Introduced in early 2006, the Tarptent Rainbow (one-person) and Double Rainbow (two-person) are a major departure from traditional Tarptent design. Instead of a front beak entry and headroom-only-at-the-front, the Rainbows use a monopole design with side entry through a vestibule. The design provides abundant usable space and headroom. It is also free-standing if you attach trekking poles to the ends. The Double Rainbow is a two-person/two-door/two-vestibule version of the Rainbow, and weighs 8 ounces more. This review assesses how the design and feature set of the Double Rainbow work for two people sharing the tent.
The Tarptent Double Rainbow at 11,800 feet in the Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado. The right vestibule is extended into a canopy supported by two trekking poles.
- Very lightweight two-person shelter, only 2.5 pounds
- Freestanding using trekking poles attached at the ends
- Quick set up
- Easy entry/exit
- Loads of headroom and usable space
- Two doors, each with a vestibule entry
- Lots of vestibule space easily accessible from inside the tent
- Good ventilation (with doors open)
What’s Not So Good
- Velcro attachment for trekking poles gets tangled
- Needs mid height guylines on ridge pole for extra wind stability
- High vents are minimally effective with mesh doors closed
- Tight quarters for two people
- Difficult to attach Velcro tabs on vestibules from the inside
|Year/Manufacturer/Model||2006 Tarptent Double Rainbow|
|Style||Two-person single-wall tent with floor, free-standing with trekking pole attachment at each end. Floorless version is available|
|Fabrics||1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silnylon, 1.0 oz/yd2 (34 g/m2) no-see-um mesh|
|Poles and Stakes||One 145 in (368 cm) center ridgepole, one 18 in (46 cm) strut on top; six 5.5 in (14 cm) tubular stakes. All are Easton 7075 E9 aluminum|
|Dimensions||Measured outside length 98 in (249 cm), width 52 in (132 cm) excluding vestibules|
Bathtub floor length 88 in (224 cm), width 48 in (122 cm), height 43 in (109 cm)
|Packed Size||20 in x 4 in x 4 in (51 x 10 x 10 cm)|
| Total Weight|
As supplied by manufacturer with all included items
|Measured weight 2 lb 8.9 oz (1.16 kg), manufacturer specification 2 lb 8 oz (1.14 kg); manufacturer specified weight without floor 2 lb 2 oz (936 g)|
| Trail Weight|
Includes minimum number of items needed to erect the tent
|Measured weight 2 lb 7.7 oz (1.13 kg), includes tent body, poles, and stakes|
|Protected Area||Total covered area 50.4 ft2 (4.7 m2), bathtub floor area 29.3 ft2 (2.7 m2), entry vestibules are 7.5 ft2 (0.7 m2) each|
|Floor Area/Trail Weight Ratio||11.8 ft2/lb based on 29.3 ft2 floor area and weight of 2.48 lb|
|Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio||17.9 ft2/lb based on 44.3 ft2 floor + vestibule area and weight of 2.48 lb|
|MSRP||$250 with sewn-in floor, $225 without floor|
|Options||Clip-in liner $30, 4 oz (113 g); Tyvek groundsheet $12, 7.5 oz (213 g)|
Like the Rainbow (1+ person), the Double Rainbow (2-person) is a monopole design with one center ridgepole spanning the length of the tent. The MontBell Hexagon uses a similar design but the sidewalls on the Hexagon drape inward from the pole, drastically reducing interior space. The Double Rainbow overcomes that problem (to some extent) by adding an 18-inch long perpendicular strut at the top to provide more interior width and anchor the two side vestibules.
Views of the Tarptent Double Rainbow. Entry is from the side (top left and right) through a vestibule on each side. Each vestibule has a top vent. The tent is supported by one long ridgepole through the yellow sleeve (bottom left), plus an aluminum strut in a webbing sleeve attached to the top. The ridgepole is 43 inches high at the center and very steep at the ends (bottom left and right), giving the Double Rainbow loads of headroom.
The Double Rainbow is a smaller two-person tent, with 29.3 square feet of floor area, only 6 inches wider than the Rainbow (one-person). Both tents use the same 18-inch strut attached to the top, which is the top width of the interior. The floor width (with bathtub walls up) of the Double Rainbow is specified at 52 inches, but I measured it to be only 48 inches. The interior width is tight for two people, and an additional 6 inches of width at both the floor and ceiling would make a big difference. The reason for the narrow floor width is the tent’s trekking pole attachment feature that enables the tent to be free-standing – most trekking poles only extend out to about 52 inches, so that sets the width.
The Double Rainbow will fit in a fairly small space, and like all Tarptents it’s very fast and easy to set up. Slide the ridge pole through the yellow sleeve and connect the grommet ends, stake out the four corners, and stake out the two side vestibules. Very little re-adjustment is needed, and all four corners have tensioners so you can tighten the tent without moving the stakes. The tent can be pitched with two trekking poles and two stakes in free-standing mode, or six stakes if you don’t use trekking poles and want more wind-stability.
The top strut resides in a webbing sleeve that is attached to the top of the tent. It must be removed if you prefer to stuff the tent into its stuff sack, or a better alternative is to fold the tent to the width of the top strut, roll it tightly with the poles and stakes inside, and slide it into its narrow stuff sack.
A unique feature of the Double Rainbow is that it’s freestanding if you attach extended trekking poles to the ends. The trekking poles attach to neoprene pockets at the corners and a Velcro strap at the center that wraps around the tent’s center pole. The system works, but its utility depends on the user and campsite conditions. In fair weather, the free-standing pitch is probably just fine. But in potentially windy conditions it’s prudent to stake the corners for wind stability, so why bother attaching trekking poles?
Another unique feature is the side vestibules will convert to a canopy supported by sticks or trekking poles (see photo below). This requires opening and attaching a panel that connects the two sides of the vestibule.
Outside features. The side vestibules (top left) are split in the center and fastened with Velcro strips. The photo shows one side of each vestibule rolled up. By unrolling and attaching a center section (top right), each vestibule will convert into a canopy supported by trekking poles. Attaching an extended trekking pole to each end of the tent (bottom left) makes it free-standing. All four corners of the tent have tensioners (bottom right), that allow the tent to be re-tightened without moving stakes.
Inside features. Each side has a mesh entry wall (top left) with an L-shaped zippered door. In good weather the Double Rainbow can really be opened up (top right) for great views and lots of ventilation. Headroom is outstanding. The floating bathtub silnylon floor (bottom left) is stretched taut by elastic cords that attach to the corner stakes. An optional clip-in liner is available (bottom right) to help moderate inside temperatures and condensation.
We found the inside floor space and elbow room to be barely adequate for two people. The tent is a bit on the narrow side because of the trekking pole free-standing design – the maximum length that most trekking poles can be extended is about 52 inches, so that is the outside width of the tent. The actual floor width is 48 inches, the width between the door openings measures only 43.5 inches because the sides drape inward, and the width at the ceiling is 18 inches. The result is confined interior space for two people. We easily adjusted and used the tent’s extra length and vestibules for storage. It helps a lot to leave the mesh doors open to increase elbow room.
Tarptent offers a clip-in liner for the Double Rainbow, which is claimed to moderate interior temperatures and intercept condensation. It might also be called a “condensation curtain” because its principal function is to create a dead air space between it and the tent ceiling, effectively creating a double-wall tent. We found that the liner does its job well, with condensation or frost forming above it, rather than on it, so moisture doesn’t transfer to clothing when we brush against it. The liner may be a good investment ($30, 4 ounces) for those more adverse to the condensation issue in single wall tents.
On our first trip with the Double Rainbow we discovered a major leakage problem that led to a recall of the first batch of tents sold. The tent leaked badly in a nighttime thunderstorm, even though I had seam sealed it. The problem was undercoated (defective) silnylon fabric that allowed water to wet through and migrate to the seams. Tarptent has corrected the problem and the replacement tent we received is perfectly sound and dry.
Drying out gear after a wet night in the original Tarptent Double Rainbow. Unfortunately, the first batch of tents was constructed of defective silnylon, which was undercoated and allowed water to pass through. The problem has been corrected and current tents are completely storm worthy.
After the initial snafu, we found the Double Rainbow to be very storm worthy. Its semi-dome shape deflects wind and rain well, but the vestibules flap in the wind. One of the vestibules blew open on one windy night. The bottom of the vestibules is raised off the ground about 8 inches (at the center), which helps to provide ventilation, but it also allows the vestibules to flap in the wind. The doors are secured with three Velcro strips, which are cumbersome to attach from the inside, especially in the dark. Although it might add an ounce or two, it would be nice (and more secure) to have zippers on the vestibules. For extra stability in strong winds, it would also be nice to have a tieout loop on each end about half way up on the pole sleeve to attach extra guylines.
Except in buggy conditions, it worked well to close the vestibules at night and leave the entry doors open for extra ventilation and elbow room. That combination resulted in minimal condensation inside the tent. Zipping the doors closed significantly reduced ventilation resulting in more condensation. The vents at the top of the vestibules do not have a very large opening to the inside, and do not ventilate the interior of the tent very much because air must pass through the mesh entry wall. When we did get condensation inside the Double Rainbow, we did not contact it very much because of the tent’s steep walls, and it was easy to wipe the walls with a pack towel or bandana.
Some issues with the Double Rainbow. The Velcro closure tabs on the vestibules (top left) often don’t line up and are cumbersome to fasten from the inside; a zipper would be much better. The Velcro trekking pole attachment at the ends (top right) creates a tangle and picks up debris. Interior width (bottom left) is tight for two people. With the vestibules extended, the top vents (bottom right) have a restricted opening, and do not directly vent the interior of the tent.
Although the Tarptent Double Rainbow is a completely different design than the Tarptent Squall 2 and the Six Moon Designs Europa, it is interesting to compare the weight and protected area of these popular tents (see table below). The Double Rainbow weighs 7.4 ounces more than the Squall 2 and 4.8 ounces more than the Europa, mainly because of its long ridgepole. It has less floor area than the other tents, but much more vestibule area, so the protected area is about the same as the Europa and more than the Squall 2. The Double Rainbow has the lowest Floor Area: Weight Ratio while the Europa has the highest of the three tents. The differences are smaller in the Protected Area:Weight Ratio where the vestibule area is factored in, however the Europa still comes out on top. An important difference to note is that all of the Double Rainbow’s protected area is usable and there is plenty of headroom, not just headroom at the front.
|Trail Weight (lb)||Floor Area (ft2)||Vestibule Area (ft2)||Protected Area (floor + vestibule) (ft2)||Floor Area:Weight Ratio (ft2/lb)||Protected Area: Weight Ratio (ft2/lb)|
Although it’s about a half pound heavier than a more minimalist two-person Tarptent, the Double Rainbow sets a new standard for user friendliness in a lightweight single wall tent. It is very easy to set up, easy to enter/exit, has loads of headroom, and its two doors and two vestibules are hard to beat. Its narrow floor width is snug for two people. Campers likely to choose the Double Rainbow because of its user friendly features would probably want a roomier interior, and they might be willing to trade off the trekking pole freestanding feature to get more floor width. For comparison, the Big Sky Products Revolution 2P or Evolution 2P (whose interior space we consider to be “ample”) is 4 inches wider (and 4 inches shorter) than the Tarptent Double Rainbow.
At 2.5 pounds, the Double Rainbow is the lightest free-standing two-person single wall tent with two doors and two vestibules.
Recommendations for Improvement
While the Tarptent Double Rainbow introduces some major advancements in single wall tent design, and provides user friendliness not seen before in a single wall tent, there are a few details that could be refined.
- Although attaching trekking poles gains a freestanding status for this tent, it also results in a tent that is narrow for two people. It would be nice to have an extra 4-6 inches of width.
- The Velcro pole attachment straps easily become tangled. I would like to see a cleaner arrangement to attach trekking poles, and it would be nice if it were removable for those who don’t want to attach poles.
- For extra stability in strong winds, add two mid-height guyline loops on the ridgepole.
- Increase the size of the top vents.