Double-walled 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 tent category where several 2 person, double-walled tents including the NEMO Hornet 2P, the NEMO Blaze 2P, and the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 all weigh 2 pounds or less, making them lighter weight than most other two person single walled tents. (Of course, if you want to spend $600 and up on a 21 ounce single-walled, cuben fiber tent, be my guest – that’s too rich for my blood.)
Double-walled 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 walled tents in autumn or winter, when you’d freeze in a single walled tent.
- Double-walled tents tend to have better privacy because they have less open mesh showing.
- Deep bathtub style floors protect against accidental flooding on compacted tentsites.
- Factory seam taped, so you don’t have to seam seal the tent with silicone and paint thinner in your basement.
- No need to carry trekking poles to pitch the tent if you don’t use them.
For example, compare the following two person single-walled and double-walled tents. There are quite a few two-person double-walled tents available today that weigh less than their single-walled counterparts.
|Tent||Single or Double Walled||Weight (Ounces)||Price|
|Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2||Double||31||389|
|NEMO Blaze 2P||Double||32||450|
|NEMO Hornet 2P||Double||32||370|
|Mountain Hardware Ghost UL 2||Double||34||449|
|Yama Mountain Gear Swiftline||Single||35||395|
|Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo||Single||41||310|
|Tarptent Double Rainbow||Single||43||289|
|Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2||Double||44||449|
|REI Quarter Dome 2||Double||47||299|
|Tarptent Double Moment||Double||52||359|
I’ve owned and used many single-walled shelters in my backpacking career, but my motivation to use them has diminished as double-walled shelters have come down in weight. There’s a lot to be said for a more comfortable double-walled tent when gear weight ceases to be a differentiating factor.
And while single-walled tents still tend to be lower cost, the pricing difference is not as great or universal in the two-person size. Many double-walled 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 walled tent?
- Would that change if there was less of a price or weight difference between the two types of tents?
Written 2016. Updated 2017.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.