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Single Wall Shelters
Single wall shelters represent a scant fraction of the tent market, which is dominated by hooped, domed, and geodesic double wall tents that stake such claims as "warm", "bombproof", "condensation-free", and God-forbid, even "lightweight" and "ultralight". However, where innovation is being made is in the single wall shelter arena: pitching schemes, panel cuts, breathable fabrics, and ventilation options have resulted in a new breed of shelters that offer lighter weight for ultralight backpackers. Do single wall shelters have disadvantages relative to their double walled brethren? Of course. Use this forum thread to debate the single-vs-double wall issue, discuss the context by which double wall shelters excel, talk about some of the new products in the single wall shelter market, and offer tips and tricks for getting the most out of single wall shelters.
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
When to Use a Single Wall Tent vs. Tarp? on 10/26/2004 19:25:03 MDT Print View

This is a question we get asked quite a bit. The obvious answers, and the motivation for the questions, are most commonly related to things like "bugs" or "rain" or "snow" or "wind".

However, I have been wondering, and I'm wondering if others think about this as well, whether the weather protection (e.g., from rain, wind, snow, etc.) that is purchased by the additional weight of a single wall tent over, say, a tarp+bivy combo, is worth it?

I find myself tarp camping primarily in the summer, where even in the mountains, the weather is not a big issue and I simply can't define a lighter sleep system than a poncho tarp, a Vapr Bivy, and an Arc X.

In April and October, however, I begin to think a little harder about these questions.

Other thoughts?

Bryan Redd
(lucylab) - F
Henry Shires Tarpent: Why not reviewed? on 10/26/2004 20:01:52 MDT Print View

I am curious (and disappointed) why you didn't review Henry's line of single wall tents. They are readily available and in wide use. ProLite now carries them. Omitting them seems like a signficant oversight and leaves a noticeable gap in your otherwise good review. Why?

William M Sivori
(wsivori) - F
Single Wall Versus Tarp on 10/26/2004 20:23:30 MDT Print View

I hike mostly in the southeast where the weather is humid and bugs can be a problem in the summer.It also rains. Winter camping for me is probably similar to your summer camping.

It is nice to have the bug protection and ventilation of a single wall shelter that offers some space to move about if sitting out or sleeping through a summer storm. A bivy and tarp does not give this much versatility.

I am glad to see more thought being put into the design of single wall shelters for this reason. The weight of the Lunar Solo is close to a tarp + bivy setup and it gives you room to move around. If the Lunar Solo had a zip fly closure it might be the ideal summer time setup for me.

In the winter here I do prefer a tarp with just a ground cloth. No bugs and little humidity except for rain.


Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Single wall vs. tarp selection on 10/26/2004 21:12:13 MDT Print View

Gear selection is always a balancing act for me, with shelters at the forefront because they are such a big part of base pack weight.

For me, the tarps tend to sit on the shelf when it snows but I find myself sticking with floorless tents and tarps longer into the colder months, especially in lowland areas like our Olympic Coastline, where it never snows but gets plenty cold. In the snow and mud, though, there's nothing like a floor to make camping dry and easy.

In the desert, I always use a floored tent and prefer a freestanding tent. The floor protects from varmits and a freestanding design makes pitching on slickrock or sand washes really easy- I find it's worth it for me. And with single wall tents like the Black Diamond Epic series becoming lighter and more breathable, it's becoming an easier choice to make.

But like anything in this sport, balancing your needs and wants in gear selection is critical.

Doug Johnson, Shelter Editor

Brad Hoyt
(bdhoyt) - F
Shire's Tarpent Not Reviewed? on 10/27/2004 05:42:06 MDT Print View

What about Shire's

Edited by bdhoyt on 10/27/2004 05:42:46 MDT.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Shires Tarptents on 10/27/2004 10:01:54 MDT Print View

Ack! No Shires Tarptents!!

Actually, BPL has reviewed the TarpTents already in September 2003:

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
tent weights on 10/27/2004 13:20:40 MDT Print View

I recently purchased a Black Diamond Lighthouse for winter/heavy rain use and was disappointed that it weighed 3# 9oz with minimal accessories as shipped. I've gotten the weight down to just under 3# with Fibraplex poles, light guylines, Ti stakes. Your gear guide (probably with info from the manufacturer) gave 3# of weight as the baseline.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Lighthouse tent weights on 10/29/2004 14:14:37 MDT Print View

Thanks for the heads up on the updated Black Diamond Lighthouse weight- we'll get the GearGuide updated soon. We get our stats for our GearGuides from manufacturers- either we made a mistake or BD updated their numbers here. Their posted weight for this tent is "1.45 kg (3 lb 3 oz)".

Doug Johnson, Shelter Systems Editor

Karen Allanson
(karen) - F
Single-wall tents on 12/13/2004 18:38:30 MST Print View

A second vote for Henry Shire's tarptent. It's ideal for three-season use.

Also, in terms of bivy reviews, I didn't see a mention of Montbell's very light 7 oz. Gore-Tex bivy.

I like the First Light for winter ski trips - a very fast pitch and great head room for the size.

I still bring just a sil tarp for even lighter winter ski trips, and use it as the ceiling of a quickly dug snow shelter. Still the most "bomb-proof" shelter out there for snow trips, in my opinion, unless you take the trouble to dig a full-on snow cave.

Roland Hackenberg
(Robson) - MLife
tent weight on 02/19/2005 00:23:00 MST Print View

have you used the Lighthouse in bad conditions (i.e.heavy rains??)Just would like know how it performs..especially since EPIC is obviously not 100% waterproof.

no Integral Designs eVENT? on 02/19/2005 14:38:30 MST Print View

Is the rumor true that ID isn't selling eVENT tents? What about REI not selling them in certain states (like CA)? A flamability issue?

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
ID eVent tents pulled from the market!? on 02/19/2005 15:48:00 MST Print View

This is no rumor. It appears that GE (new owner of BHA Technologies [maker/designer of eVENT]) has decided that eVENT will longer be approved for usage in tents due to its lack of flame retardancy. This has been confirmed through direct conversation with Integral Designs. If correct no one, Integral Designs or anyone else will be able sell an eVENT tent. See the discussion in the G Spot under this same discussion.

Edited by naturephoto1 on 02/19/2005 17:34:20 MST.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
eVENT tent last chance on 02/22/2005 19:28:28 MST Print View

As you've heard, the end of Integral Designs eVENT tents is here. However, other companies have a year of eVENT production left.

Check out the partial eVENT hybrid by Big Agnes- the Sarvis series. Look for an upcoming review!

ALSO- for those who wish they had bought an ID tent- check out the NEMO Tenshi found here:
Also look for an upcoming mini-review. This is the last eVENT mountaineering tent on the market and only 200 will be made. After this year, it's all over.

Best of luck!
Doug Johnson
Shelter Systems Editor

David Spellman
(dspellman) - F
Tenshi on 02/23/2005 17:02:58 MST Print View

Just curious what you thought about the "condensation curtain" that's part of this tent? I wonder if it really *works*?


Steve Smith
(bardsandwarriors) - F

Locale: Wales
I wouldn't use a tarp in wales on 08/13/2005 09:41:19 MDT Print View

I think it depends on where you hike - the terrain, flora, weather patterns, etc.

I wouldn't use a tarp in wales - I use a single-wall floorless tent. Most terrain here is open fields or moorland. In the larger valleys the wind usually whistles across open moorland; you have to go down into the lower valleys to find trees. On farmland at lower levels there are plenty of copses but you wouldn't want to damage them by breaking branches off, and they are frequently used as shelters by sheep.

Because of the open land and the unpredictable climate, you need to be ready for anything. The weather systems sweep in from the atlantic and drop their rain over the celtic mountains. It can be beautifully sunny one moment, and half an hour later you can be in driving rain, or even hail or snow. We often get storms in summer, due to the still air and convective air currents; and it can rain for a week at a time, or be blazing hot for the same week. Winter tends to be greyer and more steadily damp, or blustery and showery. It adds a big random element to any trip, which is part of the adventure; and it pays to be ready for it.

I think the army issue tarps, but AFAIK that limits where you can pitch - eg. low against stone walls (full of insects), or find a forestry plantation.

Edited by bardsandwarriors on 08/13/2005 09:52:25 MDT.