Single Wall

Single wall shelters are typically ultra light offerings made from high end specialty fabrics and with few to no tent poles keeping them erect. The single wall design serves double duty as protection from the elements and as a layer between you and the outside world.

The following are some of the Single Wall Shelters I’ve used and liked (or not) on the trail:


Six Moon Designs “Wild Oasis” (Now Sold as “Deschutes Plus”) – $175Deschutes_-Closed_800x
Weight:   16 ounces (450g)
Dimensions: 44 sq ft Interior
Material: 30D Silicon Nylon / Ultralight 20D No-See-Um
Interior Peak Height: 49″
                          Length: 105″
                           Width: 80″

I used the Six Moon Designs “Wild Oasis” on my 2012 Mountains to Sea Trail Thru Hike and was thoroughly impressed. SMD no longer sells the Wild Oasis, but they have modified their popular Deschutes Tarp to be essentially the same shelter, calling it the “Deschutes Plus”. The only difference that I can tell from the website is that the Wild Oasis had a claimed weight of 13 oz, the Deschutes Plus Claims 16oz. I can only speak to my experience with the Wild Oasis.

The MST was my first thru hike and the Wild Oasis was the first ultra light shelter that I ever used. The set up was easy enough to learn; just a few times practicing and I had it mastered. The Wild Oasis uses 6 stakes to set up; SMD’s website recommends a specific set, with one larger stake for the entry tie out.

The Wild Oasis/Deshutes Plus does not have a floor. It is similar in design to a teepee, but uses a more hexagonal shape. To the bottom edges of the tent wall is attached an 18″ tall skirt of No-See-Um mesh, that extends down to and rests on the ground, protecting you from flying insects. Six Moon also sells a rectangular sized piece of waterproof Tyveck house wrap, cut to the perfect size for the Wild Oasis/Deschutes Plus, to use a a ground sheet. If you lift the corners of the Tyveck up to rest on top of the mesh skirt, you essentially have bathtub floor.

The design allows you to use one trekking pole to set up, eliminating the added weight of carrying tent poles. If you happen to not use trekking poles, you can purchase an ultra light carbon fiber pole to use.

Though the Wild Oasis was almost perfect at keeping out flying insects, I have woken up with spiders, centipedes, slugs, mice, and frogs inside the shelter…I just look at it as an opportunity to make new friends!



Zpacks Altaplex – .67 oz/sqyd Camo Dyneema Composite Fabric – $615


Camo Altaplex by Lake Okeechobee – FT Thru Hike 2017

Weight: 17.9 ounces (507g) + ~ 1 ounce (Camo Fabric) = 18.9 ounces
Exterior Dimensions:  Peak Height: 58″ (147 cm)
                                            Width at center: 48″ (122 cm)
                                            Width including vestibule: 69″ (175 cm)
                                            Width at ends: 44″ (112 cm)
                                            Vestibule depth: 21″ (53 cm)
                                            Length: 100″ (254 cm)
Interior Dimensions:  Peak Height: 58″ (147 cm)
                                           Floor Width: 36″ (91 cm)
                                           Floor Length: 7.5 feet (2.3 meters)
                                           Zipper entry height: 36″ (91 cm)
Material: Dyneema Composite Fabric (Formerly Cuben Fiber)

I used the Zpacks Altaplex on my 2017 Florida Trail Thru Hike. I chose the Altaplex over my beloved Wild Oasis because the Altaplex has a DCF (Formerly Cuben Fiber) bathtub floor attached to its walls by No-See-Um mesh, providing full 360 degree protection from both flying insects and small critters. Not only was I expecting the ground to be much wetter in Florida, but I assumed that larger ground dwellers, like snakes, might be more abundant and the full enclosure gave me piece of mind.

The design makes for plenty of interior space, and the two “storm doors” create a generous vestibule, large enough to cook under during a down pour. A nifty double hook system comes attached to the entry guy line, making deploying one or both of the door flaps quick and easy.

Zpacks markets their Altaplex to “taller hikers” or for those that could use the extra space for gear. I was able fit myself and all of my gear inside with no problem. I am 6′ tall and I certainly had space to lay completely stretched out without my head or feet touching the walls. Because I use a quilt, which can shift or get tossed around in the night, sometimes it would end up against the wall by my feet and pick up some moisture from the condensation.

Condensation was really the only “issue” I had with this shelter. Remember, I was using the Altaplex in Florida and the nights that the condensation was the worst were nights that I had the two storm doors closed, instead of open for maximum ventilation. Even when condensation was extreme, because DCF material doesn’t absorb any water, a vigorous shaking or quick wipe down with a small towel will get rid of the majority of the moisture on the shelter walls before packing it away.

This shelter exceeded my expectations on the Florida Trail for 51 nights. I can’t wait to use it on my next adventure.



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