Gear Review: the Tarptent Double Rainbow

I found this tent via Brettonstuff.com (a great site for ultralight backpacking tips and trip reports from the NW) who mentioned the Lunar Duo in a Wonderland Trail trip report (my review of the Lunar Duo).  His mention of the Lunar Duo led me to THIS website which does a way better job of reviewing the Lunar Duo and Double Rainbow than I will here.  Why reinvent the wheel?  I’ll just add my 2 cents.

Tarptent has been lightening the loads of backpackers since 1999 and they are still a cottage industry gear supplier; all tents are made in Seattle.  The Double Rainbow is their mid-sized two person tent and, in my humble opinion, brilliantly designed.  It has one pole that runs lengthwise in an arc, through a sleeve.

With the four corners staked out it is just about set up.  Two vestibules on either side have the options of being simply tied up for maximum air flow on beautiful days, staked out for vestibule area, or set up with hiking poles into a porch option.  Two doors make getting in and out easy and the interior feels positively palatial compared to the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 (my review is here).  6’2″ Todd was much happier in this tent; plenty of extra length in it.

The floor is a rectangle instead of the tapered design of the Big Agnes.  Here is a shot of the Big Agnes footprint laid on top of the Double Rainbow floor for comparison.  While it doesn’t look like a big difference, those 4-6 extra inches in width at the foot SEEM like a lot.  Maybe it’s the mammoth head room that helps complete the feeling of grandeur.

We ordered the extra liner – not sure how it will work once we’re camping in condensation-making parts of the country but it’s a 4 oz piece of nylon that clips into the corners and along the ridge to form a second wall in a single wall tent.  It adds warmth in the winter and I can attest to it cutting down on the heat from direct sun as when I was setting this thing up it felt like it was probably 150 degrees out.  I’m sure it was more like 78 but my comfort zone is pretty small.  Ask Todd, I do a lot of bitching.  Anyway, once the liner was clipped in it was noticeably cooler in the tent. The liner is decidedly hard to illustrate with a picture but here is a shot of part of it:

The two vestibules and doors are a slam dunk for me.  Camping with kids means they’re ALWAYS moving, having to pee in the middle of the night, spreading their stuff everywhere.  With their own side to get in and out of and a patch of vestibule to keep their stinky socks and shoes so they’re not right in MY face…perfect.  Here is a shot of the profile, vestibule staked on the left, porch out on the right:

And this porch option, how cool is that?  Allows for great airflow, lets you open up the view in a light drizzle…if you’re hiking with trekking poles this is an easy sell.  If not you can certainly guy the porch out with a couple of sticks.  A triangular piece of fabric attaches the two vestibule triangles with velcro to create the porch.  You’ll need a couple of extra guy lines to stake it out from the hiking sticks.

One last cool thing they’ve done is allow you to use your hiking poles in order to make this a free-standing tent.  It should be noted that not all hiking poles will be long enough (my superlight Leki Makalu’s were a few inches too short).  I remedied this by taking the pole repair sleeve from another tent and putting it on the tip of the hiking pole to extend it to the required length.  It didn’t make for the strongest option but would work in a pinch.  With proper length poles, which we had a set of in the garage, it was sturdier.  It isn’t as good an option as staking the tent out but it is there when you need it, if you have hiking sticks.  Options are good.

All in all I think that this tent will prove to be my favorite.  It feels solid when set up, doesn’t require hiking poles, has great doors and vestibule room and is enormous on the inside compared to the Big Agnes.

Tent Specs:

Tent body, pole and 6 Easton stakes: 41 oz or 2 lbs 9 oz

Clip in liner: 4 oz

2 extra stakes: 1 oz

2 extra guy lines: 1 oz

total weight that we will be carrying: 2 lbs 15.8 oz

Cost: (as of May 18th, 2012) Tent is $275, the Liner is $30, they’ll seam-seal it for you for $30, you can buy a Tyvek ground sheet for $12

Preliminary Pros

Roomy.  Long.  Vestibules. Porch.  Etc.  It rules.

Super easy to set up

Made in the USA

Preliminary Cons

Hmm…

I’ll work on thinking of one.  I guess we’ll see how it does when we get into humidity, but I’m hoping the liner will help with that.

OO, I thought of one.  It’s slippery as a greased-up pig.  Getting it back into the stuff-sack was the hardest part of this experiment!  I can live with that.

Click HERE for my review of the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2

Click HERE for my review of the Six Moon Design Lunar Duo

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Categories: Backpacking, Backpacking with Kids, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Gear Review: the Tarptent Double Rainbow

  1. kalphonso

    Hi there, loved your review of this tent! Its on my short list and the only thing holding me back from a single wall tent is the condensation build-up you get in a single wall design. Just wondering how you liked the tent when using the extra liner and if it helped with that problem. Thanks so much!!

    • Sadly we live in such an arid place that so far we haven’t tested in in humid conditions. I will keep you posted though as we get up high in the mountains this summer and try to push the thing to behave when the humidity gets up around 25%. 🙂

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