Tents are described being either single or double wall.

What is the difference and when is one preferred over the other?

2 Answers 2


The difference between a single wall tent and a double wall tent is the rain fly (or lack thereof). A single wall tent has only one layer of fabric, this layer provides protection from the elements, and is the only walls of the tent. A double wall tent usually has a mesh inner tent with a fly that sits on top to protect you from the elements.

The benefits to the single wall tent are it's lightness (because there are fewer parts) and it's price (again fewer parts means cheaper tent). The downsides of a single wall tent are that ventilation can be poor causing condensation to build up in the tent. That brings us to the double wall tent, it's primary benefit is keeping condensation from building up. (Newer double wall tents have mitigated the heaviness of the additional fabrics by using newer materials that are pretty light.)

For more information this article was pretty helpful.


Double wall tents keep most of the condensation from forming on the inside of a tent, and they're warmer. In general, they do a better job keeping the rain out. Double wall tents are preferable in colder or rainy weather, and I consider them a necessity for snow camping.

  • This is misleading, I think. A double-wall tent doesn't prevent condensation forming on the fly. The aim of a double-wall tent is that the inner protects the user and their sleeping bag from the condensation that does form, not that it prevents it from forming. Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 21:29
  • Less condensation forms on the fly because much of the the warm, moist air from inside is kept away from it by the inner wall.
    – xpda
    Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 17:06
  • xpda - perhaps in the short-run, but over a night I suspect that most of the heat escapes into the void between the inner and the fly. I've used single and double wall shelters in cold and damp climates for 50 years, and I've never noticed much practical difference in the condensation levels on the fly. The key is through-draft - that's the only factor I've found that makes a practical difference. It rarely eliminates condensation, but it can moderate it. Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 15:31

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