Single Wall vs Double Wall Tent

Single Wall Vs Double Wall Tent

Just as the names suggest

Single wall tents are made of one layer of fabric that offers protection against the wind and rain. Poles support the tent either within, inside or outside of the fabric.

Double wall tents have two layers of protection from the wind and rain. Firstly you have the inner tent, usually made of durable nylon that is water-resistant but not waterproof.

The poles here are held in place by clipping or strapping them to the inner part of the tent.

You then have the outer rainfly or flysheet that you throw over the top of the inner tent. This is completely waterproof and wind-resistant. This is then clipped or pegged down at the same position where you have the poles pegged down.

So, let’s talk about a few key differences

SET UP TIME

 

Single wall tents

 

A single wall tent can be much easier and quicker to set up as simply put; there is less to set up.

Two of the main single wall type tents are the more generic tents where you feed poles through tags or loops to develop its structure. Then there are pop-up tents.

Here you simply remove it from its carrier bag, throw it down on the ground and boom! Instant tent!

Pop-up tents can be set up to full structure as quick as 10 seconds.

The majority of pop-up tents are single wall tents and they need to be as they will lose their effectiveness in ‘popping up’ if they had another layer of fabric.

As single wall tents only have that one layer they are also very easy to carry and weigh less.

—–> Check out some of these super easy tents to set up <—–

Double wall tents

 

Double wall tents will take slightly longer to set up compared to a single wall tent but only by a few minutes.

Once you lay out the tent and link the poles together, you need to clip or strap them to the inner part of tent. You will then throw over the rainfly or flysheet and peg down.

The most a double wall tent should take you in setting up is around 10 minutes maximum depending on its size.

Double wall tents have that added weight to it, simply because of the extra layer but it’s nothing that’s really going to weigh you down.

VENTILATION

 

Single wall tent

 

This can sometimes be the Achilles heel in a single wall tent.

So, as we’ve seen, a single wall tent has only one layer that is keeping the elements outside out and keeping you and your gear dry inside. As there is only this one layer and no real room for fresh air to move between inside and outside, it lacks the effectiveness in ventilating the tent properly.

Pop-up tents come as one overall frame with sealed sides and are one of the most difficult tents to ventilate. Now, these tents do have ventilation panels that do work well but condensation can build up quite quickly unless you leave the door open.

Tents that have a groundsheet and a single wall are better in ventilating as there tends to be a gap at the bottom where fresh air can enter but is limited.

Double wall tent

 

When it comes to having a thoroughly ventilated tent, a double wall tent is what you want.

Think about its design; you have the inner nylon tent with the poles attached to it. You then have the rainfly or flysheet over the top of the poles.

This provides a good few inches of space where fresh air can swoop in and ventilate 360° of the tent.

Having the inner tent made of nylon, it allows vapour to pass through but prevents water droplets from condensation falling on top of you.

It means you’re not waking up wet from the effects of condensation as it easier for cooler air to come in and warm air to escape.

–> Want to know how to reduce condensation in your tent, check this out<–

INSULATION

 

Single wall tent

 

So, as ventilation is a drawback to a single wall tent, insulation however is a massive benefit for it.

With a pop-up tent or a tent with a detachable groundsheet, it tends to retain more heat as there is little room for warm air to escape.

Most of these tents have sealed seams so it helps keeping warm air in and cold air out.

Double wall tent

 

I believe there are two arguments to retaining the heat in a double wall tent.

Firstly, as double wall tents have that added space between the two layers, it can mean warm air is slightly easier to escape and cold air can be easier to get in.

Although it can also be argued at the same time that with the two layers of protection, it can hold in heat very well.

The nylon inner tent is very good in retaining heat but simply having that small space between the layers just means it may be slightly cooler.

Whatever you feel for yourself, with a double wall tent you’re very far from freezing so no need to fret.

PROTECTION

Single wall tent

Single wall tents work extremely well in keeping out the elements, making sure you stay dry inside.

Although as it does only have the one layer though, it wouldn’t be quite as effective as a double wall tent. There isn’t much of a difference in the levels of protection but just because the double wall has two layers, it has that added benefit to it.

Double wall tent

As stated, the double wall tent has two layers where it can take more and is more resilient of the weather. On a really windy night, the rainfly or flysheet may shake and flap to a certain extent but the inner part of the tent will remain still as you sleep through the night.

CONCLUSION

 

Choosing a single wall tent or double wall tent really comes down to where you will be using your tent and at what time of year you will be using it.

There are a number of tents that are 3 or even 4-season tents which means they can handle camping in the spring, summer, autumn and winter.

These can come in either single or double walled.

Although if you’re looking for a tent that is better at reducing condensation and provides better ventilation, a double wall tent may be the one for you.

If you’re after a tent that is super easy to set up, then a single wall tent may be your best choice.

However, both the single wall and double wall tents will provide optimum levels of protection for you and your camping gear. They are both built to withstand whatever the weather throws at them and have been through rigorous testing to make sure they do so.

I hope this provides a better insight into single wall vs double wall tents and allows you to choose the right tent for you.

If you have any questions, simply leave a comment and I will get back to you

14 comments Add yours
  1. I actually haven’t heard of single-wall or double-wall tents before reading this. My camping experience is mostly on the beach in California so it was all about pop-up tents. But I’ve been looking at a trip up into the mountains in Colorado and I can see how a double-wall tent would be better protection from the elements while allowing you to air out the tent. I cannot stand a stuffy tent and appreciate vents, but that won’t really work in the snow. Thanks for the info. I’ll keep looking into the double-wall tent for my next trip.

    1. Hi Jaime

      Yes a double wall tent will provide better ventilation so reduce the effects of condensation build up. They are also great at protection as there are 2 layers of protection from you and the outside.

      Happy camping

  2. When I went camping 3 years ago with my friend, we were sleeping in a little tent within a bigger tent. So this was a double walled section and you have got that extra protection from the wind and rain. I did feel a little bit of the cold, but as you said it depends on where you are going to be camping. 

    1. Hi Eden

      That is the thing, in a double walled tent you may have to compromise warmth for more protection. If you feel that a draught is coming in through the bottom, simply roll up and fold the tarp or groundsheet to block the cold air from entering.

  3. Hmm it seems like both of them has their different benefits, I was planning on doing some camping here in California next summer, and it can be quite warm here so I feel as if I would need something that could provide me with better ventillation like the double wall tent. I feel as though poor ventillation would be rough in warm weather. Would the double wall one be more beneficial for warm weather camping?

    1. Hi Huy,

      Yes it would, even though it seems that with 2 layers of protection it may be warmer but in actual fact, as fresh air can enter and exit more freely it will help to keep your tent cool.

  4. I’m new to camping so your article has been a great help! It seems that the double wall tent is a winner in terms of ventilation. Does condensation tend to occur during a warmer night or cooler night? I’m assuming that a double wall tent would be more expensive so just wondering whether it is worth the investment and trying to work out if condensation would occur during a hot summer night.

    1. Hi Fiona

      If condensation is your concern, you’ll want a double wall tent. Fresh air is able to flow in and out clearing any moisture build up within the tent – the cause of condensation. Double wall tents are fairly priced and not too much more than a single wall tent.

  5. So both tents are good but depending on your needs and preferences, you can choose the one that fills your needs. What about the price? Are double wall tents more expensive than the single wall or can they have a similar price?

    I personally prefer a better ventilate tent, and I like to take my time installing the tent, it is part of the experience of camping.

    1. Hi Ruben,

      I’m the same, I really enjoy taking my time in setting up my camp.

      The double wall tents aren’t much more expensive than single wall tents. Some single wall tents are actually more expensive. 

      You can a good double wall tent around £50 – £80

  6. Hi Ronan, thanks for your great post.  We do a lot of camping mainly at Beach side locations on the East Coast of Australia.  We have a big 9 man double wall tent.  As we mainly camp in summer when it is hot I do find this type of tent is very easy to cool down as the top wall keeps and reflects the heat ( it is a silver top) and keeps the inner wall cool ( it is thin  – amost see through).  I have had a number of single wall tents in the past and have found the double wall noticeably easier to keep cool.  

    The only problem I have experienced with the double wall tents is that they are actually not really well waterproofed – which to our surprise was actually highlighted in the instruction manual.  It required us to get some wax and rub it around all of the seams on the inner wall.    Have you found this to be a common requirements for these types of tents?

    Paul

    1. Hi Paul,

      I would say the use of a double wall tent is probably the best tent to use due to warm weather there. 

      That is a shame that it didn’t fully protect you from the rain and that is the thing you’ll find with double wall tents. As they aren’t fully seamed and have a more ‘open’ design they can be susceptible to water entering. 

      I hope the sealent was able to work

  7. Thanks for the thorough explanation of the pros and cons of single and double wall tents.  I am looking for a tent I can use year round that is easy to set up, so I guess it will be a single wall tent.  Can you suggest the best brands to consider and place to buy with good pricing?  Thanks.

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