3 Benefits of Outer Pitch First Tents Vs Inner Pitch First Tents

Last Updated on 23/06/2023

outer pitch first tent or inner pitch first tent

In this article, we compare outer pitch first tents to inner pitch first tents to see which has the biggest benefits when camping. You will learn what inner and outer pitch first tents are and how you can use them to your advantage.

Outer Pitch First Tents Vs Inner Pitch First Tents

Tents that pitch outer first are fast to set up, better for setting up in the rain, and can be used without an inner to save weight. Tents that pitch with the inner tent first are easier to set up and can be used without a flysheet on hot nights in summer. Everyone’s needs are different, so it’s important to distinguish the differences between the two types of tent.

Why Does it Matter Which You Pitch First?

The reason why it matters which tent layer you pitch first is that in wet climates, I would always recommend an outer pitch first tent. But in summer and hot climates, I would suggest the opposite to maximize ventilation on a night.

What Is an Outer Pitch First Tent?

Snow Peak TP-660 Living Shell Long Tent, for 6 People

An outer pitch-first tent, also known as a fly-first or flysheet-first tent, is a type of tent that is designed to have its rainfly or outer layer set up before the inner layer. One way of telling if a tent is pitched outer first is that if you can see the poles on the outside, then it is.

This type of design provides a number of benefits. One of the main advantages is that it allows you to pitch your tent in the rain so that you don’t get your inner tent wet and can quickly erect your shelter to keep you and your gear dry while you attach the inner tent from inside.

You can often leave your inner tent attached to your outer tent when you pack it away so that you can pitch them both simultaneously to save time.

What Is an Inner Pitch First Tent?

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent, 2-Person

An inner-pitch-first tent, or inner-first tent, is a type of tent where the inner part is set up before the outer layer, or rainfly. This inner part is usually a breathable layer with mesh panels that include the sleeping cabin, and it often provides the primary structural support for the tent.

Once the inner tent is set up, the outer layer or rainfly is then draped over the top and secured. The outer layer serves as a protective shield against rain, wind, and sometimes UV rays, depending on the material and design.

One of the main benefits of an inner pitch first tent is that the inner part can be set up alone on dry nights so you can enjoy the stars or simply have total ventilation to stay cool. Inner-pitch first tents are generally well-suited to dry weather and can provide excellent ventilation,

3 Benefits of Outer Pitch First Tents

woman in waterproof tent while raining outside

Tents that pitch with the rainfly first have a number of advantages over inner pitch first tents, but here are the main three:

1. Better for Pitching in the Rain

With a tent that pitches outer rainfly first, you are able to set up in the rain very quickly without getting the inside of your tent wet. This is the way you might think all tents would be made, but no. This has the advantage of getting you out of the rain as soon as possible and letting you set up the rest of the tent while sheltered. If you are camping in a region with high chances of rain, then this is perhaps the deciding factor between choosing a pitch outer first tent.

2. Can Be Used Without an Inner Tent

Tents that pitch the outer layer first can be used independently without the inner tent to save weight and space in your backpack. This is usually done in the summer months when the weather is mild and the ground is dry by backpackers and thru-hikers who will do anything they can to lighten their load. You can then use a groundsheet or foam sleeping pad directly onto the ground.

3. Faster to Pitch

With most tents that pitch outer first, you can leave your inner tent attached to the outer tent when you pack it away then your entire tent can be set up in one go. This makes setting up twice as fast and twice as easy. If you can’t do that, then at least you have the shelter of the rainfly to set up the inner tent in case it rains.

2 Downsides of Pitching the Outer Tent First

outer pitch first tents

Outer-pitch-first tents are great in the rain, but there are a few ways in which they differ from tents that pitch inner-first.

1. It Makes Attaching the Inner Tent More Difficult

When you pitch the outer shell of your tent with the poles first, it then means you have to crawl inside your tent and manually clip in each attachment point. This is much more effort than simply throwing your flysheet over an already set up inner tent. A good tip is to leave your inner tent attached to your outer tent when you pack it away so that you don’t have to mess around with the clips the next time you set it up.

2. Often Can’t be Used Without the Outer Rain Fly

The design of many outer pitch first tents depends significantly on the structural support provided by the outer tent. Without it, the inner tent has nothing to be attached to, and the poles have nowhere to slot through, which means that in summer, you can’t sleep under the stars using only the inner tent. Check out these hot weather tents that have amazing ventilation and can be pitched without the outer flysheet.

2 Benefits of Inner Pitch First Tents

inner pitch first tent

Tents that pitch with the inner tent first have a number of advantages over outer pitch first tents, but here are the main two:

1. Better in Hot Weather

Tents that pitch with the inner sleeping chamber first can be pitched without the outer fly sheet attached. So in hot weather, you can enjoy the benefits of bug netting and privacy without feeling like you are in a sweaty tent. Tents that pitch outer first often cannot do this because they rely on the out shell to hold the poles in position. If your inner tent has a mesh panel roof, you can appreciate the stars at night.

2. Easier to Pitch

Tents that erect with the outer layer first are undoubtedly easier to pitch, so long as it isn’t raining. This is because they clip onto the frame, and you have all the space in the world to work with no need to crawl about. Then you simply throw the rain fly over the top, peg it down, and you’re done.

2 Downsides of Pitching the Inner Tent First

benefits of tents that pitch inner first

Tents that pitch inner first have one very obvious problem, but are there any other reasons to avoid them?

1. Inside of The Tent Gets Wet if Pitched In the Rain

Inner-pitch first tents don’t make sense when you are forced to set up in the rain. If you pitch the inner tent first and it has a mesh roof (as most inner tents do), then the inside will get wet, which is bad enough, but then it will also increase condensation at night, which can then drip on you even after the outer shell is on. It makes so much more to pitch the outer shell first when camping in the rain.

2. It Can’t Be Used Without The Inner Tent

Where outer pitch first tents can be used without the inner to save weight, inner pitch first tents often need the inner tent as an integral part of the structure. And while you could go camping without the outer shell to save weight in summer, it would leave you very vulnerable to freak rainstorms.

Conclusion

Tents that pitch the outer shell first make the most sense for bad weather and also enable you to save weight by leaving the inner tent at home on lightweight treks. Tents that pitch inner first have the benefit of being used without the outer shell on clear summer nights but can get wet if set up in the rain, and you aren’t quick to get the frame up.


Now yu should have a good understanding of what makes an outer pitch first tent better than an inner pitch first tent in different situations. Let us know how we did in the comments below.

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This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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