Single- and two-wall tents are two common types of shelters, and many campers consider it a decisive criterion of choice. Both types have advantages and disadvantages, and both are demanded, as they are intended for slightly different purposes and camping styles.
What are the differences?
The name speaks for itself. A single-wall shelter has just a single piece of fabric. It is fixed on a metal, fiberglass, etc. frame and it is strong and sturdy enough to keep the inside dry and warm. It should be breathable, so it can dry quickly and prevent the air inside from getting too stuffy.
A regular two-wall 1-2-person camp is a shelter that features a canvas consisting of two pieces of fabric. The rainfly is made of a sturdier and thicker material than the inner one. It bears the whole brunt of inclement weather, if it comes to that, and protects the inside against water, snow, etc. The inner canopy is made of a lighter and more breathable (often mesh-type) material.
The structure puts waterproofness and breathability together. Besides, there is a gap between the two walls that is filled with air. In turn, the air is an excellent insulator, and it effectively prevents condensation when there is a significant difference between the inside and outside temperature.
Why choose a single-skin 2-person shelter?
Single-wall 1-2-person shelters have less fabric and therefore less weight. They are easier to pack, carry around, and set up. For this reason, they are more suitable for backpackers, mountaineers, climbers, and other categories of hikers who want to travel far and with a minimal weight. Last but not least, they are less expensive, because they contain less material.
Why not choose a single-skin 2-person shelter?
These shelters have less fabric, and they are less stable in inclement weather. A one-skin canvas is more likely to soak, so it won’t stand a chance in a long heavy rain. These tents have smaller footprints, and they are less roomy than two-wall camps. Lack of insulation can cause moist to build up on the inside, so they need to be ventilated more frequently. Single-skin 1-2-person shelters are not usually freestanding, so they need extra enforcement. They are not intended for camping in the uplands or in extreme weather. You will be okay with such a shelter if you live in a temperate area and unless you are planning to go on long hiking trips, ascent peaks, or camp when it gets really cold.
Why choose a double-layer 2-person tent?
Two-wall 1-2-person camps are more weather-proof, so they do a better job keeping you dry and warm on a cold or rainy day, or even high up in the mountains: many two-wall camps are all-season. The air that fills the gap between the two skins prevents condensation. This makes them less vulnerable to moist and mildew. Most two-wall 1-2-person camps are freestanding, and they come with a kit of stakes, pegs, and guylines. Frames are sturdier than those of single-wall shelters, and there are interior poles that keep the whole structure standing even in high winds. These shelters have large footprints, provide more space, and many models have vestibules and awnings that can give extra room for gear and food. Some camps have stove jacks that feature heat-proof flue-pipe holders.
Why not choose a two-wall 1-2-person shelter?
Two-skin 1-2-person canopies are a little heavier and therefore not as easy to carry around and pack as single-skin camps. This makes them less suitable for backpackers, mountain hikers, through-hikers, mountaineers, etc. Second, setting up a two-skin shelter is a little more challenging. It takes a bit of skill to properly arrange the inner wall and the fly, so that air fills the entire gap and there will be no condensation. Finally, they are more expensive.
The following examples create a clearer picture of why it is advisable to purchase a two-skin 2-person shelters. These reviews are based on first-hand comments from experienced campers and people involved in tent business.
Cuboid 2.20 (RBM)
This double-layer 1-2-person tent can accommodate 1 to 2 campers on camping cots and in sleeping bags, if used with a wood stove, and up to 3 persons if used without a stove. This tent has all features of an all-season shelter, and it can be safely used in winter and in extreme alpine environments.
It has a two-wall canopy that takes the right shape once it is put on the frame. The outer canopy is made of Oxford 300 PU 4000 – a highly waterproof material; the inner canopy is thinner and more breathable (Oxford 210 PU 2000). The air fills the gap between these and creates an insulating effect that can keep you warm even in a raging blizzard. It helps maintain a healthy temperature balance both in summer, when it gets hot, and in winter, when it gets freezing cold.
The frame is made of АА7075 – a kind of aviation alloy. The metal makes the frame resistant to heavy loads, so it won’t bend during transportation and will remain standing in a heavy snowfall. The cuboid shape offers a tremendous amount of space. Campers (at least, medium tall) can sit and walk inside.
The shelter features a wall that, if opened up, can form a good-sized terrace with mosquito nets. It can be used as a dining room, as well as an additional storage area. The camo pattern makes this shelter barely visible from a distance. It is increasingly popular among car campers and hunters.
Sierra Designs Summer Moon 2 Person Backpacking Tent
It is a compact and versatile double-layer 1-2-person dome tent that weighs 3 lbs 7 oz – quite light for a two-wall all-season camp. It is a free-standing shelter featuring two crisscrossing bent poles that keep the shelter standing in high winds. The Summer Moon is very easy to set up: the bent poles are installed, and the inner wall is clipped to them underneath. The rainfly caps the whole structure, giving it extra strength and stability.
The inner part is made of a breathable mesh, and the rainfly is made of a waterproof polyester fabric. All seams are glued properly. In the door area, the rainfly creates a vestibule that offers a bit of space, which you can use as a gear storage area. The canopy features a large D-shaped door, so you can get in and out with ease. There is a sufficient amount of headroom, so you can sit up and change clothes without a lot of fuss and in less than no time. This camp can accommodate 2 campers, and a 3-person version is available as well.
Nemo Aurora 2-Person Backpacking Tent
This double-layer 1-2-person tent is large, yet lightweight, and it is good for both car camping and backpacking: it fits into a compact storage bag and can be carried around with ease. It is made of high-quality materials, and it is really built to last a lifetime.
Its outstanding shape with vertical walls solves the space problem in all respects. It is 52 inches wide and 88 inches long, and it accommodates two campers in sleeping bags very well. There are two large doors on both sides, so campers can get in and out easily without bothering each other.
The shelter comes with a polyester floor and features a no-seam meshed inner wall that is suspended on an aluminum frame. The frame consists of pre-bent poles and two arching cross bars, and the inner wall is safely clipped to it. A highly waterproof rainfly is spread over the frame to form a gap between the inner wall and the fly. The design helps control condensation and keep the inside ventilated. The rainfly features guylines that keep the structure stable in high winds. The fly has two vestibules, so you won’t have problems finding room for your gear and food. There are gear pockets at both ends, and a light pocket.
MSR Remote 2-Person
The MSR Remote 2-Person is a lightweight (6 lbs 8 oz) all-season shelter that has proved to be great for backpackers, mountaineers, hunters, etc. The shelter is famous for its very stable frame consisting of three arched poles crossing at the top. For this reason, the shelter can withstand a heavy load of snow.
The canopy has two doors, each topped with a mesh panel. You can open it at any time and ventilate your shelter. The water- and windproof rainfly features guyout points that are safely glued in from the inside. This technique helps reduce pressure on the canopy. Besides, there are guyouts near the pole areas, and they can be velcroed to the frame.
The fly features a spacious vestibule with snow flaps, so you can snow-seal it from the inside or from the outside. The vestibule is intended for storing gear, and it has gear loops, so you can hand your stuff to dry.
NEMO Endurance 2-Person
This double-layer 2-person tent is a sturdy and versatile two-man shelter that is great for backpackers and hunters. The two-skin structure and top-quality silicon-treated fabric guarantee superb insulation and protection against bad weather. The 30D ripstop nylon fly and 70D nylon floor create an impenetrable barrier for moist. The material will last for years, if not decades.
The shelter has two vestibules – a larger one at the front and a smaller one at the rear. They provide a good amount of gear storage room. Two big doors that facilitate access for campers. There are strut-supported vents at the top and two-flap windows that can be configured to provide various degrees of ventilation.
The frame is built over the inner canopy. It consists of sturdy aluminum arch poles that overlap to create a stable and wind-resistant structure. The inner wall is carabined to the frame, and the guyouts balance out the pressure on the canopy, making it rock-solid. Six wall pockets are an excellent addition to the vestibules, as you can put your equipment in them, and it won’t be getting in the way as you move in and out of your shelter.
🏕 What is a double-wall tent?
It is a kind of tent with a canopy consisting of two walls: the inner wall is thin and often made of a mesh-like material, while the fly (the outer layer) is made of a water-proof material (mostly polyester or polyurethane). Most two-wall shelters are intended for year-round use (all-season).
📦 Why is a two-skin tent warmer than a single-skin shelter?
There is a gap between the inner wall and the rainfly, and the air that fills the gap acts as an insulator. The technique allows you to heat your 2-person shelter up and keep it warm for a long time on a cold winter night.
💡 Why should I choose a 1-2-person double-layer shelter?
A 2-person two-wall shelter is not as heavyweight as 3+ person all-season camps. For this reason, it is easier to carry around, and it is good for backpackers and those who prefer to hike solo or in small groups.