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Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Tarptent Double Rainbow > Pam Wyant > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

Tarptent Double Rainbow

Initial Report:  April 2007
Field Report:  June 2007
Long Term Report:  September 2007


Tester Information:
 
Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  49
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  165 lb (77 kg)
E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking four years ago, beginning with day-hiking and single overnights.  Currently I’m mostly a ‘weekend warrior’ and mainly hike and backpack in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, but have section hiked longer parts of the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail (AT) the past two years.  My usual shelter is a hammock. In general my backpacking style is lightweight and minimalist, and I try to cut as much pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety.


Initial Report - April 2007


Tarptent Double RainbowProduct Information:

Manufacturer:  Tarptent
Year of manufacture:  2007
Model:  Double Rainbow

Advertised Weight:
   Tent - 2.5 lb (1135 g or 1.1 kg)
   Liner - 4 oz (113 g)                             

Weight as delivered: 
   Tent, pole, & 6 stakes - 2.5 lb (1.1 kg)
   Tent, pole, stakes, stuff sack, & liner - 2.8 lb (1.3 kg)
   Liner only - 3.9 oz (111 g)

Advertised Size:
   Floor width - 52 in (132 cm)
   Floor length - 88-96 in (233-244 cm)
   Apex height - 43 in (110 cm)
(Note: Advertised size conversions are as stated by manufacturer)

Measured size:
   Floor width - 51 in (130 cm)
   Floor length - 90 in (229 cm)
   Apex height - 45 in (114 cm) without liner, 43.5 in (110 cm) with liner
   Apex width - 18 in (46 cm)
   With the floor in 'bathtub' mode, the approximate floor space is 48 x 88 in (122 x 224 cm)
   Approximate overall footprint (including beak extensions and trekking pole tie outs) 91 x 98 in (231 x 249 cm)
    Pole length (folded):
19.5" (50 cm)
(Note: Measured size conversions are obtained from conversion chart)

Measured accessory sizes:
   Stuff sack - 8 x 24.5 in (20 cm x 62 cm)
   Stake length - 6.3 in (16 cm)
   Stake sack - 7.5 x 2.5 in (19 x 6.5 cm)

Manufacturer Website:  http://www.tarptent.com
MSRP:   $250 US tent
               $ 30 optional liner

Test Information:

In November 2006, I began a test of the 2006 model Tarptent Double Rainbow.  I experienced some issues with the Double Rainbow in very heavy wind (50-60 mph gusts), and e-mailed Henry Shires.  I have to say, I had probably the best customer service ever.  Within minutes of sending the e-mail, Henry called me and discussed the problems I had with the Double Rainbow.  Even though the heavy wind gusts were obviously stronger than the Double Rainbow (and indeed most any other type of tent) was meant to withstand, Henry decided to redesign the Double Rainbow, and after consulting with BackpackGearTest.org, the decision was made to halt the test of the 2006 model and to test the revised 2007 model instead.  The major changes were a re-design of the beaks to include a zipper closure, additional guy points on the beaks and arched areas of the tent body, and grommets installed in the area of the peak vents to allow trekking poles to be used for support.   This report is based on the new 2007 model.

Product Description:

The Tarptent Double Rainbow is a technically a hybrid - part tarp, part tent.  In reality, it appears to be more tent than tarp.  The gray roof (which extends from one end of the tent to the other in an arch) and the black floor are silnylon weighing approximately 1.3 oz (36.9 g) per square yard according to manufacturer specifications.  Between the floor and the bottom of the walls is a strip of no-see-um mesh, weighing 1 oz (28.4 g) per square yard according to specifications.  This strip measures approximately 7 in (18 cm) high.  This bottom perimeter consisting entirely of mesh is the one thing that seems to distinguish the Tarptent Double Rainbow from a tent.  The side walls are made of no-see-um mesh and have "D"-shaped zippered doors, one for each side.  The zippers are lighter and smaller than any I have seen on other tents, or indeed on any other outdoor gear other than shirts or windshirts.  The zipper pull is tiny, measuring only a little over a half inch (1 cm) long.  A 5 x 5 in (13 x 13 cm) mesh pocket is located on the rear side of each door.  The pockets hang from a slightly longer strip of mesh, measuring 7 in (18 cm) in total length on one side and 9 in (23 cm) on the other. 

Strut and Pole SleeveThe eight section, shock corded center support pole is Easton aluminum, as are the provided tent stakes.  The long arched pole slides into a bright yellow sleeve, and runs under a smaller 'strut' pole which extends crossways across the apex of the roof.  The ends of the long pole are placed into grommets attached to grosgrain tabs extending from either end of the floor.  A long grosgrain ribbon attached to these tabs runs under the entire length of the tent to tension the pole.  The smaller 'strut' pole is encased in a heavy nylon sleeve with Velcro tabs that self seal it over the pole ends.  The short pole is removable, but fits very tightly in the sleeve.  It is likely I will leave it in place more or less permanently, as it packs away very easily with the Tarptent body.  In fact, so far, I like to grasp the tent by the 'strut' pole, and begin rolling it up from the pole, add the folded arch pole to the roll, tuck in the sides and continue rolling, then slide the whole package in the stuff sack.  The slick silnylon slides around a bit and I end up having to stuff stray bits in, but overall it packs fairly easily, and unlike many tents I have owned in the past, I can repackage it to the original size.

One unusual feature that makes the Double Rainbow unique among Tarptents (and other shaped tarps) is that it can be set up freestanding.  This is accomplished by tensioning cords attached to the four corners that use a specialized attachment made out of fabric resembling heavy textured vinyl that fits over extended trekking poles - a "finger" on one end to slide over the tip, and a "saddle" on the other to slide over the handle.  A unique Velcro loop with strap holds the poles steady over the pole end grommet in the center.  The Tarptent website indicates this unique design is "patent pending".  The idea is so ingenious, that I regard the development as truly revolutionary.

The Tarptent can also be staked out, which is recommended for the best performance in wind.  Six stakes are provided, which is the bare minimum for staked setup.  One is inserted in each corner tie out, and two used on guy lines attached to the beaks (one on each side).  Even in freestanding mode, it might be necessary to stake out the beaks (or tie them to rocks or conveniently placed tree limbs) to provide adequate weather protection in rainy or windy conditions.  Ribbon loops on each side of the arched top and on the beaks allow additional guylines to be used in heavier winds.
Bathtub Floor Hooks
Bathtub floor hooks

The sewn in floor can be used flat, or the corners and sides can be attached via small toggles attached to elastic for a bathtub effect.  This raises the edges of the floor approximately 4 in (10 cm) in the corners.  The side attachments don't raise the floor much at all, but according to information posted in an on-line forum by Henry Shires, the Double Rainbow's creator, the mesh on the side wall is well protected by the beaks and the side elastics are intended to keep the sleeper from rolling over onto the mesh and soaking their sleeping bag from wet ground underneath.  The beaks do indeed appear to provide sufficient protection for the Tarptent sides.  The edges of the floor have tensioners consisting of a wedge of fabric attached to an elastic loop that can either be hooked over the corner tent stakes or over trekking poles if stakes are not used.  In preliminary use, only slight tension is provided when the floor tensioner loops are used over my trekking poles.  This may be due to the fact that my longest set of trekking poles meet the bare minimum extended length of 55 in (140 cm) needed for the Double Rainbow freestanding setup.  The website 'Frequently Asked Questions' section indicates 57 in (145 cm) poles are optimal for the Double Rainbow.  My favorite poles are only 49 in (125 cm), so I ordered pole extensions from the Tarptent website, although they can also be made from PVC pipe.  The extensions arrived only a couple of days after I ordered them, and they work well, but a little differently than I expected.  Once concern I immediately had with them was that they did not fit inside the 'finger' sleeve.  At first I thought - this is crazy, I ordered the extensions and they won't even work, but after thinking about it I realized the sleeve might be inserted inside the extension since it is fairly stiff, and still provide the necessary tension.  Sure enough, that seems to work fine so far.

Trekking pole attachments
Tip and handle attachment points - extension used on tip end and 'finger' inserted into extension

The side walls of the Double Rainbow pitch at a sharp slope, and the center arches highly, allowing a lot of usable space.  Approximately 60 in (152 cm) of the tent has a height of 30 in (76 cm) or higher.  The optional liner is made of a gossamer thin pearly white fabric that fastens to glove hooks on the roof of the Double Rainbow via small elastic loops in eight places (the four corners of the floor, each side of the apex, and on the center of each side between the arch and the floor).  Rather than just clipping the elastic to the hook, it is threaded through the ring at the base of the hook and looped over the hook.  This provides a ceiling which gives the effect of a double wall tent.

Liner
Interior of Double Rainbow with liner in place

The double beaks provide a variety of setup options.  In fair weather they can be rolled and attached to the roof area for maximum ventilation.  They can be fully extended and zipped together in the center for inclement weather, which provides a vestibule area that can be used to store shoes or a pack, or can be loosely fastened together with the Velcro tabs in fairer weather or light rain.  A small wedge-shaped 'rain curtain' (19 in or 48 cm wide at the bottom and 26.5 in or 67 cm long) is located between the beaks.  The curtain can be rolled up out of the way and tied back with a small piece of grosgrain ribbon for storage, or it can be attached with Velcro strips to the sides of the beaks to allow better coverage of the door area and easier exit/entry in the rain.  With the rain curtain fastened to the beak edges, trekking poles can be used to create a higher 'porch' area.  This might allow a sheltered area to use a stove, although I have some personal reservations about fire that near flammable silnylon.  In blowing wind or rain, the weather side can be 'battened down' and the opposite side raised a little for better ventilation.  Or, on the same side, one beak can be extended to protect gear and the other raised for ventilation.  Additional ventilation is provided at the top of the beaks, since they don't meet the apex of the roof.  A 5 in (13 cm) grosgrain ribbon attaches to the top of each beak and runs under an 'eyebrow' awning which extends out from the apex of the tent and is held open by a stiffened hem.  A small glove hook can attach the top of the beak to an elastic loop at the edge of the awning hem for further weather protection.

Eyebrow awning
Eyebrow awning fastened for weather protection

Inside the awning is a grommet on a small piece of grosgrain ribbon, which will hold the tip of a trekking pole for use to provide additional stability to the Double Rainbow in windy conditions.  I am impressed with the thought that went into designing this support feature; the hole in the grommet is large enough for the very tip of the trekking pole to go through, but small enough that the larger part doesn't, and the awning has been gusseted to raise it enough that the tip of the pole doesn't contact the silnylon fabric to prevent it poking a hole through the material.

Trekking pole support feature
Trekking pole inserted through support grommet

Initial Setup:

Pulling the Double Rainbow from its packaging and looking it over made me feel like a kid at Christmas.  The provided directions are simple and clear and the first setup took only a few minutes.  Looking at all the features takes a lot longer - I kept looking, finding new features, looking some more, finding more new features, getting in, getting out, making my husband get in, making him get out - well, you get the picture.  Needless to say, I didn't get much done other than play with the Double Rainbow the night it first arrived.

Although I followed the directions, setup was fairly intuitive.  The Double Rainbow is taken out of the stuff sack and spread out, floor side down naturally, and the shock corded pole assembled into one long piece.  This is inserted into the sleeve and pushed all the way through to the other end.  The only tricky area is where the pole passes under the arch 'strut' pole, where I had to dip the pole down a little and grasp the strut and pull it up to get the arched pole to slide underneath.  Once past the strut it is fairly easy to push to the other end.  Then the arched pole ends are slipped into the grommets on either end.  A buckle style fastener allows the length of the strap holding the grommet to be adjusted.  Since silnylon can stretch or shrink according to moisture levels in the air, this allows easy insertion or removal of the pole tips and better tensioning of the roof.

Pole center attachment
Center trekking pole attachment

The trickiest part was attaching the trekking poles to the Tarptent ends, but the provided instructions are clear and easy to follow for this step.  The center of the trekking pole is laid on top of the grommet tab and over a Velcro loop.  The loop is pulled up over the side of the pole, and a Velcro strip wraps around the loop and fastens, holding everything securely in place vertically, although the trekking pole can be slid horizontally to center if needed.  For poles of appropriate length, the tip of the pole is then slid into a short vinyl sleeve (finger) and the handle into a wider, more open sleeve (saddle).  The finger and saddle attach to the tent body by a short guy line with a small plastic line tensioner, which allows the tautness of the pitch to be adjusted.  As mentioned before, pole extensions can be used with shorter poles, in which case the finger attachment can be slid inside the pole extender.

Seam Sealing:

Tarptent recommends the seams be sealed with a silicone-based sealer, and reading experiences of other users on various forums quickly convinced me of the necessity of this procedure.  Before taking it out for a trial run, I decided to go ahead and seam seal.  I purchased a tube of GE Silicone II clear sealer, recommended in the Tarptent instructions, and odorless mineral spirits at a local discount store.  Not being a fan of tuna (the recommended mixing container for the sealer solution is a tuna can), I opened a can of chicken, washed the can, and proceeded to mix the sealer at the recommended solution of 4 tbsp (60 ml) sealer to 8 tbsp (120 ml) mineral spirits.  It took several minutes and a lot of stirring, but the mineral spirits finally dissolved into the globs of sealer and formed a smooth consistency.  I had to be careful not to stir too vigorously, especially at first, or mineral spirits would splash out over the sides of the can.

I set the Double Rainbow up in the yard in staked and mode, and used a sponge brush to paint the solution on the seams, which was somewhat tedious, but not difficult. It took about 30 minutes to seal all the outside seams with one coat.  I took special care around the Velcro fasteners and the top 'strut' pole, as these areas seem to have caused the most leaks for other users based on forum posts.  I also gave all the seams a second light coat of sealer, so I'm pretty confident they are well sealed.  After both coats were dry, I dusted a bit of baby powder over the sealant so it wouldn't stick together when the tent was packed away.

First Use and Preliminary impressions:

I took the Double Rainbow on a short overnight trip in southern West Virginia and used it in staked out mode.  Overnight temperature dipped to about 35 F (2 C), with calm conditions and little to no breezes.  I slept with the beaks zipped up, and experienced quite a bit of condensation on the tent body, but the inside of the liner remained dry and only a little condensation got on the bottom of my sleeping bag when I slid down to the bottom of the Tarptent during the night.  My companions sleeping in tents had equal or worse amounts of condensation.  Although I had to pack the Double Rainbow up before it had an opportunity to dry, I set it up later that afternoon in a shady area, left for a few hours and came back to a completely dry Tarptent.

Tarptent recommends painting a little sealer (mixed slightly thicker than for seam sealing) on the floor to form an anti-skid mat.  I did find my sleeping pad (a Pacific Outdoor Equipment Hyper High Mtn) slid around during the night a bit, so this is probably something I may do in the future.  The staking held the Double Rainbow in place well enough that it did not slide on a light plastic drop cloth I used as a ground cloth under the floor to protect it from dirt.

So far, I'm very pleased with Double Rainbow.  Construction appears to be quality - the seams and stitching are even, stress points such as the corners are re-enforced, the pole sections fit smoothly together, and the zippers operate smoothly.  I did have one small problem with one of the saddles of the 2006 model, which I am still using with the 2007 model; the sewing holding the corners of one of the saddles that slip in place over the trekking pole handles pulled completely loose.  It appears it was sewn too close to the edge, which frayed, making the saddle unusable.  I considered contacting Tarptent for repair, but looking at it decided it would be much easier to sew together myself.  This was easily accomplished.  The original stitching appears to be a double line of single stitches, based on the appearance of the opposite saddle.  I repaired it with a small zig-zag stitch, which is holding so far.

The head space of the Double Rainbow is fantastic, better than any 2-person backpacking tent I have seen so far, and there is plenty of room for two adults to sit or lay down and still have a little gear storage space.  The space is pretty much amazing considering the light weight of the Double Rainbow.  I like the variety of ways it can be configured - particularly the multiple positions of the beaks.  I like to backpack to feel in touch with nature, so being able to setup for wide open views and breezes is a bonus for me.  Just as important though is the option of battening down for rainstorms and colder weather conditions.  One concern I do have it that the open mesh on the ends of the floor may create a potential for a lot of rain to come in during a storm since this area can't be closed off.  I guess only time and use will tell.

Likes so far –

Lightweight
Awesome design features
Quality construction

Preliminary Concerns –

Will the large mesh perimeter allow rain to soak me?

Room for improvement –

I suggest the saddle attachment be sewn together with a zig-zag stitch for more stability.

This concludes my Initial Report.

Field Report - June 2007

Double Rainbow in the field

Field Conditions and Use:

In April, I used the Tarptent Double Rainbow on a short overnight backpacking trip of about 3 mi (5 km) in southern West Virginia, where the overnight low was 35 F (2 C) and the daytime high around 65 F (18 C).  There was no precipitation, but high humidity, and little to no breeze.  I set the Tarptent up on the edge of a small grassy clearing, using the tent stakes, with the liner inside.  I left both beaks staked down due to the decidedly cool evening air.  There was quite a bit of condensation on the Tarptent the next morning (although no more than the tents used by other members of our group), and I packed it up wet and had to set it up to dry out later in the afternoon.  I found it dried very quickly in a shady area with a bit of breeze.

In early May, I used the Tarptent Double Rainbow while facilitating adult outdoor training at one of our local Girl Scout camps.  The first evening I set the Double Rainbow up in an open field near a large picnic shelter.  Temperatures were around 60 F (16 C) overnight with some light breeze, with a high around 75 F (25 C) the next day.  The elevation was around 700 ft (200 m), and the ground was fairly level, with somewhat compacted ground covered in short grass.  I used stakes on the corners and my trekking poles to elevate the beak on one side with the other beak staked down.  I noticed some very light condensation during the night when I checked the roof of the Tarptent, but none on the liner, and the condensation had dried in the light breeze before morning. 

The second night was a short backpacking trip, with overnight temperatures in the low 40 F (4 C) range, and steady moderate rain from late afternoon through the middle of the night, with little to no wind.  The elevation around 900 ft (300 m), and the ground was slightly sloped, loamy, with light duff on top.  On this trip I had to set up the Tarptent in the rain and again opted to use stakes for setup, with one in each corner and the beaks staked down due to the steady rain.  I noticed light condensation on the outer Tarptent and the side of the liner next to the Tarptent roof, but none of the inner side of the liner.

In mid May, I used the Double Rainbow, again with the liner, on a backyard campout with my three year old grandson.  Elevation was around 900 ft (300 m) with overnight low's around 60 F (16 C), no precipitation, but high humidity.  I used my trekking poles to set the Tarptent up in freestanding mode and did not use stakes.  My grandson insisted we stake the beaks down so the 'monsters' wouldn't get us.

In late May, I used the Double Rainbow as my shelter during a 28 mi (45 km), three day backpacking trip to the Cranberry Wilderness and Backcountry in southeastern West Virginia.  Temperatures ranged from overnight lows of 50 F (10 C) to highs about 75 F (25 C).  Elevations varied from around 2800 to 4200 ft (850 to 1300 m).  Skies were clear to partly cloudy, with only a few scattered rain drops one evening, but high humidity during the entire trip.  Once again, I used the liner and used tent stakes to set the Double Rainbow up.  On both nights I used my trekking poles to prop the beaks up on one side for maximum breezes and view.

General Information and Observations:


So far I'm very pleased with the performance of the Tarptent Double Rainbow.  I think the most impressive feature is the space - it's very roomy inside, with plenty of headroom.  When using it solo I have ample space to pack and unpack, spread my gear around (including my pack), and to change clothes without having to lay down or worry about bumping the tent walls.  On the night of steady rain, I found it handy to store my pack in the vestibule area under one beak since it was wet and muddy and I didn't want it inside.  The area under the beak had plenty of space for the pack to remain totally covered so it didn't get soaked inside.  The really nice thing about the design of the Tarptent is that I still had another protected beak area for entering and exiting and storing my soaking wet shoes.

Probably my second favorite thing about the Double Rainbow is that I feel really connected to the outdoors.  I like being able to peek out the mesh perimeter and see my surroundings.  This is especially nice when the weather is conducive to propping the beaks up.  There's nothing like waking up in the morning feeling connected to the beauty of nature, yet protected from the less desirable elements (such as mosquitoes or spiders).

I'm also pleased that I haven't experienced any leaks with the Double Rainbow.  One of my early concerns was that water might run through the mesh on the ends, however this has not happened in the rain I've experienced so far.  The floor has remained pleasantly dry.  I did have a slight problem with letting some water in when I exited and entered during steady rain, but this was due to 'operator' error.  I wasn't careful about pulling the beak away from the mesh door, and allowed it to sag into the interior of the Tarptent, channeling all the water that was on it into the interior.  (Which I just wiped up with my socks since they were soaked already anyway.)  I've since learned to pull the beak out further from the door to enter and haven't had that problem since.

I've found I like using a light weight plastic 'painter' drop cloth under the Tarptent.  Not because I feel the floor needs protection, but just to keep moisture, mud, and leaf debris off the floor eliminating the need to clean it before packing or after a trip.  I can buy a single 9 x 12 piece and cut it into three 'footprints' of appropriate size for the Tarptent, use each a few times, and replace them inexpensively when they become soiled or after particularly wet trips.  The small amounts of mud and leaf litter that have found their way under the edges of the 'footprint', or along the bottoms of the mesh doors (mostly from my muddy shoes brushing up against them as I put them on in the mornings) have been easily wiped off the fabric.

I didn't find the silnylon floor particularly slippery, although I did find myself sliding gradually down the floor when the ground wasn't perfectly level.  After a couple of trips, I painted a few spots of thinned seam sealer on the floor and found that really stopped the sliding.  So far I've used the Tarptent each time with the liner, which has kept the light condensation I've experienced in more humid and breezeless conditions from getting on any of my gear.  I plan to leave the liner behind for the next few trips to see if there is a noticeable difference.

The mesh pockets have been handy for storing small items such as a small supply of toilet paper for the night, my contact kit, and even a small two way radio I carried for communication at Girl Scout camp in the event of an emergency.  I've found I really like clipping my Photon light to the edge of the liner, where I can position it as needed to serve as spot lighting for journaling or finding gear, and easy to find during the night if the need arises.  With the liner in place, I can also hang wet socks or gloves from the apex of the Double Rainbow, simply draping them over the elastic connecting the liner to the body.

I purchased an AirCore PRO guyline kit with micro-tensioners, and cut six guylines, two of which I've often used to guy my trekking poles out when raising a beak for views and catching breezes.   I normally carry the extra guylines so that I could use them for extra support in case of high winds, but have not had to use them so far.  Setup of the Double Rainbow in 'staked mode' takes only a few minutes in the field.  While the Double Rainbow is pretty easy to set up freestanding also, I find I prefer staking it out, freeing my trekking poles for propping the beaks up.

So far everything about the Double Rainbow seems to be of good quality and durable.  The zippers are easy to operate, the various Velcro tabs and tie out lines are sturdy, and the sewing is first rate.  Nothing has broken or pulled loose.  The small light zippers are fairly easy to operate, although finding the tiny pulls isn't quite as easy as with a larger one.  This seems to be a reasonable trade off for the light weight and hasn't been an inconvenience so far.

The Tarptent has been fairly easy to store.  I've left the top strut in place, and I usually just pick the Double Rainbow up by the top, place the tent poles beside the strut, and start rolling.  As I roll it, I tuck the sides in as I go and I end up with a bundle that I can push into the included stuff sack.  Since the silnylon is on the slippery side, I do find I have to push extra fabric in as I go, and that way I end up with a fairly evenly shaped bundle.  I usually store the aluminum pole extenders, tent stakes, and some extra guylines sideways in the bottom of the stuffsack and add one of my plastic dropcloths to the top.  Due to the shape of the stuffed shelter, I've found it most convenient to carry on one side of my GoLite Quest pack, putting one end of the bundle inside the mesh pocket and fastening the compression straps around to keep the tent securely in place.  This has the benefit of making the Tarptent easy to access when I reach camp, and I can pack everything else up in the morning and then take my shelter down and store it last.

Long Term Report - September 2007

Field Conditions and Use:

In mid-June I used the Double Rainbow on a short overnight trip in western West Virginia.  The overnight low was around 60 F (16 C), the high near 80 F (27 C) and humidity was high.  Elevation was around 900 ft (300 m).  I left the liner behind, and carried the Tarptent in its stuff sack on the interior of my GoLite Quest pack, with a total pack weight of 12 lb (5.5 kg).  I got a late start on this trip, and ended up setting the Double Rainbow up in the dark, which I found could be accomplished easily using only a Photon for light.  I used a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core mattress, custom Nunatak Arc Ghost quilt, and a small down pillow for a very comfortable night of sleep.  Due to anticipated storms (which did not materialize), I kept both beaks down, and experienced moderate condensation on the roof and a few droplets of water on one door.  My Big Agnes pad kept sliding gradually across the floor of the Double Rainbow due to the pad's slippery surface, in spite of the seam sealer I had added to the floor.  Even with the liner removed, I found I can use my Photon light for area lighting by clipping it to the glove hooks at the apex or center of the arc, and have sufficient light for reading and writing, as well as finding gear.

In late July, I used the Double Rainbow on a weekend trip to the Dolly Sods area of the Monongahela National Forest in eastern West Virginia.  Elevations ranged from around 3000 to 4000 ft (900 to 1200 m), and temperatures ranged from 60 to 75 F (16 to 25 C).  A steady rain, mostly moderate but with some heavier bursts, set in the first evening after dinner and continued off and on much of the weekend.  My gear was similar to the June overnight, except I did not bring a pillow, and I added more clothing, food, cooking gear and a tarp to use for a group kitchen for a pack weight of around 20 lb (9 kg).  I had not brought the Double Rainbow liner, and found I had moderate condensation on the tent both nights.  I didn't have problems with it dripping off the roof or walls unless I brushed up against them, when a few droplets would fall.  I left the beaks down, and really appreciated their size on this trip, since I had room to store my wet pack, water filter, water bladders, and Makaira Metalworks SPS stove (filled with dry wood the first night before the rain set in) and my wet, muddy shoes with a little room to spare under one beak, and could place my camp shoes under the opposite beak and exit freely.  I found I could use my pack under the head of my mattress which served both to raise my head in a pillow like effect, and to stop the slippery pad from sliding as much on the Tarptent floor.  Although I had started the trip with the Double Rainbow packed in its stuff sack on the inside of my pack, once it was wet, I found it was convenient to store it in the front pocket of my GoLite Quest pack to separate it from my dry sleeping bag, clothing, and other gear.  This required removing the top strut, which I stored inside the tent stuff sack along with the arch pole in an outer side pocket of the pack under the compression straps.

Pitched in a tight spotIn early September, I used the Double Rainbow on a weekend trip in the Laurel Fork Wilderness in eastern West Virginia.  Elevations were around 3000 to 3500 ft (900 to 1100 m), and temperature in the 50 to 75 F (10 to 25 C) range, with partly cloudy to sunny skies and no precipitation and moderate humidity.  Gear was similar to the Dolly Sods trip except I did not carry a kitchen tarp and I added an insulated jacket, for a similar pack weight.  Having liked storing the Double Rainbow in the front pocket of my pack on the previous trip, I stored it there from the start of this trip, along with tent stakes and a plastic ground cloth, but left the stuff sack behind and stored the poles inside the pack this time.

I came to appreciate the modest footprint of the Double Rainbow the first night when the campsite we hoped to use was full and we had to use a smaller campsite with less open space.  This made for a less than optimal setup, with a small tree and a larger dead trunk interfering with a taut pitch of the beak on one side, and two small downed trees being in the way on the other side.  Fortunately, I was able to pitch the beak on that side over the downed trees, using one trekking pole on that side to raise the beak, and used my second trekking pole on the opposite side, making a small raised entry/exit area to the side of the small tree.  Also, fortunately I think, there was no rain that night.  With the raised beaks, I was able to catch some cool breezes and experienced no condensation.  The second night we had a better campsite with more space, but having liked the way using one trekking pole on each side allowed a lot of ventilation I set the Double Rainbow up in a similar manner (but with a tauter pitch) and enjoyed the breezes and lack of condensation again.

General Observations and Conclusions:

I've found the Double Rainbow very easy to set up and take down, although I have found that the long arch pole comes apart fairly easily when taking the tent down and it's more efficient to push it through the sleeve to the opposite end, rather than trying to pull it through, which usually results in the pieces of the pole catching inside the sleeve.  During one of my trips a knot did come loose on one of the 'glove' ends for the trekking pole tips and I had to re-tie it.  Since I was using in staked mode, I nearly left the 'glove' piece behind as it had fallen off totally and I hadn't noticed since it was dark when I set up.  So, I've found it is a good idea to briefly check the 'glove' and 'saddle' pieces each time I take the Tarptent down to make sure they are still there.

Although my intentions were to use the Double Rainbow at least one more time in 'freestanding' mode, I've found that I like using my trekking poles to raise the beaks for ventilation so much that I wasn't willing to miss out on that option in order to use them to make the tent freestanding.  If it was raining and I didn't want to raise the beaks, I also preferred to stake the tent out, which I found faster and more convenient than using the trekking poles to make it freestanding.  It is, however, nice to know that if the situation ever arises that makes it impossible to stake the Double Rainbow I have the option of making it freestanding.

One convenience I have noted as I've used the Double Rainbow is that it is very easy to turn inside out to get rid of leaf litter, so I don't have to try to 'sweep' it clean with a bandanna or other piece of clothing.  I simply turn it inside out and shake.

Another plus has been that the Double Rainbow can be packed up in a variety of ways and fits in different areas of my pack, allowing me a lot of flexibility as the seasons or my packing style changes.

Although I was not able to persuade any family members or close friends to join me on a trip during the long term phase, I am very pleased with the roominess of the Double Rainbow.  During field testing, I found I had ample room when sleeping with my grandson and the added warmth of the extra body (he is a veritable furnace when he sleeps) didn't seem to create a condensation problem.  With the option of raising the beaks and the large amount of mesh in the Double Rainbow, condensation has not been a problem except those times I slept with the beaks down and even then it was fairly moderate and could easily be managed by using the liner.    It has also been very nice to have a lot of head space in my shelter - I found I could easily change clothing, sit up and pack my gear, and enter and exit without brushing my head on the roof.

In October, I plan to hike another section of the Appalachian Trail with a friend, and plan to use the Double Rainbow as a shared shelter, being confident that even if we experience bad weather, the Double Rainbow is roomy enough to keep us and our gear dry, without being miserably cramped.  Although I will likely go back to hammock camping for solo trips, I plan to use the Double Rainbow on trips where I will share a shelter, be it with family or friends.

Thanks to Tarptent and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Double Rainbow.


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Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Tarptent Double Rainbow > Pam Wyant > Test Report by Pamela Wyant



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