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Tarptent Rainshadow 2?
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robert van putten

Locale: Planet Bob
Tarptent Rainshadow 2? on 10/15/2012 16:20:05 MDT Print View

I’m looking for opinions on this tent, the Tarptent rainshadow 2

Anyone use one, or perhaps similar Tarptent products?

I am considering buying one and am wondering about condensation issues, durability, how stormproof they really are, and is this tent really as roomy and lightweight as it seems to be?

The intended application is a 2014 AT thru-hike by my wife and I.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
The Rainshadow and the AT on 10/15/2012 17:12:59 MDT Print View

The Rainshadow 2 is a popular shelter for couples on the AT. I know a few thru-hikers that swear by it.

It seems to be a good all around shelter for people who want space and light weight. It is spacious. You can fit all your gear inside and still have room to spare.

There can be condensation in it on the AT on cold nights with 100% humidity, but the ventilation is pretty good, almost too good at times:-)

You can go lighter(cuben material) and you can go more storm proof, but at a cost of $ and/or space.

My wife and I had one for a couple years and swore by it, but eventually went with a Six Moon Designs Haven only because my wife insisted on the double door.

You would probably be happy with the single door, but if not, you can check out the other shelters.

If you have the $, you may want to look into the cuben offerings.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Tarptent Rainshadow 2? on 10/15/2012 17:22:01 MDT Print View


This is the tent that I use for my family of three....we have a 9 yr old.

I have not used mine alot, but the Rainshadow 2 is esstentially a larger version of the Squall 2.

Condensation can be an issue, but with the high ceiling and arched walls, you are likely going to have any condensation roll down the sides.

If you are active sleepers contacting the side of the tarptent with your sleeping bag would be the only concern about problems caused by condenation.

I have not used mine in any heavy rains, but site selection will be cricitcal for you.

My guess is that if you are hit sideways by high winds, it will press down the center of the side into your living space.

Natural windblock- one or both sides of your tarptent will be important.

Extra important that you tension out the stakes and guylines when 1st setting up.

Remember to tighten the guylines up at night as silnylon relaxes with moisture.

If you are expecting a lot of rain and heavy winds on your trip, you might want to consider some of the other shelters that Henry sells that has more frame support.

Henry has been busy over the last 3 yrs bringing out a ton of new designs.

The Rainshadow 2 is an older design with the benefit of having a ton of interior space, but perhaps at the expense of having less "stability" in bad weather.

That said, I plan on taking my family out to the 2013 January/Winter GGG 5.0 next year, where there may be rain, but the area is likely to be pretty protected.

Hope this helps.

P.S. Yeah, the Rainshadow is definitely light and packs least with mine, which is a few years old, the stuff bag for it is really tight. With a damp/wet tent, you might have trouble getting into the storage bag.


Edited by Valshar on 10/15/2012 17:24:10 MDT.

Jon Fong
(jonfong) - F

Rainshadow2 on 10/15/2012 17:54:29 MDT Print View

I own a Rainshadow 2 and it is huge (I toss and turn at night and wanted a bigger tent). The Rainshadow 2 is lightweight (2.5 lbs.) and easy to store. The thing that you need to learn when using this tent is that it is big AND you need to have enough space to stake it out. This can make pitching the tent more challenging. Because of the large surface area (think sail), it is important to have a good anchoring system to get the right tension on the lines. In soft soil, I have had to put large rocks over the stakes to keep the stakes from pulling out. There are also a lot of “tweaks” and adjustments that you can do to drop the tent down low (high wind) or set higher to reduce condensation.
This is my first silnylon tent so one of the surprises was that when it rains “hard”, the drops can push through a light mist. It was a little un-nerving the first rain, however; I was pleasantly surprised to find that the tent remained dry on the inside. One thing that I don’t like is that water (and snow) can pool up on the top of the tent near your feet. No matter how I pitch the tent, I couldn’t get rid of the pool. It never dripped inside; however, the added weight would cause the tent to sag a bit. I would reach up with my foot and push the pool off.
I am pretty happy with it though if I had the money, I would probably get a free standing three person tent like the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3. - jon

Mary R
(pietimer) - MLife
Re: Tarptent Rainshadow 2? on 10/15/2012 18:20:28 MDT Print View

I have a rainshadow 2 and its stability in high winds has impressed me. You do get the sides blowing in from wind--but the shelter is so large that my husband and I don't have a tough time squeezing in the middle to avoid being bumped.
We took the tent to Sahale glacier camp earlier this year. It was crazy windy and the tent rocked back and forth, but never came down.
I've taken the tent out for about a 20 or so trips and the only condensation problem I had was one really rainy night in Glacier NP. It was so bad that it was dripping down on my face all through the night. Other than that one night, I haven't had any issues.
The only other problem I've had is how huge the tent is. Like Jon mentioned, it can sometimes be tough finding a place to pitch that monster (especially in high alpine areas).
I really do love the tent; its weight and size is unbeatable. It has held up to some harsh weather and is super easy to set up and take down. That being said, I'd probably trade it out for a slightly smaller tent if my husband would let me, but he insists on sleeping in a palace.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Works in the PNW on 10/15/2012 20:19:43 MDT Print View

I've had some good experiences with this tent here in the PNW. I've had it out on a number of nights in the Olympic National Forest, which is known for occasional moisture :), and it has yet to let me down.

Worst it's been through is a solid 12 hours of steady rain in 40ish degrees, with 2 adults and a child stuffed in there. Yeah there was condensation, but definitely manageable.

The only real problem I've had with it is finding spots for it. Ever since switching to the TarpTent, it seems every campsite I've come to has poor soil for staking down tensioned tent. This makes it difficult to get a good tight pitch when the stakes keep pulling out of the ground.

I really do like this tent, but I think I might be going back to a double wall setup because the bulk of my camping in the foreseeable future will be with the Boy Scouts, and I'm not sure how well the TarpTent can hold up in that crowd.

Benjamin Auer
Try the stratosphire 2 on 10/15/2012 21:07:56 MDT Print View

I have several tarptents including the stratospire 2. For the same weight you could get the stratospire 2. It is roomy for two because you have the full width at the ceiling, has huge vestibules for your packs and other gear, and is truly a double wall tent which you will appriciate when you get the inevitable condensation here on the each coast. It would be more storm worthy than the rainshadow. It is my favorite of my tarptents. I also have a scarp 2 and a rainbow.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Tarptent Rainshadow 2 on 10/15/2012 21:07:58 MDT Print View

First, despite the "2" in the title, the Rainshadow is a three person tent. With the older Tarptent models, the "2" refers to the model number, not the capacity. For two people, this tent is downright palatial.

I bought one for taking out my grandkids. Normally two of them and their dad sleep there, and it has worked just fine. Most trips have been to the Olympic Peninsula coast (mostly Shi-Shi Beach). It hasn't leaked in rain, and even in fog and drizzle there has been no condensation (at the same time, the SMD Lunar Solo I was using, pitched right next door to the Rainshadow, was dripping inside). The Rainshadow has plenty of ventilation.

As for wind, two important items: First of all, pitch the rear of the tent into the wind. Second, use the side guylines--they make a lot of difference. You might consider sturdier stakes, such as MSR Groundhogs, for the center front and rear guylines, which get the most stress, and use Ti shepherd hook stakes for the other four.

The main problem with the Rainshadow is its large footprint which makes it more difficult to find a site to fit. For a long thru-hike for a couple, where you're often hiking well into the evening and won&#39 have either a large choice of campsites or lots of time to look for one, I'd suggest a smaller tent. The Tarptent Squall 2 is quite adequate--I've used it for two persons plus large dog. Again, I've used it in rain, fog and drizzle with little or no condensation issues. The Squall 2 and Rainshadow are exactly the same tent except that the Squall is designed for two people instead of three. Not only does the Squall have a smaller footprint, but it's also lighter, just over 2 pounds.

As for durability of either tent, I've had kids and dog run full tilt through the guylines with no issues. A little damage to the kids, but none to the tents! The dog took a little longer to learn his lesson! My Squall 2 is now 7 years old, and the Rainshadow is 6.

However, for a couple, I'd look at the Stratospire 2 (for this one, the "2" does refer to person capacity) or the Double Rainbow, because of the two doors and two vestibules. Going in and out tripping over your partner's face could get really old on a 5-6 month trip!

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/15/2012 21:18:40 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Lightest 2 person tents on 10/15/2012 23:57:55 MDT Print View

John Abela has just published his list of the lightest 2-person tents. Since only 3 tents met his initial requirements (900 grams or less), he has an added (selected) list of tents over 900 grams. This list is worth looking at--he mentions other things besides weight!

robert van putten

Locale: Planet Bob
Thanks everyone for all the replies! on 10/17/2012 16:22:07 MDT Print View

I truly appreciate the input and it looks like I came to the right place for advice.

So last night back at the homestead on Blue Grouse Mnt., it poured down buckets of rain all night long. Towards dawn the skies cleared, and the wind began to howl!
I found myself wondering how well a Rainshadow 2 would have worked under these conditions?

I have zero experience with Silnylon. I have read about the “light mist” that can press through in heavy rain, and that certainly does concern me, but the consensus here is that such material and such a shelter is fine in a heavy rain?

I am also a little apprehensive about the condensation issue. My wife and I have had considerable condensation in a Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight, and that is a traditional two–layer tent!

When I started my quest for a suitable shelter for our future thu-hike ( and of course other general use as well ) I looked to ordinary double wall nylon tents first, with a goal of finding a shelter offering the comfort and if possible the ease of use of a heavy old-school tent at a reduced weight.

Perhaps I should explain the baseline my wife and I use to compare tents -
Our traditional tent has been the Eureka Timberline 2. It’s a great tent, roomy at 38 sq, ft., and very easy to set up, can withstand almost any storm, and they are cheap to boot!
I used one steadily for 17 years, wore it out and got another!
In about two decades of steady use I have yet to have any condensation inside one. We’ve used ‘em all over Washington, Idaho, parts of Canada and I even lugged one on a cycle tour of Iceland.
This tent has plenty of room for my wife to climb inside and set up our bed, change out of wet clothes and relax while I break out our stove and cook a hot meal in the doorway. The door has a generous overhang, which makes cooking there easy and safe.
‘Eh, we always keep all our gear – and food – inside the tent with us. I hate soggy packs in the morning, and any bear that wants my food is going to have to deal with me first!

But the dang Timberlines are heavy. So much so, that at age 50, I no longer want to carry one of ‘em!

So anyway, my first attempt at lightening my load was a Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight. Complete with a ground cloth mine weighs in at 4 pounds.
“Not bad!” I thought. I got it because at a listed 32 sq. ft., it is “bigger” than many other “two person” tents on the market, and the design has been around quite some time so I figured it must be a great tent, right?

Well, on our first five night backpacking trip with it we discovered otherwise. We had surprising amounts of condensation, and it is just to cramped for two people in foul weather.
One evening I had to cook our dinner outside in the rain, then retreat to the tent where we had to lay on our stomachs to eat.
It simply isn’t big enough, and in particular lack headroom anywhere but at the door.


lots of condensation

- This is a concern I have with the two person version of the Rainshadow ( the Squall 2? ) – I reckon two folks can crawl in and lay down, but that’s about it?

So anyway, I am considering ripping off the silly “vestibule” off the Flashlight and sewing on a proper awning as Ray Jardine describes in his book Trail Life.
That will help, but I feel we just need a tent with proper headroom and maybe an bit more elbow room?

So I gave up on the so called “ Two man” tents and started looking at three man tents like the MSR Carbon Reflex 3 and the Big Agnes Copper Spur and similar tents.
Great shelters no doubt, ( expensive...) but they are all generally pretty close to five pounds ( especially with a ground cloth ).
I reckon I could live with that and had just about talked myself into one, but heck, that isn’t all that much lighter than the timberline!

Then I stumbled upon the Rainshadow 2.
Now I’ve been reading here at backpacking light about other shelters, and I’m totally mixed up, to much information!

Eh, I suppose I should have called this thread “suitable shelter for two?” or something similar, because there does seem to be allot to choose from.
So it’s going to take me a while to sort through everything and come to any conclusions.

I do very much wish to keep my base load as close to ten pounds as possible for this thru-hike.

Say, anyone know anything about the Six Moon Lunar Duo, and how that might compare to the Rainshadow?
Cuben material was mentioned – What similar designs in that material are available?

Edited by Bawana on 10/17/2012 16:34:24 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Other lightweight 2-person tents on 10/17/2012 17:40:55 MDT Print View

I've been using silnylon tents for 7 years; no problems at all in heavy rain or severe hailstorms. I personally have never encountered the so-called "misting," although I have had condensation on the inside knocked off, especially if my Lab woke up and started his whole-body-tail-wag routine before I could wipe the inside tent walls down. None of this ever got into my sleeping bag, though--I just shook it off. I'm not saying that "misting" doesn't happen, just that I haven't experienced it with four different silnylon tents.

Like you, I had a horrible time with my old SD Clip Flashlight. With the outward sloping door, I had to close the vestibule up tight in the merest drizzle, leaving no ventilation inside. There would be puddles of condensation on the floor and my sleeping bag in the morning, that condensed on the underside of the fly and then leaked through the tent inner. After that, I decided I wanted a single wall tent so I could get at the condensation to wipe it off!

The key with any tent, regardless of number of walls, is to prevent condensation as much as possible. Here are two features to watch for with any tent. Ventilation is the key! First, make sure the tent door is configured so that you can leave it open except when horizontal rain is coming from that direction (you don't need so much ventilation when the wind is blowing, but you definitely need that door wide open in calm conditions). You also want to be able to go in and out the tent when it's pouring rain without letting rain into the tent. Second, make sure that there is plenty of vertical space over your head (where the moisture on your breath goes). If your breath can diffuse into the general tent (and out the ventilation ducts) before hitting a cold tent ceiling a few inches over your head, it helps!

There are other measures for reducing condensation such as avoiding camping low down in river valleys or close to water. Try to be up on a knoll where you get some air movement (helps with bugs, too). Under trees is better than out on the open, and bare ground is better than being on vegetation.

Tarptent makes other 2-person tent models, such as the Double Rainbow (probably the most popular lightweight 2-person tent), Scarp 2 and the new Stratospire 2. The latter two are double wall tents, if this is what you prefer. Unlike most US-made double wall tents, you don't have to pitch the inner tent before you pitch the fly, an enormous advantage if it's raining while you set it up. Six Moon Designs makes the Lunar Duo (single wall) and the double-wall Haven (for the latter, fly and inner tent are sold separately and, again, the fly can be pitched first when it's raining). If expense is no object, the Haven fly is also available in cuben fiber. All these have two doors and two vestibules, IMHO much better for a couple.

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/17/2012 17:43:14 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Ditto on 10/17/2012 17:58:06 MDT Print View

I agree 100% with Mary D. I have never had an issue with silnylon leaking. When I and others have experience the misting effect it was because of condensation getting knocked loose by wind and/or rain drops knocking the condensation off.

Having an inner net like the shelters that Mary mentioned and many others, can catch some or even most of the spray/drops, reducing the annoyance.

But the real key is to deal with it using a combination of not letting it bother you and knowing how to avoid a lot of it.

Sometimes, there is nothing you can do about it, like camping in a dense raincloud. Best to make sure you have water-phobic clothing to keep you warm when wet.

A sleeping bag/quilt with good DWR helps as well.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
AT Tent on 10/17/2012 18:32:33 MDT Print View

I hike the MD, Northern/Central VA, and Southern PA sections of the AT.
In this area, you can expect high humidity and no wind most of time. There is wind during thunderstorms, but it's not usually severe.

I use a 10x12 tarp pitched A-frame with the edges 12” off the ground (so I can walk in stooped over) and 8 aluminum shepherds stakes. Condensation sometimes drips on me (6-12 drops per night), but no problems with winds, or finding enough room to pitch it (with no bushes inside).

For a through hike, I'd assume you'll be sleeping in the lean-to's a lot, and carry a light shelter just in case. If you want to be away from others, or want to get away from the mice, spiders, and mosquitos, then I'd recommend a tarp and bug tent large enough that both people have enough room to not get on each others nerves...

I think the rain shadow would be a good couples tent for an AT through hike.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Tarptent Rainshadow 2? on 10/17/2012 18:39:10 MDT Print View

Ok, here is my issue with the Rainshadow 2... and perhaps some of you that own it can resolve this issue for me.

29 inches of height at the foot end of the shelter!!

You put yourself a 3 inch air pad in there, and a winter sleeping bag with a lot of loft, and how is it possible for the top of your sleeping bag to not come into contact with the material of the shelter at some point??

Now yes, I understand that is what DWR of a sleeping bag is for, but if conditions are just right and there is massive condensation build up inside all night, it just seems like it could result in a rare situation of your sleeping bag becoming slightly saturated to a point where the DWR is no longer able to keep the water at bay. Especially if the DWR has gone bye-bye from a long hike or too much cleaning w/o reapplying more.

This looks like one great three person shelter, but this is the one thing that has bugged me since I first saw the specs of this shelter.

Somebody please tell me I am suffering a case of self-hyperbole here... please.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
No heads at the back end! on 10/17/2012 18:52:08 MDT Print View

John, with the Rainshadow, the Squall 2 and the Contrail you sleep with your head at the door end! Only your feet are at the back end. In my case, my dog will also be down there, curled up in a ball, although if one of my grandkids is present, the dog is more likely on top of the bottom half of the kid's sleeping bag. Unless one of the tent residents is 6'6" or taller and sleeps stretched out, his feet probably don't go all the way to the back end anyway.

Because nearly all the moisture-laden breath exhaust goes out the door, I've had less condensation in the Squall 2 and Rainshadow than I've had in any other tent, single wall or double wall.

I also doubt if anyone with a 3 inch sleeping pad blows it up all the way instead of leaving it squishy. I sure don't!

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/17/2012 19:02:00 MDT.

Jon Fong
(jonfong) - F

Re:Re: Tarptent Rainshadow 2? on 10/17/2012 19:08:18 MDT Print View

John - On the backside of the Rainshadow 2, there is a strap that holds the rear arc in place, I am pretty shure that you can tighten the strap to get a little more vertical height on the back side. This may cause the tent to drape differently. You might ask Henry about it. Jon

Daniel McGee
(category2) - F
re: Tarptent Rainshadow 2 on 10/17/2012 20:22:16 MDT Print View

Like the other poster, I have never had an issue with the height of the foot of the tent. The 29" might be a problem if you are over 6'5" so your feet are near the end, are on a 3" mattress and have all 10 inches of loft from a -40 deg. sleeping bag on top of your toes with your feet pointed straight up. But I've had this tent for over two years and love it! It is incredibly roomy - fits me, my girlfriend, our 70 lb dog and all our gear. We can both sit up, change, pack, whatever, at the same time without touching the top or sides. The trade off for the spaciousness and ventilation is that it won't provide any additional warmth for you in cold weather. We've hiked the 100 mile wilderness, the northville placid trail and much of the AT in the northeast and have never had a problem finding a site for it (camping near shelters). We've had lots of rain but due to the great ventilation, very little condensation (I can remember only one time having to wipe it off the interior of the tent after multiple days of rain, but because it is so roomy, there were never any worries about hitting the condensation with our heads or sleeping bags). The only time we ever had an issue with the tent was on a cross country bike trip when we got caught within a half mile of a surprise (to us) tornado in South Dakota while camped on a huge open lawn and the tent flew up around us. I was able to find the lost stakes and then tie us off to a picnic table, and then it was fine, though noisy from the intense winds.
I can't speak to the Lunar Duo, but I used a lunar solo for my AT thru hike and was very happy with it. I still use it for solo trips and it is still in great shape, six years later (I did recoat the entire tent with silicone). Between the two, I find the Rainshadow much easier to set up. But you'll have more privacy in the Lunar Duo, if that is a concern. Because the vestibule and the rear of the tent don't go all the way down you can see out the mesh and feel a little exposed.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: re: Tarptent Rainshadow 2 on 10/17/2012 20:26:28 MDT Print View

Hey All, Thanks to all who have responded to my post. On specs it looks like it could cause/be a problem... so I am very very glad to hear that it was all just a problem in my head. Sometimes all these numbers start playing games with me...

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Tarptent Rainshadow 2 ? on 10/17/2012 20:27:20 MDT Print View

RS II 2 mats 1
RS II 2 mats 1
The 6' grey mat is 3" from the door end and about 12" from the other end.
Over the center of each mat at the low end you have 25"
The brick propping up the Circuit pack is 6" from the mat.
BTW at the door from floor to fabric you have about 45" over the center of each mat

2 5'10 guys could sit side by side inside the floor area with legs stretched out and still not touch the roof
RS II sitting room

I am seam sealing , Henry is camping

robert van putten

Locale: Planet Bob
That thing is huge! on 10/18/2012 15:35:19 MDT Print View

Franco, those pictures make that tent look positively huge!
It is a downright big tent, isn’t it? Makes me think that maybe the Squall 2 is really more along the lines of what I need.
I’ve been digging around this site and have seen pictures of two people sitting up in the door of the Squall 2. That’s pretty impressive for such a slick little two pound tent!
I’m thinking the Squall is significantly bigger then my Clip Flashlight? On paper they look to be similar.

“I decided I wanted a single wall tent so I could get at the condensation to wipe it off!”

Mary, this is a simply brilliant observation and you just sold me on a tarp tent without an interior mesh tent.

Daniel, your experience on the trail with the Rainshadow is exactly what I wanted to hear about, and again, I want to thank everyone for their replies, this has been most informative.

I just wish I could simply go to REI and set up a Squall 2 and Rainshadow 2 to see which is the best fit for us.
If I ask my wife, she will of course want the bigger Rainshadow 2. I don’t mind the extra ½ pound ( to much anyway ) but the smaller Squall 2 would be easier to fit in tight places. We do tend to camp in some off-the-track sort of places rather than official camp sites. The rainshadow may not be the best choice for guerrilla camping? Then again, it doesn’t look too bad...
I’d like to have the tent by April for hiking along the John Wayne Pioneer trail. I see the Squall is in stock, but not the Rainshadow. How often does Tarp Tent get in new stock?