performance between single and double walled shelters
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mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 02:47:23 MDT Print View

My very first post......

After much much much searching and comparing I have more questions than answers in a shelter choice. My buddies and I are not new to multi day hiking but we are very new to UL gear ideas/choices. My current double walled tent is 1.85kg and am keen to shed from this weight. So after all my searching I have stopped at the Tarptent manufacturer. I am uneasy about the single wall idea but am willing to give it a try especially seeing as these tents are very well ventilated so I can't see moisture build up as a big problem. So is there any difference in performance between a single and double walled tents? Someone said you can't touch the inside of the fly when it's raining because the water will enter into the shelter at that point....is that true?

MAny thanks. Mik.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 02:52:56 MDT Print View

There are many differences between single-skin and double-skin shelters. It might be easiest to say that double-skin shelters are primarily for winter use and especially snow use.

Note that a shelter with a netting 'inner' remains a single skin shelter. The inner tent has to be wind-resistant fabric for the design to be double-skin. In this context, 'wind-resistant' means just that; it does not mean 'waterproof'.

> Someone said you can't touch the inside of the fly when it's raining because the water
> will enter into the shelter at that point
Oh deary me ... that was true of Japara tents, but they went out of use in the early 70s. Whoever told you taht must have white hair and no knowledge of current gear. :-)

Cheers

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Re: performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 03:00:23 MDT Print View

Whoever told you taht must have white hair

Ha! Careful Roger! If you got the impression that we yanks have thin skins about our weather just wait til you hear from my fellow white haired folks:-)

mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 03:59:11 MDT Print View

I am leaning towards the Moment by Tarptent. Not quite sure what 3+ season means in regards to windproof netting as the manufacturer's website does not mention this. I am guessing thi smight mean it's okay for winter use but not snow use? I am not going to camp in snow so that is not an issue.

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
3+ season on 04/16/2012 07:34:15 MDT Print View

The main difference between 3+ and 4 season tents is ability to shed high winds and/or heavy snow loads. Not only on the outside, but true 4 season tents have little or no mesh, the double wall (tent body + outer fly) traps more warmth in the cold.
4 season tents are (to my knowledge) always free-standing and use opposing pole stresses to create a very rigid, often geodesic dome structure.
In general, when a tent maker says 3+ season, they really mean the tent isn't designed to withstand more than a light snow and won't retain any appreciable warmth in extreme temps.
Wind is kind of a separate consideration, and *could* be that what makes a tent great for snow, is terrible for wind, like tall, steeply sloped sides that shed snow but make a sail in wind.

With single wall shelters, the two main weak points (weather-wise)are going to be blowing snow getting under the fly, up over the bathtub-floor wall and into the sleeping area. Some tents can mitigate this by angling the windward pitch against ground, I would guess the Moment would be difficult to make this happen. And number 2: the ability to not collapse under accumulating snow.

The waterproof-ness of the floor when camping *on* snow is in my experience less of an issue than it was 10 years ago due to better materials, but can be a consideration. A sheet of polycryo, or tyvek under the tent can basically negate that problem.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Re: performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 08:41:46 MDT Print View

My 2008 vintage $500 MSRP double-wall tent, if I touch the inner with sufficient force it touches the outer which has condensation, then instant rain on my head. Could the concern with "touching" be trying to mean touching the inner so much it then touches the outer? As to why that touching is a problem, I don't know but my guess is hydostatic head figure of the thinner inner fabric not able to withstand much pressure of water. The outer fabric is designed to not let heavy rain through.

My answer to that was more headroom for me to reduce the touching problem, that's my 6th tent in 30ys on order.

My first tent was single-skin and I will never go back even though plenty are happy with them, a lot has to do with the conditions you're camping.

Defining all tents with mesh inner as single-skin is very confusing, you're then meaning there are single skin, double skin, and lined?

Thomas Budge
(budgthom) - F

Locale: Idaho
Single v. double-wall on 04/16/2012 09:53:13 MDT Print View

Mik,

I've owned only one single-wall shelter. Actually it was a hybrid with a floor, mesh walls, and single-skin roof (SMD Trekker). I liked everything about it ... except the condensation. Living in a relatively arid area I expected condensation to be a rare occurrence. Wrong. More often than not there was condensation, sometimes lots of it. I had to be careful not to touch the ceiling or I would get wet, and more than once I bumped the roof and had a rainshower in my tent. I sold it. To me it wasn't worth the hassle of having to be careful about moving around. There are obviously lots of people who would disagree, but for me it was a pain.

I expect something like the Tarptent Notch that has a full mesh inner would take care of my concerns. Even better would be something with a solid roof on the inner. I'm going to buy the Stratospire 2 as soon as it comes out with a solid inner.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Single v. double-wall on 04/16/2012 11:54:18 MDT Print View

Condensation. There are multiple causes and each cause has its preventative measure.

I just ordered a Tarptent Notch which will hopefully fix some of these causes, but its a 3-season design. I might get another tent for the 4th season will see how the next year goes.

Edited by nigelhealy on 04/16/2012 14:00:21 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 12:25:00 MDT Print View

I personally prefer my condensation where I can easily reach it and wipe it off while I'm in my sleeping bag--that means a single wall tent. Your Mileage May Vary!

If I don't wipe the condensation off before my dog wakes up, though, his morning tail-wag routine (he's mostly Lab so he can clear a coffee table with a single wag) brings it all down in a hurry! Even so, it's nothing that the DWR on my sleeping bag shell can't cope with.

As far as a tent wall's leaking when touched--not since the days of old-fashioned untreated canvas tents. Yes, there were some of those around when I was a kid, but anyone who says that now must have lived in a sealed cave for the past 50 years. (Never mind their hair color!) The tent my parents had when I was a kid (bought in 1940) was Egyptian cotton with a paraffin coating, and it certainly didn't leak when touched! It stood up to all sorts of really nasty weather, including hurricane force winds. Of course it wasn't exactly light weight--12 lbs. for a 3-person tent, including poles and stakes--although that was light weight for 1940. It was single wall and we never had any problems with condensation inside.

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 12:28:23 MDT Print View

I prefer a double wall tent where the inner tent is 100% ripstop with no or very little nylon netting. Warmth and reduced condensation are the primary benefits for me.

I hike in the mountains of the pacific northwest. Cool rainy days and nights are frequent. In wet weather with outside temps in the 30s (F) I can raise the inside of the tent to the 40-65 degree range, depending on how active I am in the tent.

Kyle Meyer
(kylemeyer) - M

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: Re: performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 13:16:35 MDT Print View

Like Daryl, I also live in the cold and damp of the Pacific Northwest. Unlike Daryl, I prefer large tarps like the MLD Trailstar to enclosed tents—double wall or otherwise. Condensation is minimized under a tarp because of the abundant airflow, and the huge amount of space allows you to cook, sprawl out, and keep your gear at hand.

Mik, I'd give a serious look into getting a somewhat enclosed floorless shelter instead of a tarptent—lighter, more useful, easier to live in.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 13:34:46 MDT Print View

>> Defining all tents with mesh inner as single-skin is very confusing <<

Mik -

I not sure why Roger knocked this thread side-ways by responding that all tents with a mesh inner are single wall... that's just not helpful. He may "technically" be correct but in almost any discussions regarding 3 season, double wall tents, the discussion is talking about a tent with a fly and an inner tent (mesh or solid).

Since you specifically mentioned you are looking at Tarptents, the Stratospire tents are a good example of a double wall tent on the Tarptent site (Henry calls them double wall although Roger obviously disagrees). The advantage of double wall tents is that they move you away from the condensation that forms on the inside of any tent in humid conditions.

Single wall tents will try to manage the condensation by ventilating the inside of the shelter. This often means that single wall tents are quite drafty. Some single wall tents can be pitched tightly to the ground to avoid the drafts but this will cause them they accumulate more condensation which then has to be managed. Not a big issue is you are OK with a few wall wipe-downs during the night or use a bag cover.

Double wall tents with mesh liners suffer from the same condensation issues as the single wall tents however, the inner mesh tent next to your sleeping bag won't be wet so brushing against the inner causes very few issues. If the double wall tent is well designed, the condensation will remain on the underside of the fly and never touch the mesh inner.

I gave up on single wall tents as I found them too drafty for my liking. The condensation issue was never something that caused me any grief.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 13:50:38 MDT Print View

my tent before my current one was a single hoop design with the ends of the hoop at foot/head the inner was mesh roof and solid inner half-way down to the bathtub. When I sat up, it was drafty, made the shelter not as warm, but wasn't too bad laying down. It had a fly flap which kept rain out of a roof vent which formed part of the guying system. I didn't have any real condensation complaints about it. It was heavy, 2.1Kg, and I broke it from years of use. So I think from that experience I quite like the partially-solid inner with roof vent concept, so long as the geometries work out good and I'd say that is good for above-freezing situations where you don't want to over-heat in northern latitudes with morning sun from 4am.

The tent I had after that is warmer, it has less mesh and the fly has no roof vents but its got such a terrible condensation problem, plus looking at angles it can't get a tight pitch quickly. 1Kg though.

So what I've done is beef up the sleeping bags to better quality down rated to cooler temps, and just now new a partially-solid-inner Tarpent. I'll give that a shot, I'm willing to accept might be a mistake but since when doesn't anyone stop learning?

The issue of tent weight, well that's quite a bit related to your body shape, your height, your weight, and the relative upper/lower dimensions. To make my tent warmer in colder situations I moved from Prolite to the thicker mats but it then just took the just-right headroom to too-little so I've moved to a higher roofline.

Also, I'm not sure a single shelter for the winter is right for the summer, I know there are tents which claim this, e.g. pitch inner-only but I've yet to be convinced and I'm assuming its at least two shelter types needed for full spectrum.

I used single-skin 30 years ago, never again. Some like them.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 14:22:46 MDT Print View

This is a great article discussing this very subject: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/single_wall_shelters_condensation_factors_tips.html

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 15:28:40 MDT Print View

>> "I am uneasy about the single wall idea but am willing to give it a try especially seeing as these tents are very well ventilated so I can't see moisture build up as a big problem."

Don't worry, Henry at TarpTent knows what he's doing. As I just recently posted in another thread - I have the Rainshadow 2 and live in the rainy PNW. My first night with the Rainshadow 2 we endured 12 hours of rain, with 3 people in the tent, temps in mid-30's, and didn't get wet. There was a light bit of condensation on the inside, but it was so little I was able to bump my head against it without hardly noticing. The TarpTents are built for ventilation, which is the key to avoiding condensation in a single wall.

>> "Someone said you can't touch the inside of the fly when it's raining because the water will enter into the shelter at that point"

No.

mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 15:39:55 MDT Print View

Thank you guys so much for the responses. I have learned a great deal from your answers. My current tent is a Denali Zephyr 1 http://www.anaconda.com.au/Product/Flash-Banner-Products/Hike-Scene-Banner/ZephyrIHikeTent. I really don't like the waste of space of the tiny unusable vestibule that is directly in the way of entry /exit and after leaving out all but the bare essentials I can't get the weight under 1.85kg. The thing takes 16 stakes to get it errected properly with the fly not touching the inner!!

For me/personally I would consider my sleep and proper footware to be on top of my list when through hiking.....I must get a good night sleep otherwise cranky-Mik appears the next day. Sounds like the single walled idea (no matter how salivating the lower weights are) may not be a good idea for me. With greater ventilation I can see this issue would be minimized but then you have a draftier tent.

Does anyone know if the TarpTents mesh are windproof rated? I am guessing probably not to aid in moisture expelling.

Thanks for the explanations and responses :).

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 16:33:05 MDT Print View

Hi Mary

> I personally prefer my condensation where I can easily reach it and wipe it off while
> I'm in my sleeping bag
Good One!
Yes, I sometimes have to wipe the tent down first thing in the morning. Sue stays down under her quilt while I wipe the roof, then sits up and demands breakfast.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: 3+ season and double-skin on 04/16/2012 16:53:11 MDT Print View

Hi Daniel

> 4 season tents are (to my knowledge) always free-standing and use opposing pole
> stresses to create a very rigid, often geodesic dome structure.
You need to read our article on Tunnel Tents. Geodesic domes are generally heavier than tunnels. But NO 4-season tent can be 'free-standing' in a storm: they ALL need guy ropes. For that matter, pitching a 3-season tent without any guy-ropes can be equally embarrassing in a good wind. 'Free-standing' is just spin.

> true 4 season tents have little or no mesh,
I agree for sure.
I will argue that the second skin must have zero mesh and be fully-enclosing to be a real 'skin'. Otherwise what you have is a mosquito net inner.

Why am I being so hard-line about this definition of what is and what is not a double-skinned tent? Well, partly because of all the marketing spin flying around. Unless we have some clear definitions, everything degenerates into hype and spin, which does us no good at all.

There is nothing wrong with a single-skin tent with a netting interior. It can be an excellent design if you want to keep insects out: that can make the difference between a good night and a bad night, as many of us know. They are just a different class of tent from double-skin tents.

Cheers
Genghis Khan
:-)

Edited by rcaffin on 04/16/2012 16:55:13 MDT.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 17:06:21 MDT Print View

The Zephyr is showing as 90cm internal height, you not mentioned that as an issue? Implies you're not too tall? My current one is 95cm and I found it too low when I moved up a thicker mat for colder weather. The Notch I ordered is 109cm but becomes about 100cm if I lower it for windier conditions.

I researched the same basic questions but coming from a 1Kg shelter perspective. To answer your questions (correct me if I'm wrong).

TT mesh is not windproof but will blunt the breeze.
Solid inner option exists for the Scarp1
Partially solid inner with windproof for lower panels for Notch and Stratospire1
The Moment has only a mesh inner option (I think still right?)
Scarp, Moment have pole options to help with snow loading. The SS1 has some attachment points for helping it cope with some snow loading.

Dual-vestibule for Scarp, Notch, SS1. In my case I bike-tour so one vestibule for bike, the other for entry/exit but I can swap these around if the wind changes. I also liked being able to adjust the fly height. See http://tarptent.com/momentliner.html at 2mins48sec for lowering, set poles to 105cm.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
performance between single and double walled shelters on 04/16/2012 17:30:16 MDT Print View

Mik
Since you mentioned your Denali tent I suspect you are in Australia.
I look after Tarptent here in Australia , so keep this in mind...
I have used most of the TT solo shelters, the Moment is the easiest, nicest to use however there is always a good reason for me to use the other ones too.
The 3.5 season designation means that it will take most weather but not heavy snow.
With the extra crossing pole however it will take a couple of feet of dryish snow.
Anyway snow is not your concern and it will certainly take an out of season fall up in the alps as it is.
The main concern is if you are very tall, say over 185cm and in particular if you use thick mats.
In that case your head will not be far from the end wall and condensation could be a problem.
A few points...
Not all 4 season tents are freestanding. (buy a subscription and read the current article on tunnel tents..)
I am with Mary. I rather prefer wiping the sealing down than carrying a wet second wall.
(if you don't let your fly dry before packing it up, that will wet the inner wall in transit. Water is heavy...)
If you separate the inner wall you still need to dry the fly and that is what I do with the single wall....
As for warmth, it is a bit tricky but often enough people increase the humidity level inside the tent by sealing themselves up .
high humidity in low temps means a perceived cold temperature (a bit like wind chill, your thermometer will not tell you that but it is so)
So there are always trades off.
Anyway, this is my Moment...

two moments
Franco
franco@tarptent.com

Edited by Franco on 04/16/2012 17:39:49 MDT.