Feb 20, 2006 at 8:09 pm #1217827
OK, you guys have gotten to me just in the nick of time. I was about ready to click the Buy Now button for the LSe and decided to read up on it a little more after just joining BPL a few days ago. Then I stumble across the TT Rainbow.
Now the quandry begins. Which to buy??? I’m 6′ 2″, wider/thicker than most and use a long sleeping bag. Currently I own a BD Lighthouse and enjoy it very much, but would like to cut down on some weight which has led me to this forum as well. I seldom go backpacking in the rain, but of course I want a tent that can deal with it. So I suppose the size is the most important thing for me right now.
I know there’s already a lot of posts on this subject so I’m just wondering if there’s any new comments people can share.
Edit: The pics of the Rainbow make the body appear much tighter, thus possibly more water resistant.Feb 20, 2006 at 11:31 pm #1350913
The LSe is plenty rainproof and has a very nice mechanism at each apex to get a taut pitch. The LSe has more floor space when expressed as square footage. The 12″ high mesh walls allow this floor space to be far more usable than the outside slope of the shelter appears to permit. That said, my guess, not owning a HS Rainbow, is that the somewhat parabolic shape (side-to-side) of the Rainbow would have to make it the head-room winner. The unique cross-pole makes sure that head-room is not just available at the very center where the single sectioned support pole is. I’m at least a foot shorter than you, so I really can’t tell you how you would fit in either shelter. The LSe is very roomy for me. The vestibule on the LSe is quite roomy, more so, I believe than the Rainbow if that is important to you.
An even more fundamental question is do you feel the need for a freestanding shelter? If so, then it must be the Rainbow. If that’s optional for you, then you are still left with both shelters to choose from.Feb 21, 2006 at 12:50 am #1350915
The things I do for love……..
Hi Jeff, I set up the BD and the Rainbow side by side just for you so that you could see the relative difference in size. The head room is about the same but can be increased with the Rainbow. The Tarptent is narrower but longer. At your height,you could lay down and still have room for your pack at your feet or in between your head and the net.
FrancoFeb 21, 2006 at 10:19 am #1350935
I like the design of the Rainbow in particular and Henry Shires tents in general, but I can’t let Paul Johnson’s description of the Rainbows “uniqe cross pole” go unchallenged. I have owned an English made Phoenix Phreeranger tent since the early 1990s.
Its configuration, including the crosspole, is virtually identical with that of the Rainbow (except that the Phreeranger was 2 skin – the single skin Goretex version was called the Phreerunner). I bought is as a result of Chris Townsend’s recommendation in the first edition of “The Backpacker’s Handbook” published in 1991. He said “I used Phreerangers on the Canadian Rockies and Yukon walks and found the performance excellent,even in the worst rain and snow storms. The triangular guying system is essential in these conditions, though in calm weather I don’t bother pegging the six side guys out……”. This last point referred to the 3 inverted V guys at each end of the pole, one pitched in line with the pole, and one each to the front and the back. Between them they reinforced stability in high winds.
This tent is no longer made (as far as I know) and I am delighted to see Henry making the design available to a wider market. I don’t for one moment suggest that he copied the design. Rather, it is an example of two minds independently finding the same brilliant solution to a problem.
DavidFeb 21, 2006 at 10:20 am #1350936
Sorry, double post.Feb 21, 2006 at 11:40 am #1350938
Interesting that you would mention the Phreeranger/Phreerunner. A UK customer of ours sent me a photo and description of the Phreeranger a few months ago–long after the Rainbow design was finished–and at first glance I thought I had re-invented the wheel. [Note: “unique cross strut” is Paul’s claim, not ours. What we claim is that it’s the first shelter to ever use trekking poles and a single-arch to become free-standing] The Phreeranger is similar but that shelter is a much heavier, double-wall (as you noted) design with a huge net loss in usable volume and the strut inserts separately into the fly. I can’t find any photos of the goretex, single-wall Phreerunner so I can’t comment on it–do you know how the strut works on that one?–except to say that neither shelter is “Tarptentized” (floating canopy design with lots of netting for ventilation and views) and the biggest difference–the thing that does indeed make the Rainbow unique (and patent-pending)–is that the Rainbow free-stands with trekking poles. Despite the initial disappointment, I’m very glad that I knew nothing about the Phreeranger/Phreerunner until long after the Rainbow was done because I could let the design evolve organically without getting skewed by outside knowledge. I will say that the design that did influence me was the Macpac Microlight—in retrospect, a Phreeranger without the strut.Feb 21, 2006 at 3:06 pm #1350957
David, Thanks for pointing out the prev. use of the cross pole. And HS is right – those were my words (unique in my experience I should have more clearly stated) and not HS’s. As he stated he didn’t even try to patent that idea (I wonder why?). Anyways, it still may be patentable in the USA if the UK company didn’t previously patent it here, though an international patent [a second entirely different type of patent for the same invention – issued from Brussels, Belgium, IIRC, instead of the USA] is out of the question, obviously.
So, I guess what I should have said is that the non-unique cross-pole, coupled with the non-unique single pole freestanding design, coupled with the unique use of trekking poles to create a freestanding design Rainbow presumably has more usable headroom than the LSe I’ll try to keep that in mind.
HS, I frequently check your website and notice that floored and floorless version of the Rainbow go in and out of stock. When out-of-stock, what is the typical lead time to re-stock?
I’d like to see some pics of the older UK tent; sounds like an interesting design. Can anyone post them?Feb 21, 2006 at 3:12 pm #1350959
You’ve confirmed my assumption that you developed the Rainbow independently. I agree that the Phoenix did not have the “free standing” arrangements or the “tarptentised” floating canopy for ventilation and views.
As for weight, the Phreeranger was considered a fairly state of the art lightweight tent when it came out in the late 1980s. The fly in taped ripstop nylon, polyurethane coated, weighed 29 ounces on its own – without inner tent, floor, poles or stakes.Total weight was 66 ounces. Your website quotes 30 ounces for the Rainbird, and I guess that includes everything.
I have a brochure for the Phreerunner in front of me, and will send you more details at the Tarptent site.
DavidFeb 21, 2006 at 5:55 pm #1350978
Right now we’re just waiting on another Rainbow shipment (and they come every 10-14 days or so).
You can see the Macpac Microlight right here on BPL. Put a cross strut in it and you have a Phreeranger.
-HFeb 21, 2006 at 6:28 pm #1350982
As an Aussie I now I know why I liked the design of the Rainbow. I am a long time user of a Macpac Microlight. A great tent which withstands a lot of severe weather including snow. I still have my microlight and expect that there will be times that it will be in my pack instead of the Rainbow, which I also have. Interestingly Macpac are now moving towards a lighter version of the microlight but it will always be double walled tent, that is the NZ way.Feb 21, 2006 at 8:06 pm #1350989
Here, Paul, are some sources for Phoenix Phreeranger pics.
In the Hebrides
(scroll down and click on the thumbnails)
The Phreeranger certainly is almost identical to the Rainbow. Wonder why I never noticed that until David mentioned it? If you think about it, though, the design makes a lot of sense, and so, in the usual inevitability of design typology, it’s to be expected that HS would come up with a very similar design. It just takes a perceptive mind to recognize certain ergonomic geometries.
I actually saw both these sources for Phreeranger pics two years ago when I was looking for information on single-pole tents and a fellow Outdoors Magic, a British outdoor website similar to BPL, forum member pointed me to the Phreeranger. All the single-pole shelters I know are the Rainbow, Phoenix Phreeranger, Macpac Microlight and Microlight Comp, Terra Nova Solar, the Terra Nova Laserlite and Laser, the MontBell Monoframe Diamond (which when it first came out actually separated into three parts: a canopy, an inner, and a floor… wasn’t too popular at the time), the Exped Velo Exreme, and, of course, my Hilleberg Akto. My first choice originally was the Macpac Microlight because I prefer polyester canopies (don’t stretch when wet and much better at repelling water), European-style inner-first pitching, and the big side-entry along the axis of the pole, but because of quite a number of reviews talking about the problems with the opposite opening doors and less stability in the wind than the Hilleberg Akto, and because it was heavier than the Akto, I went for the Akto. If a lighter version of the Macpac Microlight were to come out I might eventually buy that (I certainly have enough tents for now!!!), but I am happy with the Rainbow and will probably find that it does everything I want a one person tent to do. One thing I like about NZ tents and other gear is that because it rains A LOT in NZ everything must be designed to handle a lot of rain. One example of locally specific design focus.Feb 21, 2006 at 10:44 pm #1350993
HS, thanks for the info on Rainbow availability and lead times.
Miguel, thanks for the links (FYI, 2nd one points to Hebrides also.)Feb 22, 2006 at 2:11 am #1351007
Here is a list of a few more single pole shelters
Salewa Scorpio 1
Gelert Nakina Plus
North Face Canyonland ( you know this one)
Vaude light Wing
Robert Saunders Trijon and Spacepacker
Robens Small Dreamer
FrancoFeb 22, 2006 at 8:42 am #1351025
Paul, thanks for the heads up on the bad link. I’ve corrected it, though the resulting photo isn’t really that informative… (^J^)/”
One other tent I just remembered, though I think it is out of production, is the Vango TBS Micro 200, a Scottish design.
Also, has anyone seen these new designs by Sierra Designs? (not single pole).
Another design from Britain that has been out since last year is the Mountain Equipment AR Ultralight, which is supported by two hiking poles. Chris Townsend, who is testing the new desings right now, told me that a new, improved version is in the works for this year, plus a solo version, which actually looks very interesting.Feb 22, 2006 at 9:14 am #1351027
Franco, a while back you posted something about a Hong Kong (?)-based tent company for whom you are testing tents (I can’t remember the company offhand). I went and had a look at the designs back then and was very impressed. Some really innovative ideas there. Funny how a lot of people in the States and Europe immediately dismiss anything from Asia, as if nothing good could come from here, but a lot of local designs, never seen outside of Asia, are really very well-thought out and put together, with some really innovative ideas at times.
For instance, there is an old folding kayak company here in Japan called Fujita Canoe, that the folding kayak world barely knew about until Ralph Diaz, the folding kayak guru, “discovered” it. They have some very light and affordable kayaks that are designed for the average Japanese, who often has no access to a car and must travel with their kayaks by train.
There is also Arai Tent, which I’m sure few people in this group are aware of, that makes some excellent mountain tents (probably the most popular brand in Japan). Check out the mountain shelters, like the “Bivy Shelter”, at the center of the page (another one-pole design, by the way), and the “Shelters”, that are either used in mountain emergencies, or by super minimalists, like shower climbers, called “Sawa Nobori” in Japanese (change the text encoding in the menu to “Shift JS” to see the Japanese characters in your browser). The tents are very well made with great materials.
I would love to find more local outdoor goods manufacturers around the world that I have no idea even exist. There must be some real gems out there. For instance, there must be some ingenius designs coming out of Russia, but only Russians know about them.Feb 22, 2006 at 1:53 pm #1351053
Miguel the AR Ultralight design is also available from others, for example the Fairydown Axiom. I looked at those designs but something much better (internal space) will be available very soon. My interest with Luxe Outdoor has to do with the local supplier. Michael Wong designs his tents for the Asian market, with a low purchase price in mind, smaller than what we like here in Australia. There is a new version of the Mini Peak (the one person pyramid tent) coming out in a few months that has been redesigned for us, now a double tent. I enjoy much more my relationship with Henry Shires.
I intend to investigate the French and Italian manufacturers when I go there next.
FrancoFeb 22, 2006 at 5:40 pm #1351081
@gmagnesLocale: Upstate NY
I recently purchased the Rainbow. Although I can’t make a direct comparison with the Lunar Solo because I don’t own it and haven’t seen it close up, I can tell you that I’m very happy with the Rainbow. Here’s a copy of a post I made on the TLB lite weight site that offers some first impressions. I’ve editted the original post a bit to take into account further impressions as I got to try it out a bit more:
I received my new Rainbow a couple of weeks ago and just had an opportunity to set it up in the back yard over the week end and sleep in it last night. A few first impressions based on this limited experience:
First, I really, really like it! I’ve tried out the Cloudburst and older style Squall, and although they have much to recommend them, I always felt somewhat cramped by the relatively limited situp/head room. The Rainbow solves that problem for sure. I thought a one person tent might feel too enclosed and cramped, but that is not the case at all. It feels spacious, has lots of head room, and plenty of floor space. I also really like that fact that when I’m laying down, I don’t feel that the tent wall is next to my face or virtually touching my bag at the foot end. The tent length and steep walls eliminate that feeling for me. Also, as Franco’s photos show, there is plenty of floor space for gear to be stored inside of the tent at the ends and on the side.
Last night I slept in the tent with my dog, a Sheltie. There was plenty of room for both of us. Lo temp was predicted at about 28 degrees. The couple of times I checked a themometer inside the tent it was about 31 degrees. Outside there was a fairly strong wind(approx. 10 mph) when I first went to bed but it died down during the night. There were also light snow showers that left a dusting by the am. I slept with the vestibule completely closed and the upper vent closed as much as it can be, in part to see how the ventilation/condensation would be when it’s battened down. Even in this configuration there is still plenty of netting around the periphery of the tent and the whole long wall with the door is netting. When I checked during the night and when I woke up in the morning there was absolutely no condensation. The inner walls of the tent were completely dry. To provide a more complete view of its ventilation and condensation, I’d need to try it more times in varied conditions, but as a first shot, it looks quite good from that perspective. I’m sure the initially strong wind helped, but it became pretty calm as the night went on, so it was still a reasonable test, I think.
The vestibule is relatively small, and I think would provide only limited space for gear storage, but it would probably fit a pair of boots, and maybe an empty pack laid on its side. As some of the photos show, it can be split down the middle and kept half open when rain is coming from one side or the other and could probably provide a limited shelter for cooking( with care). I found it a bit tricky to line up the 3 velcro patches to get it to close without any space where the two halves meet that could allow rain to get through. In fact, during the day it did rain and a bit of water seeped into one side of the tent. I think this happened because I didn’t properly close the center closure in the vestibule. Later I figured out that it ‘s probably best to match the velcro strips when the vestibule is not pegged down and not under tension, then peg it down afterward. Once I did close the vestibule better, there was no more evidence of water. I need some more experience with the tent in rainy conditions to be sure that the vestibule really does prevent any rain from seeping through the point where the two halves come together.
The tent set up quite easily. I tried it with hiking poles first, then with pegs. With the pegs and the Delrin line tighteners on each corner that come wth the tent, it was possible to get a very nice, tight pitch with minimal effort. Using the hiking poles, it took a second time and some more study of the photos to figure out how to do it, but once I did, I saw that the tent pitches very nicely with the poles as well. I would suspect it’s not quite as wind worthy with the poles, but still would be fine in most conditions.
The sewn in floor with the bathtub/flat options seems to work easily and well.
Overall I am really pleased with this tent. It set up quickly and easily. It immediately felt spacious and comfortable. The ventilation/condensation looks good. I’ll try it out a few more times in the yard and write a follow up, but off of my initial impressions, it looks like a real winner!
Schenectady, NYFeb 22, 2006 at 11:54 pm #1351101
Thanks for the additonal feedback. You have confirmed my thoughts on the tent and make me feel good about ordering one. I’ve not gotten it yet, but I can’t wait to try it out next month.
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