So far I've gained some experience in using double wall tents, tarps and hammock setups. A single wall tent hasn't been in my posession until now. This summer I sprung for a Tarptent Moment, a state of the art solo single wall tent that has lots of good things going for it. I was going to wait for the accessory "clip-in liner" to be released for it, but in the end my curiosity got the best of me and I picked up a second hand Moment in the Gear Swap section of backpackinglight.com.
The Tarptent Moment was released in 2009, a year the designer Henry Shires released several models. Stated weight is 810 grams including everything (!) and a very affordable price of 215 dollars. Mine weighs a bit over 900 grams now that it's been seam sealed and after I've added some extra guylines. Still very light compared to a traditional double wall backpacking tent that typically weighs 6 pounds, and a bomber solo double wall like the Hilleberg Akto which clocks in at 1.5 kilos (excellent tent by the way, I'm a happy owner of that too).
Some key features of the Moment are: a single arch pole, bathtub floor, mesh for mosquito protection, lots of ventilation options, silnylon fly and very fast and easy setup.
The first time I put it up I was very impressed by how easy and quick the process was, and how the adjustments on each end made it easy to get the fly drum tight, something that's important if you want a good nights sleep while experiencing high winds. I was also impressed by the amount of room inside and the features. I received it right before I left for Rondane, so I didn't get to test it before my recent trip visiting family in Northern Norway. While there I did an overnighter on the island Hugla.
The spot I chose was quite exposed to wind, but oh so scenic. I pitched the Moment while the sun was setting, bathing the surrounds islands and sea in beautiful light. A light fog hugging the mountains added to epic views, and strangely the wind was very, very light. That changed during the night though when it picked up and hit my shelter on the right side. I didn't bother to reposition it since it seemed to cope with it just fine, being guyed out on the sides as well as having an extra guy line (making it two) on the northern facing end, supported by one of my trekking poles. The shelter can be set up with just two stakes, and I have no doubt that would have worked just fine, but would probably meant more movement in the tent and more wind noise.
Small droplets of condensation formed on the fly during the night, but as soon as the sun went up over the horizon and heated my tent it evaporated. I would've never have seen the condensation if I had slept through the night (which I sadly almost never do while sleeping outdoors). I think I got a small part of my sleeping bag damp from touching the right side of the tent, but that was no issue, and wouldn't have happened if I had positioned the shelter with the end facing the wind. That would've provided better air flow through the tent too, probably reducing the amount of condensation, but frankly I don't worry too much about condensation, well, as long as it doesn't drop down on me. I don't see that being a problem in this case as most of it will just run down along the fly and never touch me. The fly itself is very tight so I don't see it being shaken to an extent that it will make it rain inside :). I plan to bring a towel or bandana next time so that I can wipe it down during the night if needed.
(photo from the book "Lighten up!")
So, like you've probably understood, exposure to condensation is one of the drawbacks to using a single wall tent. A double wall tent will also have condensation form on it, but you will be protected from it by the inner tent. The inner tent will also make the tent warmer. A single wall like the Moment, made up of non-breathable silnylon fabric, needs plenty of ventilation to try to reduce the condensation, and all that ventilation means that it will be drafty and colder. On the other hand it is roomier without the inner, but that is also needed so you don't brush into the condensation and get your bag or clothes wet. I highly recommend reading the article "Condensation in Single-walled Shelters: Contributing Factors and Tips for Reduction" on backpackinglight.com if you want to learn more about condensation issues in single wall tents and how to deal with it.
Some positives and negatives to sum up this first impression review:
- Low weight
- Ridiculously easy and fast to set up, and only needing two stakes. Can be done in under 1 minute with practice.
- Easton pole.
- Rain protected entry
- Good interior space
- Nice features like pockets and lots of ventilation options
- The way you can tighten the fly on each end is genius!
- Just cool looking!
- Need to seam seal it and test if afterwards to make sure it is completely watertight
- Can experience so called "misting" in very heavy downpours even though the jury is still out on that one
- Light materials so you need to be more careful when handling it and picking a spot
- The door and ends have ribbons to tie them back, not hardware. This is of course to save weight, but it comes at the expense of usability - often you will have to retie them since the material is so slippery
- at this time they're backordered 3-4 weeks if you order a new one direct from www.tarptent.com
- Drafty (but you can reduce that by closing off the ends and the top vents, and by putting clothes or other items on the mesh at each side - but this will of course lead to less ventilation and thus more condensation buildup.)
All in all though, I really like this tent! I may be bringing this to the PCT in 2012 if I end up going.