The Tarptent Rainshadow 2 is the bigger brother to the Squall 2 which won the 2005 Backpacking Light Lightitude award for Best Single Wall Shelter. This three-person Tarptent shares all of the features of the Squall 2 and offers excellent living space for three adult hikers for just over 2 ½ pounds. The floored version (tested) features a floating bathtub floor that keeps the sleeping area dry while taking tension off the fabric. The doorway can be set up with single or dual poles, the dual pole pitch giving better entrance access and wind stability. How does this XL-sized Tarptent stand up to rough weather conditions?
- At 2 pounds 9.8 ounces, it’s very light for a three-person floored shelter with full rain and bug protection
- Realistic space for three full-size adults (unlike some three-person tents!)
- Front strut increases headroom and usable space
- Floating bathtub floor protects from splashing rain and is more durable than tensioned floors because of added puncture resistance
- Dual trekking pole setup opens entryway and increases wind stability
- Beak-style vestibule offers good protection while still allowing airflow
- Door and beak are easily rolled up for full ventilation and views
- New guyline adjusters are simple, lightweight, and easy to use
What’s Not So Good
- Less wind stability when set up with a single pole
- Front vent is not very functional
- Condensation issues in still, high humidity conditions
|2006 Tarptent Rainshadow 2|
|Three person single wall tent with sewn-in floor (a floorless version is available)|
|1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silicone impregnated ripstop nylon, 1 oz/yd2 (34 g/m2) no-see-um netting|
Poles and Stakes
|Easton 7075 aluminum, 5/16 inch (8 mm) diameter rear pole, four Easton 5.5 in (14 cm) 7075 aluminum tubular stakes|
|Outside length 94 in (239 cm), width 92/75 in (234/191 cm), height 48 in (122 cm) height variable with adjustable trekking pole|
Inside bathtub floor length 82 in (208 cm), width 77/64 in (196/163 cm)
|20 in x 4 in x 4 in (51 x 10 x 10 cm)|
|Measured weight 2 lb 11.5 oz (1.23 kg); shelter 2 lb 3.3 oz (1.00 kg), Easton aluminum rear pole 4.5 oz (128 g), Easton aluminum front strut 0.5 oz (15 g), 4 Easton aluminum stakes 1.4 oz (40 g), stuff sacks 0.6 oz (18 g)|
Manufacturer specification 2 lb 11.0 oz (1.22 kg)
|2 lb 9.8 oz (1.19 kg) measured weight (assumes using trekking pole(s) for front support)|
|Total covered area 54.5 ft2 (5.06 m2), sewn-in floor 39.7 ft2 (3.69 m2), vestibule 8.7 ft2 (0.81 m2)|
Floor Area/Trail Weight Ratio
|15.2 ft2/lb based on 39.7 ft2 floor area and weight of 2.61lb|
Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio
|18.5 ft2/lb based on 48.4 ft2 floor + vestibule area and weight of 2.61 lb|
|$255 with sewn-in floor, $215 without floor|
|Front poles are $5 for one or $10 for two, each weighs 2.5 oz (73 g); Tyvek groundsheet $12, 10 oz (283 g, usually used in floorless version)|
The Rainshadow 2 is identical in design to the Squall 2, but wider, taller and heavier to accommodate thee people.
The Tarptents have been a favorite among ultralight backpackers for years. The Tarptent Squall 2 won the Backpacking Light Lightitude Award for Best Single Wall Shelter in 2005, and for good reason. It has several important updates that increase its comfort and usability while maintaining much of the simplicity and aesthetics of the original Squall. The Tarptent Rainshadow 2 is the bigger brother to the Squall 2.
The Tarptent Rainshadow 2 is a single wall tent that is constructed of silicone-impregnated ripstop nylon. It uses a single hooped pole in the rear, a short horizontal strut pole at the front, and the option of one or two poles or trekking poles for front support. The tent features dual catenary ridgelines and sets up with four stakes (with the option of using two more with side guyouts). It provides full perimeter bug netting for complete bug protection and a front door that opens in an inverted “T” and stows away with Velcro tabs.
Included with the shelter are the tent body with attached floor, silnylon tent stuff sack, rear hoop pole and front strut (both Easton 7075 aluminum), four stakes, and a silnylon stake pouch. Single or dual front poles are available for those that don’t use trekking poles.
New guyline adjusters are found on all front guyline attachments and make tensioning a breeze.
With some practice, setting up the Rainshadow 2 is possible in just a few minutes. The rear pole easily slides into a rear sleeve and is held in place by a grommet on each side. After staking the rear, the front pole is inserted into a grommet and erected with a single guyline. Corner guylines are staked and tensioned. Finally the rear hoop is repositioned to even out the sidewall tension by moving it back slightly. Unlike earlier Tarptents which required restaking for tension adjustments, all Tarptents now have guyline adjusters at the front guyline attachments that make proper tensioning (and nighttime adjustments) very easy.
The Rainshadow 2 has ample room for 3 large adults
At just over 2 ½ pounds, the Rainshadow 2 provides comfortable living space for three large adults. The flat top and dual ridgelines caused by the front strut increase headroom dramatically and the more vertical sidewalls add to the usable space. While it’s pushing it to say that three adults can sit up comfortably, it is roomy enough for two to sit up side by side. With the floating floor design it is easy to increase the front height of the tent using extendable trekking poles, further increasing headroom and usable space.
Some “three-person tents” would be more accurately titled “two-and-a-half person tents,” but that is not the case for the Tarptent Rainshadow 2. With a total covered area of 54.5 square feet and a floor area of 39.7 square feet, the Rainshadow 2 proved to be a comfortable living space for three when I shared the tent with two other full-size guys during an extended mountain bike tour.
Two inside pockets provide storage for small items and in clear conditions, the mesh area alongside the tent outside of the bathtub floor provides tons of extra storage.
Dual trekking poles can be used to increase tent height and make the entryway larger (left) or to lower the front and stabilize the tent in windy conditions (right).
The dual ridgelines make a difference in wind stability when compared to the original Tarptent Rainshadow. When using only one pole for front support, the strut allows more side to side sway during moderate winds. Due to the larger tent body, this is more of an issue with the Rainshadow 2 than the Squall 2. Using two poles in the front increases wind stability dramatically. I definitely prefer two poles, especially when camping above the tree line. While this is not a shelter for high winds, the Rainshadow can definitely handle moderate winds by using two front poles, staking it lower to the ground, and using the side guyout points.
Using a single pole puts extra stress on the fabric at the top of the vestibule.
When using dual front poles, everything closes neatly and no stress is placed on the fabric.
Using a single pole also places pressure on the top point of the vestibule fabric. This is unavoidable when using a single pole or trekking pole and induces extra wear on that point, resulting in some fabric stretching and, over time, may cause durability issues. A redesign or extra reinforcement is needed in this area for use with a single pole. This issue is easily eliminated by using dual poles for front support.
The floating floor design adds no tension to the outer tent, instead relying on sewn seams and attached elastic cord to give its bathtub shape.
Like the Squall 2, the floating bathtub floor of the Rainshadow 2 is a huge improvement over previous Tarptent floor designs. The floor is attached at the corners with elastic cords that give the protection of a bathtub floor while adding no tension to the main tent body. The result is a floor that stays drier in splashing rain and stays cleaner in dusty conditions than in previous models. The design has adjustable tension, works perfectly, and is brilliant in its simplicity.
For those that prefer floorless shelters, a floorless model is still available that has bug netting that tucks underneath a groundsheet and saves 8 ounces. However, those that live in rainy environments should seriously consider the floored model because it addresses a major problem with earlier Squalls and floorless models – splashing rain.
The backward-leaning rear hoop provides more than enough overlap to keep all three hikers’ feet dry.
In rainy conditions, the Rainshadow 2 provides full protection for all three hikers, even during total downpours. In these conditions, though, the small 8.7 square foot beak-style vestibule gets a bit small for storing three sets of gear and some items will have to be pulled inside. The vestibule is easily pitched by releasing Velcro tabs on the sides, attaching them together with Velcro at the center, and affixing the bungee loop to the adjustable guyline clip. Getting the center Velcro lined up properly is somewhat challenging, especially from inside the shelter.
The Vestibule attaches to the guyline with a bungee loop and an adjustable plastic clip – very simple.
Ventilation in the Rainshadow 2 is very good for a single wall tent. In conditions with even a slight breeze, the full perimeter mesh and mesh front door provide good airflow that keeps things dry. When bugs are not a problem, leaving the mesh doors open eliminates any possibility of condensation. In still, high-humidity conditions, condensation becomes more of an issue, especially with three heavy breathers. However, moisture is easily managed; condensation that accumulates on the tent walls runs down and drips outside of the floor area (another bonus for the bathtub floor design). When condensation occurs and three people are sharing the tent, it is harder to not bump against the wet walls.
Durability of the Tarptent Rainshadow 2 was never an issue during field testing but extra care is needed when using silnylon shelters. If you keep fire away from the tent and make sure not to pitch it on rough surfaces such as sharp stubs or rock, a Tarptent will give years of reliable performance in the field. As previously mentioned, my only concern came from fabric stress resulting from using a single pole for front support.
I’m not big on the tube-shaped stuffsacks that come with Tarptents. I find the tube-shape is difficult to stuff. Removal of the front strut is critical when stuffing the tent but a better approach is to roll the tent.
While the Tarptent Rainshadow 2 is a brilliant three-person, three-season single wall shelter, it has a few imperfections. The beak found in earlier Tarptents was one piece that attached permanently at one side and attached to the other with a Velcro strip. The beak of the Rainshadow 2, though, splits down the middle and secures in the center with a long strip of Velcro. While this gives the additional flexibility of leaving just one-half of the vestibule closed, it is also more difficult to neatly close because the Velcro strips have to be aligned under tension. This was not a big deal but was a little annoying at times.
Lacking a wire-stiffened brim, the vent is only fully usable when conditions are dry but does offer additional ventilation options.
Like the Squall 2, another aspect of the vestibule design is the addition of a front vent. While the front corner of the tent can now be left open to aid in ventilation, the lack of a stiffened brim or flap means that the vent also allows rain to enter the vestibule area. I would consider the front vent more of a work in progress than a functional vent.
The refinements in the Tarptent Rainshadow 2 make it a nearly perfect ultralight three-person, three-season single wall shelter. The dual pole/dual ridgeline, floating bathtub floor, adjustable front guylines, and extended beak are excellent features that add to the usability of the tent. Like the Squall 2, the Rainshadow 2 is a marvelous design.
Recommendations for Improvement
I would like to see a design change with the vestibule and front vent. A wire-stiffened brim or a vent support would make the vent fully functional in all conditions. If the option of a single pole for front support is available, there should also be changes made in the vestibule so the pole doesn’t place extra stress on the fabric.