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Gear Guy

What's the deal with single-wall tents?

I recently purchased an Annapurna tent from Mountain Hardwear, because I'd like to start getting outdoors on more than day trips. However, the guy at the shop was reluctant to sell it to me, saying it was "junk" because it's a single-wall tent. What's the difference, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of this style tent? Lucas Denver, Colorado

A: Well, you can color me confused. The Annapurna ($450; is one of Mountain Hardwear's new-for-2003 tents. It's similar to the older Trango 2 ($440), but is slightly longer, has a rear door, and uses lighter materials to pare the weight from eight pounds to around seven.

Anyway, here's why I'm confused. One, the Annapurna isn't a single-wall tent. It has a traditional double-wall, fly/canopy design, using silicon-coated nylon ripstop for the fly and plain ol' nylon ripstop for the body. There's plenty to debate if we're talking single-wall tents—I think they're fine, but only in certain cases—but not if it's the Annapurna.

Two, I'm not sure if the guy at the shop was calling it "junk" because he mistakenly thought it a single-wall tent and doesn't like such designs, or if he was just having a bad day. In any event, I think the tent is too new to the market to qualify it as one thing or another. But certainly, the Trango is a proven design, and I can say without reservation that Mountain Hardwear tents, while often a bit weighty, are without fail extremely well made. The design changes in the Annapurna were at the behest of Ed Viesturs, high-altitude mountaineer par excellence and Mountain Hardwear's gear-design consultant. I don't think Ed would settle for a tent that's "junk."

But, you didn't buy a bad tent. Maybe a bit more tent than you need—though not if you're serious about jumping from day-tripping to expeditions—but a fine tent nonetheless.

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