A double wall tent is within my budget, especially since I have plenty of time to save up for it.
But I’m not so sure about the weight. I guess I would be willing to carry a four pound shelter if it made the difference between a comfortable hike and a miserable one that is abandoned early!
Still – Condensation can always an issue depending upon the conditions, and I’m not sure it’s any worse in single wall tents than double wall tents -
By that I mean it can be pretty durn bad in both types!
My wife and I have run into very bad condensation in our Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight. This is a classic tent that had been on the market a very long time and you'd think they got the bugs worked out of it by now, right?
Take a look at the photo I posted. It didn’t even rain that night.
The doorway and vestibule on the Flashlight is set up so that in even the lightest drizzle you need to close it up to prevent rain getting inside, and closed up tight, it has zero ventilation.
Double wall tent are said to have an advantage because the inner wall ( usually mostly mesh these days ) can catch the condensation and keep it from dripping onto you and your bedding.
But as Mary wrote, in a single wall tent why not simply reach up and wipe the condensation off with a bandana before it gets to the drippy stage?
If the Flashlight simply had a vent up top of the door or vestibule, this condensation probably would not happen as the warm, damp air rises, and it would have a place to exit the tent.
The tarp tent Rainshadow 2 and similar-but-smaller Squall 2 are shaped sorta like the Flashlight, but have much more venting, and for that matter you can't close these two tarp tents down totally if you wanted to, so I imagine they would be better than the Flashlight...Right?
So I really think the chances of bad condensation is a matter of the design of the individual shelter and the conditions one is operating under more than simply a matter of double or single walls.
Indeed, the above photo was taken on a six day hike that involved fording chest deep ice cold rivers, lots of snowpack and a good bit of rain. The days were warm-ish, the nights cool, and everything was constantly damp. I think we were in the dew point the whole dang trip!
I'm sure that was unusually demanding conditions, and the Clip Flashlight is ordinarily a decent enough tent, or it would not have remained in production this long.
Now a tent that I have a very great deal of experience with is the Timberline 2. This tent never has condensation issues –
It has no "vestibule" ( i hate those silly things! ) so you can't nail the rainfly down to the ground even if you wanted to, and because of the overhangs you never have to totally close the outter door and window in the back.
It always ventilates, period. In fact, it has the best ventilated rain fly of any tent I know of, period, yet is totally stormproof. If the dang thing wasn't so heavy, I'd never look any further for a tent.
Take a big glass bowl, and turn it over onto damp ground, and leave it there over night. You can bet your bottom dollar it will be damp with condensation by morning, and it doesn't even have two people sleeping inside it.
Now take a look at most any modern tent with its vestibule staked right to the earth and closed. It looks like an bowl right? And it gathers condensation like one too.
Size - That's very true, it isn't just about the sq. ft. the tent encloses, it's the headroom that counts. I learned that the hard way with the Flashlight, and that's why I'd love to be able to play with a Squall 2 before I buy one.