to be staked, while others require elaborate tie-offs etc.

You can have both single or double wall tents that use trekking poles, but it's more common with single wall tents because these tents are geared towards the ultralight hiker, so you generally see these attributes together.

Generally single wall tents are lighter and so are non-freestanding ones because they typically use less (or no) poles. Tents that are single wall, non-freestanding and use trekking poles are usually the lightest of all because the trekking pole weight is not considered part of the tents weight so really you just have the tent body.

This isn't always the case though. As you move towards single wall tents you need to be sure you are buying one that is well designed to minimize condensation. You also need some additional skill to minimize (and deal with) the condensation. Some non-freestanding tents require additional skill too with setting up the guy lines.

Edited by dandydan on 07/24/2009 00:27:54 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Confused... on 07/24/2009 10:35:30 MDT Print View

One source of the confusion is that some of us refer to all lightweight single-wall tents using "tarptent" as a generic term. This practice is grossly unfair to a really nice guy named Henry Shires, owner of, and is also a violation of intellectual property (copyright/patent) laws. I've stopped doing it (or have at least tried to!). "Lightweight single-wall shelters," although more cumbersome, is more descriptive. It's also fairer both to Henry and to the other makers of such shelters as Six Moon Designs, Gossamer Gear, Anti-Gravity Gear, Oware, Mountain Laurel Designs, Titanium Goat and others I have probably (and inadvertently) omitted.

The original Tarptent that Henry Shires invented (for his own PCT through-hike) was intended to combine the best features of a tarp (lightweight, airy and plenty of ventilation) and a tent (bug-proof and all in one piece, so less complicated to set up). Originally they had no floors. Later a sewn-in floor was added as an option. By now, you have to special order to get a shelter from Tarptent without a floor! Since a floorless shelter requires a separate ground sheet, the actual weight saving of omitting the floor is minimal or nonexistent. Some other manufacturers still sell floorless shelters, especially pyramids that may be used for snow camping.

Lightweight single-wall shelters may or may not require one or two trekking poles for support, although most do. The reason to use trekking poles is to save weight by supporting the shelter with a dual-use item. For non-trekking pole users, regular tent poles are available from the tent manufacturer although this destroys part of the weight savings. This weight savings is actually semantic--since the primary use of trekking poles is to support and balance the hiker, not the tent, they aren't counted in tent weight. If you use tent poles and don't take trekking poles, then the tent poles are lighter than most trekking poles! Also, most folk use trekking poles to support their tarps. When the tarp added sewn-in bug netting and morphed into a tent, the custom of using trekking poles continued. A few lightweight single-wall shelters come with their own poles and don't need trekking poles for support.

I hope this description helps clarify the situation!

Edited by hikinggranny on 07/24/2009 10:40:25 MDT.