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Gear List || One-shelter quiver: Modular double-wall backpacking tent


This is a multi-post series on backpacking shelter systems. Start with the Introduction or skip to:


One of my three go-to shelter systems: the Sierra Designs High Route Tent. It's lightweight, extremely versatile and well ventilated, and a palace for one (especially in fly-only mode). The fly offers protection from precip and wind; the inner tent (not visible), from insects and ground water.

One of my three go-to shelter systems: the Sierra Designs High Route Tent. It’s lightweight, extremely versatile and well ventilated, and a palace for one (especially in fly-only mode). The fly offers protection from precip and wind; the inner tent (not visible), from insects and ground water.

What is a backpacking tent? I’ll define it as a full-sided, fixed-shaped, and holistically designed portable shelter that protects its occupants from precipitation, wind, groundwater, and insects. A few models do not fulfill this entire description, but it generally works.

Tents grossly outsell tarps, hammocks, and bivy sacks. This is partly due to deeply embedded mindsets (“I am going backpacking, so I need a tent.”), but also because tents make for good backpacking shelters. They:

  • Offer robust protection against all environmental factors;
  • Can be used in nearly all locations and seasons;
  • Set up and break down easily;
  • Sleep soloists and multi-person groups; and,
  • Require little learning, relative to tarps and hammocks.

With one exception, my recommendation to backpackers looking for an all-purpose shelter is to buy a tent. The exception: If you will regularly camp in high-use forested zones like the Appalachian Trail, consider a hammock.

Most tents have a double-wall design, whereby a waterproof rain fly is secured over an inner tent with a waterproof floor and bug mesh upper. But some are single-wall, where the fly, bug netting, and floor are sewn together. (Mountaineering tents are also single-wall, but the upper is made of waterproof-breathable fabric.)

An assortment of single- and double-wall tents on the Alaskan tundra

An assortment of single- and double-wall tents on the Alaskan tundra

My modular double-wall tent system

What exact tent do I use? Let me share and explain my choice:

  • Critical = A must-have, no exceptions
  • Suggested = A valuable addition, few reasons not to bring
  • Optional = Not critical, but worth consideration
  • Depends = Contingent on trip objectives, conditions, and/or other selections
  • Unnecessary = Unlikely to need and/or can be improvised

Those who regularly read this blog will not be surprised that I use the Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1FL. After all, I designed it from scratch with SD’s technical help. The six characteristics I love most:

  • Storm-worthy. I will use it in moderate winter weather (e.g. forested camps, no blizzards) or less.
  • Modular. The fly and inner tent can be used together or independently, or mixed-and-matched with other components like ground sheets and bivies, so that its configuration can be tailored precisely to the trip conditions.
  • Intuitive and versatile pitch. It goes up quickly with little fuss. It can be pitched low, or a few inches off the ground for additional space. The doors can be closed, opened, or porched, even when it’s snowing or raining.
  • Generously sized. It is a palace for one, due to its dimensions and shape. Unlike ultralight/ultra-small shelters, it will remain comfortable in inclement weather. It can fit two snugly.
  • Pole positions. The poles do not block entryways or break up the sleeping area, and they help to reinforce the vertical side doors.
  • Lightweight. The “minimum weight” of my modified version weighs just 2 lbs 2.7 oz (985 grams) for the fly, inner tent, and guylines. I more often use it in fly/footprint mode, at 1 lb 7.7 oz with a space blanket.
With its double doors and vertical side walls, the High Route vents extremely well, even when it's raining or snowing. The doors can be opened or porched without exposing the inside to the elements.

With its double doors and vertical side walls, the High Route vents extremely well, even when it’s raining or snowing. The doors can be opened or porched without exposing the inside to the elements.

When the inner tent is left behind, the High Route is big enough for two. It's intentionally oversized so that it remains comfortable during periods of crappy weather. A true 1-person version would weigh only about 4 oz less.

When the inner tent is left behind, the High Route is big enough for two. It’s intentionally oversized so that it remains comfortable during periods of crappy weather. A true 1-person version would weigh only about 4 oz less.

The High Route Tent is just about perfect for me. For other users, not so much. Let’s look at some of the alternatives.

Double-wall mids and inserts

Prior to the High Route Tent, my go-to shelter system for challenging and varied conditions was a pyramid-shaped tarp and matching bug insert. This combination is also a very solid choice for a one-shelter quiver.

A few examples:

Black Diamond Mega Lights + Mega Bug Tents in Wyoming's Wind River Range

Black Diamond Mega Lights + Mega Bug Tents in Wyoming’s Wind River Range

Mids are true four-season shelters. Snow cascades down their sloped walls, and wind struggles to take hold of their angular profiles. Unlike 4-season mountaineering tents, mids are light enough for 3-season trips. In fact, assuming the same footprint size and fabrics, a mid will be lighter than the High Route Tent because it has less surface area (and interior volume).

Because they are so lightweight, capable, and sleek-looking, mids are very sexy. But most backpackers will never push a mid to its limits, and I question whether the tradeoffs are worthwhile. Ultimately, I decided to sacrifice some storm-worthiness in exchange for a shelter that:

  • Keeps its poles out of the sleeping area and entryways;
  • Can be ventilated in a storm (by opening its doors partially or completely) without exposing the inside to falling precip; and,
  • Maximizes interior space with vertical or steeply angled walls.

Single-wall tents

As mentioned earlier, a single-wall tent has a sewn-together fly, floor, and bug netting. It’s a simpler system, and also lighter than a comparable double-wall tent because redundant materials can be eliminated.

Single-wall tents work best for those who always need or want full-service protections. If I were tent-shopping for Amanda for a Colorado Trail thru-hike, I would look hard at this category. She’s happier and she sleeps better when she’s fully enclosed, even when it’s not warranted by the conditions. I know that many people feel this way, and I don’t argue with it.

Examples of single-wall tents:

Single-wall tents like the ZPacks Hexamid have a sewn-together fly, floor, and bug netting. They are simple and lightweight, but not modular and not well suited for humid climates.

Single-wall tents like the ZPacks Hexamid have a sewn-together fly, floor, and bug netting. They are simple and lightweight, but not modular and not well suited for humid climates.

Single-wall tents are not modular. Therefore, components cannot be mixed-and-matched in order to tailor the configuration for varied conditions. You may or may not see this as a problem.

In my case, a single-wall tent would be ideal only for 6 to 8 weeks per year, during the peak bug seasons. For the rest of the 3-seasons, I would be annoyed at the restrictive nature of the bug netting, and have to carry unwarranted weight. During the winter, I would be unable to use the tent at all, because the floor would prevent me from digging into the snowpack and using the fly more like a roof.

The other issue with single-wall tents is condensation management. When the temperature of the rain fly drops below the dew point (due to ambient temperature or radiant heat loss), condensation will collect on its inside. In a single-wall tent, you are likely to contact this surface, wetting your clothing or sleeping bag.

This makes single-wall tents a difficult sell for humid environments like the eastern woodlands and Pacific Northwest. No surprise, single-wall tents first gained traction among thru-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail, the aridity on which makes condensation a rare concern.

A double-wall tent is not necessarily more condensation-resistant. (This depends on ventilation, which is a function of the shelter’s design and pitch.) But at least in a double-wall tent the inner body acts as a barrier between the occupants and the condensation on the fly.

Double-wall freestanding tents

Nearly all of the aforementioned shelters are non-freestanding. Most are supported with trekking poles or stout shafts, and must be staked out to achieve proper pitch and tension.

Understandably, you may be deterred by this design. You may:

  • Not use trekking poles (the wisdom of which is irrelevant for now);
  • Wish to avoid the extra fuss; or,
  • Camp regularly in deep sand or snow, which exacerbate this fuss factor.

The solution is a freestanding or semi-freestanding double-wall tent, which offers a fast and nearly foolproof pitch. Stakes are still necessary for achieving textbook tension and ventilation, but the shelter’s structural integrity depends mostly on the custom pole set.

Freestanding and semi-freestanding double-wall tents also have very efficient geometries, i.e. they maximize interior space relative to their surface area, often featuring vertical walls and dome ceilings.

Examples of double-wall tents:

Freestanding double-wall tents like the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1 are convenient and have efficient geometries. But their custom pole sets add weight, and their dome shapes limit ventilation when it's needed most.

Freestanding double-wall tents like the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1 are convenient and have efficient geometries. But their custom pole sets add weight, and their dome shapes limit ventilation when it’s needed most.

Naturally, double-wall freestanding and semi-freestanding tents are not without tradeoffs. One is added weight, due to the custom pole set. The pole set on the Sierra Designs Light Year adds 9 ounces, for example, plus a few more ounces of related clips, buckles, grommets, and sleeves. Poles can be made of ultralight aluminum and carbon, but that quickly gets expensive. The Big Agnes Fly Creek 1 Platinum, for example, costs $500!

Because free-standing and semi-freestanding tents have relatively efficient geometries, fewer materials can be used to achieve the same amount of livable space relative to non-freestanding tents. But the weight penalty of the pole set cannot be completely offset.

Some freestanding and semi-freestanding tents are modular, i.e. their fly and inner tent body can be used independently, as well as together. Read deeply for this detail — it’s a mixed bag. Be aware, too, that this modularity normally requires the purchase of a separate custom footprint with matching connection points. This will be an added $50-ish expense.

My final criticism of free-standing double-wall tents was leveled earlier, too: the occupant must decide whether they want ventilation or protection from precipitation. These tents always offer ventilation at the base of the fly. But in calm, humid, and rainy conditions this will often be inadequate. For additional ventilation, normally a door must be opened, but doing so exposes the vestibule or the interior tent to the elements. Unfortunately, double-wall tents have the worst ventilation when it is needed most. There are a few exceptions to this design flaw, but they are not the norm.

What tent did you ultimately purchase, and why? If you are in the market, share your top selections and I’ll offer my thoughts.


Disclosure. This website is supported mostly through affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors, at no cost to the reader. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

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42 Responses to Gear List || One-shelter quiver: Modular double-wall backpacking tent

  1. Fearless Foods - JC November 15, 2016 at 11:25 am #

    Andrew, your posts have made me reconsider my previous thought that a Z-packs Duplex would be the ultimate, versatile set-up for solo and two person trips throughout 3 season conditions. Currently I use a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 for solo trips (A few years ago I also did a 10-day trip with my girlfriend using the tent, but space was very tight!). Following that trip we purchased an REI half-dome primarily due to cost. I’m at the beginning of my ultralight make-over and am learning a lot. I can see many of the thoughtful design choices that went into making the High Route. The only downside for my situation is that fitting two inside the inner tent when its buggy looks too tight.

    Maybe a mid shelter with an insert is the best set-up for my needs… I like the idea of just owning one shelter that can be adapted to serve most needs well.

    • Andrew Skurka November 15, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

      1. If you expect to regularly use this shelter for two people, and at least one of you wants to be enclosed in something, the HR1 is probably not the best bet. If I take it on trips with Amanda, I can stick her in the inner tent or in a bivy, but that’s not as good as a 2P bug nest. SD has no current plans to produce a 2P High Route, so don’t wait for it.

      2. If you want just one shelter for you and for you/gf, you are probably best off with an UL 2P freestanding tent or with a 2P mid + insert. The freestanding tent would not be winter-worthy, and it would be heavier as a solo shelter (and probably a 2P shelter, too). The mid + insert would probably be more expensive but it’ll give you the greatest range.

      You also might want to look at the Tarptent Stratosphire 2, which is a legitimate 2P shelter. That would avoid needing to carry a dedicated center pole, too, since many 2P mids are too tall for trekking poles, and I worry about the integrity of strapping two trekking poles together to make one long one — seems kind of wobbly to me.

      • Fearless Foods - JC November 15, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

        As I’ve done more research I agree with the 2P mid + insert approach! The Tarptent Stratoshire 2 has a great feature set, especially since it doesn’t require extra poles, though the weight is a bit high. Ideally I’d like to have a two person shelter system that is in the 1.75-2lb range. The MLD Duomid stands out as a good option. Possibly needing to use a pole jack seems like an ok compromise in terms of added weight. I agree that strapping two poles together does not seem like a robust set-up.

        I will keep researching and maybe some new designs will emerge over the course of the next year or so. I likely won’t upgrade our set-up until after next summer. Thank you for your posts and insights! I have a much clearer picture of what to look for now. I’m looking forward to your post on bivy sacks and their use when a full inner tent is not needed.Thanks!

  2. Brent November 15, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    I am planning on buying Tarptent double rainbow. I started the search at REI. I was intrigued with the Big Agnes line and discovered their scout which introduced me to single wall tents. I started doing a lot of research on tents and found companies like TarpTent and Six Moons Design. I quickly realized that there are a lot more options than a freestanding tent from REI. I have been a casual backpacker over the last few years but got tired of all the weight.

    I will either be backpacking with my wife and dog. Or just me and my dog. I think the double rainbow works well as either a solo shelter or comfortable enough for my wife and I. My wife is not ok with just a tarp. We both use trekking poles. I like the 2 doors of the double rainbow. I especially like how the vestibules can be opened up making it very wide open.

    I live in Colorado and that is exclusively where I will be backpacking for the next few years. This winter I have been upgrading my backpacking equipment. I’m going from a mummy to a quilt. Old backpacking tent to a tarptent. Therm-o-rest self inflating to a much lighter alternative.

    • Andrew Skurka November 15, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

      Single-wall tents are generally fine for Colorado. I would still recommend that you learn about campsite selection because your ability to find relative dry and warm sites will reduce the risk of condensation.

      If you’re always 1+ or 2+, I’d say that a 2P shelter is a minimum. A normal 1P shelter will not give you enough interior room for 1 + dog, and definitely 2 + dog. Not sure how big or energetic the dog is.

      Don’t force a tarp on her if she’s not ready for it, unless you want to backpack exclusively with your dog.

      The Double Rainbow would work well. The Squall is lighter, but lacks double doors, which are indeed convenient. I’ve used it before and it was not an issue for my assistant guide and I. Maybe look at the Rainshadow, too — it’s no heavier than the Rainbow, but bigger than the Squall, to account for your dog.

      • Brent November 15, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

        I have been learning more and more about campsite selection. I bought your book recently and have read it cover to cover.

        My dog is about 55 pounds and usually ends up sleeping with me. I will check out the squal and rainshadow. Those are good options too. Thanks for the advice Andrew

    • MarkL November 26, 2016 at 8:06 pm #

      I bought a Double Rainbow last summer. I have only used it once so far, and the weather was good. I think it will be very cozy for 2 plus 55lb dog (same size as mine!). The dog will have to sleep at your feet/above your head or in the vestibule.

      I went for the Tarptent because they seemed like a good balance of space, materials (it is 30d fabric, not 10 or 15 like a lot of the double-wall UL options), price, set-up, and of course weight. I am not willing to spend big $ to save a half a pound or to get a specialized 1-person shelter. I might have gone for one of the lighter models (I thought hard about the Motrail), but I want the ability to leave my sent set up while I go out during the day, which you can’t do with a trekking pole shelter if you want to use your poles. A dog also presents a durability question due to claws.

  3. Heath Sandall November 15, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    Tarptent Stratospire 1 (2). I’ve been using it for the past several years from the Arctic, to desert, to rainforest, in all seasons (except heavy snow). Palatial, two doors & vestibules that give great views, access, & protection. Multiple inner tent options. Can be pitched with trekking/ski poles, or a separate dedicated set if bikepacking or boating.

    I just got back from a trip in the desert with 58mph winds on one night recorded a mile away from my camp. I had it pitched behind a scrawny leafless shrub, and no problems. I was amazed once again with it’s quality.

    I’ve even bought several other tents recently to investigate if I’d been missing anything. I passed on every one and my Stratospire goes everywhere. And as a bonus, Tarptent is a great responsive company with incredible CS.

  4. Katherine November 15, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    Primarily a hammock-user. I use a ground shelter when: 1.) there are no trees or I don’t know if I can count on trees 2.) I’m with my son or a good friend 3.) a backcountry permit limits me to a designated site, which may or may not have hangable trees.

    1. Got myself a mid for this, Locus Gear Figured: if I’m above treeliine it could get windy. Haven’t put it to the test yet. Opted for LG so I could do a center pole pitch w/BD carbon corks w/out a jack, though I sometimes use their V-pitch thingy.

    2. Co-own a Stratospire 2 for trips with my son and the the friend I co-own it with. Love the off-set-two-pole type.

    3. Wonderland. *IF* I get a permit for next summer, want to go back for a redo! Had issues brushing up against the side of my mid. Used a 2P mid with a half inner so I could in theory leave a door open in the rain (but didn’t). Considering other inner net variations (LG’s 2/3 or 3/4 inner nets) to ease that issue, but those would put some of my living space past the drip line. Too buggy for the bivy. I was wishing I had a Duplex. Money is an issue. What’s your call for the most economical one-person solution to a rainy, buggy, designated site?

    • Andrew Skurka November 15, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

      When I hear “designated campsite” I hear “awful ground site” and when I hear “rain” I equate that to trees in the area. Taken together, I would go with a a hammock, although I am not familiar enough with what is out there to detail the best budget-friendly system.

  5. Katherine November 15, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

    a huge plus on the hammock rec: I already own it.

    *IF/WHEN* I get another MRNP permit, I’ll see which specific sites I get and ask around about the hammock-ability. I’ve heard it’s doable. Of the sites I stayed at last time, all but one looked possible.

    Thanks.

  6. James Marcelia November 15, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

    I looked at the Tarptent Stratospire and it appears to have a very similar design to the High Route 1. I love the High Route’s design but need a 2 person shelter. Based on the similarity I would guess that it would have most of the same advantages the High Route gives but in a 2 person package. What do you think about the Stratospire?

    • Andrew Skurka November 15, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

      Have not used or seen one.

      The biggest difference is that the HR has vertical side walls whereas the SS has sloping side walls. So the SS cannot be opened without exposing the vestibules to falling precip, but it will be more wind resistant.

      Both shelters have the offset poles, so poles will not break up the sleeping area or block the entryways. The SS poles will not reinforce the doors however.

  7. Zach November 15, 2016 at 11:17 pm #

    I’m leaning heavily toward the BA Fly creek platinum, but not ready to pull the trigger quite yet. I used the tarptent motrail for 3 weeks in the Sierra this summer, but need a solo shelter for upcoming hikes. I’m planning to hike the Pct nobo next April, then the AT sobo starting in late august. Will be mostly in the mountain west after that. I’d prefer a shelter that’s easy and quick to set up, but doesn’t need to be enclosed. Thanks for this series. Super insightful

    • Andrew Skurka November 16, 2016 at 6:29 am #

      Why not the ProTrail?

      Are you planning to use the same shelter for both hikes? If so, most models will be worn out by the end, especially if you pitch it all or most nights. UV, abrasion, and storage while wet are the killers. Some fabrics might be okay with this much use, but I don’t think Tarptent’s sil-nylon or BA’s platinum fabrics are on that list. With Tarptent’s prices being so reasonable, I struggle to think they are using a premium grade like MLD’s Pro. With the BA shelter, they used some really wispy fabrics that, frankly, will not withstand the test of time.

      Personally, I would advocate a two-shelter approach for your plans. Get a tent for the PCT. A single-wall is fine. And get a hammock for the AT. I’ll be writing about hammocks in a few days; make sure to catch it.

  8. Daniel November 16, 2016 at 12:07 am #

    I’ve used a ZPacks Hexamid Solo-Plus for around a year and a half now. I find your perspective on big netting interesting; It’s never really bothered me. In NZ it’s buggy pretty much all year except in Winter at higher elevations. The only (solo) conditions I’ve found that shelter to be less than sufficient is where there is high wind and driving rain, in a bad enough combination that it gets under the vestibule. It handles wind structurally well, but the elements can get under the vestibule which can be uncomfortable. The problem can be mitigated, but in those conditions (which are very rare for me) I sometimes wish I had a more stormproof mid. Likewise for some more serious Winter hiking (which I want to do more of). However, I don’t ever see myself going back to a double-wall w/ custom poles, simply because of the weight. But generally I’m very happy with the Hexamid, because it gives the secureness of a bug net and good weather resistance while still having the ‘actually sleeping outdoors’ feeling one gets when under a tarp.

    • Andrew Skurka November 16, 2016 at 6:16 am #

      Re bug netting, our perspectives are explained by the conditions we encounter. It sounds like you rarely are not in buggy conditions. Whereas I rarely am. So a fixed system with netting makes sense for you, and a modular system makes more sense for me. No system is “best” but each excels in a different set of conditions.

      In the US, 3-season hikers in the East will relate more to you, although the single-wall makes less sense due to humidity and condensation issues.

      • Daniel November 16, 2016 at 11:53 am #

        I completely agree. With the condensation, I find when the Hexamid is set up with maximum ventilation, I very rarely get condensation even in humid weather. It’s also large enough that my sleeping bag doesn’t touch either end. The only time I have a problem is when I pitch it low to the ground if there is horizontal driving rain, meaning there is much less ventilation and space.

  9. joanne burens November 16, 2016 at 8:01 am #

    Thanks for this post!! Tent of choice is a Tarptent Notch for it’s modularity. Mostly carry the fly only which has been great in windy, rainy conditions in the SW. I wanted to extend the warmth of the fly and counter the single wall wetting effect inside by carrying a MLD bivy, not so successful. The bivy seemed to generate more moisture than protection from moisture inside the fly only? Also am drawn by the allure of a modular CF set up, eliminating the extra carrying weight and dry time of a wet sil nylon tarp. Cost and durability are barriers. I really like the SD HRoute design, particularly the space/weight/cost ratio, nicely done.

  10. Richard Brown November 16, 2016 at 3:59 pm #

    I ended up buying several for different situations, I was lucky that budget wasn’t an issue for me. I needed something that was bombproof, had good insect protection but was as light as possible. Sometimes I hike alone, but most of the time with my dog (a labrador) in the UK but often in windy places and often on open moorland with no trees. Due to the insect issue I had no real choice other than go for a standard tent (although you may offer a suggestion that makes me rethink that!) For 3 season I ended up getting a Hilleberg Enan for solo trips, the lightest I could do at 2.4lb and then a Hilleberg Niak (3.7lbs) for trips with the dog. I chose the Hillebergs in the end mainly down to the bombproof nature of them and their ability to withstand good winds. I recently used the Enan for a 6 day hike in Yellowstone National Park and it was great and the Niak has proved great for Uk windy/coldish trips with the dog.

    Although I can use them in winter (Hillebergs are certainly 3+ season tents) I am still looking for something for winter that can withstand some snow weight and good ventilation for use in much colder snowier weather, maybe some winter trips to Scotland. I know there are a couple of good 2 person Hilleberg winter tents that would be great and offer more vestible space for that crappy weather where you end up in the tent more, but wondered if you had any other suggestions please.

  11. P Martin November 18, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

    What tent would you suggest for a PCT thru hiker? Currently have a mld bivy and sixmoon poncho on the AT but don’t trust the poncho to keep my footbox dry. Would i be able to get away with just a sq tarp and bugnet?

    Seems like 2 lbs is excessive when i am getting away with 25ish ounces + stakes.

  12. Will T. November 20, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    This helped reconfirm my latest tent purchase (BA fly Creek plat 1 – 33℅ off retail price). Camping mainly in the PNW. Priorities being: lightweight, packs up small, fast pitch, free standing, & modular. Do you see a better option that I might have overlooked? When the forecast is good, I usually just bring a bivy instead.

    • Andrew Skurka November 20, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

      I think that’s a fine choice. Although, if you still have the tags on it, I would look at some long-term durability reviews, because I’m skeptical of those UL fabrics. Maybe the Fly Creek UL is a better compromise of weight and durability.

  13. spelt November 20, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

    I have a mid (Duomid) but no insert. To call it palatial for one would be an understatement, but keeping my stuff in the back, I can keep everything dry in wet entry/exits. The footprint is a little large and I kick around the idea of a Solomid, but in dry weather I like a tarp anyway, so I figure another small shelter would be redundant.

  14. nero November 23, 2016 at 9:31 am #

    I recently bought a Six Moon Skyscape-Trekker at 24oz for $230 to replace my 29oz Tarptent Contrail. The weight/cost/size ratio really shone here for me. I could have spent another ~$50 to get a Tarptent Notch, which was my runner-up choice, but the picture of the regular 20″ width pad taking up almost the entire floor on their site was the final nail in the coffin for me. The Skyscape-Trekker, on the other hand, is deceptively large inside and even with my 25″ mattress it’s still roomy. In my opinion the Skyscape’s 80%-dual-wall design is more than enough to tackle any major condensation issues that I faced with my Tarptent Contrail (and boy did I deal with condensation in that thing!). Additionally, my previous tent was a Big Agnes with separate fly/nettent and I never once used them separately, as I focus my gear loadouts for thru-hikes and not specific weekend trips.

  15. MarkL November 26, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

    I have a Mountain Hardwear Hoopla 4 for a mid. It has a tension ring that gives a great amount of head room (I call it the circus tent). I really like it, especially for snow. Unfortunately they stopped making it.

  16. Terry McCollough November 29, 2016 at 11:34 pm #

    Hello Andrew,

    I have gone for a MLD Duomid, with an OOOKnest inner. I like the flexibility of this modular setup. The reason I went with the Duomid over the Solomid is my notion that the Duomid would handle condensation buildup better; ie the inner volume would allow more condensation buildup before it manifested itself on the inner wall. I live in a relatively damp part of the world and so humidity is a concern. Some of this might be mitigated by how the tent is pitched. I decided to go with an OOOKNest solo inner as opposed to the one by MLD as the OOOKNest has poly flooring as opposed to the one from MLD which is silnylon which I find a bit slippery. I know that one can put Silnet down not unlike adhesive on your bathtub, but still … . Using the OOOKNest Solo also provides a bit more place for wet gear under the tent but outside of the sleeping area. So as they we pack our fears, but at 18/35oz I think I managed okay. Always appreciative of other opinions though.

  17. David November 30, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    Andrew, do you have any thoughts on the SeekOutside Silvertip?

    Many of my formative ultralight experiences in the 90s involved carrying a 5×8 tarp and a OR DryLoft bivy. I am *still* amazed I kept myself and my down sleeping bag dry some of those nights. I keep trying to get back into the bivy/tarp combination, but I never go though with it because once you buy both, you end up with a setup that barely weighs less than a more fully featured tent, and often costs just as much. More recently, I’ve been traumatized by a night at Evolution Lake (10,800 ft) using a Tarptent ProTrail (which is basically a cat tarp with a floor sewn in) with winds that weren’t just gusting to probably 35-40 mph, but shifted direction about 90-degrees after nightfall. I’m thinking of picking up a Silvertip for its ability to be open and breezy when the weather is good, but fully battened down and wind-resistant from all directions when the weather is bad. And at 27 ounces (plus a couple more for a ground sheet) it’s light enough to be a one-person shelter, but big enough for two when hiking with a friend.

    • Andrew Skurka November 30, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

      No first-hand experience with the Silvertip, and extremely little with SeekOutside — I tried on one of their packs for a few minutes in a parking lot, know one person who recently took a job there (Dave C), and met briefly at OR another guy who works there.

      In general, mids are adored because of how storm-worthy they are and because of their relative low-weight. They have tradeoffs but they’re a solid pick for many uses.

      • David December 1, 2016 at 7:27 pm #

        I bought the Silvertip. Dave C’s review was basically what convinced me it was the best mid for my purposes. It’s almost certainly overkill for someone who plans to mostly hike in the Sierra, but I guess I’m not immune to packing my fears.

        • Andrew Skurka December 1, 2016 at 9:15 pm #

          Would agree, overkill for the Sierra.

          BUT, it does not weigh much more than a not-overkill shelter, and it will give you the option of camping in bad Sierra conditions (which are known to happen a few days per summer) and in locations with generally more inclement weather.

  18. Fearless Foods - JC December 5, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    Hi Andrew, I think I may have found the 2 person, 2 door mid style shelter I’ve been looking for based on your helpful guidance. Any thoughts on Six Moon’s Haven Tarp (Cuben) with the inner net. It seems to have most of the benefits of a regular mid, but set-up to accommodate two.

    • Andrew Skurka December 5, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

      I know of it, but I have not seen or used one. My experience with SMD is with sil-nylon single-wall tents like Lunar Duo and Lunar Solo.

      Why this exact shelter? Are you looking for a sleeping area that does not have poles in it?

      It looks like the Haven in Cuben is currently sold out. If you want a shelter now, another design you might want to checkout is the ZPacks Duplex, though I can’t recall if it’s fully double-wall.

      • Fearless Foods - JC December 5, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

        My timeline is really flexible so the Haven being sold out in Cuben is not an issue – I’m happy to wait awhile. I was leaning towards MLD’s Duomid but a pole in the sleeping area, only one door, and a single peak roof line instead of a ridge are all drawbacks from my perspective. Unfortunately the ZPacks Duplex is a hybrid double/single wall so the inner tent cannot be removed. Tarptent’s Stratosphire 2 has many of the features I desire but is considerably heavier. The features I’ve been looking for which the Haven fulfills:
        -A sub 2 pound weight
        -A true double wall shelter that can be used with or without the inner net
        -Two doors, each having a vestibule
        -Uses trekking poles, but does not have one in the middle of the sleeping area
        -The ability to set-up the exterior shelter prior to the inner net
        -Vents at the peak of the shelter
        -Inner tent sidewalls that are vertical and a bathtub floor
        -Cuben material option

  19. MarkL December 8, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

    One of the interesting options with Tarptent is at least some of the models have optional panels that can be connected to the inside of the tent to create a quasi-double wall and help mitigate moisture condensation and maybe make them slightly warmer. I have not tried mine in my Double Rainbow yet to see how well they work. If they work OK it could add a nice element of versatility.

  20. Robert Milnover December 10, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

    Quiver? “Quiver” ??? Really now. Don’t let the ad business take over your common sense.

  21. nate December 19, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

    Hi Andrew,
    Have you ever tried out the Trekkertent Stealth? It’s a modular tent system, and can be used like a tarp (with a vestibule if needed). The 1.5 size seems to strike a good balance for size. Decent weight (I think it might be offered in Cuben if requested). Any reason you’d purchase something like this in silnylon over cuben (cost not being an issue)? Thanks.

    • Andrew Skurka December 19, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

      I’d never even heard of it, thanks for the link.

      I generally don’t like A-frames. A pole blocks the entrance. The peak height is very narrow, especially if the walls are steep. And getting into it requires some contorting because you go in head-first but then must somehow turn around inside of it.

      If you can afford Cuben, it’s the superior shelter fabric. Strong and more waterproof than coated fabrics that weigh 2x as much.

  22. Scott Hoffman March 1, 2017 at 9:58 pm #

    After trying other double wall backpacking tents and the tarp+bivy system, my go-to shelter is the Hilleberg Enan. Wonderful little shelter system for my preferences. It also gives the option of a floorless shelter, tarp plus floor shelter if you add the footprint, or full double wall tent. Nice space layout for one person, good venting, wind and storm worthy, bug protection, and adaptable to different conditions. Tough to beat in my opinion.

  23. Chris March 15, 2017 at 2:17 am #

    Andrew- Have you had a chance to look at tarptents new Saddle 2? It’s a modular option with a removable bug net and double doors. Although it’s an A frame design, at least from the pictures, it looks like entry and exit are not to encumbered by the poles. Its configuration looks like it could be very roomy and well ventilated and at 37 ounces for a 2 person shelter it looks like an interesting new option.

    • Andrew Skurka March 15, 2017 at 9:15 pm #

      Agree, interesting new option. Henry is pretty good about innovating solutions to inherent flaws of shelter designs.

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