I have a 2010 Tarptent Double Rainbow and I am relatively inexperienced. I had never used a single wall tent.
From my limited experience I just knew I didn't like feeling closed in, and stuffy. In short, the idea of an open tarp appealed to me, but I wanted netting.
I use a very light tent when sleeping solo, that basically feels like I'm sleeping outside (commune with nature.. yada yada yada). I bought the DB for my companions (which is most of the time).
I'm glad I did. I like it a lot. I've only had it a short time, and haven't camped when it was cold. But in the summer (15+ nights this summer) I have had virtually no condensation and it has worked superbly thus far (haven't had it in heavy winds/horizontal rain).
- 2 separate entrances
- big mesh doors that you can see very clearly out of to enjoy the view (very nice). Very airy and not stifling.
- very easy to set up.
- ample roomy for yourself and gear (very roomy for me and friend but we're around 5'4"-7", 115-155 lbs)
- easily fits two 72"X20"X2.5" blow up sleeping pads.
- we can both sit up together without touching walls/ceiling.
- 2 useable/functional vestibules/rainporch.
- don't need trekking poles to set-up.
- can be adjusted to "batten down the hatches" (not to be confused w/bombproof) or opened right up.
and this part is important to consider (at least for me) ...
it has a small footprint (doesn't take up much room, no one tripping over your guylines, can fit in smaller flat spots).
Some UL shelters require a lot of space for the guylines.
Another thing you might want to consider is if you want a freestanding tent, or just rely on being able to stake to ground to hold up your tent. This may not be a problem where you are/plan to camp, but it can be a pain (re: wooden tent platforms, mountains)
This is where, the double wall (ultralight) offerings by MSR, Big Agnes (SL2), REI (quarterdome) may be advantageous, and it's double walled. Though, correct me if I'm wrong, these tents have less interior space and are heavier/bulkier but offer more robust fabric.
Though, I've never felt I needed to "baby" my ultalight shelters, or treat them any different than other tents. I am just careful about clearing the ground because I don't use a ground sheet. I wouldn't worry about the durablility. Once you feel the fabric of UL gear, being even a reasonably thoughtful person, you'll know how to handle it appropriately.
The double rainbow can be set up freestanding. I've never done it and I suspect the pitch may not be as tight in this configuration. As it is, it's virtually freestanding anyways.
For light single wall, it seems the favorites are:
- Tarptent Double Rainbow
- Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo
- MLD Duomid (w/optional mesh liner)
If you want to go very very light though, look at the Zpacks Hexamid Twin...among others. Cuben fiber is nice to sleep under, won't sag (like silnylon) when wet and duct tape will stick to it. Not freestanding and requires space for guylines.. more in the way of set-up compromises/convenience... but under 11 oz, and if the solo is any indication, it should be big enough for 2 smaller/medium sized people who really like each other. The large mesh wall is awesome. However, this shelter is definitely more on the "tarp" side of the spectrum, whereas the DB is definitely a tent.
I don't have a ton of experience, so take the above with that caveat, but the above was what I gleaned from my research. And I chose the Double Rainbow for a 2 person shelter.
BTW- the supplied stakes work very well so far but I bought some MSR groundhogs, like Travis, to suit conditions. You want to be able to hammer in your stakes with a rock.
And you can get the manufacturer to seal seam for $20 extra. From what I read, don't bother with the liner.
For $260 it's a pretty good deal.
Also, unless it was under extreme circumstances, I would never have food near my tent, leave along cook in it. I figure developing good habits with food scents, even where there are no bears nearby, is a very good thing.
PS: this young couple are doing a 2 year global backpacking
trip, they chose the DB and their reasons. It's a good read:
A trip to consider (I figure low risk, originally my pick for first solo trip):
Sleeping pads I like because I'm a side sleeper, don't like 3/4 length or bulk, and don't want multiple pads (one pad, warm, higher "R" value):
- Big Agnes Insulated Air Core (nice fabric) $60-75
- Pacific Outdoor Equipment Elite 6 (14 oz!) $65
I like lightweight merino wool for tops because they don't stink, breathes well, feels good against skin after sweat dries and are warm.
Backcountry.com, campsaver.com, moontrail, altrec, moosejaw among others sell good gear, are fast, and usually have a 60+ day (liberal) return policy.
If given a choice, ship USPS to Canada or find a place in states to ship to and take advantage of free shipping. UPS and FEdEx ground charge a hideous "handling fee". Check out the "gear deals" section often for sales.... patience.. everything goes on sale...
And think seriously about a quilt, especially in hot Ontario. They're nice for sleeping. The newer version Golite 3 season quilt is going for $150. They'll probably be discounted in the winter.
Hope this helps.