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Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW

Introduces some major advancements in single wall tent design and provides user friendliness not seen before in a single wall tent, but there are a few details that could be refined.

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by Will Rietveld | 2006-11-21 03:00:00-07

Introduction

Introduced in early 2006, the Tarptent Rainbow (one-person) and Double Rainbow (two-person) are a major departure from traditional Tarptent design. Instead of a front beak entry and headroom-only-at-the-front, the Rainbows use a monopole design with side entry through a vestibule. The design provides abundant usable space and headroom. It is also free-standing if you attach trekking poles to the ends. The Double Rainbow is a two-person/two-door/two-vestibule version of the Rainbow, and weighs 8 ounces more. This review assesses how the design and feature set of the Double Rainbow work for two people sharing the tent.

Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW - 1
The Tarptent Double Rainbow at 11,800 feet in the Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado. The right vestibule is extended into a canopy supported by two trekking poles.

What’s Good

  • Very lightweight two-person shelter, only 2.5 pounds
  • Freestanding using trekking poles attached at the ends
  • Quick set up
  • Easy entry/exit
  • Loads of headroom and usable space
  • Two doors, each with a vestibule entry
  • Lots of vestibule space easily accessible from inside the tent
  • Good ventilation (with doors open)

What’s Not So Good

  • Velcro attachment for trekking poles gets tangled
  • Needs mid height guylines on ridge pole for extra wind stability
  • High vents are minimally effective with mesh doors closed
  • Tight quarters for two people
  • Difficult to attach Velcro tabs on vestibules from the inside

Specifications

  Year/Manufacturer/Model

2006 Tarptent Double Rainbow

  Style

Two-person single-wall tent with floor, free-standing with trekking pole attachment at each end. Floorless version is available

  Fabrics

1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silnylon, 1.0 oz/yd2 (34 g/m2) no-see-um mesh

  Poles and Stakes

One 145 in (368 cm) center ridgepole, one 18 in (46 cm) strut on top; six 5.5 in (14 cm) tubular stakes. All are Easton 7075 E9 aluminum

  Dimensions

Measured outside length 98 in (249 cm), width 52 in (132 cm) excluding vestibules
Bathtub floor length 88 in (224 cm), width 48 in (122 cm), height 43 in (109 cm)

  Packed Size

20 in x 4 in x 4 in (51 x 10 x 10 cm)

  Total Weight
As supplied by manufacturer with all included items

Measured weight 2 lb 8.9 oz (1.16 kg), manufacturer specification 2 lb 8 oz (1.14 kg); manufacturer specified weight without floor 2 lb 2 oz (936 g)

  Trail Weight
Includes minimum number of items needed to erect the tent

Measured weight 2 lb 7.7 oz (1.13 kg), includes tent body, poles, and stakes

  Protected Area

Total covered area 50.4 ft2 (4.7 m2), bathtub floor area 29.3 ft2 (2.7 m2), entry vestibules are 7.5 ft2 (0.7 m2) each

  Floor Area/Trail Weight Ratio

11.8 ft2/lb based on 29.3 ft2 floor area and weight of 2.48 lb

  Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio

17.9 ft2/lb based on 44.3 ft2 floor + vestibule area and weight of 2.48 lb

  MSRP

$250 with sewn-in floor, $225 without floor

  Options

Clip-in liner $30, 4 oz (113 g); Tyvek groundsheet $12, 7.5 oz (213 g)

Performance

Like the Rainbow (1+ person), the Double Rainbow (2-person) is a monopole design with one center ridgepole spanning the length of the tent. The MontBell Hexagon uses a similar design but the sidewalls on the Hexagon drape inward from the pole, drastically reducing interior space. The Double Rainbow overcomes that problem (to some extent) by adding an 18-inch long perpendicular strut at the top to provide more interior width and anchor the two side vestibules.

Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW - 2
Views of the Tarptent Double Rainbow. Entry is from the side (top left and right) through a vestibule on each side. Each vestibule has a top vent. The tent is supported by one long ridgepole through the yellow sleeve (bottom left), plus an aluminum strut in a webbing sleeve attached to the top. The ridgepole is 43 inches high at the center and very steep at the ends (bottom left and right), giving the Double Rainbow loads of headroom.

The Double Rainbow is a smaller two-person tent, with 29.3 square feet of floor area, only 6 inches wider than the Rainbow (one-person). Both tents use the same 18-inch strut attached to the top, which is the top width of the interior. The floor width (with bathtub walls up) of the Double Rainbow is specified at 52 inches, but I measured it to be only 48 inches. The interior width is tight for two people, and an additional 6 inches of width at both the floor and ceiling would make a big difference. The reason for the narrow floor width is the tent’s trekking pole attachment feature that enables the tent to be free-standing - most trekking poles only extend out to about 52 inches, so that sets the width.

The Double Rainbow will fit in a fairly small space, and like all Tarptents it’s very fast and easy to set up. Slide the ridge pole through the yellow sleeve and connect the grommet ends, stake out the four corners, and stake out the two side vestibules. Very little re-adjustment is needed, and all four corners have tensioners so you can tighten the tent without moving the stakes. The tent can be pitched with two trekking poles and two stakes in free-standing mode, or six stakes if you don’t use trekking poles and want more wind-stability.

The top strut resides in a webbing sleeve that is attached to the top of the tent. It must be removed if you prefer to stuff the tent into its stuff sack, or a better alternative is to fold the tent to the width of the top strut, roll it tightly with the poles and stakes inside, and slide it into its narrow stuff sack.

A unique feature of the Double Rainbow is that it’s freestanding if you attach extended trekking poles to the ends. The trekking poles attach to neoprene pockets at the corners and a Velcro strap at the center that wraps around the tent’s center pole. The system works, but its utility depends on the user and campsite conditions. In fair weather, the free-standing pitch is probably just fine. But in potentially windy conditions it’s prudent to stake the corners for wind stability, so why bother attaching trekking poles?

Another unique feature is the side vestibules will convert to a canopy supported by sticks or trekking poles (see photo below). This requires opening and attaching a panel that connects the two sides of the vestibule.

Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW - 3
Outside features. The side vestibules (top left) are split in the center and fastened with Velcro strips. The photo shows one side of each vestibule rolled up. By unrolling and attaching a center section (top right), each vestibule will convert into a canopy supported by trekking poles. Attaching an extended trekking pole to each end of the tent (bottom left) makes it free-standing. All four corners of the tent have tensioners (bottom right), that allow the tent to be re-tightened without moving stakes.

Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW - 4
Inside features. Each side has a mesh entry wall (top left) with an L-shaped zippered door. In good weather the Double Rainbow can really be opened up (top right) for great views and lots of ventilation. Headroom is outstanding. The floating bathtub silnylon floor (bottom left) is stretched taut by elastic cords that attach to the corner stakes. An optional clip-in liner is available (bottom right) to help moderate inside temperatures and condensation.

We found the inside floor space and elbow room to be barely adequate for two people. The tent is a bit on the narrow side because of the trekking pole free-standing design - the maximum length that most trekking poles can be extended is about 52 inches, so that is the outside width of the tent. The actual floor width is 48 inches, the width between the door openings measures only 43.5 inches because the sides drape inward, and the width at the ceiling is 18 inches. The result is confined interior space for two people. We easily adjusted and used the tent’s extra length and vestibules for storage. It helps a lot to leave the mesh doors open to increase elbow room.

Tarptent offers a clip-in liner for the Double Rainbow, which is claimed to moderate interior temperatures and intercept condensation. It might also be called a “condensation curtain” because its principal function is to create a dead air space between it and the tent ceiling, effectively creating a double-wall tent. We found that the liner does its job well, with condensation or frost forming above it, rather than on it, so moisture doesn’t transfer to clothing when we brush against it. The liner may be a good investment ($30, 4 ounces) for those more adverse to the condensation issue in single wall tents.

On our first trip with the Double Rainbow we discovered a major leakage problem that led to a recall of the first batch of tents sold. The tent leaked badly in a nighttime thunderstorm, even though I had seam sealed it. The problem was undercoated (defective) silnylon fabric that allowed water to wet through and migrate to the seams. Tarptent has corrected the problem and the replacement tent we received is perfectly sound and dry.

Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW - 5
Drying out gear after a wet night in the original Tarptent Double Rainbow. Unfortunately, the first batch of tents was constructed of defective silnylon, which was undercoated and allowed water to pass through. The problem has been corrected and current tents are completely storm worthy.

After the initial snafu, we found the Double Rainbow to be very storm worthy. Its semi-dome shape deflects wind and rain well, but the vestibules flap in the wind. One of the vestibules blew open on one windy night. The bottom of the vestibules is raised off the ground about 8 inches (at the center), which helps to provide ventilation, but it also allows the vestibules to flap in the wind. The doors are secured with three Velcro strips, which are cumbersome to attach from the inside, especially in the dark. Although it might add an ounce or two, it would be nice (and more secure) to have zippers on the vestibules. For extra stability in strong winds, it would also be nice to have a tieout loop on each end about half way up on the pole sleeve to attach extra guylines.

Except in buggy conditions, it worked well to close the vestibules at night and leave the entry doors open for extra ventilation and elbow room. That combination resulted in minimal condensation inside the tent. Zipping the doors closed significantly reduced ventilation resulting in more condensation. The vents at the top of the vestibules do not have a very large opening to the inside, and do not ventilate the interior of the tent very much because air must pass through the mesh entry wall. When we did get condensation inside the Double Rainbow, we did not contact it very much because of the tent’s steep walls, and it was easy to wipe the walls with a pack towel or bandana.

Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW - 6
Some issues with the Double Rainbow. The Velcro closure tabs on the vestibules (top left) often don’t line up and are cumbersome to fasten from the inside; a zipper would be much better. The Velcro trekking pole attachment at the ends (top right) creates a tangle and picks up debris. Interior width (bottom left) is tight for two people. With the vestibules extended, the top vents (bottom right) have a restricted opening, and do not directly vent the interior of the tent.

Assessment

Although the Tarptent Double Rainbow is a completely different design than the Tarptent Squall 2 and the Six Moon Designs Europa, it is interesting to compare the weight and protected area of these popular tents (see table below). The Double Rainbow weighs 7.4 ounces more than the Squall 2 and 4.8 ounces more than the Europa, mainly because of its long ridgepole. It has less floor area than the other tents, but much more vestibule area, so the protected area is about the same as the Europa and more than the Squall 2. The Double Rainbow has the lowest Floor Area: Weight Ratio while the Europa has the highest of the three tents. The differences are smaller in the Protected Area:Weight Ratio where the vestibule area is factored in, however the Europa still comes out on top. An important difference to note is that all of the Double Rainbow’s protected area is usable and there is plenty of headroom, not just headroom at the front.

Trail Weight (lb)Floor Area (ft2)Vestibule Area (ft2)Protected Area (floor + vestibule) (ft2)Floor Area:Weight Ratio (ft2/lb)Protected Area: Weight Ratio (ft2/lb)
Squall 22.0227.98.13613.817.8
Europa2.1834.310.745.015.720.6
Double Rainbow2.4829.315.044.311.817.9

Although it’s about a half pound heavier than a more minimalist two-person Tarptent, the Double Rainbow sets a new standard for user friendliness in a lightweight single wall tent. It is very easy to set up, easy to enter/exit, has loads of headroom, and its two doors and two vestibules are hard to beat. Its narrow floor width is snug for two people. Campers likely to choose the Double Rainbow because of its user friendly features would probably want a roomier interior, and they might be willing to trade off the trekking pole freestanding feature to get more floor width. For comparison, the Big Sky Products Revolution 2P or Evolution 2P (whose interior space we consider to be “ample”) is 4 inches wider (and 4 inches shorter) than the Tarptent Double Rainbow.

What’s Unique

At 2.5 pounds, the Double Rainbow is the lightest free-standing two-person single wall tent with two doors and two vestibules.

Recommendations for Improvement

While the Tarptent Double Rainbow introduces some major advancements in single wall tent design, and provides user friendliness not seen before in a single wall tent, there are a few details that could be refined.

  • Although attaching trekking poles gains a freestanding status for this tent, it also results in a tent that is narrow for two people. It would be nice to have an extra 4-6 inches of width.
  • The Velcro pole attachment straps easily become tangled. I would like to see a cleaner arrangement to attach trekking poles, and it would be nice if it were removable for those who don’t want to attach poles.
  • For extra stability in strong winds, add two mid-height guyline loops on the ridgepole.
  • Increase the size of the top vents.

Citation

"Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/tarptent_double_rainbow_tent_review.html, 2006-11-21 03:00:00-07.

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Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW
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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW on 11/21/2006 20:10:42 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW

Edited by bugbomb on 11/21/2006 20:12:00 MST.

David Stenberg
(dstenberg1) - F

Locale: South
packs in the pics on 11/22/2006 10:27:32 MST Print View

You got your hands on the new Golite packs early! I wish I could do the same. Can't wait to hear about them. Hopefully in a spotlite or indepth review soon!

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW on 11/25/2006 22:46:18 MST Print View

My wife and I love our DR. It has replaced our beloved 20-year-old TNF Tadpole as our preferred "couples tent". Others have tried; this is the only one to have succeeded, and that includes our BatRay II (a close second).

We did not find the DR to be too narrow for two adults and their gear (I'm 5'9"; she's 5'6"). We had plenty of side-to-side room, but then after 35 years together, we tend to enjoy sleeping very close to each other to begin with. We had more than enough room to sleep apart had we so desired.

More width adds more weight. Would we willingly spend 24-48 hours inside the DR during bad weather? Yes. Would we be comfortable? Yes. Would we be elated with the experience? Of course not! No lightweight backpacking shelter is really designed for long term comfort under such conditions (if you want that, buy TNF VE-25 and carry the weight), but it's a whole lot better than being out there walking through absolute crap. Been there; done that; learned my lesson the first time!

That said, I would have to agree that the maximum length of trekking poles does limit the shelter design. Personally, I would not have made this tent free-standing, although I understand why it was done. It works well for the Rainbow; less so for the DR. And yes, the trekking pole attachment straps can be a very minor annoyance. If you don't like them, cut them off. Just be sure you never want to take advantage of the free-standing functionality before you do.

While it is admittedly nice to have the ability to pitch it free-standing, we'd be ill-advised to do so in even the slightest breeze. We've watched too many Girl and Boy Scouts chase their free-standing dome tents across some field at Camporees when the weight of their gear (minus their bodies) was not sufficient to keep the wind from turning the unstaked tents into tumbleweeds. We'll ALWAYS stake our DR down. The added weight of 6 pegs is miniscule compared to the risk of having a sudden breeze toss the thing into the sharp branches of near-by vegetation just as a storm approaches. Also, we noticed that the lowest section of my trekking poles tended to bend slightly when fully extended and tensioned to support the DR. That can't be good for the poles in the long term.

The existing top vents worked fine for us, but then we weren't out in a rainstorm.

For those of you who might take the DR into known high wind environments, the added guy-outs along the arch pole could make sense, and Henry can add them if you desire. Even then, there are better tents out there which are designed for that sort of thing; you'd be well advised to give them serious consideration before pushing the limits of the DR design. I'm sure Henry would second that suggestion.

For the bulk of us, it's a non-issue. Personally, should I unexpectedly encounter high wind conditions either through pure chance or (more likely) through foolishly choosing a poor campsite, I'd take some TripTeaze and secure 1 or 2 loops under the velcro flap on each end of the cross-pole sleeve at the top of the tent, then secure the line(s) to peg(s) or rock(s) out in front of the vestibule on each side (a total of two or four added lines depending on wind strength). As Henry a stated in other threads, guying out the vestibules IN THE MANNER FOR WHICH THEY WERE DESIGNED gives plenty of wind stability. Trying to cross the vestibule flaps actually lessens that stability.

Bottom line - match your gear to the conditions expected and your level of expertise. Don't take a tarp to Everest or a VE-25 to the Mojave desert and expect everything to go off without a hitch. If you anticipate the need (or want) to push the design envelope for your gear, be sure you have the skill and experience to make the right choices when you modify the pitch or otherwise use it outside its designed limits in order to accommodate the conditions.

You'll see this statement in several of my posts on this and other forums: Don't let your ego write checks your body (and/or gear) can't cash!

Wandering Bob

Edited by wandering_bob on 11/25/2006 23:12:41 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent REVIEW on 11/26/2006 03:47:39 MST Print View

Freestanding: an unsolicited word of advice.

ALWAYS (at least in my neck of the woods as winds can come up during the night on some occasions) stake down a free-standing tent. Why become a piece of "Texas Tumbleweed" in the middle of the night?

So then, what's the advantage of "freestanding" one may ask?


Although most of the Forum participants already know the answers:

1. Allows easier movement or reorientation of the shelter if winds (with rains) shift, IF one desired to do this so that the vestible or doors could remain open for better ventilation and condensation reduction. However, one will get wet doing so if the rains have already started.

2. On surfaces that don't offer a great deal of hold for stakes, it allows the tent to be more easily erected and staked down, since the stakes are not asked to do more holding than the ground permits (of course, strong winds might make their demands upon the stakes). Deadfall and rocks, etc. *might* be unecessary for getting a good pitch in these situations.

3. If camping somewhere for a couple of days, it's easy enough to pull up the stakes and move the shelter out of the damaging sunlight during the day and then place it back in the more desirable location for the night. This is just a bit easier than taking it down and re-pitching it each evening.

4. I've seen people, at established camp sites in places where camp fires were allowed, pull up their stakes and move their freestander when the fire was larger and some "sparks" were floating in the warm air currents (yes, i know. you'll get no argument from me here - i don't build such types of fires even where allowed; however, given the nature of non-flame retardant UL fabrics, why take a chance that a strong gust of wind might kick up some sparks/tiny embers?). Then when the fire was dying down, move it closer to the fire and just stake it down. Others needed to either take their shelters down and repitch, or wait until later in the night to pitch their shelter when they'd just rather climb into their bag and go to sleep.

Yes, i know, none of these are real compelling arguments. There are ways around each minor obstacle.


Is "freestanding" an absolute requirement? No. All other things being equal (which they're generally not), is it a nice feature? Yes.

Personally, i don't feel it's necessary.

Edited by pj on 11/26/2006 03:52:27 MST.

Ronald Gaulden
(ch1cote) - F
Fantastic Tent on 10/15/2007 18:17:11 MDT Print View

Love it! My wife and I used this on our 07 thru of the AT. What a great haven from the bad weather and bugs. I'd say for couples it's great for two or two really close friends, otherwise it's a little narrow. With some extra stakes and guy lines you can really have fun with this tent with all the set up options. I love the freestanding abilities, it made it great when the ground was practically impenetrable and on the area's where we had to sleep on platforms. It handled some really heavy downpours, although we did give it a once over coating in VT after a seriously heavy night of rain where misting was an understatement. All in all I'd recommend this tent! The newer ones have zippered Vestibules now too!

Mikkel Storesund
(mikestoresund) - MLife

Locale: West of Denver
Just received mine on 05/11/2011 12:33:25 MDT Print View

I received my Double Rainbow last week and I seam sealed it this last weekend. They have added the guy attachments along the pole sleeve for increased stability, the vestibule flaps have a zipper, the vents look to be increased comparing the picture, the pole attachments are now sleeves to insert the pole as compared to the grommets shown in this review, and the trekking pole attachment is a Velcro strip along the pole sleeve insert. It looks like all the recommended improvements have been incorporated.
After seam sealing and replacing the provided stakes with my Vargo titanium stakes, and with the added ‘condensation liner, the packed weight on my scale is 2 pounds 10 ounces. I will be using the tent this coming weekend at 9800 feet along Guanella Pass and I look forward to it.

Mikkel Storesund
(mikestoresund) - MLife

Locale: West of Denver
After using for a while... on 03/08/2013 17:40:45 MST Print View

I have had my DR for almost 2 years now and have used it on many treks along the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail in all four-seasons. After getting a puncture in the floor I added a Tyvek groundsheet to help protect the floor, so packed the tent, stakes and ground cloth weigh in right at 3 pounds.

The tent is perfectly sized for me, my Retriever and our gear.

I prefer staking out at all points versus freestanding even in calm weather, so I can use my poles for vestibule changes. In colder weather, adding a mylar blanket along the walls and floor is a ‘warm welcome.’ In real bad weather I pitch a tarp over the tent to hold / deflect most of the snow and adds another space layer of insulation.

While this is not a true four-season tent, an added tarp and mylar can make due for a weekend, but I would not recommend during the winter.

PROS:
Lightweight
Easy to set up quickly
Good sized vestibules with optional setups for better views and circulation
Good circulation

CONS:
Condensation buildup more in colder weather
Not as durable as other tents I own

Edited by mikestoresund on 03/08/2013 17:42:26 MST.