I received my Rainbow the other day and had a chance to set it up in the park near my apartment. It was a very blustery day so I had a chance to see how it works in the wind.
In a word: BRILLIANT!
Here are some pics:
Henry Shires has really outdone himeself on this design. The size is just right. I'm 182 cm (5'10"?) tall and there was room enough at the foot end for an entire pack at my feet. The height is so spacious that even tall people will feel comfortable sitting up in the middle. And the width was big enough that my wife and I would have no trouble using this tent together... though it might be a bit tight for those who don't want to be that familiar. But definitely not overly cramped for two people who can be close together, especially considering that there is yet more room under the vestiblule.
Set up was a breeze. Slide the pole through the ridge sleeve (it might be a bit of a struggle when it is very cold and windy to find and target the pole to the opening of the sleeve...), stake out the four corners, stake out the vestibule and the rear tie-out, and voila! a rigid shelter! I had been concerned about the slant of the rear wall, thinking that perhaps it didn't have enough aerodynamic slope to shed wind, but when seeing it in real life my concerns were unjustified: both the vestibule and the rear wall provide a nice slanted angle to the wind and shed it well; if you look at the photos you will see quite a lot of stretching of the fabric. This is the wind billowing through the tent. As you can see the tent barely changed shape.
The new stakes are wonderful. Light, strong, easily pushed in and pulled out. I think I will be using these from now on instead of the titanium stakes I've been using for the past three years.
Out of concern for the one-pole performance in high winds in the alpine regions of the Japan Alps, I asked Henry if he might install some guy out loops along the ridge on both sides of the tent. Henry was so kind as to do this for free, and two were sewn on each side (much like the guy out loops on the Hilleberg Akto). I intend to tie two v-configured guylines on each side of the tent, staking them out at 45 degree angles to the tent, in a large rectangle footprint. I hope this will stabilize the tent for very high winds. When I bicycled across Europe the tunnel tent that my wife and I used held very rigid during storms in the Shetland Islands and Scotland by using the long, angled guylines on the tunnel tent's hoops. The theory should work here, too.
For most situations the Rainbow will not need these guylines; it is stable enough on its own.
The vestibule has improved upon that of the Squall 2 (which I also own, along with the Squall 1), with a much easier to close and open three strip hook-and-loop closure (as opposed to the Squall's long, single strip hook and loop closure). I found I had no trouble opening or closing the doors, pulling back the doors for clement weather, or closing in storm mode. I could even close, as Franco did, the doors tight against the netting itself to keep out wind blowing from the bottom of the tent, though this wouldn't be very aerodynamic.
My only gripe is with the hood over the back window... as in so many tent companies' designs (including Hilleberg) the stiffening strip doesn't hold its shape well. When the wind is blowing or the rain coming at the tent horizontally, I suspect that something will batter through this flimsy fabric shape. I will try the tent out for a while and see if my opinion holds up, but I may end up doing what I did with my Akto: sew a thick strip of closed cell foam along the lip of the hood so that it holds its shape. We'll see.
The tent pole is the proprietary TarpTent black aluminum. It seems strong enough for the one-pole job, but in heavier winter weather I may end up temporarily replacing it with a stronger pole.
The top strut pole is also aluminum. While I still haven't warmed to the Squall 2's strut, the feel of the strut on the Rainbow is stiff and reliable. Another worry put to rest.
I still haven't used the tent out in the mountains yet. That will come tomorrow. But so far I really love what I've seen. I have a good feeling that this will be the shelter of choice for me and that it will accompany me and perhaps me and my wife, for the next year or so on most of my forays and travels. I have a lot of tents and shelters, including a few that I made myself... but nothing seems to have addressed so many of features of an ideal shelter as this one. Including that, in general, I don't like hiking with hiking poles.
Absolutely no regrets on this purchase so far!