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
  • Contingent: Depends 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. I strive to offer field-tested and trustworthy information, insights, and advice. I have no financial affiliations with or interests in any brands or products, and I do not publish sponsored content

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Posted in , on November 15, 2016
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  1. Fearless Foods - JC on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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.


  6. James Marcelia on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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. on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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

      • Edward Nunez on September 16, 2017 at 4:23 am


        What are you thoughts on SMD Lunar Solo? I live and backpack in Colorado.

        • Andrew Skurka on September 16, 2017 at 6:05 am

          Single-wall tents are okay for Colorado, because humidity is generally low at night.

          Not a fan of the Lunar Solo relative to other options. Low peak height, uni-pole design, and unexceptional floor dimensions make for a cramped shelter. Footprint spec is okay, but that’s not a very good indication of interior volume.

          Also, ability to vent while it’s raining is only so-so. I don’t think you get a lot of mileage out of the perimeter vents, and keeping the door open puts stress on the zipper because there is no release, eg side release buckle mid-way up the door.

  19. MarkL on 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 on December 10, 2016 at 12:47 pm

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

  21. nate on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on March 15, 2017 at 9:15 pm

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

  24. Keith Kitchen on September 12, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Curious whether anyone here has experience with MSR’s modular system (i.e. Twin Sisters shelter, and the Thru hiker bug tent and tarp)?

    Seems like a great concept.

    Any idea as to the drawbacks of such a system? I see a lot more people going the MLD route.

    • Andrew Skurka on September 12, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      Both models you mentioned are priced poorly when compared to similarly performing options. Why would I buy a $400 bipolar mid made of sil-nylon when I could buy a MLD DuoMid made of Cuben for less? And the Thru Hiker system is pathetically plain vanilla.

      • Keith Kitchen on September 12, 2017 at 3:27 pm

        Good to know. I’m only beginning my research and wasn’t sure how they stacked up. Price and performance seem to be the barriers.

        Thanks for clarifying!

  25. Adam on November 19, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Hi Andrew,

    Love this writeup and have forwarded it to many friends who ask me for tent advice. Right now, I am in the market for a new shelter myself and am interested in the MLD Cricket with Innernet or Bivy. I live in CA and mostly go backpacking in the mountain west region during spring/summer/fall. To me the Cricket seems like a great modular shelter that is light weight, has good ventilation and provides a little more protection than a traditional a-frame tarp. Obviously it would have less living space than the HR but I do value the increased wind resistance as I spend quite a bit of time above tree line. I’m curious if you have any experience with the Cricket and would love to hear any of your takeaways or suggestions.


    • Andrew Skurka on November 20, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      I have not used the Cricket, but I will speculate.

      Vs the SoloMid XL, it’s 3.5 oz lighter in sil; in Cuben, the weight savings are less.

      I’ve been caught in some wicked storms above and below treeline in the Mountain West, and I would insist that my sole or most storm-worthy shelter be optionally full-sided. You can always leave the doors open on the SoloMid XL, essentially creating a Cricket. But the Cricket can never be the SoloMid.

      If you’re looking at the Cricket as something that will give you more protection than an A-frame, you’re right. But I see an A-frame/Cricket as being the second shelter in my Mountain West quiver, as a fair weather alternative to a heavier but more capable shelter. The SoloMid would be a go-anywhere shelter, for marginally more weight than the Cricket. Whereas if the Cricket is your only shelter you might find yourself with some forecasts that make you a bit nervous.

  26. Sarah on November 21, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for this write-up. It’s very helpful. I’m hoping for some additional insight into condensation and ventilation. You wrote that double-wall tents have the “worst ventilation,” that single-wall tents often collect a lot of condensation, and that mids can’t be ventilated without allowing in some precipitation.

    Given that I live in the northeast, I’m often out in humid or wet conditions. I used to rely on a large tarp, which kept me dry even in sideways rain conditions. However, my backpacking crew now includes two people + a large dog. The dog loves to chase critters, so an old-school tarp is out of the question. We’re currently using an older version of the EMS Velocity 2 (freestanding, double-wall, 2P), and are looking for something more modular and which packs smaller, but is still enclosed so the dog won’t disappear after a squirrel. On those nights when there’s no chance of rain, I love to sleep with just the bug/net tent.

    With that, how do you think the condensation issues in a mid in a storm compare to a double-wall freestanding, when the mid can’t really be well ventilated? Wind isn’t an issue, but a mid seems easier to set up than something like the StratoSpire 2. I’m looking for a 3+ season option: it will be used in low temps, but never with more than a few inches of snow on the ground.

    • Andrew Skurka on November 21, 2017 at 10:42 am

      If the conditions are such that you need to close up the mid and the freestanding double-wall tent, there will be almost no difference in the amount of condensation that collects inside the shelter. The only remaining ventilation with either shelter will be along the bottom perimeter, which is limited, unless you pitch the mid high off the ground, which may expose you to rain splatter.

  27. Nick on February 11, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for the website – it’s a treasure trove of great info and guidance. Wondering if you (or anyone else) can offer some advice. I’ll be moving to California soon and I’m taking the opportunity to revamp my gear. I’ll be in relatively varied conditions – the Sierra, Big Sur/coastal range (misty, windy, tree-covered), Henry Coe State Park (dry, open oak and scrub land) – and will be going both solo and with my girlfriend, so I’m looking for a solid 2-person tent or tarp system. I’m hoping to keep it relatively affordable (Cuben fiber and the Big Agnes UL lines are a bit pricey for me). I’ll be going out 4-seasons, but likely not in heavy snow, at least for now.

    Here’s what I’m considering so far:
    – MLD DuoMid XL
    – Tarptent Saddle 2 (as well as the Double Rainbow and StratoSpire 2)
    – SD High Route

    Any thoughts on these, or good options I haven’t considered?


    • Andrew Skurka on February 12, 2018 at 8:47 am

      Obviously I don’t know anything about your g/f, but my experience with my wife and with women on my trips has been that they strongly prefer a full-sided and fully enclosed shelter, i.e. a tent with four walls and an inner that can be zipped closed. If your g/f shares this sentiment, then it rules out the High Route. All of the other options would be good, and I think you just need to weigh the pros and cons of each geometry. Knowing that cost is an issue, I would imagine that the TT shelters would be the best bet for you — they are more affordable than MLD.

  28. Danilo Psico on February 22, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Hello Skurka, I have read your book and your mention that you had a sand storm in a desert in a thru-hike. I wonder which tent were you using ? I am asking this because I have a high route tent and I would like to know if it can handle blowing sand, as I will be doing a beach traverse of 250km here in Brazil.
    thanks in advance, I am loving the high route !

    • Andrew Skurka on February 22, 2018 at 6:38 pm

      Because the High Route is full-sided, you’re part of the way there.

      The issue that I had was in Iceland, with very fine sand. I had a full-sided shelter but I was not using an inner, and the sand was free to blow inside. I don’t know the sand composition in Brazil — I’ve been on beaches where it’s very coarse, and that would not be so much of an issue. Also, usually you can just jump inside the treeline — it’ll be sandy, but the vegetation will give you a windbreak and will cover up the sand.

  29. Danusia on May 19, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    what a great website
    I am wondering what tent you would suggest for 2 people, 3+ season in Yukon/Alaska including doing barren land trips that are buggy, no trees and sometimes incredible winds/wintry weather
    Many people suggest and use 4 season tents

    • Andrew Skurka on May 21, 2018 at 9:09 am

      You could use a 4-season tent, but you won’t enjoy carrying one.

      I would recommend a mid instead, like those linked in this article. I’m specifically thinking of the DuoMid XL. You’ll need to get the inner, too. On my big Alaska trip (which included weeks in the exact terrain that you describe, including the northwest Arctic, northern Yukon, and Brooks Range), I used a SoloMid + Innernet (for the buggy months only), and it worked wonderfully.

      • Frank on September 23, 2018 at 10:35 pm

        Great info here! Thank you.

        If you were to buy it again would you go with an MLD SoloMid or opt for the bigger SoloMid XL?

        • Andrew Skurka on September 28, 2018 at 10:20 pm

          Depends on your size. In general I think the XL makes more sense. Very small increase in weight for a meaningful increase in interior volume.

          • Frank on September 28, 2018 at 10:32 pm

            Agree, the XL makes more sense for me.
            I only found a few reviews on the Solomid (hikinglife, forums). I’m trying to get a feel for if I can pair the Solomid with a bivy instead of opting for a bug net.
            Have you paired your Solomid with a bivy before?
            Thanks for taking the time to respond. Much appreciated!

          • Andrew Skurka on October 4, 2018 at 6:29 am

            Yes, I have paired it with a bivy, as recently as on the Yosemite High Route in late-August of this year,

            The combo makes sense for trips when I occasionally want the protections of a mid (e.g. high route in Mountain West with normally stable weather, until it’s not) but mostly will cowboy camp with light or zero bug pressure.

  30. Jeff on March 11, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    Hi Andrew, just recently finished going through your Ultimate Hikers Hear Guide and found it immensely helpful for this backpacking novice. Wish I read it before I did the Rae Lakes loop in Kings Canyon! I am moving away from hammock camping as it doesn’t really save on weight and because I like the “enclosed feeling” you get from a tent. That being said I wanted to know your thoughts on the Seek Outside Eolus. I am not a thru-hiker but I plan to do more trips in the Sierras to explore and fish for trout. Thanks so much for your help!

    • Andrew Skurka on March 11, 2019 at 7:05 pm

      Had not heard of the Eolus until now.

      Looks good. Conventional shape, probably made very well, good interior volume for the footprint. Seems a little heavy for a 2P shelter, but that’s intentional: they went with 30d fly fabric and #5 zippers.

  31. Eric B. on March 30, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    It is fascinating to observe the design evolutions of UL and SUL tents in the past 10 years.

    For example the new Tarptent Aeon mid style tent is an “SUL” Dyneema solo tent using a single pole, a carbon fiber ridge pole and two triangular CF strut supported floor vents. All these CF poles/struts are there to give more useable interior space and ventilation as wells more door shelter when open.

    Of all the current Dyneema solo tents the Aeon seems to have solved most of the inherent problems of the design very cleverly.
    BUT… currently owning a TT Moment DW I prefer the very similar 2 pole supported Dyneema Notch Li, which I’ll likely buy this summer. I’ll order the partial ripstop inner with a silnylon floor for a 2.5 oz. weight penalty for more floor durability and protection from windblown dust.

    I’ve spent a night and a very rainy day in my Moment DW and the Aeon just seems a bit too small to do that if I had to again. And too, I like the two doors/vestibules of the Notch.

  32. Erik on May 31, 2019 at 5:42 am

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your amazing blog. It looks like the new one High Route uses a lighter weight sylnylon in the bathtub, 20D rated at 1200mm. The weight difference is considerable (370g/13oz), however, so I imagine that isn’t the only difference? What are your thoughts on these updates and can you tell us a bit more about the changes in the tent?

  33. Boyan on October 20, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Hi Andrew, I am a big fan of the original High Route FL1. The high interior, high awnings, and dual doors have me spoiled. I am looking to supplement the HR FL1 with a free-standing double-wall tent of similar characteristics for specialty use – specifically two vestibules/doors, fly-first pitch if at all possible. After lengthy research I have been able to identify only two 1P options – the Tarptent Bowfin 1S and the Big Sky Revolution 1P (possibly also the Chinook 1P, but mostly use it in a 2-pole configuration). The struts, straps, and hooks on the TTs are a bit much to deal with so I am left with the Revolution 1P. Do you have any experience/opinions on that tent?

    • Andrew Skurka on October 21, 2019 at 8:15 am

      No experience with either, sorry.

      If you opened yourself up to fly-second pitches, your search would greatly expand.

      • Boyan on October 21, 2019 at 8:37 am

        There are plenty two-door inner-first 2P shelters but the two-door 1P freestanding ones are like unicorns – few and far between. The only ones I have found are from Tarptent and BigSky, and they happen to be fly fist. Everyone else seems to be in the “let’s save a few oz and make the customer climb over their wet gear every time they need to pee” camp.

        • Mark Langley on October 21, 2019 at 10:07 am

          I wasn’t familiar with Big Sky, so I looked it up. A couple things I noticed that give me pause:
          – There are 2 different pages, bigskyinternational and bigskyproducts. Neither one is very complete or polished, with very rudimentary and marginally functional pages, missing internal links, etc. The most recent review on the site for the Revolution 1p is 2012. The whole thing looks unprofessional and fly-by-night, or at best neglected.
          – The lack of specifics in the technical details. For example, it doesn’t specify which floor fabric is used. (According to their chart floor fabrics are 15d, 30d, or 40d). For some tents there are no dimensions provided (Chinook 1p).
          – The fabrics look less sturdy at similar weights than TT. For example, the Bowfin 1S have much higher waterproof specs (fwiw) (5,000mm fly, 3,000mm floor) for 35 oz at $324 (not seam-sealed). The Big Sky Revolution is all UL fabrics with 1500mm fly and 3000mm floor for 37oz (mesh), 2″ less height, and super narrow floor for $340. The raw numbers may not be that meaningful, but as a relative point of comparison I think they have value.
          – There is some truly odd language in the return policy (stuff they do not appear to even sell can’t be returned. Huh?) and the exchange language is very vague.
          – Their “Our story” is literally a one-sentence description of what they do.

          Bottom line, maybe they are totally legit and a hidden gem, but personally I would do a lot of looking and asking around (maybe you have) before forking over money.

          • Boyan on December 10, 2020 at 4:15 pm

            Did not notice this reply till now, so let me chime in.

            Yes, all of the above are valid concerns. However they have been around for some time, and the pople who have experience with it on BPL are generally positive. I purchased one of their tents. The owner is scatterbrained and the tent took quite a while to arrive. However he was pretty explicit that unused tents are returnable – unused means not slept in and not pitched in the dirt. He was prompt in responding to emails, so if you want technical details on the fabric I am sure he will be more than willing to provide it. Subjectively, the fabric does not look to be as robust as the TT, but notably more solid feeling than a BA CopperSpur or MSR Hubba.

            The quality of the worksmanship is higher than TT, which I have always found somewhat lacking. The design is rather straightforward and can be set up with minimal fuss. Again, this is probably a personal bias of mine but I find the TTs unnecessarilly over-engineered.

            Two vestibules in a 1P tent is something that I will never make a compromise on if there is ever a choice, and for me personally BigSky offered a compelling value proposition. YMMV.

  34. Boyan on October 21, 2019 at 11:08 am

    Yes the website is a mess. And yes they they have in the past had customer service issues. But now they have gotten past this and their reputation on BPL is actually pretty good. I personally don’t have too much concern about buying from them.

  35. Boyan on October 21, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Also got a detailed response from the big Sky customer support email this morning. The grey fabric is 20D, the yellow and red is 30D. I agree that TarpTent uses excellent fabrics and offers excellent value and customer support. The tons of satisfied customers they have say as much. I just don’t like the design philosophy and execution. The struts always seem to get in the way, straps and mitten hooks everywhere, saggy inners attached with fragile mitten hooks, fussy setup, and a bit of hit and miss on the worksmanship, at least on the SS I bought from them sometime ago. The Moment DW is billed as wind-worhty yet it has these giant unsupported panels that seem very prone to sagging in the wind and when wet, there are YouTube videos that show as much. Again, given that people have high regard for TT this may have all been user error.

    • Mark Langley on October 21, 2019 at 11:43 am

      That’s cool, I was just expressing my first impressions. I have a couple TT shelters and they are a little bit of a mixed bag. For the price and weight I think they are a very good value. I am not a fan of the mitten hooks either. Changing from trip to trip it isn’t that bad, but would be annoying on a frequent basis. I haven’t seen a Bowfin in person, but I see that design of strut with the fixed cross piece (looks like an “A”) as a real improvement over the ones on my Notch.

      Section Hiker had good things to say about the Big Sky Chinook 1+ as a 4-season, but said, “My impression is that they are just horribly inept at this internet thing. The products rock though.” YMMV.

  36. Eric B. on October 21, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    I’ve owned 2 TT MOMENT tents, the 1st which was single wall and now a DW. BOTH rents have done very well in heavy wind and rains and the DW in heavy snow. I’ll still take my Moment DW (ripstop inner) as the best solo tent for 4 seasons.

    • Boyan on October 21, 2019 at 3:30 pm

      Eric, thank you for the feedback. Is that with the additional pole?

      How do you find the internal space? I am 6ft and the spec’d inner length (84″) is the lowest on the TTs that I have seen on any 1P tent. Another thing that gives me pause is the narrowing of the foot and head area to 20″. I can’t sleep on anything but a 25″ wide pad, I understand that those will fit in according to the FAQ, but at the expense of what else? Last but not least, the height of the strut area on the ends looks to be no more than 15″, and it appears that when you are lying down the inner would be no more than 5″ off your face. Finally, the peak height is 39″ but the awning looks to be under 36″. I understand why this is done, but for someone who is fairly inflexible this makes a good deal of difference in terms of livability. Blame the High Route FL1 for showing me how important this is to me 🙂

  37. Eric B. on October 21, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    Boyan, I’m 5’10” with plenty of room to stretch out. Yeah, for you at 6′ the sit-up space may be a bit lacking but not really bad. My head doesn’t touch the inside at the center but yours may.
    The narrow ends are not that narrow inside the inner tent.

    Your pad will fit just fine. I sleep with my rifle beside me when hunting and have no problem.

    I DO have the optional X-ing pole and ran it INSIDE the fly (shortened the pole 5″) and sewed cut-down double sided Velcro cable wraps inside the fly at each outer X-ing pole attachment & seam sealed my sewing. These wraps keep the X-ing pole in place in very high winds. This design gives the maximum fly support and is easy to set up. I take it only in winter for snow loading. In summer guying the sides and mid ends PLUS 4 extra perimeter size stakes makes it bombproof. I know having tested it in weather bureau records 40 mph winds with 65 mph gusts.

    Henry shires feels the Bowfin is more stable in winds than the Moment DW. If that’s true it must belike a rock.

  38. Jered Rhoades on May 27, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    Question, any recommendations for a tent that will fit 2 people average size adults and a dog. Trying to find the balance of weight, durability, and vestibule coverage. Any recommendation is appreciated. Thank you for your time and reviews!

    • Andrew Skurka on June 4, 2020 at 11:57 am

      With few exceptions, a good rule of thumb is that the advertised capacity of a shelter (N) is realistically (N-0.5). For example, the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 has a width 52 inches at the head and 42 inches at the foot. Assuming that each person is using a 20-inch pad (25-inch pads are not compatible with this shelter) and that you set them flush with one another, that leaves you on each side with 1 to 5 inches of space between the pad an the wall.

      So for two people plus a dog, I think you’re looking at a 3-person shelter. I’m not even sure that a large 2-person shelter (e.g. Tarptent Stratosphire 2 or Durton X-Mid 2) will do the trick.

      So, next question, what is your weight tolerance?

      If you are trying to keep it light, your best bet is probably a large pyramid tarp with optional inner.

      If you are willing to carry a little bit more weight, then a 3-person semi-freestanding or freestanding tent is probably the way to go. Marginally heavier, but a lot less fussy and much better interior volume relative to the footprint.

      Final consideration would be durability. I’ve never had a dog in my shelter, but I’m guessing that they don’t have the discretion to baby ultralight gear. So you probably want to look for heavier fabrics, at least for the floor. Alternatively, let the floor get trashed but always carry a waterproof footprint with you, like one made of polycryo.

      • Jered Rhoades on June 4, 2020 at 4:06 pm

        Logical feedback, thank you for the suggestions. Wife really likes interior space floor to ceiling so I assume pyramid type shelters do not offer that throughout the ceiling. I had a feeling it was going to be a matter of increased wait carry to accommodate as these types of trips will involve the wife and a dog, so pack mule time for me is typical.

        Thank you for taking the time to respond. Really enjoy all your tips, stories, and straightforward thought out reviews.

        Cant wait to get back on the trail!

  39. Bill Nelson on June 15, 2020 at 10:11 pm

    I would like to suggest the the Durston X-Mid 2 might be just about right.
    Fits two 25 in pads. May accommodate your dog, too, depending on size.
    I am 6’2” and my daughter is 5’10” and we fit comfortably (both XXL).
    Tent and vestibules) are spacious.
    I thank both A. Skurka & D. Durston for presenting us with highly developed designs (Sierra Designs High Route & X-Mid2, respectively)
    To quote Sir Isaac Newton If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.
    I leave it to Dan and Andrew to decide which of you is Newton and which is the Giant.

    • Bayside Father on December 10, 2020 at 12:57 pm

      I have both Dan Durston tents (the 1P and 2P). While they haven’t seen much use this year, I can say that they are extraordinary: well-designed; affordable; massive interior space; great ventilation; outstanding storm resistance; easy to set up; and ultralight (about 2 lbs for the 1P and 2 lbs 6 oz for the 2P).

      I’m done with buying tents—I’ve found what I need.

      • Boyan on December 10, 2020 at 2:34 pm

        I have the Durston 1P and the High Route. They are similar to the point where many people view them as interchangeable but they are not. While the Xmid is an extraordinarily well designed tent that in some ways exceeds the HR, it is rather fragile. A couple of months after buying it I took my Xmid on a 1 week backpacking trip to the Yukon in ealry October. It saw 2 days of continuous rain and stayed remarkably dry. It saw 6+ inches of snow and did not sag much (as long as you shake off accumulation with some regularity). It saw 30-ish mph winds and did very well. But… the perimeter hem was rubbing against a rock at one location. Over the 2 days of continuous rain and wind it rubbed against the rock enough to fray the hem. I did not notice it until it I started taking down the tent and somewhat carelessly pulled on an adjacent guyline… which caused a 20+ inch vertical tear in the fabric. Managed to patch it well enough with Tenacious Tape to provide adequate shelter for a couple more days, but since then I will aways have something in the back of my mind and will not take the tent on trips where I expect demanding conditions.

  40. Eric B. on June 16, 2020 at 11:40 am

    For two people I suggest the Tarptent SCARP 2. It is large enough for 3 people sleeping head-to-toe and plenty for 2 people with two doors and two generous vestibules.

    Our SCARP 2 is fast to set up and, with guy lines deployed and the fly hem staked out, is very wind-worthy. Having two doors and vestibules means not having to crawl over someone at Zero Dark Thirty when Nature calls and it means more outside storage for packs, coolers, etc.

  41. J. Brandon on August 12, 2020 at 9:54 am

    Any thoughts on the BD beta light. It seems comparable to the High Route. I think the fly is lighter.

    • Nate Earle on October 16, 2020 at 11:56 am

      J. the Beta Light is a superb tent, just know that it is in the category with other pyramids. Super solid in high winds, shed snow amazingly, spacious floor. The cons are minor in my opinion, but others may disagree. There are poles in the middle of the living space, and doors stay shut during precipitation (common with many tents).

      The High Route is much smaller and has offset poles for more vertical walls which I believe Andrew designed not only to keep the poles out of the usable floor space and for headroom, but so that you can vent a little during precip.

      If you want the extra space for 2 people, or a dog, or a bunch of gear, the Beta Light would be the way to go. If you like the headroom, venting, and versatility of an inner bug net, try out the High Route.

  42. Nate Earle on October 16, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    I certainly couldn’t have done better designing a do-it-all tent than the high route. I love the dual doors and steep walls. I’m always attracted to triangular shapes due to their structural stability. However, like you, I always want to go with gear that is specifically suited to the conditions, so I have multiple shelters.

    My go-to is a single person shaped tarp, the SMD Deschutes. Covers me in case of rain and weighs 17oz with cord and stakes. I realize it is a bit minimal for most people so I generally recommend the SMD Lunar Solo for added bug protection and the “security” that comes with being fully enclosed. The HR1 would be a good alternative as well.

    I’ve recently added a lightweight bivy from Borah Gear (thanks for the recommendation) to pair with the Deschutes. I got it oversized for use with a winter bag and pad, and with additional zippers so that it can be vented in warmer conditions. The bivy is intended to replace my (admittedly too heavy) ground cloth and add some draft protection to my quilt. It’s so light, the weight and bulk is essentially a wash.

    The light bivy also adds emergency bug protection, but as you may have picked up, that is low on my priority list. I find that when up in the mountains, bugs are not really an issue while sleeping, but rather around dinner time when you are out anyways. Don’t forget your headnet (that goes for Buzz as well).

    When with my wife, we carry a two person tent (also single wall, dual trekking pole setup). It’s heavier but gets the job done with no complaints from the better half. This is not the time to optimize.

    To round it out, I have a Black Diamond Mega Light for when the extra space or storm worthiness is needed. It always ends up in the photos.

  43. Andrew Kounas on January 21, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    Good afternoon! Awesome article it really helping me as I search for new tent to replace my Quarter Dome 2 that I have used for the last three years. I am looking for a more modular design to use on my trips of 40 to 60 miles trips with my young golden retriever. I am looking at Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid 2 with a TyVek floor so I can swap out if it is damaged by my pup. I love High Route but I do not think it is large enough. Your thoughts?

    • Andrew Skurka on January 23, 2021 at 10:47 am

      The original High Route would be plenty large, and I think they’re making that available as a standalone tarp now. The second-generation blue model would not be big enough.

  44. Luis on January 24, 2021 at 8:04 pm

    I’ve always wondered why “Mountaineering tents are also single-wall, but the upper is made of waterproof-breathable fabric.”. Are they always single-wall just so they can have better ventilation?

    • Andrew Skurka on January 25, 2021 at 9:06 am

      Single wall is better able to keep out the elements.

      • langleybackcountry on January 25, 2021 at 9:23 am

        Also better for high winds. The poles often just go inside the tent and there’s no way for wing to get under a fly to turn it into a paraglider.

      • Luis on January 31, 2021 at 4:52 am

        hmmm that’s counter intuitive to what I had always thought. Specially since double wall shelters have worse ventilation than single wall. Thanks Andrew

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