What are the Advantages of Lightweight Double-Wall Tents?

Advantages of Double-wall Tents

Double-wall tents are making a comeback amongst backpackers because they’ve become much lighter with gear weights that rival their single-walled competitors. This is especially true in the two-person (non-Dyneema) tent category where several 2-person, double-wall tents including the NEMO Hornet 2P and the Durston Drop X-Mid 1 which both weigh 2 pounds or less, making them lighter weight than most other two person single-wall tents.

Double-wall tents have many advantages over single-walled tents:

  • Nearly freestanding since they include tent poles, so you can pitch them quickly without having to worry so much about staking and surface conditions (making setup virtually idiot-proof)
  • Almost zero internal condensation transfer from tent walls to your gear since the moisture is captured by the rain fly
  • Less drafty because they don’t have to be wind tunnels to combat internal condensation – meaning you can use many double-wall tents in autumn or winter when you’d freeze in a single wall tent.
  • Double-wall tents tend to have better privacy because they have less open mesh showing.
  • Deep bathtub style floors protect against accidental flooding on compacted tent sites.
  • Factory seam taped, so you don’t have to seam seal the tent with silicone and paint thinner in your basement.

For example, compare the following two-person single-wall and double-wall tents. There are quite a few two-person double-wall tents available today that weigh less than their single-wall counterparts.

TentTypeWeight (Ounces)
Gossamer Gear The One Tent***Single-Wall20.64
Tarptent Protrail***Single-Wall26
Sierra Designs High Route FL 1Double-Wall27
Durston Drop X-Mid 1Double-Wall27.9
MSR Carbon Reflex 2PDouble-Wall29
NEMO Hornet 2PDouble-Wall29
Tarptent MoTrail***Single-Wall34
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2Double-Wall35
Tarptent Double Rainbow***Single-Wall42
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2Double-Wall43
Tarptent Stratospire 2Double-Wall44
Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo***Single-Wall45
REI Quarter Dome 2Double-Wall53

I’ve owned and used many single-wall shelters in my backpacking career, but my motivation to use them has diminished as double-wall shelters have come down in weight. There’s a lot to be said for a more comfortable double-wall tent when gear weight ceases to be a differentiating factor.

And while single-wall tents still tend to be lower cost, the pricing difference is not as great or universal in the two-person size. Many double-wall tents are also discounted by retailers, while those produced by cottage companies are almost never on sale.

  • What’s your preference: a single-walled or a double-wall tent?
  • Would that change if there was less of a price or weight difference between the two types of tents?
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  1. Thoth al Khem Trail Name HEART FAILURE

    On my PCT Section, I took my Duplex, we all had a really wet (condensation-wise) night at Lake Morena and double wall tents were so soaked from the condensation the 2 layers were both soaked through as the silnylon collapsed onto the inner tents…..I wiped down my Duplex inside and out, packed her up and was off before any 2 wall tent was even close to being dry. I also have a Tarptent Moment SW (looks brand new still), a Lunar Solo and the only double wall tent is a Lanshan 2. I bought the Gossamer Gear ”The One” and used it one night only as it was just too small inside (I am only 5’8”) for a SW tent, then sold it ASAP. Another GREAT post Phillip !

  2. I hiked the AT with my Nemo Hornet 2P. For clear nights or with light or intermittent rain it was great. Spacious, light and easy to setup/breakdown. No condensation when my fellow hikers in Duplex’s would be complaining about condensation.

    However… when there was continuous or heavy rain the tent would wet out and the corners of the floor would be wet and I’d have water dripping on my down quilt. All the while the DCF tents would stay dry. I’d end up carrying a heavy sopping wet pile of silnylon on the outside of my pack until the sun came out so I could hang it up to dry. On the AT there are many shelters available that I could use when it snowed or rained. I’m planning on hiking the PCT in 2020 and am looking for a DCF tent because there are very few shelters to ride out bad weather and I don’t have confidence in staying dry in sustained rain.

  3. I had the original Tarptent Moment SW and a partial liner. I sold it to get the Moment DW and that tent has been with me in all 4 seasons (ripstop interior).

    The Moment DW, like my Tarptent Scarp 2, has the optional “crossing poles” and with them the tents become freestanding. I have modified the poles in both tents to run UNDER the fly to get more support in high winds and snow loads. They are secured to the flys by double-sided Velcro cable wraps sewn to the inside of the flys. (See the “Backpacking Light” website for photos of these modifications.)

    So beginning with the TT Contrail and the TT Moment SW I’ve had my times with single wall tents. But I’l take the extra weight of a double wall for its greatest warmth and dryness.

    However if I get the very tempting AEON Li Dyneema fabric tent that may change. It becomes more attractive every year i advance into geezerhood.

  4. If you want the absolute best and don’t mind spending…Hilleberg Jannu 2 person
    November 20, 2019
    Leon H. Ritchie
    54 reviewer rep

    Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
    Source: bought it new
    Price Paid: $935.00 + shipping + extras


    If you want the absolute best and don’t mind spending the money. Best quality, best of everything, this is the tent for you.


    Everything you would want in a two-person tent

    No cons

    I made a review of the Hilleberg three-person Saivo tent a while back.

    Because I have already done all the research, when I was looking for a second tent I went right to Hilleberg without hesitation. I chose the Jannu, and as in the past I made the right choice.

    To recap:

    I did a lot of research into the choice of tents, as a matter of fact a couple of months or more.

    At that time I had purchased a couple of tents and returned them. Didn’t like the setup of tent, then rain fly thing, somehow it just didn’t get it.

    If you get caught in a storm, set up the outer tent, then crawl in and set up the inner while it was raining. Some tents don’t even give you that option.

    Sorry, that’s not for me.

    Spent $400 / $500 just didn’t feel I was getting my money’s worth. You could tell they were cheaply made. Very poor quality.

    I came to the conclusion that after trial and error the doubled wall tent construction from Hilleberg the Tent Maker was the best way to go. A tent that erected with the inner tent connected to the outer tent, that all went up at the same time when setting the tent up was the best way to go, which the Jannu does with ease. It turned out that was a really good judgement call.

    Again, as before with the Saivo, when I received the package with the Jannu and took the tent out of its pack to set up in the backyard for a trial run, the first thing I noticed was the same quality of the material and workmanship. Held true for the Jannu, which has proved to me the consistency of the product and you could tell you were getting the highest quality, and getting what you paid for. You will not be disappointed whatsoever.

    The Jannu is not a cheap tent.

    I do recommend getting the footprint. That too is a little costly compared to other footprints, but again it is of good quality, and will save wear and tear on the bottom of your tent.

    Rolled out the tent, staked out the vestibule on one end, put together the poles, placed the poles in its holders, clipped the tent to the poles, tightened the straps, and I was done.

    Maybe all of fifteen minutes if that.

    The Jannu is a free-standing tent. You should stake out the vestibule just to keep the footprint part in place. The tent already had guy lines attached with good quality guy line runners.

    Do tie down if windy, if not they still provide a little more stability.

    If you think you’re going to use the Jannu in really bad weather you do have the option to purchase extra poles, which I did. You can double pole the setup for more strength and stability.

    Should mention, you do have the option of setting the inner tent up separately from the outer tent, if gets a little warm, and not going to rain. Just detach it from the outer tent and run the poles through the loops. You will need to purchase the pole cups, think there’s four pole cups.

    Went camping up in the mountains of Northern Arizona. Got caught in a little rain and wind. I did find the same, easy setup. The vent system worked really well, great airflow.

    Got down to 38 degrees this time out, and when I got up in the morning all the condensation was on the outer tent, zero moisture on the inside of the tent, all because of the double walled construction design. Air movement was in the space between the inter and outer tent, plus it was dry inside and warm.

    The conclusion here is same, that if you don’t mind spending the money—because like I said, the Jannu is not a cheap tent—and you want the real deal, good for two people, even more comfortable by yourself, the Jannu is without a doubt the tent. If you take care of it, it will last a long, long time. You got to love it. I now own two Hilleberg tents, glad I spent the money.

    • Zero cons?!?!??! Its six pounds! Literally 5 or 6 times the weight!!!!! My lord what an oversight you have made, sir!

    • You probably missed Stephensons warmlite when you did your research. Double wall tent, 4 season. Half the weight of the Hilleberg. Made by a family in N.H. since the 50s. Recently sold to a Colorado Company since Stephenson died. I had the 3R for 20 years and the 2R for 10. Did the AT in 2002 with the 3R. All pros, no cons.

      • Actually, I didn’t. I’ve found their quality to be horrendously bad. Awful sewing. I know people other people who’ve owned and used them, but my experiences with the company’s quality have all been uniformly bad. That includes tents and vapor barrier clothing.

    • Let’s put a Hilleberg Jannu head-to-head with a Slingfin Windsaber. My money (as in my pre-order as of today) is on the Slingfin.

  5. On the Moosejaw site which is where the link takes me show the minimum trail weight for the Sierra High Route at 2 lbs. 12 oz. not the 27 oz. up published above. Which is correct?

    Minimum Trail Weight: 2 lb 12 oz

  6. Double wall when car camping with my wife. She won’t backpack, so that’s not an issue. The double wall allows me more control over ventilation and if I know it’s not going to rain that night, then I can even take the rain fly off at night. But at the end of the day, I care more about space and comfort for my wife.

    When I backpack, I avoid ground tents as much as possible. I see no use in having the full tent set up for backpacking. I have a 5.14oz HG Tarp that I use with my hammock or my bivy depending on what I feel like bringing with me. Never had an issue with the condensation in any of these set ups, even in the humid DC area with its swampy weather. Both my set ups keep me just under 12oz for my shelter.

  7. I prefer double wall traditional backpacking tent because I camp a lot in rocky locations where it’s extremely difficult to get good stakeouts. I have bent many stakes and I end up just not staking out at all unless it’s actually raining and I need to keep the fly off the inner tent.

    It’s unfortunate that there are there so few double-wall DCF shelters. Big Agnes is the only one I know of, and they use too-thin-for-my-liking 0.34-oz/yd2 DCF.

    I’d like double wall shelter with a durable fly that I don’t have to worry about re-applying sealant to.

    • Tarptent makes two double wall dcf shelters. The Notch Li and the Stratospire Li. Yama Mountain gear makes several more.

      Now if what you really want is a shelter you don’t have to seam seal, look for ones made with silpoly. It’s taped.

      • Sorry, I guess I should have said I would like a double wall, freestanding (or at least semi-freestanding) tent with a DCF fly. Staking out in rocks is just a pain, and I like the extra room inside non-trekking pole tents. In that category, I only know the Big Agnes Carbon series which are super expensive and the DCF is too thin.

  8. Ok, I’m just a lifelong Camping Grandma. I use a two tent system all year. Right now I have an 8×14 dome style tent that’s tall enough for Non-Camper Grandpa to stand up in. The table and chairs, cooler, fan, portapotty, heater, etc. go on one end. Then I set up a 7×7 tent inside on the other end. That’s for sleeping. Even in a big rainstorm I’m dry and my clothes and other gear are dry. We use cots in the little tent and we don’t even have to worry about touching the tent fabric.

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