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Double Wall Tents Review Summary and Gear Guide Overview
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Double Wall Tents Review Summary and Gear Guide Overview on 04/12/2006 07:38:22 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Double Wall Tents Review Summary and Gear Guide Overview

SL2 on 04/12/2006 17:36:12 MDT Print View


The seedhouse SL2 now weighs a (manufacturer-spec'd) 13 oz LESS than in this just-released gear guide.

...I was glad to have checked the BPL figures against reality before purchasing.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Double Wall Tents Review Summary and Gear Guide Overview on 04/12/2006 18:28:24 MDT Print View

Great article, Doug. Your intro was the best defense of double wall tents I've seen in the lightweight community. The fact that it comes from the "Home of the most fanatic pound-shedders on the planet" gives it extra credibility. Though I sometimes leave my behemoth Montbell Diamond home in favor of a somewhat lighter single wall tent or a much lighter tarp, your piece reminds me what's good about double wall tents.

Eric Jones
(ericjones) - F
I hate to be negative, but here's what I honestly think on 04/12/2006 20:02:30 MDT Print View

I hate to be negative but it's frustrating that nobody at this "magazine" checked the specs on the tents before releasing a gear specs guide. It's frustrating to have paid $25 for this.

In fact, the "Premium Content" subscription seems to give access to a low-activity gear review site with inaccurate or dated reviews that are posted less than weekly?

Mostly dead, broken-coded forums and "pay-more" content that is still not accessible with a paid Premium Membership (including portions of articles) round out the experience. Until a couple of weeks ago, the only complete discussion of stove choice was available for $5 USD *more* than the Premium Content membership, both of which I paid for. Pardon me if I spoil it, but the Winter Stove Selection article says the same stuff as the "for sale" article (by the same author) except that the free article adds that you should turn the canister over if it's cold out.

I guess I'm just frustrated because my trust in as a gear review site is broken, and that's all seems to offer anymore. Maybe that's why there are no dates at the top of the articles? I wish I'd known that I was buying mostly dated content that isn't changing much anymore.

Also, the advice and gear lists turned out to be not safely applicable to most of the world, including almost any place that's very far north of or south of the US. For instance none of the gear lists are written by people who have experienced bugs or bears except as the minor pest that they seem to be in the lower 48.

Anecdotally, Dr. Jordan seems to have fewer bag nights than a boy scout leader but pontificates more on what is and isn't necessary for backpacking than Ray Jardine. His first experience with a wet down bag was in 2004?

His first time in always-wet winter conditions was... two months ago? ... I grew up in those conditions, and I truly AM a novice despite having maybe a thousand nights in the bush.

And yet Jordan is more prolific in his guides, editorials, and recommended equipment lists than a retired mountain guide might be. (Although those who have decades of real experience also have the humility to keep their opinions modest and open-ended, and not to ridicule those who chose the life-saving safety margin provided by carrying a complete change of dry clothes. Or activating a PLB BEFORE the weather gets too bad for a rescue that's safe for you and safe for the SAR Techs:

Does he realize the effect that his advice as an "expert" is having on people around the world who may or may not be living in a climate where it's safe to bring a 5-pound pack into the woods alone? Cooking in a shelter, for instance, is the mark of a fool or a yuppie or a dead man where I come from, and I'm not from very rugged country.

Anyone can get away with razor's-edge ok-if-nothing-goes-wrong wilderness travel a few times or a few hundred times, especially in the non-jungle non-nordic comfortably temperate zone that is most of the USA. Just remember that it's not the action that kills you: it's the habit.

In my opinion, finding lighter ways to maintain a given safety margin is one thing. Writing thousands of words of rationalization about how the safety margin is actually just dogma is quite another. Charging me twenty five bucks to read it? At least get your tent weights accurate to within 1 lb.

Edited by ericjones on 04/12/2006 20:19:30 MDT.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Double Wall Tents Review Summary and Gear Guide Overview on 04/12/2006 21:32:27 MDT Print View

Thank you Dondo-
Compiling this 17 tent review release was a massive undertaking and I really appreciate your positive comments. And you are most certainly right- a second wall definitely has a place in the ultralight community! Have fun looking closely at these reviews- there's some really good info in there!

Take care,
Doug Johnson

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Dble Wall Tent Review on 04/12/2006 22:07:29 MDT Print View

Eric, I hear your frustration, and I do agree with you that it would be desireable to have a date on each BPL review and technical article so one knows which year's model was reviewed. Sometimes this is mentioned in the text body; other times not and one must guess. I was going to mention that in the CHAF forum, but you've just made the point.

That said, let's bear in mind that the Big Agnes weight reduction notice on their website is noted as "updated" - and is also undated.

I would bet that when the BPL staff was gathering the specs on each of the 17 tents under review for the referenced article, the Seedhouse series was not yet at its now reduced weight. This article obviously took quite awhile to put together from concept to finished product. The testing alone would have been a massive undertaking. In real life, things change with time, and we don't always get notification of same. It's not something to rant about. The important point is that the Manufacturer's Minimum Weight and the BPL minimum are virtually identical. That suggest to me that if their test tent were the newer, lighter model, those two values would remain essentially the same.

Wandering Bob

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
woah on 04/12/2006 22:07:55 MDT Print View

Overlooking one figure in that jumble of tens of thousands of words of copy is a mistake anyone could make. Especially if that figure was recently changed by a manufacturer without notice to BPL as noted above... I'm sure they didn't check every weight the night before they published...

Sounds like you may have a general frustration with what you perceive to be the purpose of this magazine, and you've allowed a small human oversight to trigger a wee bit of a vent.

/my 2 cents CAD

Edited by bjamesd on 04/12/2006 22:13:31 MDT.

William Wright
Re: I hate to be negative, but here's what I honestly think on 04/12/2006 22:52:53 MDT Print View


If you have a Nomex suit, you might want to don it. A huge rant because of an erroneous tent weight being published? Did you recently quit taking your medication? Or, is it just that time of the month? (Note: Psychotics and women, especially psychotic women, please don't flame me.)

There have been a number of customer complaints published recently expressing a lack of substance in the website. From what I've seen BPL has listened and is in the process of beefing the site up within the next month or two.

The author and editor are responsible for any publication errors, but anyone who writes for a living has published errors. One nice thing about the internet is BPL can receive feedback and they are able to easily correct their articles. Heck, they even give us readers an option to edit our own posts. I write plans and reports for a living and have made more than my share of typos and other errors. I'm always open to editorial comments and willing to correct my writings. I'm not willing to fall on a sword just because I fall short of perfection. I don't expect BPL or anyone else to either.

It appears to me that you're comfortable displaying your ignorance in public. If you knew Dr. Jordan's background you'd know he was a very active Boy Scout leader in a rather damp part of the country. I gather that he continues to be involved in scouting in at least an educational capacity.

You may wish to reconsider your ad hominem arguments against the advice dispensed by Dr. Jordan--after all, they are fallacious. It would be far better to argue logically on the merits, and such a discussion would be productive and welcomed here. As a University of Montana graduate, I could easily criticize Jordan for being a graduate of Montana State University, but that would be far too easy an argument to win and would not serve to advance the discussion of light-, ultralight-, and insanely light-weight backpacking.

I've read several authors, some a lot older than Jordan, who have never wet a down sleeping bag, even while canoeing or kayaking. These testimonies haven't been enough to persuade me to abandon synthetics--yet.

I've seen numerous discussions about safety at this site. As one who conducts environmental risk assessments, I'm aware that the traditional, bureaucratic approach is to aim for zero risk. Educated and open-minded individuals understand there is no such thing as zero risk (nobody's getting out of this life alive), and many of us choose to participate in risky endeavors--e.g., backpacking, shooting, hunting, boating, commuting back and forth to work, marriage, etc.

My impression is that most here believe that light- and even ultralight-weight backpacking is safer than traditional backpacking. I believe they make valid points.

Let's use Boy Scouting as an example of a program that promotes traditional backpacking. I just completed BSA scoutmaster training last fall, and they--somewhat understandably--tend to go overboard on safety. But then Boy Scouting isn't intended to create outdoorsmen; rather, the program is in effect a game meant to build character, citizenship, and physical and mental fitness. In today's litigious society it's easy to invoke safety as an excuse for doing or not doing something. In the outdoors, this often translates into more equipment--just in case.

I see a valid role for a light- or even ultralight-weight approach in scouting. Learning how to get the job done with less builds mental fitness and character, and doing so as a group helps to build citizenship. Many probably think that a boy humping a huge pack builds physical fitness, but I disagree; it can be harmful--downright unsafe.

I don't see anyone here advocating a superultralight-weight approach for everyone. There are folks here who are into pushing the limits, and, thank God, it's human nature to do just that in most all endeavors. Those doing it here do it knowing the risks involved. From my perspective I think they border on insanity--not because of their disregard for safety, but their apparent disregard for fundamental comforts. However, I realize that their explorations of the frontiers will undoubtedly result in technological innovations that may someday allow me to push my light-weight base pack down to the upper realms of the ultralight-weight, and that such advances will help make it possible for this aging, city-dwelling occasional outdoorsman to keep getting into the woods.


Edited by FarStar on 04/12/2006 23:03:39 MDT.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Seedhouse SL2 weights on 04/12/2006 23:19:27 MDT Print View

On the Big Agnes Web Site for 2006:
trail weight:2lb 14oz
packed weight: 3lb 6oz

In our Gear Guide (which features 157 tents):
3 lb 6 oz (taken from the Big Agnes 2005 specs)

In our review (2004/05 model):
weight-full package:
measured: 3 lb 14 oz
claimed: 3 lb 11 oz
manufactuer minimum: 3 lb 9 oz
bpl minimum: 3 lb 7.9 oz

If you look at the specs on the Big Agnes SL2 review, you'll see that this was a 2004 model which we recieved in 2005 (the tent was unchanged that year). But you're correct that the 2006 model is updated and lighter.

When you notice between manufacturer and BackpackingLight published weights it's important to consider that what manufacturers publish varies widely. Our weights always include everything needed to pitch the tent such as stakes, guylines, etc. And our weights are actual, never based on claims.

That said, I would guess based on Big Agnes claimed weights (which are typically pretty close and 5 oz lighter in the new model), that the new model would have a "manufacturer minimum weight" somewhere in the ballpark of 3 1/2 pounds.

While this difference is only speculation, I don't think it will be the 13 oz (or more) difference found in previous posts.

Best of luck with your tent purchase-

Doug Johnson, Section Editor

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: I hate to be negative, but here's what I honestly think on 04/12/2006 23:29:03 MDT Print View

> Cooking in a shelter, for instance, is the mark of a fool or a yuppie or a dead man where I come from, and I'm not from very rugged country.

An interesting comment on where you come from.
I have been cooking inside my small 2-man synthetic tent for the last 15 years, all year around. In that time I have had zero accidents. Many of my acquaintances do exactly the same, especially in the snow country.

You make this claim, but give no explanation or justification for it. WHY is it so 'novice' or bad? Why haven't all the rest of us found this out? Or is it just what you have been told by others?

By the way, I do not live in the USA, but in Australia. Our winter weather is pretty rough. I have walked in Europe, Nepal and the UK as well.

Roger Caffin

Erich Foster
(erichlf) - F
Re: I hate to be negative, but here's what I honestly think on 04/13/2006 09:50:34 MDT Print View

Don't forget that the Great Plains Indians cooked in their shelters (TeePees) for 1000s of years. Granted it is not a synthetic material that melts but they were also using wood fires.

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: Cooking in a tent on 04/13/2006 11:34:39 MDT Print View

I'm guessing cooking in a tent would be a greenhorn's mistake in griz or kodiak bear country. As to risks of fire or asphyxiation, tarps are more forgiving than the cramped vestibules of most tents, and open lean-to shelters accomadate open fires as long as the wind isn't wrong for it. That said, I once witnessed how fast "fire resistant" nylon melts and whithers away once a little spilled fuel ignites. Fortunately the accidentees were car camping. Alcohol was incolved, but not as a fuel.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
bears? on 04/13/2006 11:40:20 MDT Print View

He could be talking about bear danger?

In western Canada we can't bring food in a tent. But I'm sure that's true for lots of places in the world: It goes without saying that you need to know the rules of your backcountry before you put your life on the line there -- no matter what someone's website may say.

EDIT: Russell's right.

Edited by bjamesd on 04/13/2006 13:41:55 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: I hate to be negative, but here's what I honestly think on 04/13/2006 11:56:50 MDT Print View

"The author and editor are responsible for any publication errors, but anyone who writes for a living has published errors."

Indeed-- ask Dan Rather! Then again the President of the USA never makes mistakes-- at least he doesn't remember making them.

In doing my own research on equipment, I have found all kids of typos on the manufacturer's web sites and conflicting information from one site to another. In the outdoor products biz, the year of manufacture makes a big difference too, as the makers will keep the same model name and chenge the product. Buying an overstock 2004 model and a 2006 model may bring you significant differences or a good bargain-- but you better know what you are buying.

And I personally don't expect an organization like BPL to have the resources for extensive cross-checking that a large news organization does-- and we have seen those fail, even with multi-million dollar budgets.

The comments about medication are derogatory-- if you have someone close to you with mental health issues, it isn't funny. Think the same as you would about making similar comments about a cancer victim. As to your comments about women, I would start digging.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
In regards to the frustration expressed in Eric's post. on 04/13/2006 13:20:40 MDT Print View

Please guys, let's use some restraint and let this thread die. This might be premature but the post already has the makings of a thread where everyone feels it is de rigueur to justify their opinion. Can't we just say that Eric's post was a criticism and leave it at that? One of the thing I do so enjoy about this forum is the lack of childishness in comparison to every other forum in the

Carlos Elordi
(CarlosElordi) - F
Re: Double Wall Tents Review Summary and Gear Guide Overview on 04/13/2006 13:54:11 MDT Print View

I thought this was a great review and I enjoyed reading it.

I have one question though. How do scores compare to the ones being used in other tent reviews, such as those for Bomber Tents? Are the scores just relative to the tents being tested in one review or can you extrapolate to other cases? For example, the Big Sky Evolution 2P w/aluminum pole has the same scores for wind stability and storm protection than the Crux X2, reviewed under Bomber Tents.
Do they have the same meaning? Or are these scores just dependent on a different set of experimental conditions?
Thanks in advanced for any comments.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
comparing Double Wall, Single Wall, and Bomber Tent ratings on 04/14/2006 00:03:15 MDT Print View

Hi Carlos,

Great question! While I tried to make the ratings charts similar and to fit on a continuum, the truth is that they are mainly comparitive to the other tents in that particular release. This is especially true when comparing to bomber shelters which we rated much more strenuously for high wind stability and severe snow loading, conditions that 3-season double wall and single wall tents aren't designed for (although we certainly did consider minor snow loading and wind stability in our single and double wall tent ratings).

So you can do some comparisons across review summaries but do so keeping in mind that tents were more carefully compared against each other, not against all other tents that we've reviewed in the past.

Hope that clears things up a bit.

And to address your specific example, the Big Sky Summit Evolution 2P doesn't have the wind stability or stormworthiness of the Crux X2.

Thank you!
Doug Johnson

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: comparing Double Wall, Single Wall, and Bomber Tent ratings on 04/14/2006 03:08:48 MDT Print View

It would be interesting if a new combined table was produced which included ALL the shelters that have been reviewed. Use the same 1-5 scale (or 1-10 scale if you prefer) for all shelters (you might even include tarps). So, you would end up with a heterogeneous mixture of shelters in the table - tarps would be among the lightest (a 5); maybe some shaped tarps (4 or 5), single-wall shelters (some 3's for example); dbl-wall shleters (perhaps some 2's); the winter/mountaineering bomber proof shelters (might be 1's in the weight category). You get the idea. The other rating areas (ease of setup, ventilation/condensation, storm worthiness, etc) would also be re-rated for a heterogeneous table.

The final numeric ratings in this heterogeneous table would only coincidentally have the same numeric rating as in their categorical rating (i.e. a table of only dbl-wall tents for example), but would, probably for nearly all shelters in the new combined table, have a different categorical and overall rating than originally published.

Just a thought.

Carlos Elordi
(CarlosElordi) - F
Double Wall Tents Review Summary and Gear Guide Overview on 04/14/2006 08:16:00 MDT Print View

Thanks Doug for the clarification.
It would be interesting to follow Paul Johnson's suggestion about a table for all tarps and tents, with some standardized scores, providing unequal weights for 'storm protection' and 'wind stability' given the different set of experimental conditions.
In any case, this is still great stuff.

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Model Year on 04/14/2006 11:00:20 MDT Print View

FYI, all the articles and reviews on BPL list the date published in the citation (fine print at the bottom of the article). We now list model year in the Specs on all reviews. It's a really good idea to list model year in the spec and ratings tables in the Review Summary as well, and we'll start doing that.