There are two main differences between a tarp tent and a conventional tent: rain flies and ventilation. Tarp tents, like tarps, (hence the name) are really just single walled tents. They don’t have rain flies and I’ve never been in a situation where the absence of a rain fly has mattered much — and I’ve slept through some MOBY storms in the White Mountains and the Catskills in tarp tents.
The second major difference is ventilation. Tarp tents are designed to eliminate the condensation that occurs on the inner wall of your tent, and this feature becomes even more important when it’s raining outside. At night, condensation from your body perspiration forms on the walls of your tent and drips onto your sleeping bag compromising its insulating properties. Tarp tents vent this internal condensation by allowing much more air to flow through the interior of the tent. For example, if you get a tarp tent from Six Moon Designs (Lunar Solo, shown below in Green) or the Tarptent (Squall 2, shown in Grey) you have the option of having a bathtub floor sewn into the tent to keep out crawling critters and bugs. The floor sort of floats under the tent, connected only by no-seeum netting along the sides and there is a lot better air flow as a result. Tarptents such as the Squall 2 also have excellent lengthwise ventilation through the (again optional) screened in front netting and a back window.
And finally, both of these tents have Vestibules, that when extended and lashed to the front guyline, hover about 1foot off the ground, again to ensure air flow through the tent.
I own both of these tents and just love them. Technically, you probably don’t need a footprint for them. However, I use a 4.5 oz. polycro footprint from when I pitch them on trips.
In order to cut weight, you can also set both of these tents up with a hiking poles, instead of carrying along a collapsible pole, saving you a few more ounces. The Squall 2 requires two poles and the Lunar Solo only requires 1. You can see my poles in the pictures above if you look closely.
And now the bottom line. The Lunar Solo only weighs an incredible 30.6 oz. and the Squall 2 weighs 35 oz – and this is with all of the options. Check these tents out. You’ll never look back.
Disclosure: The author owns these products and purchased them using their own funds.
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