Ultralight Backpacking Double Wall Tent Guide (2022)

Ultralight Backpacking Double Wall Tent Guide

The number of ultralight double-wall backpacking tents with a trail weight of 3 lbs or less that are available today has grown significantly, driven by consumer demand and advances in fabric and material technologies. If you prefer a double-wall tent over a single-wall tent because it’s more spacious, warmer, less drafty, and has a separate inner tent and rainfly to prevent internal condensation transfer, you can have it with just a slight weight penalty compared to a single-wall tent.

While ultralight single-wall tents will always have their advocates, the vast majority of backpackers prefer freestanding (See: What is a Freestanding Tent) and semi-freestanding tents (See: What is a Semi-Freestanding Tent) that don’t require much practice or advanced site selection skills to set up. Ease of use often trumps a few ounces of added gear weight when it comes right down to it. See for yourself, below in this sortable table.

Make / ModelTypeMaterialWeight (oz/g)
Big Agnes Tiger Wall 3 CarbonSemi-FreestandingDCF29oz/820.7g
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 1 CarbonSemi-FreestandingDCF16oz/452.8g
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 2 CarbonSemi-FreestandingDCF18oz/509.4g
Big Agnes Scout 1 PlatinumTrekking PoleSil/PU Nylon13oz/367.9g
Big Agnes Scout 2 PlatinumTrekking PoleSil/PU Nylon17oz/481.1g
Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 PlatinumFreestandingSil/PU Nylon37oz/1047.1g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 PlatinumSemi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon31oz/877.3g
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon27oz/764.1g
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon31oz/877.3g
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL3Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon47oz/1330.1g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon35oz/990.5g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon42oz/1188.6g
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1FreestandingSil/PU Nylon34oz/962.2g
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2FreestandingSil/PU Nylon43oz/1216.9g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon30oz/849g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 mtnGLOSemi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon38oz/1075.4g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 mtnGLOSemi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon45oz/1273.5g
DurstonGear X-Mid 1Trekking PoleSil/PeU Polyester27.9oz/789.57g
DurstonGear X-Mid 2 Trekking PoleSil/PeU Polyester36oz/1018.8g
Hilleberg Enan 1Semi-FreestandingSilnylon34oz/962.2g
Hilleberg Akto 1Semi-FreestandingSilnylon46oz/1301.8g
3F UL Lanshan 2Trekking PoleSil/PU Nylon39oz/1103.7g
3F UL Lanshan 1Trekking PoleSil/PU Nylon29.8oz/843.34g
Mamot SuperAlloySemi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon43oz/1216.9g
Marmot Tungsten UL 1Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon34oz/962.2g
Marmot Tungsten UL 2Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon47.5oz/1344.25g
MSR Freelite 1Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon26oz/735.8g
MSR Freelite 2Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon32oz/905.6g
MSR Carbon Reflex 3Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon32oz/905.6g
MSR Carbon Reflex 2Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon29oz/820.7g
MSR Carbon Reflex 1Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon23oz/650.9g
MSR Hubba Hubba 1Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon34oz/962.2g
MSR Hubba Hubba 2Semi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon46oz/1304g
NEMO Dragonfly 1FreestandingSil/PeU Nylon Ripstop33oz/933.9g
NEMO Dragonfly 2FreestandingSil/PeU Nylon Ripstop42oz/1188.6g
NEMO Hornet 1Semi-FreestandingSil/PeU Nylon Ripstop26oz/735.8g
NEMO Hornet 2Semi-FreestandingSil/PeU Nylon Ripstop31oz/877.3g
NEMO Hornet Elite 1 OSMOSemi-FreestandingSil/PeU Nylon Ripstop23oz/650.9g
NEMO Hornet Elite 2 OSMOSemi-FreestandingSil/PeU Nylon Ripstop27oz/764.1g
REI Quarter Dome SL 1Semi-FreestandingPU Nylon Ripstop31oz/877.3g
Sierra Designs High Side 1Semi-FreestandingSil/PeU Nylon Ripstop31oz/877.3g
Sierra Designs High Route 1Trekking PoleSil/PeU Nylon Ripstop28oz/792.4g
Six Moon Designs Haven BundleTrekking PoleSilnylon34oz/962.2g
Slingfin 2LiteSemi-FreestandingSil/PU Nylon Ripstop42oz/1188.6g
Slingfin Portal 2FreestandingSil/Sil Nylon 66 Ripstop46oz/1301.8g
Sea-to-Summit Alto 1 TR1Semi-FreestandingPU Nylon Ripstop33oz/933.9g
Tarptent NotchTrekking PoleSilnylon28.4oz/803.72g
Tarptent Notch LiTrekking PoleDCF21.5oz/608.45g
Tarptent Stratospire 1Trekking PoleSilpoly36.5oz/1032.95g
Tarptent Stratospire LiTrekking PoleDCF28.6oz/809.38g
Tarptent Stratospire 2Trekking PoleSilpoly43.8oz/1239.54g
Tarptent Moment DW 1FreestandingSilnylon37.7oz/1066.91g
Tarptent Double Rainbow DWTrekking PoleSilnylon44oz/1245.2g
REI Quarter Dome SL - There a lot to be said for the comfort of a lightweight double wall tent
REI Quarter Dome SL – There is a lot to be said for the comfort and ease of use of a lightweight double-wall tent.

Tent Fabrics and Materials

The lightest weight ultralight double-wall tents are made with DCF (Dyneema Composite Fabrics) which is more of a synthetic laminate than a fabric. In addition to being very lightweight, it’s much more waterproof than conventional tent fabrics and doesn’t sag when it gets wet. The downsides are that it’s very expensive and is bulkier than conventional tents to pack, even though you’d expect the opposite.

Most ultralight double-wall tents are still made with more conventional fabrics including ripstop nylon. These are usually coated with PU (polyurethane) or its variants including PeU (polyether urethane), which is becoming increasingly popular. These waterproof coatings allow tents to be factory seam-taped so you don’t have to seam seal them yourself, something that a number of single-wall tent manufacturers, including Six Moon Designs, Lightheart Gear, and Tarptent require to this day with their silnylon and siliconized polyester tents.

Silpoly, which is siliconized polyester, is a relative newcomer to the ultralight tent scene but is being adopted by more and more lightweight backpack makers including Durston Gear and Tarptent. Like DCF, it doesn’t sag or stretch when it gets wet, which has always been a problem with silnylon.

Some of the tents listed above, including those from Big Agnes and MSR, also include carbon fiber tent poles to save weight. These became available about 5 years ago and have proven reliable, so more and more tent manufacturers are adopting them.

Summary

To summarize, there are more ultralight and lightweight double-wall tents available today than ever before. If you’re in the market to reduce the weight of your backpacking tent but are hesitant to get a single-wall tent instead of a double-wall one because you’re concerned about tent condensation or ease of use, rest easy. The weight difference between ultralight double-wall and single-wall backpacking tents has narrowed considerably and you can stick with a double-wall tent with only a slight weight penalty.

Double-wall Tent Advantages

  • Easy to set up
  • Inner tent prevents internal condensation from making your gear wet
  • Can be used in all three-season weather conditions and mild winter weather
  • Vestibules provide covered more gear storage in poor weather
  • Deep bathtub floors prevent flooding if water pools underneath
  • Less drafty because less airflow is required to mitigate condensation
  • Easier to set up on rock ledges, sandy soil, or wooden tent platforms

Double-wall Tent Disadvantages

  • Tent poles can be bulky and awkward to pack
  • Warmer in hot weather
  • Take longer to dry because they have more surface area
  • The inner tent may become wet when pitched in rain, although some double wall tents can be pitched fly first to keep the inner tent dry

See also:

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13 comments

  1. One notable thing about the list is that all of the non-DCF tents other than Durston and Tarptent use nylon rather than polyester. Given that polyester has the advantage of not absorbing water the way that nylon does, why does nylon seem to be the standard? Is it lighter? Less expensive? More durable? Just wondering.

  2. We’ve been through so many iterations of lighter and lighter tents (and tarps and bivy sacks) over the years that it might seem our give-aways of our used ones to local outdoor organizations that support teachers to take kids into the wilderness have supplied thousands of expeditions. We’ve had REI quarterdome tents (older ones too heavy), Marmot Force 2 P (who named that one? such an odd double entendre!) (too tiny!), silnylon tarps (did you say “mosquitoes?”), lightweight bivys, etc. When we went to trek the Cape Wrath Trail (trail???), 230 miles in far Northwestern Scotland, in 2019, we wanted a lightweight tent that could be set up inside the fly, to address the obvious and ubiquitous rains of that region. We chose the Tarptent Stratospire 2, which was quite roomy, and which also had two very roomy vestibules for our gear and cooking in the worst weather inevitabilities. We loved that tent (at a little over 43 oz) even if its setup with the diagonal placement of hiking poles made it challenging to remember where our heads were going to go, and stakedown was sometimes a bit challenging. But then, this year we went to trek the Haute Route Pyrenees (and though we eventually abandoned that as too hard for us and shifted instead to the GR-10, and only made it through about half of that, 250 miles), we decided we wanted an easier setup, a semi-freestanding tent, and found an even lighter one in the Big Agnes Tiger Wall Platinum 3 P, which weighed in at 42 oz, a three person tent that was lighter even than the Stratospire 2P, which was as roomy, and also was capable of being set up with the tent inside the fly in a rainstorm. Note this is NOT the solution dyed, nor the carbon versions! The reviews of the carbon version said it was not particularly wear-worthy, and we knew our long trek would test the ruggedness of any tent. We found the tent entirely up to the demands of our trek, and loved its ease of getting set up and packed. The problems many have with freestanding tent poles were not a problem with this design; it’s a very efficient design, and they fit easily into a side pocket of my pack and the tent squooshed up easily into my wife’s pack. We did buy a footprint and strongly recommend adding that weight. BUT BE CAREFUL! The footprints that REI sells DO NOT fit the click lock tabs on the TW Platinum 3P even when the description says they do. We had to search many outdoor websites to find one that did. We are completely sold on this tent, and hope to use it on many trips to come, long or short.

  3. Just want to say I just found this site and the reviews are really very helpful! I am seriously in the hunt for a new 1 man tent.

    • Richard, I highly recommend the Tarptent Moment DW.
      I have owned both the original Tarptent Moment (single wall) and now the Moment DW (double wall). The DW is a true 4 season tent with the optional Crossing Pole for wind and snow load. Questions? contact me at for details. Tarptent makes very high quality tents in California.
      Plus 2 vestibules and doors, one for storage of boots, pack, etc. the other for cooking in bad weather.
      EXCELLENT high/low ventilation options.
      When all staked out (fly edges, main pole hoop and ends) you can sleep in high winds with almost no noise from a flapping fly and no worries.

  4. i’m all set-> 1.) Tarptene Moment DW 2.) Tarptent Notch Li

    The Moment DW is for winter with a Crossing Pole shortened 6″ and run under the fly for handling snow load.
    The Notch Li for 3 season use.

    For 2 or 3 I have a Tarptent Scarp 2. It too is modified, with the X-ing Poles shortened and run under the fly, ends in the original webbing pockets, now sewn inside the fly, just above the Pitch Loc rods. Hella strong!

  5. I’m curious why the tents from MLD and Seek Outside were left off of this article, especially when they’ve been reviewed on this site previously… I get it that not everything will make the list, but those are some of the most bomb-worthy tents and have the option of DCF to keep them well within the ultralight category.

    • Here’s what it comes down to. If you can only buy the inner tent and the rain fly together, it’s a tent. If you can buy either by themselves, it’s a tarp and an inner tent/nest. There wil be edge cases, but that classification makes sense since when people shop for a tent, that’s what they are in fact looking for.

  6. I like the idea of a double- wall tent mostly for the flexibility of using just the inner on a hot night, but I also imagine getting caught in a downpour at 3AM and trying to orient myself and attach the rainfly while my stuff is getting soaked.

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