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Lightweight Backpacking Double Wall Tent Guide

Lightweight Backpacking Double Wall Tent Guide

Lightweight double-wall backpacking tents are making a comeback amongst ultralight backpackers with gear weights that rival their single-walled competitors. Double-wall tents have many advantages over single-walled tents, including:

  • Less internal condensation
  • 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.
  • Better privacy because they have less open mesh showing.
  • Deeper bathtub-style floors that 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.

Lightweight Tents made with Conventional Fabrics

Make/ ModelTypeWeight (Oz)
Gossamer Gear The One TentSingle-Wall17.7
Gossamer Gear The Two TentSingle-Wall23.5
REI Flash Air 1Single-Wall27.2
REI Flash Air 2Single-Wall38.5
3F UL Lanshan Pro 1Single-Wall24.3
3F UL Lanshan 2 ProSingle-Wall32.3
3F UL Lanshan 2Double-Wall40.7
Tarptent ProtrailSingle-Wall24
Sierra Designs High Route FL 1Double-Wall31
Durston Drop X-Mid 1Double-Wall28
Durston Drop X-Mid 2Double-Wall35.4
NEMO Hornet OSMO 1PDouble-Wall29
NEMO Hornet OSMO 2PDouble-Wall29
NEMO Hornet Elite OSMO 1PDouble-Wall23
NEMO Hornet Elite OSMO 2PDouble-Wall27
Tarptent MoTrailSingle-Wall34
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1Double-Wall30
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2Double-Wall35
Tarptent RainbowSingle-Wall32.4
Tarptent Double RainbowSingle-Wall38.4
Tarptent Double Rainbow DWDouble-Wall41.75
Tarptent Stratospire 1Double-Wall32.9
Tarptent NotchDouble-Wall28
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1Double-Wall34
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2Double-Wall43
Tarptent Stratospire 2Double-Wall44
Six Moon Designs Lunar SoloSingle-Wall26
Six Moon Designs Lunar DuoSingle-Wall45

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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16 comments

  1. I purchased a single wall Gossamer Gear The One a few years ago. It is lightweight and fairly well designed, but it failed miserably in the temperate conditions of northern Ontario where I do most of my hiking. To say that it had condensation problems would be an understatement; there where nights when it literally rained inside the tent. Unless the vestibule doors were wide open it was miserable.

    Switched to a double wall Tarptent Notch LI a couple years ago and I could not be happier. Definitely miss the extra space, but condensation is nowhere near as bad as with the single wall tent. Most of the time is mostly a non issue. I’ve camped a short stones throw from both Lake Superior and the Atlantic Ocean, in rainy conditions, in the Notch and condensation was not a problem. It’s small but a awesome tent.

    • The Notch is a bit cramped inside, which is why I sold mine to GrandPa. But its two vestibule doors and weather worthiness more than make up for its shortcomings. It used to be that you HAD to use a single wall tent to get your gear weight down, but no more. No more.

      • It’s a great little tent, and you’re positive. reviews of the original version were part of my reasoning for my selecting it. Its small space can be a challenge, especially when buttoned up in wet weather, but I have managed well enough. It’s gone through some pretty wild weather and held up very well. I’ve considered its bigger brother, the Stratospire LI, but the small footprint of the Notch is actually a benefit in a lot of backcountry camping locations I encounter.

        • I love the Notch I bought from Philip. It’s perfect for me. Even though the interior room is somewhat minimal, the two vestibules more than make up for it in my opinion. I made a ground sheet from clear window film and can keep anything I need within reach and off the ground in the vestibules.

          My only issue is a more recent one. Since they came out with the Dyneema version, I’ve started thinking about the weight, even though the weight was just fine in my eyes until the Li model came out. I think the ‘Marketing Maggots’ are infecting my brain! Fortunately, they haven’t yet worked their way down to my pocketbook, at least on the tent. They have certainly gotten a toehold there on other things!

    • I also bought a THE ONE from GG……Used it ONE NIGHT and put it on Craigslist. Gone !~ Although I do have a Camo Kumo and a Mariposa (Among others).

  2. Deschutes tarp, serenity inner, Borah bivy, mix and match as needed. Affordable , simple, versatility, hasn’t disappointed me yet.

  3. Double wall. As a taller person my head or feet is almost ALWAYS going to be pushing up against some component of the walls. I’ll trade the minimal weight penalty for the avoidance of concern around condensation.

  4. I just wish someone made a 1.5 person tent. I don’t need a 2 person, I only want to be able to keep my pack in the tent with me and maybe a little extra room to squish things to the side if it’s raining and I need to get into the tent.

    oh, and make it lightweight. I don’t care if its double or single wall.

    • Alp Mountaineering and REI ( i think) make 1.5p tents, although they are not the lightest

      • Try Tarptent too. Look at the dimensions of the inner tents when choosing models. That’s the mostly reliable way to determine how much room is inside.

      • The Alp model noted by GreenandGrey is the Mystique for @ $180. If that is suitable, then for the same style, weight and features, check out the double wall Outdoors Products 2 person at 1/3 the price and a 3-year warranty. While technically sold as a 2p, it’s simply a playground for 1p and should do all the things you said above. It’s 48″ at the shoulders, 36″ at the head, 24″ at the feet, @ 42″ high and 8 feet long with 2 side entries. Change out the stakes and you come in right around 4#. Maybe not a thru-hike tent, but certainly doable for shorter trips.

    • Try the Lunar Solo. I get all my gear inside with room to spare.

  5. Scott Currington

    Double wall, but definitely with a fly first pitching. The ability to put the fly up first during rain and pack the wet fly separately is a big deal for me. I bought the Lanshan 2 from Amazon marketplace for about $110 and it’s remarkably decent for the price.

  6. Double wall for me. Lots of cold, windy conditions in the N Rockies in early fall. Like to keep trail weight below 2 lb and costs reasonable without trading too much in storm dependability or durability.

    Surprised the SMD Skyscape Trekker didn’t make it. 28 oz hybrid, 23 sqft, 45″ height. I have the original version (silnylon, single door). Not freestanding so the usual challenges to pitch in rocky soil. Rock solid in some heavy wind and rain. Doesn’t handle snow great due to low angle of the single wall foot panel.

    Any favorites among the list?

    I looked at the Durston X-mid 1p as a possible replacement. Nemo Hornet Osmo’s also look interesting but way too pricey. REI appears to have discontinued selling them.

  7. I may have mentioned this before (memory can be a problem of old age) but I have a Lanshan One XL, it comes already seam-sealed and has a full mesh liner, mine is the ‘T’ zip setup, much better in my view than their ‘J’ zip set up. A solid liner can be bought as well. Both can be taken out if the user wants to use the tent as a simple tarp. My tent’s only real problem, like the Durston, is that it’s not free-standing, fine in our UK climate but not so good if hiking where the ground is baked hard.

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