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Ultralight Backpacking Double Wall Tent Guide (2024)

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 / ModelTypeWeight (oz/g)
NEMO Dragonfly OSMO 1Freestanding33oz/933.9g
NEMO Dragonfly OSMO 2Freestanding42oz/1188.6g
NEMO Hornet OSMO UL 1Semi-Freestanding29oz/735.8g
NEMO Hornet OSMO UL 2Semi-Freestanding31oz/877.3g
NEMO Hornet OSMO UL 3Semi-Freestanding45oz/1273g
NEMO Hornet Elite 1 OSMOSemi-Freestanding23oz/650.9g
NEMO Hornet Elite 2 OSMOSemi-Freestanding27oz/764.1g
DurstonGear X-Mid 1Trekking Pole28oz/795g
DurstonGear X-Mid 2 Trekking Pole35.4oz/1005g
DurstonGear X-Mid 1 SolidTrekking Pole29.1oz/825g
DurstonGear X-Mid 2 SolidTrekking Pole36.5oz/1035g
Hilleberg Enan 1Semi-Freestanding34oz/962.2g
Hilleberg Akto 1Semi-Freestanding46oz/1301.8g
3F UL Lanshan 2Trekking Pole39oz/1103.7g
3F UL Lanshan 1Trekking Pole29.8oz/843.34g
Mamot SuperAlloySemi-Freestanding43oz/1216.9g
Marmot Tungsten UL 1Freestanding34oz/962.2g
Marmot Tungsten UL 2Freestanding47.5oz/1344.25g
MSR Freelite 1Semi-Freestanding26oz/735.8g
MSR Freelite 2Semi-Freestanding32oz/905.6g
MSR Hubba Hubba 1Semi-Freestanding34oz/962.2g
MSR Hubba Hubba 2Semi-Freestanding46oz/1304g
Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 1Semi-Freestanding27.8oz/788g
Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2Semi-Freestanding32oz/907g
Mountain Hardwear Strato UL 2Semi-Freestanding37.1oz/1052g
Sierra Designs High Side 1Semi-Freestanding31oz/877.3g
Sierra Designs High Route 1Trekking Pole28oz/792.4g
Six Moon Designs HavenTrekking Pole34oz/962.2g
Slingfin 2LiteSemi-Freestanding42oz/1188.6g
Slingfin Portal 1Freestanding40oz/1134g
Slingfin Portal 2Freestanding46oz/1301.8g
Sea-to-Summit Alto 1 TR1Semi-Freestanding33oz/933.9g
Tarptent Dipole DW 1Trekking Pole29.35oz/832g
Tarptent NotchTrekking Pole28.4oz/803.72g
Tarptent Notch LiTrekking Pole21.5oz/608.45g
Tarptent Stratospire 1Trekking Pole36.5oz/1032.95g
Tarptent Stratospire LiTrekking Pole28.6oz/809.38g
Tarptent Stratospire 2Trekking Pole43.8oz/1239.54g
Tarptent Moment DW 1Freestanding37.7oz/1066.91g
Tarptent Double Rainbow DWTrekking Pole44oz/1245.2g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall 3 CarbonSemi-Freestanding29oz/820.7g
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 1 CarbonSemi-Freestanding16oz/452.8g
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 2 CarbonSemi-Freestanding18oz/509.4g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 PlatinumSemi-Freestanding31oz/877.3g
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1Semi-Freestanding27oz/764.1g
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2Semi-Freestanding31oz/877.3g
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL3Semi-Freestanding47oz/1330.1g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2Semi-Freestanding35oz/990.5g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3Semi-Freestanding42oz/1188.6g
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1Freestanding34oz/962.2g
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2Freestanding43oz/1216.9g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1Semi-Freestanding30oz/849g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 mtnGLOSemi-Freestanding38oz/1075.4g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 mtnGLOSemi-Freestanding45oz/1273.5g
Big Sky Soul X1 ULFreestanding35.7oz/1012g
Big Sky Soul X2 ULFreestanding40.8oz/1156.7g

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 (polyethyl 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
  • The 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 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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14 comments

  1. Any idea why REI stopped making the quarter-dome? Great tent that features wise competes with most of the tents listed above but was (in many cases) a lot less $$. It’s a shame.

    • It is a shame, I have a REI Quarter Dome SL1 and love everything about it.!

    • I also have the REI Quarter Dome SL1 and really like it. Good weather protection and ventilation, lightweight, goes up easy, small footprint for when that’s important. Inside it’s big enough for me, though it’s a 1P. REI, bring it back!

    • I have one. Agree with all of your points. Great ventilation. A bit breezy in spring and fall. Mine had a zipper issue and the tent was replaced. On second tent, the quality of the pole was not as high as the first tent. I’ve only used polycro as a footprint. But it’s held up and performs well.

      An optimist might hope they’ll roll out a superior alternative. I wonder if they won’t because it crowded out other manufacturers and they squawked or REI thought it could improve its margins just selling and not manufacturing.

      • They still make & sell other tents – just seem to have discontinued this model and are more focused on the heavier (better geared for car camping) models.

  2. Please can you explain what the quoted weight includes and if a tent can be used at the quoted weights properly with fly, inner, pegs(min. number to erect) and poles, where needed. The weight that I will put in my pack is the most important as I use it, not a marketers cartel that removes items, like the inner(eg this article is about double wall tents)
    My Nemo Hornet 2 is nearer 1100g not 877g

    • It includes the poles, fly and inner – not the pegs (stakes), bags, repair kit, documentation, or plastic wrap the product came in. This is called the trail weight. The reason it does not include those other items is because most people discard or replace them. For example, I never use the stakes that come with a mfg tent (well, hardly ever) or the sacks, or anything else except the items that make up the trail weight. The reason is that the stakes are often heavier than necessary or perform poorly in MY soil conditions and the other items can be replaced with lighter weight alternatives or not used at all. You have to understand that the main reason manufacturers include all that extra stuff is to make it possible for someone to use the product out of the box (like for car camping) and what they include is purely driven by cost and not quality.

  3. Phil, why is the Msrmot Tungsten UL1 described as semi free-standing? Ok you have to stake out the vestibule (as per other free-standing tents) but otherwise it is fully freestanding. I know because I have one and I love it!

    • Thanks for catching that – clerical error. I’ve been thinking about you recently. I’m spending a lot of time in VT lately and thinking about that trip we took to Pharoh Lake years ago. I plan on backpacking a bunch on the Long Trail and in VT this year after mud season but I expect I’ll head into the Adirondack Park as well.

      • Hi Phil:

        I have been looking for a fully free-standing LW tent for some time. I rejected the Copper Spur because I like to be able to lie in my tent and look out at the view – so any tent with too high sides was out. Also any tent with garish colors – Sierra Designs anyone!

        I have used the Marmot tent a few times in Harriman Park this cold season. I got tired of having to deal with condensation (and frost!) inside my sleeping area when camping at a lake. It’s a really nice 1-person tent with a good-sized vestibule.

        I don’t get the rational for semi-free-standing tents. I was disappointed in Sea to Summit because they made there 1 person tent that way, whereas the 2 person model is fully free standing.

        I go to the Pharaoah Lake area at least once per year (usually in the fall) so please let me know if you would be interested in joining me. I just had my 81st birthday so am only doing about 6-7 miles per day at a slow pace.

        Keep up the good work
        Christine

  4. Elevenses on the trail are so important!!

  5. MSR Hubba Hubba rain fly has pinholes with very minimal use. Returned it to MSR and they did not replace it. They indicated rain fly is only functional for 3-5 years but they offer no replacement options. My North Face and REI tents are much older without failure. Stay away from MSR.

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