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UL Tent Vs. Traditional
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Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Go Lite Tent on 05/09/2012 19:57:37 MDT Print View

"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?"

Mostly, the benefits are marketing based, rather than practical. There are some free-standing tents that are solid and reliable, but there are a lot of free-standing tents that fit Roger Caffin's pejorative "popup" monicker, also. (No offense, Roger. Just taking advantage of your terminology. :))

In general, if you're doing real-world camping where you might encounter things like inclement weather, there's no such thing as free-standing, because you still have to stake it down if you want it to stay put.

I've seen lots of positive reviews for both, but have no personal experience with them, so I'll defer to others who have first-hand experience with them. :)

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
Double walls on 05/09/2012 20:52:51 MDT Print View

> All a double wall provides is a "bumper" to remind you to "go no further"
> (and maybe reduced heat loss).

My guess is that having a double wall does reduce condensation because the temperature difference between the fly's interior and exterior is somewhat reduced.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Double walls on 05/09/2012 21:27:48 MDT Print View

"My guess is that having a double wall does reduce condensation because the temperature difference between the fly's interior and exterior is somewhat reduced."

Do you mean to say that the inside surface of the fly is warmer and thus less prone to condensation?

If so, how is that accomplished by the existence of an interior wall retaining heat?

Just asking here. (My style can be a little terse, but no denigration is intended.)

Edited by greg23 on 05/09/2012 21:32:59 MDT.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Free Standing on 05/09/2012 21:32:00 MDT Print View

Free standing tents can be nice if you're on solid rock, but be aware that they still need to be staked down if there is any wind or weather. they also tend to be heavier than non-freestanding tents.

Check YouTube for some hilarious vids of freestanding tents flying in the wind! You don't want that to be you!!!

Personally, I haven't used a free standing tent for years, decades even.

Edited by grampa on 05/09/2012 21:32:39 MDT.

Chris Scala
(Scalawag) - F
Freestanding on 05/09/2012 21:50:20 MDT Print View

My opinion is, it's a nice option to have if the extra weight is something you can manage. Typically the weight difference isn't that drastic, so I say, why not? It is foolish to think they don't need stakes though. A decent breeze even on a calm day can send one tumbling. At LEAST stake out 2 corners (diagonally), or keep some heavy gear items in there, if you can't stake it out.

Typically setting up on rock is a bad idea, but sometimes you just want a crazy vista or a new experience, and I think it's nice to be able to improvise with a few options.

c c
(ccwave) - F
Go Lite Shangrila 2 vs. Tarptent Double Rainbow on 05/09/2012 23:02:42 MDT Print View

Any thoughts on the Golite Shangrila 2 vs. Tarptent Double Rainbow?

c c
(ccwave) - F
Go Lite Shangrila 2 vs. Tarptent Double Rainbow on 05/09/2012 23:47:57 MDT Print View

Also, is it fair to say that a single wall tent is less warm inside than a double wall?

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Go Lite Shangrila 2 vs. Tarptent Double Rainbow on 05/10/2012 00:01:51 MDT Print View

"Also, is it fair to say that a single wall tent is less warm inside than a double wall?"

Potentially, yes. It's always possible to defeat the tent though, with the simple expedient of closing up the vents and breathing inside it. :)

Closed up, the tent will trap a layer of mostly still air between the two skins, which does provide some insulation. The need to maintain airflow in order to fend off condensation means that you'll be letting the heat bleed out through convection - that's of course why so many tents have low+roof vents... You lose heat, but gain circulation, which helps you to mitigate condensation.

With one wall, you don't have that extra layer of air, so you get less insulation.

Even a mesh inner will give you some extra warmth just by slowing down the airflow through the tent, but a nylon inner will trap more than a mesh inner.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
UL Tent Vs. Traditional on 05/10/2012 00:47:52 MDT Print View

>> is it fair to say that a single wall tent is less warm inside than a double wall? <<

I think that depends largely on the tent design of both the single wall and double wall tents in question. Most single wall tents are built to be quite "airy" to reduce condensation and in my area, they can turn into a very cold wind tunnel. Some single wall shelters can be pegged down tight to the ground and this will eliminate the the wind-tunnel effect but can increase the condensation build up considerably, so a bit of a trade off.

If a double wall tent has a combination of higher non-mesh sides and partial mesh on the inner tent (like the original Copper Spur and Fly Creek), they trap heat a little better because the wind doesn't pass through quite so easily but still keep the condensation away from you.

I find that my free standing tents take up less space than the non-free standing because the angle of the guy lines can be a bit less severe (the poles hold up the tent not the guy outs), so less space required.

Another consideration for me was that I do a lot of base camping and day trips so I like to have my trekking poles with me. This means I have to take the optional poles to support a free standing tent, so the weight saving over my double wall is reduced considerably. I like the idea of a free standing tent but unless I go to a cuben free standing hybrid, I'm really not gaining much with a non-free standing single wall tent.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
UL Tent Vs. Traditional on 05/10/2012 03:21:38 MDT Print View

UL tents, being single wall, are colder and prone to more "visable" condensation.
By visable condensation I mean the kind that will eventually drip down the sides onto the floor, wipe on your head, or shower your head with ice in cold weather.

Double walled shelters are warmer. Generally the person is protected from draughts and breezes not picked up by the fly, bugs & critteres. The second inner tent (bug mesh, light duty fabric or heavier non-silicone nylon) usually has a floor. Condensation still happens, but is generally not "visable" to the sleeper.

A single walled tent only has a single layer of insulation. with no air space. A double walled shelter has an air space between the two tent surfaces, again, adding insulating value. This is, of course, offset by the need for ventilation. Soo you can only get 10-15C degree temp differential out of most tents. Single wall tents are usually closer to 5-7 degree differential. Roughly about twice as warm in a double walled tent as opposed to a single walled tent.

Staking is a problem with either. A good stake will hold well at about a 30 degree angle. The closer to a 90 degree stress on the stake, the stronger the staking pount, generally. Longer guy lines set near the top of a dome help more than those set near vertical tent walls. Wind hammer, gusts and vagrant eddies, will loosen stakes (a small elastic bungie will help minimize this and increase the effective staking angle.) Heavy winds will cause them to fail. I am ignoring poles and tent materials.

Double walled tents are generally used mostly by the light weight people. Those with less than 20 pound base loads. They generally weigh about 2/3 more than a single walled shelter. Cuben double walled shelters are rediculously expensive as of today. Single walled shelters are used mostly by the UL weight people, those with less than 10 pound base loads. (Note that this says nothing about the trip duration, nor, activities planned.) Per title, you knew that...

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Double wall, warmth, condensation on 05/10/2012 03:35:22 MDT Print View

While it depends also a lot on the particular tent's design, yes, a double wall is warmer than a single wall. It can be so for two reasons: first, it's as obvious as being two walls of fabric between occupants and the outside... this may mean little if camping under a thick tree but may mean a lot under a heat sink like the night, cloudless sky.

Second it's ventilation: ventilation is needed to mitigate condensation. On a single wall, ventilation goes through the living quarters, there's no other place. On a double wall, ventilation can (and if the design is good, will) go through the space in-between walls, providing for a warmer living space.

Condensation is another tricky subject clearly related to warmth. We mitigate condensation through ventilation which in turn lowers the temp through convection and this promotes condensation :) Still, the net effect is usually to our advantage. A double wall will keep heat inside and be more prone to condensation on the inside of the outer wall !! but it's easier to ventilate so (if the design is good) is usually less prone to condensation overall.

Devon Cloud

Locale: Southwest
single wall/double wall on 05/10/2012 07:31:55 MDT Print View

I think here that while we are discussing this we have to think about what would happen if condensation occurred and dampened all your gear... then you would not be more insulated at all with the double wall. Yes, condensation is less in a double wall (in theory) however your inner wall will collect the condensation and puddle it in your tent somewhere. If that happens to be where you are sleeping you are in big trouble.

Single wall free-standing tents in my opinion are the way to go. I don't use tents to keep me warm, just dry. My sleeping bag needs to be warm enough to do that on it's own. If I mis-judge the weather and am cold then I add layers of clothing and boil water, add it to a nalgene bottle, and put it in my sleeping bag closed which will add a good ten degrees easy to my bag. This will last all night. If you keep it between your legs near your main arteries it will keep your core temperature up too.

bottom line, don't rely on your tent for warmth... doing so will lead you to be cold and most likely damp since the heat in your tent is what is causing the condensation in the first place. Ventilation is key to stop the condensation.

c c
(ccwave) - F
Warmth on 05/10/2012 09:25:34 MDT Print View

Thanks again for everyone's wonderful insights- I'm learning a lot.

Any last thoughts between the Golite Shangri-la 2 vs. Tarptent Double Rainbow? If I go the single wall route I'm considering these two tents

If I go traditional, I'm considering the BA Fly Creek UL2 tent or possibly the MSR Carbon Reflex 2 (it's selling for a discounted price here locally)

Any thoughts on the tents mentioned above would be greatly appreciated

Devon Cloud

Locale: Southwest
go with shangrila 3, not 2 on 05/10/2012 10:16:34 MDT Print View

This tent is a bit more in weight but the design is so much more flexible than the 2 that I would suggest spending the extra bucks. furthermore, your main concern (it seems) is condensation... this tent does not have the walls separated from the floor wich could mean sleeping in a puddle... not to mention the ability to change the tent features for whatever trip you go on.

Just my two cents worth.

Edited by devoncloud on 05/10/2012 10:18:07 MDT.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
single/double and condensation. Shangri-La's. on 05/10/2012 10:44:17 MDT Print View

> your inner wall will collect the condensation and puddle it in your tent somewhere

I don't agree with this. It may happen but it's not something to be expected for a well designed tent.

Overall, condensation is less of an issue in double wall tents. Not only because of the physical separation but because on average there's less condensation on double walls. I use single walls myself almost exclusively but aware that it's a compromise.

The expected location(s) will be an important factor in the validity of that compromise. Double walls are more interesting in damp & cool climates. The OP says Utah: that's rather dry, a very good play field for single walls, imo.

> this tent does not have the walls separated from the floor

If you mean the Shangri-La's, all of them, they're totally modular and all the elements can be used on their own or in combination with the others. Fly and floor are two separate pieces

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: single/double and condensation. Shangri-La's. on 05/10/2012 11:45:08 MDT Print View

"I don't agree with this. It may happen but it's not something to be expected for a well designed tent."

My experience matches this one.

Particularly with modern tents, the ventilation is getting to be very well designed, so they don't have anywhere near the condensation problems of older tents. You can pitch the fly low enough to keep the wind out, and still set yourself up with good flow-through ventilation in the better tents.

The Carbon Reflex is a nice tent... I tried one out, but I prefer tarps, or I'd probably using a CR now.

I don't know whether or not there's a mostly nylon inner available for the ShangriLa 3 from GoLite, but you can probably get one custom made easily enough, so it would be very versatile. I think it's possible to pitch GoLite's inner by itself also, so you can have it your way, and take advantage of nice nights while keeping the bugs at bay :)

Devon Cloud

Locale: Southwest
shangrila 2 on 05/10/2012 12:55:21 MDT Print View

" this tent does not have the walls separated from the floor

If you mean the Shangri-La's, all of them, they're totally modular and all the elements can be used on their own or in combination with the others. Fly and floor are two separate pieces"

No, this was not meant for all of them, just shangrila 2. I own the shangrila 3 and love it specifically for the modular use it gives you.

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
My recommendation on 05/11/2012 15:31:47 MDT Print View

If this is going to be for two people, I think the best choice for a beginning backpacker is one of these:
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 3
Tarptent Scarp 2

Sometimes the REI Quarter Dome T2 Tent goes on sale for $200, so that would be a cheaper option.

All three are very flexible, well-rounded tents that will work well under most conditions.

In my opinion, the Shangri-La's are not very convenient when you use the inner nest.

You should check out backpackinglight's State of the Market Report: Two-Person Double-Wall Tents (2010). They make recommendations for intended uses. The Copper Spur series has lost some weight since then I think.

Drew Jay

Locale: Central Coast
Shangrila 3 on 05/11/2012 23:49:25 MDT Print View

The current Shangrila 3, at least the one I just got, is not fully modular. The nest is a floor and bug net sewn together so it is now basically a traditional two walled shelter.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Shangrila 3 on 05/12/2012 06:20:08 MDT Print View

There used to be three pieces for the Shangri-La 3: the fly, the floor (with no bug net) and the nest, which is as you describe floor+bug net. You could buy any of the 3 pieces separately. It seems they now only sell the whole package which includes fly and nest. I also believe it used to be the same for the other Shangri-Las but I can only speak first hand for the 3, which is the one I have: fly and (no bug net) floor.

FWIW, I never liked the stock floor because it's far from lightweight. I made a copy in lighter materials (fabric, cords, buckles) that turned out half the weight and it's the one I regularly use now. The fly is quite fine as it is.

Edited by inaki on 05/12/2012 06:41:25 MDT.