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Tarptent (Double Rainbow) question
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Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
Tarptent (Double Rainbow) question on 04/16/2012 01:13:12 MDT Print View

I am a beginner backpacker and I have a question that might seem funny to some of you but here it goes: I have bought the Double Rainbow and I have tried it in good weather and it seems fine. I do have a fear of being caught in a severe rain storm though. Is the fabric going to keep the rain away? I keep on thinking that with time the rain might start seeping through. What are your experiences?
Thank you for your input. Any tips are greatly appreciated.

Dan Rimar

Locale: Florida
Rain Proof on 04/16/2012 06:12:06 MDT Print View

I was in two nasty thunderstorms in the Sangres last summer in my Tarptent Double Rainbow. Both had hail with accumulation. The second storm was the worst, there was an inch of hail on the ground when it was over. Water was running under the tent in one corner. I was perfectly dry the entire time.

If you are going to experience heavy rain pull the corners low so the outer shell is close to the ground. This prevents any splash from entering the interior.

Edited by tarpon6 on 04/16/2012 06:18:09 MDT.

James Cuppy
(Kentuckian) - F
Fabric is no problem but seams may need to be sealed on 04/16/2012 10:28:26 MDT Print View

I have a Rainbow Solo and I have not had trouble with water coming through the fabric even during heavy rain. However, I did find that I needed to seal the seams to eliminate water entry in a couple of seam related locations. It is not difficult and Tarptent has good instructions and a how to video on their web site. Enjoy your Rainbow. Its a great tent.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: Tarptent (Double Rainbow) question on 04/16/2012 10:37:21 MDT Print View

I have a TT Rainshadow2 and use it in the land of rain. Step 1: stake it down in the yard and pull it real tight and seam seal as directed. Step 2: enjoy.

First time out in rain we endured 12 hours of rain with 3 bodies in the tent. We stayed bone dry the whole time.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Tarptent (Double Rainbow) question on 04/16/2012 11:47:01 MDT Print View

I own other Tarptents made from the same material. I've been in heavy rain from outer bands of hurricane Irene last year in my Tarptent Moment, and I never felt rain penetrate the fabric. Due to the humid conditions, there was plenty of condensation which dripped on me. It never soaked through the DWR on my down sleeping bag, and I just shook it out in the morning.

The liner (which I have but didn't bring) would have prevented nearly all of the drips from reaching me. Based on my backyard testing with a Scarp 2 and mesh inner, having an inner tent made of mesh would have probably limited the water which dripped on me.

Edited by AndyF on 04/16/2012 11:48:19 MDT.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Tarptent (Double Rainbow) question on 04/16/2012 13:47:19 MDT Print View

The fabric can handle extremely heavy rain, though you will on occasion get some "misting" through it. In my experience, not a big deal. The tent handles heavy wind, too, especially if you use hiking poles to support the main arch pole in the middle of each door (there is a grommet for this purpose, to anchor the tip of your pole, but I used my pole in the other direction and it was easier and worked just fine.)

However, on this tent in particular you need to do an exceptional job sealing all the seams. Because of the complex design, this is not as easy as some other, simpler, tents and Tarptents that I have used. The first time we had this tent in a major thunderstorm, after I had done what I though was a good job sealing the seams, we had a lot of water coming inside the tent. So I went back and did a much more careful job, and after that it was fine.

Seal both sides of every seam, and make sure you are getting the sealant down inside the seams so it covers every needle hole.

And don't let this post scare you, it's a very good tent.

(And what are you doing inside a tent in good weather anyway? Try cowboy camping, you'll be amazed.)

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
+1 Ken on 04/16/2012 14:32:28 MDT Print View

I agree completely with Ken's post. I've had my DR in heavy rains, hail, snow, etc. With the additional support added by using trekking poles underneath the vents, you can pretty much weather out any storm. As mentioned, seam-sealing is key. Also, misting is real. I've experienced it in very heavy rains, and am positive it wasn't condensation (the tent had only been up for 5 mins, so condensation hadn't even formed yet).

It's an awesome tent in both design and livability. I would only consider replacing it if it were offered in Cuben Fiber. I've also contemplated buying a third-party carbon fiber main pole to shave some weight, but haven't done so as I'm still very satisfied with it's current weight.

Edited by Konrad1013 on 04/16/2012 14:34:59 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Tarptent (Double Rainbow) question on 04/16/2012 17:10:37 MDT Print View

Seam sealing a Rainbow...
It used to be tricky (or so I have been told...) with the older versions (like mine) but all you need to make sure with the current version is that as well as sealing the seams you also seal the base of all the ribbons sticking out of the fly.
This is true for all non factory taped tents (and in some cases with factory taped tents...)


Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
Double Rainbow rain and other questions on 04/16/2012 17:55:53 MDT Print View

Great! Thank you everyone.
So I see that nobody had problems in rain. I do not know where my fear comes from. I guess lack of experience. I think that many years ago it used to be that you could not touch the tent’s fabric or the water would go through that spot. I think that it was so because they were double wall tents and the fabrics weren’t as good as nowadays? Can someone nevertheless explain this to me please what the problem was back then? I do not think that it is the case with tents these days whether the tent is single wall or double wall?

@Konrad and Ken. The misting worries me a little although Ken says that it is not a problem for him. Konrad, could you tell me some more about it? Thank you to you both for the tip using hiking poles to support the structure. I did not know that. I do not remember the tent exactly but by using the poles am I minimizing the area inside the tent? Will the poles get in the way?
Ken, I do not think that we are ready yet to have no roof or walls around us (no matter how flimsy they are). We feel more secure being enclosed (LOL).

Now that I have your attention can you guys tell me how to maximize the features and usage of this tent? The tip about the hiking poles is great but what else is there? There are different hooks and loops as well and I was wondering what someone can do with them. This stuff is not that intuitive to me. For example I did not know that I can adjust the hight of the tub (do not lough at me). I remember looking at it and thinking that it is low to the ground and that water is going to get in. It did not look like a tub to me. Then I have watched video where the person pulled up the sides of the tub via straps to make them higher. I am glad I watched that video. So anyway since you guys see that I am challenged (LOL) can you tell me everything that I should know about this tent and different features and getting the most out of it etc.?

I also have the internal sheet for the walls. Does anyone use it and does it work well? I see that Andy touched on it but he says that he has a mesh one and my is a fabric. Maybe because he has a different tent? Anyway, my understanding is that I use the liner in humid conditions only, right? Sometimes it is obvious that it is humid but I would imagine that sometimes it is not so clean cut and if I use the liner (when it is not really necessary) it will be more “steamy” and less breeze because of it? Therefore it is good to use it only if you know it would help otherwise it will get too stuffy. How do you guys decide when to use it?
I think that you could also use the liner in a shoulder season to make it warmer inside?

Do you use the Tavek sheet? Is it even necessary? Do you find that the floor starts to seep with time if there is a pool of water accumulated there?
Thank you a bunch for you help. You guys are wonderful!
I hope that my post is not too long.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Double Rainbow rain and other questions on 04/16/2012 18:45:14 MDT Print View

I have several Tarptents, and all of them are made from the same material as your Double Rainbow. Some of them have mesh inners, but my Moment has a removable solid fabric liner like yours. A good strategy to start with is to just leave the liner attached to the tent for every trip and check for moisture on the top side of it in the morning. If there's significant moisture, it probably kept you dry. If not, then you really didn't need it. You'll start to get a feel for what conditions the liner should be used in. I actually haven't brought it on a trip yet, and I've survived so far. :)

In general, if the humidity is forecast to reach around 70% or higher without much wind, then condensation at night is likely when camping inside a tent in the forest. If you're camping near water or in a low area like a valley, canyon, or basin, then condensation is very likely in most forested areas. Camp higher (even a few meters helps) and configure the tent for as much ventilation as possible.

I have never experienced misting despite hurricane rains and trying to cause it by spraying my tent forcefully with a garden hose sprayer. I think it's more likely to occur as the silnylon gets older, but there are sprays which help restore the coating.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Double Rainbow rain and other questions on 04/17/2012 19:45:08 MDT Print View

We had misting in several very heavy rain storms (the kind where you would be soaked to the skin in seconds if you stepped outside.) It's more like very high humidity, or the mist coming off a waterfall. Not enough to even dampen the sleeping bags.

Re: using poles. You need these only in very high wind. Otherwise the one main pole is plenty. When you do use them, they are outside the door, but inside the vestibule, if that makes any sense. So they don't have any impact on the interior space.

Now condensation is another common issue, one that is common to all tents, and more noticeable in single-wall tents like your DR. You will wake up on some mornings and both the inside and the outside of the tent fabric will be soaking wet. Don't sit up and brush the ceiling . The good news is that, unlike a urethane-coated nylon tent, the actual Tarptent fabric doesn't soak up water, so wiping or shaking it will get all that water off so you don't have to carry it. We use a small pack towel inside and out to dry the tent. You can also just leave the internal wall in place all the time, which keeps you from brushing against the wet interior, but at the cost of not being able to dry it off in the morning. (BTW the interior wall also adds some warmth.)

I've not found any need for a ground sheet, though I can see the appeal in a muddy area, just to keep the bottom of the tent moderately clean.

Finally, re: cowboy camping, try setting up the tent in an open area with a good view of the night sky. Then put a ground sheet out next to the tent, and put your pads and sleeping bags on the sheet. After it gets really dark, get in the bags and watch the sky. You can always move into the tent if you feel uncomfortable, but I bet that at some point you'll fall asleep and find that waking up in the pre-dawn light and watching the sun rise is one of the most magical things you can do in the outdoors.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
Re: Double Rainbow rain and other questions on 04/17/2012 20:06:34 MDT Print View

HI Alina,
Sorry it's taken me a bit longer to respond to your inquiries. I'll try my best to give some perspective.

1) " I think that many years ago it used to be that you could not touch the tent’s fabric or the water would go through that spot. I think that it was so because they were double wall tents and the fabrics weren’t as good as nowadays?"

While I can't attest to fabric construction back in the day, I can confidently tell you that this isn't so much a problem anymore with modern day fabrics that are only meant to be waterproof (as opposed to waterproof breathable, as seen in rain jackets). The major concern these days is brushing up against tent fabric and getting wet due to condensation that clings to the inside walls. This is a large concern with single wall tents like the double rainbow, and of very little consequence with double wall tents that have a layer of mosquito netting between you and the fly. It's something you'll just have to live with and be mindful of. In practice, it's not really that big of a concern, and merely one of the tradeoffs of having a lighter weight single walled tent.

2) The misting worries me a little although Ken says that it is not a problem for him. Konrad, could you tell me some more about it? Thank you to you both for the tip using hiking poles to support the structure. I did not know that. I do not remember the tent exactly but by using the poles am I minimizing the area inside the tent? Will the poles get in the way?

I didn't mean to scare you about the's really not as bad as it may seem. The best way that I can describe it is to imagine a water spray/mist bottle, turned to its absolute lowest setting--and then take only 10% of that output. In other words, you can feel a slight spray, but its very very very minimal. Silnylon sometimes has inconsistent treatment depending on the batch, source, year of production etc, so some misting cases might be better or worse than others. The misting by no means will get all your down gear soaked, or even remotely wet. For me, the its merely annoying as sometimes I feel it on my face and it keeps me up at night.

Using poles for extra structural integrity will not impede on the useable space, as the tent poles are used outside the netting underneath the vestibule doors. The poles will not get in the way of entry/exit.

3) There are different hooks and loops as well and I was wondering what someone can do with them. This stuff is not that intuitive to me. For example I did not know that I can adjust the hight of the tub (do not lough at me). I remember looking at it and thinking that it is low to the ground and that water is going to get in. It did not look like a tub to me.

Many of the hooks you see inside the tent are meant to be used with the clip in liner. I don't own the liner so I use those clips for lights, and to keep gear off the ground. Some people run lines between the hooks to hang wet gear etc.

In order to truly achieve a bathtub floor, you need to locate the clips OUTSIDE the tent, at each corner of the tent. Attach those clips to the stake guyline loops. See the photo below. It makes a world of a difference.

One of my favorite features of the tent is using the rain porch setup. Here's an example:

Also, as a general tip, I find that the main arch pole puts too much tension on the floor, causing this huge bunching wrinkle right down the center of the floor, resulting in minimized floor width. To alleviate this, I try to push in each end of the main arch pole towards the center of the tent (essentially decreasing the length of the tent a bit, but also adding more headroom by raising the arch of the fly) and keeping each end of the pole in place by setting a huge rock against it. See picture below (note the rock by the pole):

I don't own the liner, nor do I feel that it's necessary. The liner is meant to protect you from condensation drops (which is why it's to be used in humid conditions). I find that I'd rather save the weight of the liner by bringing a small shamwow and wiping down the condensation throughout the night or early in the morning.

I find tyvek to be too loud and crinkly, and instead, choose to use a lighter piece of window insulation wrap (polycro) cut down to size. Much lighter, and resists punctures well enough for weeks of use. Dirt cheap too.

My final tip would be to remove the cross strut before packing. It' makes it easier to pack and you can fit it into a smaller stuff sack this way.


Edited by Konrad1013 on 04/17/2012 20:42:55 MDT.

Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
Re: Re: Double Rainbow rain and other questions on 04/18/2012 17:49:17 MDT Print View

Hi Ken,
Thank you so much for your reply. I really appreciate your help.
Konrad (below your post) included a picture of how to use the poles. It is picture #2. Is it what you meant?
You said that on some mornings both sides of the tent will be soaked. Are they ever so soaked that the water starts to drop?
You made the sleeping under the sky sound really enticing. We might just try. Although it is more my husband than me to be apprehensive about it. I think that from a psychological point of view we might worry that we wake up with some animal (a bear?) or maybe even a scary person standing over us (LOL). The bear might be even nibbling on us already (LOL). Also I might worry that although the sky looks good in the evening it might rain later on once we are asleep? Is it possible or as long as the evening is clear the night should be OK?

Thank you.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Re: Re: Double Rainbow rain and other questions on 04/19/2012 11:30:02 MDT Print View

Konrad's photo shows the "front porch" setup, using two trekking poles and a couple of guy lines and stakes to create an awning over one door. It's a great feature, but not the same as using poles to buttress the tent during a serious storm.

Re: condensation. Yes, we've had it heavy enough to drip, but that's pretty unusual. Depends a lot on where one hikes, I think. The boogeyman of condensation scares a lot of people away from single-wall shelters, but it's simply another part of the tradeoff for a 2.5-pound 2-person shelter.

Re: sleeping under the stars. Um, you do realize that a very thin piece of nylon doesn't keep the bear from nibbling on you, right? Nor does it keep the scary people away. It does keep you from seeing those things in your last moments on Earth, so I guess it's all good :)

It's always possible for rain to begin in the middle of the night. Trust me, you'll wake up in plenty of time to bring you and your bags inside the already-set-up tent.

Edited by ken_bennett on 04/19/2012 11:31:59 MDT.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Double Rainbow rain and other questions on 04/19/2012 11:49:51 MDT Print View

@Konrad re: carbon fiber arch pole

If CF poles could take the strain induced by the arch pole, I'm sure Henry would long ago have offered them as standard equipment or as an option for his whole line of arched shelters.

CF just cannot be bent very far before breaking catastrophically. See Roger Caffin's discussion of this as it appllies to tunnel tents in part 2 of his current article.

You might also ask Henry just how much extra tension you can safely put on the aluminum arch pole. You are increasing the load on it when you force the two ends closer together. I've noticed with my DR that there is no space inside the pole sleeve to accomodate a repair sleeve if the pole did break.

Edited by wandering_bob on 04/19/2012 11:55:33 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Tarptent (Double Rainbow) question on 04/19/2012 12:56:54 MDT Print View

Bob :
'I've noticed with my DR that there is no space inside the pole sleeve to accomodate a repair sleeve if the pole did break"

The current version (2010) has a much larger sleeve.
(you can see that in one of Konrad's pics)
There was a reason for the rather tight original version but I guess ease of pole insertion and retrieval made the other reason redundant.
One of the many changes since 2006.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: Tarptent (Double Rainbow) question on 04/19/2012 13:09:44 MDT Print View


And you are correct. I have one of the very first Double Rainbows from 2006. Ease of pole insertion and removal was never an issue - unless you tried to just force the pole through in a big hurry. That is not what I would call a design error; more like a user error.

The only change I've seen in the revised version that I truly envy is the use of zippers to replace the velcro closures on the vestibules. Unforunately, the vestibules had to be redesigned to accomodate that change so Henry was unable to retrofit my DR when I asked him if it was possible to do so.

Maybe I'll give in and get a new version someday but for now, the darn thing is like the Energizer Bunny - it just keeps going and going - and we love it. It's seen some really wild weather too and never let us down.

Edited by wandering_bob on 04/19/2012 13:12:43 MDT.

Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
Re: Double Rainbow rain and other questions on 04/19/2012 14:41:18 MDT Print View

Hi Ken,

Thank you once again for your response. I know that you could be doing more interesting things with your time yet you choose to help other hikers. Thank you!

Regarding the hiking poles I am not sure then where I would be placing them in order to strengthen the tent in windy conditions. Any pictures?

I was giggling when I read your thoughts on sleeping under the stars. You are right. Inexperienced hikers feel more secure inside the tent because they do not see anything yet everyone sees them. Having said that wouldn’t animals be more cautious when approaching a big tent (since they do not see what is exactly inside. There could be a big, dangerous creature inside) as opposed to 2 humans lying on the ground? There is some mystery to the tent.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Tarptent (Double Rainbow) question on 04/19/2012 15:25:51 MDT Print View

Bears like Tarptents therefore they will leave you alone when inside one
see proof here :
spot the bear

(the brown bear is on the top right end side. he is asleep)
I just had a look at the TT site for a picture on using the trekking poles for lateral support but there is nothing there...
(not even in the set up video...)
Anyway, they slot in the grommets under the vents. If by any chance you wander where the brave do, (above tree line...) then you could consider attaching guylines to either directly to those grommets or better still to the poles.
I will post a picture later on.
But be assured that the vast majority of users do not do it, in fact they would not know that it can be done...
(in high winds, guylines are your friends)
Now that I think about it, the poles will look like they do in the SS2 (the tent on the left) in the shot above...

Edited by Franco on 04/19/2012 15:28:39 MDT.

Mike Sobr

Locale: Southeaster
Practice practice on 04/19/2012 19:34:32 MDT Print View


As is often mentioned about the misting in single-walled tents it's usually not that bad if conditions are right and you take all the necessary precautions.

If they are not right like the fellow above states it can keep you up at night and be miserable and since I need extra sleep I don't carry a single-walled tent if conditions warrant. I highly reccommend you spend time practicing pitching at home and do some overnite stints in the back yard till you gell with it and check for leaks carefully.
There is a learning curve to keeping the inside dry and ventilation is important especially if you have 2 occupants it can get really damp in there if your not familiar with your shelter or moisture management and even then you can have problems so just try to limit them and use caution.

A down bag looses alot of insulating properties when wet so best to be careful and get the bugs worked out at home. TEST IT IN THE RAIN before your first hike!

There are better options nowadays for some people and different conditions with lighter double-walled and hybrid tents and sometimes I prefer those over my traditional single-walled Tarptents for reasons as mentioned above.

Being damp and cold is something I try to avoid and shelter selection is key.

My Double Rainbow also had the moisture issues under the right conditions and there was one area particularly where the mesh contacted the roof and that would often wick in the moisture that forms on the ceiling and soak my sleeping bag if I didn't remember to bring the clothes pin to keep them separated. It's a nice shelter just use caution if you will be far from the car while you are getting acquainted with it.

Also the material they use tends to stretch particularly in the evening so remember to pull it up tight just before going to bed. The stretching is worse with my Contrail and Virga due to the long unsupported fabric spans and it's common to carry bungie cords to address that problem and you can run short lengths of shock cord to the ends of your tie-outs like many posters reccomend and it works great but the Rainbows are very well supported anyways with the pole and only the fly guys need the shock cord. It's nice not having to fiddle with the tent on those cold nites and the bungees work wonders and well worth the small weight penalty.