Poll: Do you prefer single or double walled tents?

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  1. #1
    Registered User JoeVogel's Avatar
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    Default Single vs Double Walled Tents

    I would love to hear your thoughts on single vs double walled tents. Do the benefits of a double walled tent outweigh the extra weight? I do like the idea of having something that I could bring only the net or just the tarp or both depending on weather conditions. But the weight of a single walled tent with cuban fiber is very appealing.

    Thanks!

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    I'll respond by saying both have their uses depending on where/when you're using them. For the AT, I think a single walled Cuben fiber tent is nearly ideal most of the time, except early starts (Feb-March) or late finishes (October).

    But the more traditional double walled tents tend to be warmer and tend to handle condensation a bit better; the reason single walled tents run colder is because you basically have to vent them more than double-walled, so you almost basically sleeping at the outside temps. Double wall tents run maybe 5-6 degrees (or more) warmer inside while still be reasonable ventilated.

    So when we're backpacking in the CO high country in the fall through the spring, we grab our heavier double wall tent. For mid-summer, we grab our zpacks cuben.

    I answered "single wall" because we tend to use that tent more often these days.

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    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    Seems to me a poll doesnt have much value without context- you make no mention of your intended use. I'm sure you know single wall tents are not good for rainy or high humidity trail use and double wall are extra weight for desert use for example. So any poll results would mean little without out that info and if you want to use it every where then you are probably better off with two tents if weight is a concern as it appears.

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossup View Post
    Seems to me a poll doesnt have much value without context- you make no mention of your intended use. I'm sure you know single wall tents are not good for rainy or high humidity trail use and double wall are extra weight for desert use for example. So any poll results would mean little without out that info and if you want to use it every where then you are probably better off with two tents if weight is a concern as it appears.
    Agree and disagree.... Yeah, context would be nice but I've found that the "default" on WB is simply hiking the At during the "normal" hiking season...

    And disagree on your statement about single walled tents in wet and high humidity areas... In some ways they are BETTER, not worse than double walled tents. Especially when they are cuben fiber single walled tents; this fabulous material does not absorb water, so dries much quicker.

    Basically on the AT in the spring/summer, your tent will be wet in the morning, no matter what type you have. Your fly will be soaked on a double walled tent, though the inner tent might be fairly dry. Your single walled tent will be wet too, but again, if it's cuben, shake it off and put it away and you won't be carrying a pint of extra water that you would be with your double wall sil-nylon tent.

    And since single walled tents are highly ventilated, I've found the condensation is really not any worse, for all intents and purposes.

    I hiked half the AT with a double walled tent. Then I finally bought a cuben single walled tent, and finished with it. I MUCH preferred, even ignoring the weight savings, using the single walled tent.

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    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    I guess thats what I get for regurgitating what I read here and in gear guides...I see your point and wish cuben was in my future but not likely.

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Agree and disagree.... Yeah, context would be nice but I've found that the "default" on WB is simply hiking the At during the "normal" hiking season...

    And disagree on your statement about single walled tents in wet and high humidity areas... In some ways they are BETTER, not worse than double walled tents. Especially when they are cuben fiber single walled tents; this fabulous material does not absorb water, so dries much quicker.

    Basically on the AT in the spring/summer, your tent will be wet in the morning, no matter what type you have. Your fly will be soaked on a double walled tent, though the inner tent might be fairly dry. Your single walled tent will be wet too, but again, if it's cuben, shake it off and put it away and you won't be carrying a pint of extra water that you would be with your double wall sil-nylon tent.



    And since single walled tents are highly ventilated, I've found the condensation is really not any worse, for all intents and purposes.

    I hiked half the AT with a double walled tent. Then I finally bought a cuben single walled tent, and finished with it. I MUCH preferred, even ignoring the weight savings, using the single walled tent.

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossup View Post
    I guess thats what I get for regurgitating what I read here and in gear guides...I see your point and wish cuben was in my future but not likely.
    There's a guy on WB with a brand-new zpacks solo+ for sale below retail.... I can't say enough good things about this tent. 15 ounces of excellent protection and pure hiking bliss... Like they say about expensive gear: It only hurts once! Cheap gear might hurt every time you use it. Just sayin'.

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    Didn't vote because my preferred shelter is single walled but not a tent.
    Lighter weight than a tent. Faster to pitch than a tent. More versatile than a tent. Less expensive than a tent.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

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    Registered User ggreaves's Avatar
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    if you stick with a tarp and not a tent, you won't have condensation issues at all. If you want to make sure you're never wet from above or below or uncomfortable when tarp camping, string up a hammock underneath it. I also agree with colorado_rob that cuben is a great tarp material because the morning shakeoff will get 90% of the moisture off of it. A quick wipe down with a microfiber towel will get another 8% of the moisture off. Then you can throw the tarp in your pack and know you won't get anything else wet. No more extra weight carrying rain water and condensation around. On another note, having a pack made from cuben or XPac will make sure your stuff stays dry and you won't need a pack cover. It's nice to pick up your pack in the morning and have it weigh the same or less than it did yesterday.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ggreaves View Post
    if you stick with a tarp and not a tent, you won't have condensation issues at all.
    Tarps can drip on you just like a tent fly does
    If you want to make sure you're never wet from above or below or uncomfortable when tarp camping, string up a hammock underneath it.
    Yes and then you have the weight of a double wall tent or more
    I also agree with colorado_rob that cuben is a great tarp material because the morning shakeoff will get 90% of the moisture off of it. A quick wipe down with a microfiber towel will get another 8% of the moisture off. Then you can throw the tarp in your pack and know you won't get anything else wet. No more extra weight carrying rain water and condensation around. On another note, having a pack made from cuben or XPac will make sure your stuff stays dry and you won't need a pack cover. It's nice to pick up your pack in the morning and have it weigh the same or less than it did yesterday.
    Cuben backpacks are not watertight unless designed to be so. Even if taped that tape can come off so you are back to a pack that can leak.

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    Failed to paste with added replies.. My comments got mixed with the original text and I can't edit...

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    Registered User jjozgrunt's Avatar
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    I've got 2 zpacks tent, the duplex newest and the solo plus both in the .74 oz material, for the aussie bush. I usually use the solo+ when I solo but after using the duplex for the first 20+ days on the AT this year I think I will carry it on all walks in the future. Solo Plus for sale at some time, when I get around to it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Franco View Post
    Failed to paste with added replies.. My comments got mixed with the original text and I can't edit...
    1. The only way tarps can drip on you is if they have condensation on the inside. When you pitch it 5 or 6 feet off the ground like you do for a hammock, that doesn't happen.
    2. My hammock weighs 16.5 oz. My tarp weighs 6.5 oz. 23 oz total. A double wall Big Agnes Fly Platinum Creek HV UL1 weighs 23 oz . A single wall protrail weighs 26oz. There are lots of cuben options < 23oz but not by enough that it's worth the compromise in comfort imho. This isn't to say that a hammock and tarp will have less weight bulk than a ground system. In general, it won't. Just that if you want to have an ultralight base weight, it's more than possible with a hammock setup.
    3. A seam taped cuben pack is highly water resistant - not water tight. And, of course it's dependent on the construction technique - seam taping etc. The fabric, however, doesn't absorb any water and it's going to keep out more water than packs made of other fabrics when covered by a pack cover. Pack covers leave most of the suspension area of the pack uncovered and they just delay the inevitable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ggreaves View Post
    1. The only way tarps can drip on you is if they have condensation on the inside. When you pitch it 5 or 6 feet off the ground like you do for a hammock, that doesn't happen. . .
    Well, actually, if you have it pitched too close to your hammock or you have a tarp with closed ends, you can get condensation, but now we're picking nits and since a tarp's drip-line is not down onto a bathtub floor, a little condensation dripping down the tarp never heart anyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by ggreaves View Post
    3. A seam taped cuben pack is highly water resistant - not water tight. And, of course it's dependent on the construction technique - seam taping etc. The fabric, however, doesn't absorb any water and it's going to keep out more water than packs made of other fabrics when covered by a pack cover. . .
    I don't understand this waterproof pack desire people seem to have. If it's raining enough to soak a bunch of your gear, then your gear still needs to be carried, and most of us can't carry 100% of our wet and damp gear on the outside of our pack so we gotta carry wet gear inside our pack along with our dry stuff, so we still need to separate out our dry stuff inside our pack, so what's the advantage of a waterproof pack? . . . yeah, thread drift. Maybe I'll start another thread.
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by ggreaves View Post
    ........... I also agree with colorado_rob that cuben is a great tarp material because the morning shakeoff will get 90% of the moisture off of it. A quick wipe down with a microfiber towel will get another 8% of the moisture off..........
    I used to think this as well but I had an interesting and surprising experience that suggested otherwise.

    Last spring I was testing a tarp/bivy setup, mostly for testing the bivy which was made for me by a friend. I intentionally went out for a quick overnighter when rain was forecast. The tarp was the HMG Echo II which is a cat cut 8.5'x8.5'x6.5', .74 cuben, weighing about 10.5 oz with guylines. (I weighed it with my digital scale but forgot to record it in geargrams library... however, this is pretty close.)

    As hoped, there was a fair bit of rain all night and into the next morning. When I packed up for the short walk out (about an hour) I shook out the very wet tarp fairly vigorously to get rid of as much water as practically possible.

    When I got home I weighed the wet tarp on the digital scale and the weight was something like 14.7 oz (again, from memory, but that is very close).

    Yes, this a sample of one. However, IMO it is a very solid data point, enough to convince me that the weight of Cuben increases by about 40% when wet and that we are not shaking out as much water as we previously assumed. Of course some of this water weight was also in the guy lines (1.8mm), although it seems fair to include that because we all leave them attached to the tarp.

    Also, this was fairly new .74 cuben... the percentage of water weight gain might be even higher with .51 cuben, or with older tarps that absorb more water.

    HMG Echo with JB Bivy.jpg
    Last edited by cmoulder; 11-03-2017 at 07:00.
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    Double wall tent to me refers to a true winter tent, the forth season, with two walls, not these mesh bug net screen things...talk about spindrift!

  16. #16

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    Talk about manufacturer spindrift, Ugh.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    I used to think this as well but I had an interesting and surprising experience that suggested otherwise.

    Last spring I was testing a tarp/bivy setup, mostly for testing the bivy which was made for me by a friend. I intentionally went out for a quick overnighter when rain was forecast. The tarp was the HMG Echo II which is a cat cut 8.5'x8.5'x6.5', .74 cuben, weighing about 10.5 oz with guylines. (I weighed it with my digital scale but forgot to record it in geargrams library... however, this is pretty close.)

    As hoped, there was a fair bit of rain all night and into the next morning. When I packed up for the short walk out (about an hour) I shook out the very wet tarp fairly vigorously to get rid of as much water as practically possible.

    When I got home I weighed the wet tarp on the digital scale and the weight was something like 14.7 oz (again, from memory, but that is very close).

    Yes, this a sample of one. However, IMO it is a very solid data point, enough to convince me that the weight of Cuben increases by about 40% when wet and that we are not shaking out as much water as we previously assumed. Of course some of this water weight was also in the guy lines (1.8mm), although it seems fair to include that because we all leave them attached to the tarp.

    Also, this was fairly new .74 cuben... the percentage of water weight gain might be even higher with .51 cuben, or with older tarps that absorb more water.

    HMG Echo with JB Bivy.jpg
    Interesting, but 4 ounces of water remaining on the surface (as opposed to absorbed) does not seem at all unreasonable for a tarp/tent/fly made of Cuben. Shake all you want, but surface tension will cling water to any microscopically-rough surface. Wiping with a chamois, as mentioned below, would help. The real question is: how does cuben compare to sil-nylon.

    What counts is not the percentage increase, but the delta weight increase, IMO. 4 ounces or 40% is a fairly minor increase for a soaked cuben tent, whereas a 10 ounce increase in a 48 ounce tent is only a bit over 20%, but way more significant of a weight increase. I suspect that for a sil-nylon tent, the soaked weight increase is more than 10 ounces though, but I've never weighed this to find out.

    I'll try to get around to running a test; I have a 0.51 cuben zpacks solo+ (<16 oz) and a 0.74 zpacks duplex (25 oz), which are essentially the same size, and a sil-nylon BA copper spur 2 (~48 oz) of roughly the same size. I'll carefully weigh them bone dry, then soak all three tents, shake thoroughly, then reweigh. Then I'll chamois all three and weigh yet again. Simple!

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Interesting, but 4 ounces of water remaining on the surface (as opposed to absorbed) does not seem at all unreasonable for a tarp/tent/fly made of Cuben. Shake all you want, but surface tension will cling water to any microscopically-rough surface. Wiping with a chamois, as mentioned below, would help. The real question is: how does cuben compare to sil-nylon.

    What counts is not the percentage increase, but the delta weight increase, IMO. 4 ounces or 40% is a fairly minor increase for a soaked cuben tent, whereas a 10 ounce increase in a 48 ounce tent is only a bit over 20%, but way more significant of a weight increase. I suspect that for a sil-nylon tent, the soaked weight increase is more than 10 ounces though, but I've never weighed this to find out.

    I'll try to get around to running a test; I have a 0.51 cuben zpacks solo+ (<16 oz) and a 0.74 zpacks duplex (25 oz), which are essentially the same size, and a sil-nylon BA copper spur 2 (~48 oz) of roughly the same size. I'll carefully weigh them bone dry, then soak all three tents, shake thoroughly, then reweigh. Then I'll chamois all three and weigh yet again. Simple!
    Subscribed to this to see results. Will be interesting...also interested to see someone do this with a backpack with regards to a rain cover keeping the pack from taking on water (I use a rain cover to keep my pack from picking up water weight)

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hipbone View Post
    Subscribed to this to see results. Will be interesting...also interested to see someone do this with a backpack with regards to a rain cover keeping the pack from taking on water (I use a rain cover to keep my pack from picking up water weight)
    I did soak and shake thoroughly my ULA OHM 2.0 pack (non-Cuben) a few years ago, when the pack was about 1.5 years old, IIRC it was about 6 ounces extra weight. So I consider my 1.5 ounce Cuben rain cover to be worth the weight for wet trails like the AT, but maybe not worth the weight here out west when a pack rarely gets soaked (I use a plastic bag liner pretty much everywhere to keep stuff inside dry). I need to repeat this little experiment with my new (6 months old) zpacks arc-haul which while still not cuben, seems to be very water tight and the fabric seems to be a lot less water absorbent. I just did a 3-week trip with the arc haul and did NOT carry a pack cover, and we did get a lot of rain, nothing got wet and the pack seemed to never get soaked.

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    Registered User JoeVogel's Avatar
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    Ok, next question. Does anyone know of a double walled tent that uses cuban fiber... or i guess it is called dyneema now. I know the point have using dyneema is so that you don't need to have a second wall because it is, for all inTENTsive purposes, totally water proof but I would still be interested to know if one exists. Or at least one that had a dyneema tarp/outer wall.

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