Single wall vs Double wall tent (Solved)

What’s the difference between single and doubled walled tents? When would you use one and not the other? Check out why here!

The difference between a single walled tent and a double walled tent is essentially the number of layers each has been constructed with. 

Double walled tents have a breathable inner tent covered with a waterproof rainfly. The single walled tent has just one layer of material that does the job of both layers of the double walled tent.

Related: Looking for a backpacking tent that won’t leave you drenched? Check out our review of the best 2 person backpacking tent.

What is a Single Wall Tent?

Single-walled tents have just a single layer sheltering you from the outside world. They are made of fabric that is both water-resistant and breathable and is thicker than usual tent material. This type of material gives water a chance to evaporate as well as being reasonably waterproof. 

The main advantage of a single walled tent is its lighter weight and packability. They have a smaller footprint than most double walled tents and can be pitched in a more cramped camping situation. 

They are made from many layers of modern materials that are laminated together or a single layer that is still breathable and waterproof in most situations. Downpours that go on for days will defeat all single walled tents at some point. 

Mesh is usually included in the design to keep the insects out and to help evaporate any water that forms.

A high-quality single walled tent will keep you warm in the snow and dry in intermittent rain and are best in areas where the air is expected to be dry. If the weather is likely to be unpredictable, then maybe a double walled tent is better for you!

Bike riders setting up a tent for the night with a lot of gear to sort out
Remember, if it rains, ALL the gear you have will need to be in the tent with you.

What is a Double Wall Tent?

A double walled tent is exactly what its name suggests. It’s a tent that consists of two layers. The inner tent and the rainfly. When pitched correctly, an air gap is created between them that lets the air circulate and evaporates any water that may form on the walls or collected there from the rain.

The inner layer is the breathable component allowing air to circulate and dry up any moisture that forms. The outer layer is called the fly and it is a waterproof layer that stops the rain from getting into the tent in the first place. 

When put up together, you get the best of both breathability and waterproofing. 

These camping tents will also keep you drier in a storm for longer as the rain has to get through two layers, not one. If you are expecting rain, always take the fly!

Single wall vs double wall tent side by side comparison

Comparison criteriaSingle wall tentDouble wall tent
Waterproofing4/5    5/5 🏆
Condensation3/5    5/5 🏆
Weight      5/5 🏆4/5
Ease of set up       5/5 🏆4/5
Space inside3/5      5/5 🏆
Overall rating      4/5 🏆3.5/5
A man inside a free standing single walled tent pitched on a mountain plateau
Staking out your tent is always a good idea as it maximizes your floor space.

Single Wall Tent Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Simple set upLess space
Lightweight Condensation more likely
Quick set upNeeds extra venting to stay dry
Best when it’s dry and coldNot as waterproof
CompactCan be drafty or cold with vents open
Often cheaper as there is less materialNot usually freestanding
Quicker dry time 
Gray double walled tent with a fly set up by a river
Double walled tents have a built-in vestibule that you can store muddy shoes and backpacks in.

Double Wall Tent Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Stays drier betterWeightier than a comparable single walled tent
More storage for you and your gearOnly waterproof if the fly is not touching the tent
Best if it’s raining or humidTakes longer to set up
Guy ropes keep the tent stable in the windMore complicated to assemble
Interior poles give better supportOften more expensive
Most models are freestandingBulkier when packed up
Most models have a vestibule for storagePoles are unique to each tent
Usually Free standing
Can be 4 seasons – warmer in winter
A single walled tent set up in a meadow with a family.
Consider the occasions you will use your tent: Family, extended camping, or solo multi-location before you buy one.

Who Should Choose a Single Wall Tent?

Single walled tents are most popular with people who want to carry as little weight as possible. These tents are great for backpacking, climbing, ultra back backing, hiking, mountaineering, and thru-hikers all want to carry the most lightweight gear available.

People who are planning on doing their camping in dry cool areas where condensation is not expected should choose single walled tents.

Tarp tents are a type of single walled tent that can be the simplest backpacking tent you take with you when you know the weather will be fine, just in case!

Who Should Choose a Double Wall Tent?

Double walled tents are great for hiking, climbing, travelers with a car or a bicycle.

They are also great for those who know they will need a good shelter for camping in wetter or humid situations where condensation can be expected.

A row of double walled tents with their fly’s set up in the forest
Double walled tents are usually free standing and hold up better in the wind and rain

FAQ

Are double wall tents warmer?

Yes, double-walled tents are warmer because the air layer between the two layers acts as insulation making the tents cooler in the summer and warmer in the cold.

Are single wall tents lighter than double wall tents?

Yes, single-walled tents are lighter because there is a lot less material to carry around. If you can put up your single-walled tent with your hiking poles rather than carrying the tent poles with you, you can save even more weight.

How do I stop condensation in a single wall tent?

To keep condensation to a minimum, always keep the air flowing by leaving as many doors and windows open to keep the inside and outside temperatures as close as possible. Use the ventilation holes and flaps to keep the air flowing. 

*****

There are advantages and disadvantages of both single and double-walled tents. Have a good think about how you intend to use the tent and make your decision based on how well a tent copes with your weather conditions, how much weight you want to carry and how much personal space you need.  

Get the tent that will serve your purposes and look forward to a good night’s sleep and be as comfortable as you can!

Happy Camping! 😊

Next up: Find out how much water you should bring backpacking.

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Author at Wilderness Redefined camping website

Kara grew up in New Zealand where camping in the backyard as a child turned into multi-night trips in the National Parks as a teenager and then a full blown backpacking adventure for a year in Asia, by herself in her early 20's. Camping, bush walking, car camping and road trips still feature heavily in her current life style. She lives right next door to a World Heritage National Park on Springbrook Mountain and highly recommends having them as next door neighbours!