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UL Tent Vs. Traditional
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c c
(ccwave) - F
UL Tent Vs. Traditional on 05/08/2012 15:15:38 MDT Print View

I'm looking at getting a new tent. I would love to get something light. I've been reading various threads and reviews concerning different style tents, etc.

The issues I'm wrestling are while looking for a 2 person tent:

1. Single wall or double: I've read about the condensation issues with single-is that common? Something to really worry about? I will I be less warm in single?

2. In conjunction with #1, do I go for a Tarp Tent style or more expensive light wait traditional ( I do own trekking poles)

I'm trying to balance the tricky issues of weight, comfort, durability and ease of set up (maybe I'm asking for too much) For example: What are the advantages/disadvantages between a BA Copper Spur UL 2 vs. a TarpTent Double Rainbow-as a novice it "seems" like the BA will protect more, not have as much condensation issues, but much more expensive

Any thoughts or recommendations would be appreciated. Please let me know which tent you appreciate and why. Again, I love the idea of keeping my pack weight down with a lighter tent.

I am a novice backpacker hoping to gain more experience

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Re: UL Tent Vs. Traditional on 05/08/2012 15:30:05 MDT Print View

I can't comment on the single vs. double wall bit.

"What are the advantages/disadvantages between a BA Copper Spur UL 2 vs. a TarpTent Double Rainbow"

Coppper Spur: Trail weight: 3 pounds 6 ounces (poles, fly, and tent body)
Double Rainbow: 2 pounds 9 ounces (add in poles for support, negligible if already carrying!)

So that's a weight savings of 13 ounces, nothing to sneeze at! Ounces are what it boils down to, I think. If you're using the double rainbow as your UL reference, just be aware even it is on the heavy side. If you really want to see some of the possible stuff check out zpacks Hexamid Twin (with bug netting and a beak). UL can be way expensive too, but wow is that thing light. You could also just use a tarp if you're looking for bare bones, those are uberlight.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: UL Tent Vs. Traditional on 05/08/2012 15:31:24 MDT Print View

Before giving response to your questions, it might be helpful to know where you backpack, under what sorts of conditions. My inclination would be to recommend more of a tarptent style, but I hike in relatively mild conditions and those who hike in more extreme weather might recommend other things.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Tarps on 05/08/2012 15:38:26 MDT Print View

Consider a tarp. I find I am happier with a groundsheet and no floor for several reasons. A tarp is lighter. A tarp has fewer condensation issues. Really, the only "protection" you need is to keep water off of you(and bugs sometimes). A good tarp will keep most water off of you. Any water that sneaks in will likely roll off your sleeping bag's dwr and into the ground, not be held in by a waterproof floor. You can take a bug net of your choice in bug season.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Where do you hike? on 05/08/2012 15:39:21 MDT Print View

Like d k said, where you hike can make a big difference. In the southern Sierras, which is where I mostly hike, condensation on a single wall tent is a very minor issue for the most part. Why? Because the air tends to be very dry.

In the MidWest or SouthEast, where humidity tends to be high, condensation would tend to be much more or an issue.

So where do you hike?

c c
(ccwave) - F
UL Tent Vs. Traditional on 05/08/2012 15:40:22 MDT Print View

I'm backpacking mostly in the Utah area and I would say that I'm a three season backpacker-I imagine going on a camp out with scouts in the winter, but not tons of backing during the winter.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: UL Tent Vs. Traditional on 05/08/2012 16:02:14 MDT Print View

I have rarely had bothersome condensation issues in single-wall tarptents (mostly backpack in the Sierra), only have experienced lots of condensation in foggy cold weather (i.e., SF Bay Area). I would say that the tarptents I've used tend to be colder (i.e. more air circulation, drafty) than double wall tents, but there are things you can do (like pile stuff around your face or wear a hat or buff over your face) that make it less noticeable. The weight savings wins for me in the end.

The Tarptent Double Rainbow or Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo will probably be the most protective against cold drafts of single-wall tarptent styles, but also more prone to condensation from what I understand. Lightheart Duo (self-serving mention here; in the interest of full disclosure, I have one for sale on the Gear Swap now) is somewhat intermediate in both respects. Tarptent Cloudburst/Squall models are breezier, but less condensation prone yet. I'm limiting mentions to models I've actually owned (or at least had lengthy discussions with owners on, in the case of the Double Rainbow), and to two-person tents since that seems to be what you're interested in. I'm a cold sleeper, so my observations are colored by that aspect. Other folks may have differing opinions.

Nick Brown

Locale: Highland Park
Hybrid Nemo on 05/08/2012 17:17:08 MDT Print View

I have a Nemo Meta 1P. It is a one person tent. They do make a two person version which was favorably reviewed here on BPL. Perhaps you can extrapolate from this one person tent description if the two person would suit your needs.

This is a really great tent especially as a transitional shelter from a more traditional tent to a tarp/ Pyramid style tent. It is a hybrid of single wall and double wall types by having a huge vestibule on the front entrance of the tent. The entire door side is mesh. There is also an eyebrow shape mesh vent low on the back side wall which is covered by a mini vestibule. The apex of the tent also has an off center covered vent creating great circulation and very little condensation. The narrow sides of the tent are continuous, bathtub floor to wall so there are no drafts from these ends. It pitches like a tarp using one trekking pole and is very easy to pitch with no experience. All the seams are seam taped. The listed weight is something like 2lbs 8oz. The tent is actually 2 lbs including guylines. It comes with a compression drysac for a stuff sack which I don't use. It weighs the other 8oz. This tent is excellent if you are about 6'1" or under and uses 8 stakes. I got it new, on sale for a little over $200.

James Jones
(maniacjwj) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
UL Tent vs. Traditional on 05/08/2012 17:18:13 MDT Print View

Have you considered the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 at 2 lbs 10oz? I own one and liked it. I switched it out for a ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tarp with Extended Peak and FlyScreen at 11.75oz. It comes down closer to the ground on 3 sides than most tarps I have seen and protects me from the bugs. I still haven't tested either tent in a strong rain. On a light rain, the Fly Creek UL2 got rain on the inside when I unzipped the front because the door leans back. Those are two more considerations.

Edited by maniacjwj on 05/08/2012 17:20:11 MDT.

Karen Kennedy
(karenk) - MLife

Locale: NE NSW - Australian subtropics
Tent? on 05/08/2012 17:47:45 MDT Print View

Look at the Tarptent Stratospire 2 - much more spacious than the Double Rainbow, very easy setup, two protected doors, two spacious vestibules, and incorporates your trekking poles which you carry anyway. The spaciousness alleviates the issue with condensation - much less likely to brush against the tent walls. The tent fly also pitches closer to the ground than many Tarptents, increasing protection from the elements.

This tent is an excellent innovative design if you're thinking tent not tarp.

matthew rangel
(MRangel) - F
Black Diamond on 05/08/2012 19:18:55 MDT Print View

I use a Black Diamond Hilite tent. Single wall, very strait forward, good venting. Very light (under 3lbs). I've only had one incident in winter where there was noticeable condensation but not enough to bother with the idea of trading it in for a heavier dbl wall tent. An MSR Packtowel solves this problem immediately.

It is comparible in size to the Tarptent Rainbow. There is no need to bother with using treking poles which don't always stay in place or tent stakes for that matter which don't work on solid rock!

If I want a bit more room, I take the Black Diamond Lighthouse tent which adds an extra 6ozs and sets up the exact same way as the Hilite. Freestanding dome tent without extra frills that you can set up anywhere!

c c
(ccwave) - F
UL Tent Vs. Traditional on 05/08/2012 21:42:04 MDT Print View

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 is another traditional tent I'm looking at. It's quite pricey and seems like a great tent with low weight. This is what I'm struggling with in terms of getting a tent: do I pay the extra money for a traditional tent that is light or go for something a little more innovative like a tarptent style, possibly pay a little less, but maybe have a tent that isn't as protective, weather proof, etc. In my mind a traditional tent is more "protective" and may be this is where I err or don't have enough knowledge with tarptents

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Tarp tents on 05/08/2012 22:35:50 MDT Print View

Once you use a good single wall shelter for a while, you'll forget you ever thought it was less protective. Whichever shelter you use, you will become adept with and accustomed to. My recommendation is to buy popular single-wall, used shelters on the forum at prices where you're likely to get your money back if you change your mind. Try a couple this way and you will soon start to form preferences and your skills with the various shelters will improve, and eventually you'll end up with a shelter you really enjoy. In the meantime, you get to try a lot of cool new gear out!

Theron Rohr
(theronr) - F

Locale: Los Angeles, California
Re: UL Tent Vs. Traditional on 05/08/2012 22:50:01 MDT Print View

Unfortunately I don't think there's a simple answer to this question. As often said every shelter has it's pros and cons. Your problem is the classic newcomers - you don't know what your criteria are so you can't decide.

I actually think this is where the traditional shelter shines. A double wall traditional shelter weighs more but can handle the widest range of conditions. This is good if you don't know what the conditions will be - either because you're inexperienced or because you go to a lot of different places and want the flexibility.

Don't get me wrong - I own single wall, tarps and a bivy but no double wall. However one thing I've noticed is that all of these have a point at which you wouldn't take them because some condition makes them suck. If you want one shelter to do it all then traditional may be the way to go.

Yang Lu
Re: UL Tent Vs. Traditional on 05/09/2012 00:13:49 MDT Print View

Here was the single wall tent I used near a calm lake. Hope it can give you an idea of how bad the condensation could be. It was absolutely miserable that day. All my down sleeping bag were wet.

single wall condensation

If you clearly know the air is not so humid, you are probably ok. To me, I think I cannot trust the tent if I fly to a new place, where I never tried the tent. Who knows how bad it could be when you wake up.

I have asked the similar question in the past. I think the answer came down to whether you use trekking poles. If you use them, Six Moon Design Haven or a double wall Tarptent would be better becasue they are bigger than BA Fly Creek. Copper Spur would be bigger also, but it is also heavier.

If you do not use trekking poles, then there is really no choice. You have to use regular tent.

c c
(ccwave) - F
UL Tent Vs. Traditional on 05/09/2012 08:38:38 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for your comments-they have been most helpful.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: UL Tent Vs. Traditional on 05/09/2012 09:00:18 MDT Print View

Regarding Condensation -

When the conditions are ripe you Will get condensation, whether you are under a "single wall" or a "double wall". A high open single wall may promote better circulation, but then you are compromising your "shelter effect" and getting wet from blown in rain. Many double wall flies are tight to the tent, close to the ground, and lack a vent, greatly enhancing the accumulation of condensate. The air flow (if there is any) can reduce the condensation, but again, it is not a function of single or double.

How you deal with the condensation is the issue. If you can control your movements under a single wall and not bump into the wet wall, all will be OK (given a good design and a tight pitch). All a double wall provides is a "bumper" to remind you to "go no further" (and maybe reduced heat loss).

When considering one over the other, remember to factor in proximity. Many single walls are small and low volume to minimize weight. Double walls usually have more volume and keep you further from the wet wall. But a reverse of this provides insight: I imagine a Mountain Laurel Design's Trailstar would be much easier to live in than a Big Agnes' Fly Creek UL1.

In either case you will still (occasionally) have to deal with a soaking wet, cold, sloppy, miserable piece of fabric. (And with a double wall, perhaps two.)

Edited by greg23 on 05/09/2012 19:35:16 MDT.

Devon Cloud

Locale: Southwest
Go Lite Shangrila 3 on 05/09/2012 14:15:05 MDT Print View

This is certainly not the lightest (or the heaviest)tent out there, but for what you are looking for may be the best option. This tent gives you options... you can have a insect net or leave it at home... you can have a floor or leave it at home and just bring the tarp. You can leave the center pole at home and use your trecking poles... you can leave your trecking poles at home and just suspend the top of the tarp from a branch.

You can go as light as 2 pounds, as heavy as 4 and a half.

The best thing about this single wall is the teepee style setup... the tarp is adjustable on the bottom. On days of heavy condensation you can adjust it to be higher to allow more ventilation. As the walls are all slanted, even with heavy condensation it will drip down the walls and away from you and your floor unless you are touching the side of the tent.

Golite is asking $200 right now.. I would hurry though as everying on that site is on sale and going fast... I wanted a quilt and they will not have it in stock until August.

Ask me though, the best option is hammock camping. Not cheap, but man is it a good night's sleep. I am getting rid of all my tents except for the Shangri la 3 because of how much I now like hammock camping. The only reason why I am hanging onto the one tent is I sometimes do some backpacking in the desert and there are not many trees to hang a hammock from.

Edited by devoncloud on 05/09/2012 14:19:22 MDT.

c c
(ccwave) - F
Go Lite Tent on 05/09/2012 19:23:32 MDT Print View

I will look into the Golite Shangrila 3 -the Golite Shangrila 2 looks real good, especially for the price. Does anyone have any opinions on that tent?

The idea of having a "free standing" tent seems real appealing. Do you feel having a free standing tent is important or are the benefits overblown?

how would you compare the Golite Shangrila 2 vs. Tarptent Rainbow?

c c
(ccwave) - F
Go Lite Tent on 05/09/2012 19:24:11 MDT Print View

Golite Shangrila 2 vs. Tarptent Double Rainbow