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Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Tarptent Double Rainbow > Stephanie Martin > Test Report by Stephanie Martin

Test Report: Tarptent Double Rainbow and Optional Liner

Personal Biographical Info:
Name: Stephanie Martin
Age: 32
Gender: Female
Height: 5'5" (1.65 meters)
Weight: 145 lbs (65 kg)
Email Address: syoong "at" alum "dot" mit "dot" edu
Location: Phoenix, AZ USA
Date: Initial Report: May 8 2007
Field Report: July 7, 2007
Long Term Report: September 7, 2007

 

Background: Having always enjoyed spending time outdoors, I got serious about it in 1996. Since then, I've been actively day hiking most weekends. In addition to day hikes, my husband and I generally take a couple of week long trips to the Grand Canyon annually, in addition to short weekend backpacking trips. Our backpacking philosophy has been rapidly moving towards ultra-light gear. My target base pack weight is 10 lbs (4.5 kg), and my typical shelter is a single wall tarp/tent. In general, we average 12 to 15 miles (20 to 24 km) per day. See http://www.ToddsHikingGuide.com for trip reports and a better sense of our hiking style.

 

Other shelters used: Having gone lightweight, my husband and I have gone from carrying a Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight, to carrying the GoLite Cave and Nest system, to the Tarptent Squall.  Each one is lighter than the next, but one thing in common with all of these shelters is that none of them are free standing.

 

Product Information:
Manufacturer: Tarptent [http://www.tarptent.com]
Year of Manufacture: 2007
MSRP: US$250
Listed Weight: Double Rainbow (with floor): 2 lbs 8 oz (1.1 kg)
Optional Liner: 4 oz (115 g)
Weight as Delivered: Double Rainbow (including body, poles, stakes, stuff sacks): 2 lbs 9.5 oz (1.18 kg)
Optional Liner: 3.8 oz (107.7 g)
Listed Dimensions: Length: 88-96 inches (223-244 cm)*
Width: 52 inches (132 cm)*
Peak Height: 43 inches (109 cm)*

*Dimensions were verified to be in the correct range, though it will vary depending on tautness of pitch

Color: Tarptent: Grey canopy with black floor
Liner: White
Style of Product: Light weight, optionally free standing, single wall, two person shelter with dual vestibules.
Warranty: Fully guaranteed against fabric and workmanship failure.  A Tarptent may be returned uninjured for a full refund.  Products that fail due to defects in workmanship or materials will be repaired or replaced.

 

double rainbow in the field
2006 version of the Tarptent Double Rainbow in the San Juan Mountains

 

Contents

- Product Arrival

- Product Features and Construction

- Initial Impressions

    - Pitching the Double Rainbow

    - Breaking it all Down

- Product Performance in the Field - Field Report

- Product Performance in the Field - Long Term Report

- Summary

It's Here! The Double Rainbow Arrives!
The Tarptent Double Rainbow arrived safely via the UPS nicely packaged inside a small brown box.  The tarptent, poles and stakes (in their own small silnylon sack) were packaged neatly in a grey silnylon stuff sack that matches the tent body.  The bag is long and thin in shape, not unlike a sausage, enabling the entire package to accommodate both the collapsed main pole and the Double Rainbow body.  The packed tarptent forms a cylindrical package approximately 20 inches (51 cm) with a 5.25 inch (13.5 cm) diameter.  A cursory inspection revealed that the body comes with a short apex pole installed at its crown, and is packed inside the bag with an 11 foot (3.4 meter) eight-section aluminum tent pole (collapsed, of course) and six Easton tent pegs/stakes.   A brief instruction sheet detailing setup and seam sealing procedures was also included.

Note: This report is amended to reflect changes with the 2007 Double Rainbow over the 2006 version.
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Initial Impressions and Construction
As a lightweight backpacker, it has been interesting observing the continual growth, evolution and innovation of Tarptent.  I recall being very pleased with the first Tarptent I ever encountered, and my fondness for Henry Shire's designs continue with the discovery of the Double Rainbow.

Side view of the Double RainbowThe Double Rainbow, like its single-person predecessor, the Rainbow, derives its name from the arc shape that its single pole creates when the rainbow is pitched.  Also like its predecessor, the Double Rainbow can be pitched in a free-standing configuration, providing that the appropriate length trekking poles are available.  In order for this to be accomplished, one must have poles that adjust to a minimum of 55 inches (140 cm) though Tarptent recommends poles of 57 inches (145 cm) for optimal performance.  Optional pole extenders are available for purchase via the Tarptent website if your poles aren't long enough, or if you are a handy type, you can make your own by cutting some short lengths of PVC tubing. 

A quick pitching of the Double Rainbow allowed me to complete a cursory inspection of the workmanship.  The shelter is nicely made with clean stitching, and fine attention to detail.  In addition to the standard stake-out points (each of the four corners plus the two vestibule guy-outs), the 2007 version of the Double Rainbow also has additional guy-out points - a pair on each vestibule and another pair along the ridgeline of the main pole.  No extra cord is provided with the tarptent, so if the guyouts are needed, be sure to pack some spare cord.  The extra cord will also enable the elevation of the beaks by utilizing trekking poles (see photos below).

View of doorsThe Double Rainbow appears to be remarkably roomy, and features dual exits and vestibules, so when it is occupied by a pair, each individual has their own storage space and exit, so crawling over one another should prove to be unnecessary.  Each of the vestibule doors can be secured open in fair weather, by utilizing small hook and loop strips that are attached at the edge of the doorway for just such a purpose. 

The sides and doors of the Double Rainbow (underneath the vestibules) along with a small section on either end are made of no-see-em mesh. The D-shaped doors are large and feature dual zipper pulls so that the door opening can be adjusted as the user wishes.  The Tarptent also has a pair of small mesh pockets (one on either side by the doors)  to allow for the storage of small items.  There are also several mitten hooks located along the seams on the interior used to attach the optional liner.  The silnylon floor of the Double Rainbow features bathtub construction.

Rain Curtain

Rain curtain, photo courtesy Tarptent

Rain Curtain with one side of Beak elevated Both sides of Beak elevated with
rain curtain in between
last photo with both sides of beak elevated courtesy of Tarptent.

Close-up of ventThe vestibules or beaks of the Double Rainbow can either be secured tightly by zipping them shut, or more loosely by using the sewn on hook and loop closures.  The vent at the top of the vestibules allows for air circulation when the Double Rainbow is secured in its most closed configuration.  For additional ventilation, it is possible to leave one or both sides of each vestibule open, with a small "rain curtain" attached between the beaks to provide a porch-like setup while creating shelter from precipitation.  In the event of blowing rain, the vents can be secured closed by securing the mitten hook on the vestibule door to thesmall loop of elastic attached to the vent.  Deep inside each vent, near the apex of the tent is a grommet affixed to a small piece of webbing.  This grommet is positioned to allow for a trekking pole to be propped up from the inside to provide further stabilization to the tent in higher winds. 

The optional liner is shaped slightly like a hourglass, and is made from white 1.1 ounce ripstop nylon.  Along various points on the liner are small elastic loops, similar to the one photographed on the vestibule vent, above.  These elastic loops are used to secure the liner to the matching connection points on the inside of the Double Rainbow canopy.  The liner, when installed, creates a 2-inch (5 cm) air gap to aid in insulation or cooling (depending on the season) of the shelter, as well as protect against condensation and drips or mist-through in the case of heavy rain.

Pitching the Double Rainbow:  Setting up the Double Rainbow is a relatively simple affair and consists of spreading the Tarptent body on the ground, and threading in the long single pole into the yellow silnylon sleeve.  Once inserted, either end of the pole is secured into grommets that are affixed to a thin strip of webbing that runs underneath the tent body - it is this strap of webbing that keeps the pole bowed in place. The tensioning can be finely adjusted by pulling on the webbing that is fed through a ladderloc on one side of the tent. 

FreestandingOnce the main pole is inserted, the tent body can either be staked out at the four corners, or for a freestanding set-up, adjustable trekking poles can be secured at either end of the tent by making use of the patent-pending trekking pole connectors.  Each corner of the body (and roof) can be easily adjusted using line tighteners. 

I found the instructions provided with the Double Rainbow to be clear and easy to understand, though I still am not certain what the purpose of the velcro is along the front edge of the rain curtain.

The six stakes that come with the Double Rainbow are sufficient to set up and secure the tarptent (one for each corner and one each for each of the beaks), though a few more may be handy to facilitate other beak configurations.

Breaking it all Down:  Taking down the Double Rainbow is just as simple as putting it up.  All actions are completed in reverse.  I did note that the long main pole seemed to stick to the sleeve on occasion, causing it to separate, though this is no major inconvenience.  The stuff sack is large enough to accommodate the tent pegs and tent body rolled tightly around the collapsed main pole.
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Product Performance in the Field (Field Report July 7, 2007)

Double Rainbow on the edge of the Roost

Field and Test Information:
Location(s) of test: Various locations in the wide expansive deserts of southern Utah.
Terrain: The majority of the terrain has been open desert environments and canyons with few shade trees present, though several nights were also spent in high elevation pine forests where the cool nights and shade were greatly appreciated.
Weather Conditions: Mostly sunny with a few overcast days.  Winds have ranged from nonexistent to moderate gusts.  Outside daytime temperatures during the test period have ranged from nighttime lows in the mid 50s F (low teens C) to daytime highs well in excess of 100 F (38 C).  No precipitation was encountered during the field test period.

Double Rainbow on slickrock in Death HollowThe Double Rainbow accompanied me on a multi-day backpacking trip through Death Hollow in southern Utah in addition to being used as my primary tent on a week-long excursion to various other locations in the region.  As far as living space goes, the Double Rainbow is a real treat to use, with plenty of headroom, and considerable floor space.  Combined with the double vestibules, there is more than enough storage space for me to stow away any gear that I felt needed to be kept out of the elements.

Setting up the Double Rainbow proved to be as simple as it was during the initial testing of the tent.  I found it easiest to set up in locations where I could get stakes into the ground - in these cases, pitching the Double Rainbow on my own was made easier by staking three of the four corners of the tent, then inserting and securing the main pole, finishing off with the final stake (or stakes if I was planning on using the vestibules).  In situations where stakes could not be sunk into the ground, the use of adjustable trekking poles is the best option - this does require the availability of 55 inch (140 cm) or longer trekking poles (or 51 inch (130 cm) trekking poles plus pole extenders).  Unfortunately, due to my poor planning, I only had 49 inch (125 cm) trekking poles on hand, and was forced to set up the double rainbow using rock cairns for tie outs.  While this is do-able, it would have been made much easier if I had remembered to add additional lengths of cord to the tent!  Incidentally, during the course of testing in rocky ground, I accidentally bent (and broke while trying to straighten it back out) one of the stakes.

While I did not encounter any precipitation during this stage of testing, I did install the optional liner, in an attempt to evaluate its use as a thermal barrier.  The liner installs relatively quickly and easily by way of elastic loops that are connected to mitten hooks that are sewn onto the tent body.  I was unable to detect much of a temperature difference between the airgap (the space between the liner and the tent body) and the main portion of the living area.  This could be because most days, in order to beat the heat, camp was broken not long after sunrise.  On the days that the tent was left pitched as a base-camp, I had pitched it in the cover of shade trees, so heating via direct sunlight was already minimized.  The optional liner did not greatly reduce the living space inside the tent, nor did it change the lighting inside.

Breaking down the Double Rainbow was as expected, though I did find it more difficult to get the tent back into its bag over the course of time.  I'm not sure why this is the case, but eventually it proved to be frustrating enough that I eventually stopped stowing the tent body in its bag, opting to just roll it up and stuff it directly into my pack.

Actual use of the Double Rainbow is a comfortable affair.  There is copious storage space, especially when the vestibules are taken into account - and entry and exit of the tent is simple, with the large doors.  While the netting does trap some heat, it also allows for fantastic ventilation, especially when a breeze is present.  When pitched tightly, the tent doesn't have any excessive flap to keep me awake at night, even with gusty winds.  As I mention above, the inside living space is plenty roomy for both myself and my husband.  We can both sit up comfortably inside the tent, and we don't find ourselves mashed together as is the case with some two-person shelters.  The floor length of the Double Rainbow is very generous - I can have my morning stretch in the tent with arms extended over my head and toes pointed and still not touch either end of the tent!

The small pockets in the tent are big enough for me to stow my glasses and small items in one place, though I'm not sure I like the fact that the slit for the pocket faces outward (rather than into the tent) - at first this made it a little awkward putting things into the pockets.  The location of the pockets are good and they don't bother me while I'm sleeping by dangling in/on my face.  I did note that there are a couple extraneous pieces of hook-and-loop tabs sewn into the body of the Double Rainbow.  They seem to match those that are used hold the mesh door open, though I cannot figure out what their purpose may be.  I also note that the hook portions of these tabs are located inside the living space - if possible, I do recommend to the manufacturer to reverse the hook and loop portions, placing the loop portions inside tent.  In the manner that they are currently sewn in, the hooked tabs can prove to be an annoyance as they tend to snag my hair and shirt if brushed up against.

So far, other than the one tent peg casualty, the Double Rainbow is holding up nicely to testing.  I haven't noticed any snags in the mesh, nor have I noticed any issues with durability thus far.  The silnylon of the floor, in particular, does seem prone to attracting and holding onto sand, though it is easily cleaned with a damp cloth. 

Prior to taking the Double Rainbow into the field for testing, I seam sealed it using the instructions as provided by the manufacturer, diluting silicone-based seam sealer with mineral spirits and painting it on.  The process was straight forward and simple.  Since no precipitation was encountered, I'm not able to comment on how weather-proof the tent is.
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Product Performance in the Field (Long Term Report September 7, 2007)

Field and Test Information:
Location(s) of test: High elevations of northern Arizona.
Terrain: The terrain encountered during the long term test period has been primarily pine forest and meadows.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and clear.  Winds have ranged from nonexistent to moderate gusts.  Outside daytime temperatures during the test period have ranged from nighttime lows in the low 50s F (low teens C) to daytime highs in excess of 85 F (29 C).  No precipitation was encountered during the long term test period.

I used the Double Rainbow for four more nights during the course of the long term test period.  Unfortunately for testing's sake (though fantastic otherwise), the weather overnight skies were always clear - it seems the monsoons would typically dump in the afternoon with the skies clearing up by the evening.  While I never actually got rained on during the course of testing, the dampness in the air did, however, seem to be more conducive to allowing some condensation to form on the inside walls of the tent - especially when the vestibules were closed tightly.  The optional clip-in liner helped to prevent  transfer of moisture from the condensation onto my sleeping bag due to rubbing or brushing against the tent walls.  I should note that this bit of condensation was no more than what I would have expected out of any other single-walled shelter, and it certainly wasn't excessive.

Pitching the Double rainbow has become a smoother process over time, especially once I remembered to pack additional lengths of line with the tent.  While I do very much appreciate the fact that the Double Rainbow can be pitched in a freestanding mode, I still find the process a little bit fiddly.  I continue to struggle to secure the cupped end of the trekking pole connector around my trekking poles' handles.  Due to these struggles, I've taken to preferentially setting up the tent using rocks or other objects if I cannot stake down the corners to my satisfaction.

In all other aspects, the Double Rainbow has continued to perform as reported in the Field Report.  The tent is in good condition, and does not show any undue signs of wear.  While the tent has been pitched on a variety of surfaces, it does not appear to hold onto an undue amount of dust or other debris.  As a shelter, it has held up well to the moderate winds I have encountered, remaining happily pitched and quiet (hooray! No tent flap!), allowing me to sleep peacefully inside.  I really appreciate the amount of space and headroom inside this tent - I don't feel claustrophobic or confined in any way.  There's plenty of room to move about, get dressed and sit upright to read, knit or carefully tend to a stove set up outside the tent doors (while taking refuge from mosquitoes).
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Summary: Woo Hoos and Boo Hoos  
With my aversion to creepy crawlies and allergies to what seems to be all bug bites, an enclosed shelter is an essential piece of equipment for my comfort while backpacking.  With its excellent ventilation, spaciousness and light weight, the Double Rainbow is a fantastic option for those looking for a fully enclosed shelter with minimal weight.  With that said, here are my "Woo Hoos" (likes) and my "Boo Hoos" (some room for improvement).

- Woo Hoo: Very spacious.
- Woo Hoo: Plenty of ventilation.
- Woo Hoo: Taut pitch doesn't allow for tent flap in gusty winds.
- Woo Hoo: Easy to set up without another individual helping, especially when tent stakes are able to be used.
- Boo Hoo: Stow bag could be a little more roomy, allowing the body to fit in more easily.
- Boo Hoo: Hook and loop tabs for stowing the mesh door could be reversed - the hook tab snags on hair and clothing when brushed up against while inside the tent.
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My thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Tarptent for this testing opportunity.



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