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  1. #1
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    Default Best tent style for rain

    I'm trying to decide between a single-wall or a double-wall style tent. I'm wondering which, if either, is easier to keep dry during a multi-day hike in rain. I've never used a single-wall tent.


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  2. #2

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    You will stay drier in a double wall tent in a prolonged rainstorm. The main reason is due to inner condensation whereby a single wall will "mist" or drip water droplets onto you and your gear. If conditions are right this will even happen under a tarp.

    Plus, when a pounding rain hits your single wall shelter, many campers swear that their tents actually leak or get penetrated by the pounding rain water. This will not happen in a double wall tent, even though the inner tent can and will get moist.

    In cold weather with high humidity and/or sleet or snow a single wall shelter begins to fail. Even my double wall Hillebergs have a tough time of it when conditions are terrible.

    On one January trip I was in a 153 hour rainstorm at 35F to 40F in the mountains of North Carolina, a sure test of any shelter.

    The weight of a shelter is not the most important thing---the most important thing is if will keep you dry in all conditions for however long you're out. "Keeping dry" means none of your gear rubs up against a wet inner wall of the tent, especially the foot of your sleeping bag.

  3. #3

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    I'd like to hear others weigh in, but when pitching DURING rain, I think a tent style that let's you pitch the fly first, then pitch the canopy (under the fly) may help you get sheltered sooner, and drier.

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    Yes, some may think of single wall simply because you don't have an inner (tent) to get wet during pitching but there are double wall tents that pitch fly first and or both together.
    Another feature that comes handy is large vestibule (if two walls) to get changed in and dump muddy gear in as well as drip free entry so your floor does not flood when you need to get in and out.
    My Tent for that is the Tarptent Strato Spire.
    I use the 2 but if usually hiking solo the SS1 will do.

    Of course I am biased but it does work...
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    BTW, with the TT shelter you can un-clip the inner from the inside when it is set up so if still raining or the fly is wet , just un-clip, shove the inner into the pack then get dressed ,pack up and go outside to take the fly down (already fully dressed)

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    Best for rain is an inner that can be pitched under the fly after fly is set up. Keeps inner dry when setting up and taking down, and you also should be able to stuff your wet fly on the outside of your pack so as not to get the rest of your gear wet with it inside. Packing up in rain sucks also if not enough room to move around under the fly, ie solo tents.

    Having an inner reduces you contacting that condensation coated fly on the inside, and can reduce the condensation and mist effect.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 10-11-2015 at 04:49.

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    Definitely a double wall. My Hubba NX-1 can pitch fly first with the footprint. Then it's a simple matter of setting up the inner without it getting wet. The side entry vestibule is configured in such a way as to prevent rain from getting in when entering/exiting. Typical non-double wall tarptents have the inner/flooring attached to the fly. When you take down the wet tarptent, everything including the netting and floor becomes a wet silnylon mess. With a true double wall tent, keep the wet fly and footprint in your pack's outer pocket and stuff that dry inner away inside your pack. Yes, I have owned a Contral and one of Judy's (Lightheart) products. Just my opinion and experiences.

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    That is why, for rainy weather use, I suggested the StratoSpire 2 for the versatility of setting it up dry but being able to detach the inner, pack that up and then get out in the weather .
    However for general use the single wall models should not be dismissed.
    In our range the single wall Double Rainbow outsell,by far, each of the eight double wall models we have .
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    That's very good to know Franco. Thanks.

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    The question was what is best for a MULTI-DAY rain. A double wall would have the advantage so long as the wet fly can be packed separately and the inside can be taken down without getting it wet. Which might be easier said then done.

    The inside wall of a double wall tent is usually no-see-um netting. While this might be enough to reduce getting wet due to misting during a heavy rain, it will get wet from the misting if it lasts long enough. If you can't keep the floor of the tent dry due to water running under it or being on wet ground, then everything is going to get wet when you pack it anyway.

    When you get stuck in a multi-day rain event, everything is going to get wet eventually. I don't think it matters all that much which way you go.
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    I agree that a double walled tent is better in a prolonged rain. Never once got even slightly wet in either of my old Eureka double-walled tents, or in other (no-name) road-camping dome tents with rain fly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EVC View Post
    I'm trying to decide between a single-wall or a double-wall style tent. I'm wondering which, if either, is easier to keep dry during a multi-day hike in rain. I've never used a single-wall tent.


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    Tough one as it really depends on the tent and it's design, couple of examples

    Lets say it's raining heavily but there is no wind for both scenarios.

    1/ You're in a double walled tent with everything zipped up and closed
    Absolutely no doubt you will get a LOT of condensation during the night

    2/ You're in a single wall tent that is designed to sit off the ground slightly to give better ventilation
    You will have a LOT less condensation in this scenario

    Of course you could open a door on your double wall and get good ventilation, or it could be a poorly designed single skin tent that offers poor ventilation.

    There are no hard and fast rules, anyone that has a a clear cut opinion like say is talking nonsense "You will stay drier in a double wall tent in a prolonged rainstorm" is talking nonsense or they have little to no experience in modern single wall tents.

    With either a dw or a sw tent ventilation is absolutely crucial to keeping condensation away, this makes more of a difference that if the tent has a inner or not.

    Personally i have single (Zpacks Duplex) and double wall (Tarptent SS2) tents, i've pitched both in very wet conditions and i've had less of a condensation problem inside the Duplex, BUT there is very little wind protection with the Duplex as it's designed to be pitched with the outer a couple of inches off the ground.
    So it borders from a nice relaxing breeze to being windy enough to blow my map around inside the tent.

    Lastly,
    If you do get condensation then it's easily fixed especially if there are 2 of you.
    Have a cloth handy inside the tent, if any of you wake up during the night then quickly wipe down the inside of the fly sheet

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    You are going to be wet on rainy days, from the time you get dressed, till the time you go to sleep.
    Not really that different from hiking in hot humid weather when you think about it.

    Your goal, is to manage to keep critical insulation dry enough to do its job, especially at night, to get you to safety, ie the next town.
    For many, this means depending on shelters when it rains, even camping out in one for a few days if necessary.

    Given the option, you CAN stretch 3 days food into 6 easily, if it means not putting yourself in a life threatening situation where you cant get dry and warm.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 10-11-2015 at 20:47.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cbr6fs View Post
    There are no hard and fast rules, anyone that has a a clear cut opinion like say is talking nonsense "You will stay drier in a double wall tent in a prolonged rainstorm" is talking nonsense or they have little to no experience in modern single wall tents.
    That was me, and I stand by what I said. Many, many nights in hard rain in both double-wall and single-wall tents, though my Tarptent Rainbow is relatively new. Most of my hiking career was with double-wall tents.

    You seem to agree that ventilation is critical to avoiding condensation. Yet that's exactly where double-wall tents have it over single wall -- they ventilate without letting rain in. Moisture has a chance to escape without collecting on the ceiling of the tent. QED. There's no easy way to do that in a single-wall tent. The Tarptent Rainbow leaves a narrow slot open around the bottom perimeter of the tent, which is fine as far as it goes, but not nearly as good as having a mesh ceiling and a rain fly above that.

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    We have a Big Agnes Scout UL2, a very light single wall tent. It had less issues camping in steady all-night rain than it did another time on a very humid but dry night. Either time was not a real problem - the inside of the tent got a bit damp. Easy enough to ignore, or a small towel takes quick care of it. We stayed dry. In a double wall I think the condensation would be the same, it would just be on the other side of some mesh. If the tent were larger in size or contained less people, it would probably condense less, given equivalent ventilation. A double wall tent gives more ventilation possibilities, but they are not always usable in rain. I think the Scout, with it's wraparound mesh with an awning protecting it on the outside, and additional vent on the top of the back, has excellent ventilation, better than my Kelty double wall tent would be if I used it in the rain (disclaimer - I never did). I feel like (without testing) the best ventilation is probably in tents with a small rain fly over a top mesh panel, which does not extend too far down the sides, so that a breeze moves through the top of the tent. But I think the design of the Scout is great for a single wall and imagine there are other great designs out there too.

    Pitching in the rain was no problem - I have a footprint so I stake that down first - then it is quick to then take the tent out and put it over the same stakes, taking care to ensure the awning is pulled out over the mesh openings aforementioned. The next matter of business is getting the front end propped up on a pole and staked down, followed by the back - during this process the awning is hanging down over the mesh so no water is able to get in. Once done, my wife and gear head into the tent and she starts getting things set up, and then I go around and stake out the awning to allow ventilation. I have been pleased with the ease of this process.

    What I don't like, is packing up the following morning. A double wall where I could stay under the fly while taking down the inside tent sounds dreamy. If the ground were wet under the tent, I imagine I could still towel off the bottom of the tent decently, then pack it up in a dry place, then pack the wet fly somewhere else. I don't think that wouldn't work with my Kelty, though - the poles are supported by the base of the inner tent. So when I pack up I just end up with a soggy mess stuffed into the sack, and then some water ends up on the inside of the tent by the time it is pitched again. This isn't a huge volume of water though, and use of the footprint keeps most mud or debris off of the tent (rain is the first thing that made me really grateful I bothered carrying a footprint). So when pitched again, first thing to do when heading inside is to towel down the inside. It's not a lot of water though, and could probably be just as easily ignored. Your wet gear and self is carrying in more water when you get in.

    I'm happy to carry the lighter weight of the single wall and do not feel it is a big disadvantage.

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    Choose site wisely, ie soft duff, grassy areas, and water soaks in and will not run under your shelter getting the inner wet.

    Avoid pitch on hard ground (most established well used sites) during rain, that invites more splatter and runoff on surface.

    Imagine if you could sleep under a 20 x 20 A frame tarp. Would you want an inner or not? Obviously there are compromises made between size and weight, and ventillation, and moisuture control ability.

  17. #17

    Default Best tent style for rain = hammock?

    Also consider a hammock with a tarp. You can set up the tarp first; then you and your gear stay dry as you set up the hammock and do other camp prep. Take down in reverse; and only the tarp is wet and has to stay on the outside of your pack. And, if you use snakeskins on the tarp, it's amazing how easy it is to wrap up, even in a downpour.

  18. #18

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    I have the Strat2. It has protected me on countless nights from absolute gully washers. I have never taken the inner out but I have set it back up in evenings and have to do a little dry out but nothing major.

    I have a Hilleberg which has equally protected me. both of which are 2 wall tents.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rafe View Post
    That was me, and I stand by what I said. Many, many nights in hard rain in both double-wall and single-wall tents, though my Tarptent Rainbow is relatively new. Most of my hiking career was with double-wall tents.

    You seem to agree that ventilation is critical to avoiding condensation. Yet that's exactly where double-wall tents have it over single wall -- they ventilate without letting rain in. Moisture has a chance to escape without collecting on the ceiling of the tent. QED. There's no easy way to do that in a single-wall tent. The Tarptent Rainbow leaves a narrow slot open around the bottom perimeter of the tent, which is fine as far as it goes, but not nearly as good as having a mesh ceiling and a rain fly above that.
    rafe,

    Absolutely, ventilation makes a massive difference.
    I'm failing to see how double wall tents have more ventilation than single wall though

    Moisture does collect on the outer fly of double wall tents, just as it does for single wall.
    Some double wall tents have a mesh inner that does little to stop any droplets that may fall, others have solid panels.

    The slope angle of the fabric also makes a massive difference, with something like a mid the angle is very steep so any condensation runs down quickly.
    With something like the trailstar in a low pitch the moisture is more likely to fall on you than run down the fly.

    Then there is fabric choice, in my experience silnylon tends to "hold on" to moisture a lot more than CF

    My point is there are no hard fast rules here, some double wall tents are terrible for condensation, as are some single walled ones.
    By the same token some single wall tents have more ventilation than you'd ever need, likewise with some double walled.


    But een in the worst case scenario a quick wipe of the inside of the fly with a cloth or towel soon solves the problem.
    Something that's not as easy to do with a double wall btw

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    Quote Originally Posted by cbr6fs View Post
    rafe,)

    Absolutely, ventilation makes a massive difference.
    I'm failing to see how double wall tents have more ventilation than single wall though

    Moisture does collect on the outer fly of double wall tents, just as it does for single wall.
    Some double wall tents have a mesh inner that does little to stop any droplets that may fall, others have solid panels.

    The slope angle of the fabric also makes a massive difference, with something like a mid the angle is very steep so any condensation runs down quickly.
    With something like the trailstar in a low pitch the moisture is more likely to fall on you than run down the fly.

    Then there is fabric choice, in my experience silnylon tends to "hold on" to moisture a lot more than CF

    My point is there are no hard fast rules here, some double wall tents are terrible for condensation, as are some single walled ones.
    By the same token some single wall tents have more ventilation than you'd ever need, likewise with some double walled.


    But een in the worst case scenario a quick wipe of the inside of the fly with a cloth or towel soon solves the problem.
    Something that's not as easy to do with a double wall btw
    Double wall trap a layer of warmer air between the inner and outer, which reduces the internal condensation on the fly, as well as the inner protects from some misting.

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