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Tarptent Double Rainbow Review

   
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Backpacking Tents

  • Currently 3.9/5
Overall avg rating 3.9 of 5 based on 8 reviews. Most recent review: June 6, 2014
Street Price:   $275
Pros:  Incredibly comfortable for its weight, strong in high winds, easiest tent to setup, can be pitched in freestanding mode.
Cons:  Low condensation resistance, splashback can hit mesh walls in some situations, door and vestibule closures could be better.
Best Uses:  Lightweight three-season trips.
User Rating:     
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 (3.8 of 5) based on 7 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (6/6) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Tarptent
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ February 9, 2014  
Overview
The Tarptent Double Rainbow strikes an impressive balance between high performance and low price. This tent weighs 2 lb. 10 oz., is highly weather resistant, pitches super fast from the outside with a single pole, and has two door doors and two vestibules that make it comfortable for backpacking and camping. Best of all, this is the only sub three-pound tent we've tested that performs well in high winds. It's a true winner for people looking to go lightweight in exposed conditions and not sacrifice the luxury of two doors. Bonus: the Double Rainbow sells for only $275. It offers more performance than many tents that cost twice as much. All Tarptents are made in Seattle, WA and are only available directly from the manufacturer, often involving a multi-week delay in delivery. If you can get past the idea of waiting for a tent you won't be disappointed. Our top tent available from major retailers is the Hilleberg Anjan 2.

Check out our Backpacking Tent Review to see how this tent compares to the others tested.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Setup
The Double Rainbow is a two door “tarptent.” A type of tent not to be confused with the company's name "Tarptent by Henry Shires." The Double Rainbow pitches from the outside and has a single-wall waterproof roof that suspends mesh netting walls and a waterproof floor. Of all 24 tents tested, this is the fastest and easiest to pitch. Just insert the single pole through the yellow sleeve and guy out the four corner points and the vestibules. Like Hilleberg tents, the Double Rainbow pitches from the outside; the inner tent stays much drier. Gone are the days of pitching an inner tent in the rain and hastily tossing the fly on top, unsuccessfully hoping that the inner tent stayed dry. It’s also possible to pitch the Double Rainbow in “self-supporting mode” by inserting two trekking poles into sleeves at either end. This feature is useful in rocky areas where it’s difficult to insert stakes or where there aren’t rocks or logs to substitute stakes. However, our testers rarely used this feature.

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The Tarptent Double Rainbow pitches quickly with a single pole from the outside. Two doors and two vestibules make it very comfortable for its weight. The low profile design slices through wind, making it very strong for its weight.
Credit: Max Neale
Livability
The Double Rainbow is remarkably livable for its weight. It has the third highest space-to-weight ratio of all tents tested, 30.5 sq. ft. of interior floor space, two 7.5 sq. ft. vestibules, and an impressive 43-inch peak height give two people enough space to enter reasonably easily and to sit up comfortably. There is significantly more interior volume and floor area than the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2, which weighs roughly the same amount. Instead of a tapered footprint, the Double Rainbow is rectangular, which leaves more space at the foot than many other light tents. The vestibules are small when compared with other two-door tents, but the total covered area is twice as much as tents that weigh a similar amount or less. There’s enough vestibule space to protect a backpack and shoes from the rain. Bonus: you can guy out one or both vestibules with trekking poles or sticks to create a "porch" with a view (see the two photos below). Two small side pockets stash nighttime essentials.

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Tarptent Double Rainbow pitched with in porch mode. Use trekking poles or sticks to increase ventilation and covered space, or for a view. Pretty cool.
Credit: Tarptent
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Tarptent Double Rainbow with the ZPacks Twin Quilt sleeping bag in Olympics National Park, WA. The vestibule awnings provides excellent wildlife viewing!
Credit: Jess Stuecklen
Weather Resistance
When the corners and vestibule are guyed out the Double Rainbow provides bomber protection in high winds, at least compared to the other backpacking tents tested here. Its slim design and single primary pole slice through wind very well. We pitched several of the lightest two-door tents side-by-side in a storm with 35mph-ish winds and the Double Rainbow stood strong while one of its neighbors, the MSR Carbon Reflex 2 (which also a single primary pole), broke a pole and ripped the fly. Both tents were pitched with the same stakes and guyed out in the same manner in the same soil and faced the same direction.

The Double Rainbow handles high winds very well. Others have successfully used it in 55mph-ish winds (click here to see video footage of a previous version with fewer guy points). The tent uses a silicone impregnated ripstop nylon that's stronger and more durable than the polyurethane coated fabrics found on the vast majority of other tents tested here. You need to seal the seams with McNett Sil Net or something similar. Six high quality 6" Easton Nano Nail stakes come included with the tent. These are the best stakes that come with any backpacking tent we've tested.

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Pole adjustment strap on the Tarptent Double Rainbow. Cinch this down low on the windward side.
Credit: Max Neale
The single wall roof and mesh vents at the ends could offer better protection against serious rainstorms. Generally, two walls offer better protection from condensation that drips from the roof. The mesh ends have elastic loops that create a minimalist 3-4” bathtub floor. We found that strong rain combined with compacted soil creates spashback that can hit the mesh wall, some of which can then enter onto the floor. To a large degree, it’s possible to mitigate this problem be tightening the pole adjustment strap on the windward end of the tent – that lowers the fly closer to the ground. The extent that splashback occurs depends heavily on campsite selection. As always, protected sites with soft, absorbent ground are best. We believe the substantial benefits of the Double Rainbow’s impressive wind resistance far outweigh the drawbacks from some splashback. We would much rather have slightly damp sleeping bags than a broken tent.

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Tarptent Double Rainbow bicycle touring in Mexico.
Credit: Mike Meo
Weight and Packed Size
At 41.7 ounces the Double Rainbow is the lightest and most compact two-door tent we’ve tested. The simple single wall design strikes gold here because it allows you to go light and have the luxury of two doors, two vestibules and sitting space.

Limitations
The Double Rainbow suffers from a few small drawbacks. Its single wall design is more prone to condensation than double wall tents and ultralight shelters. The tent is made in one single piece that cannot adapt to environmental conditions, such as campsites that don't allow an ideal pitch. The tents found in our Ultralight Tent Review are the most adaptable type of tent. In general, the Double Rainbow has a series of small features that would benefit from refinement but don’t seriously reduce its performance. For example, the zippers are small and hard to grab. We added pull cords. Velcro strips along the vestibule closure help to remove tension from the zippers, but we’ve found that clips or toggles are easier to use and are more secure. The vestibule doors rolls to the sides and are secured with two small strips of Velcro that are not as easy to use as the elasticized toggles found on many other tents. The mesh door closure would also benefit from an elasticized closure. As is the case with all ultralight two-person tents, the Double Rainbow has enough space for two 20" wide sleeping pads and a couple of inches of space on each side. Two broad shouldered strapping lads might consider a wider tent. Other tents with two doors offer slightly more interior space but they weigh 30 ounces more on average.

Hilleberg Kerlon 1200 and 1800 tents use pole sleeves that can accommodate two poles. Some users might find it useful if the Double Rainbow had the same feature. We might use it in areas with high winds and for remote basecamps where you hike in one or more days and camp in the same spot for several days. Or, similarly, the Double Rainbow could be offered with a stronger pole option (Easton makes many other excellent and very strong aluminum and carbon poles) that would allow you to carry one stronger pole. Although the Double Rainbow is already sturdy in high winds, we believe that some people would benefit from increased static strength.

On the whole, the Double Rainbow offers a stellar combination of low weight, weather resistance, and livability. A few tweaks to the smaller features would make it even better.

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A plastic clip would be a more secure closure than velcro for the vestibule zipper. A small carabiner can insert through the two black grosgrain loops for use in high winds. The velcro is a pain to open and close and hard to seal from the inside.
Credit: Max Neale
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Velcro and lace style ties on the Tarptent Double Rainbow could be improved with elasticized toggle closures that are more secure and easier to use.
Credit: Max Neale
Best Application
The Double Rainbow is well suited to anyone that wants to go lightweight without sacrificing the comfort of two doors and complete bug protection. This the closest any of the tents in our Backpacking Tent Review come to the lighter models found in our Ultralight Tent Review. Our testers much prefer the Double Rainbow to other lightweight two-door double tents like the Big Agnes Copper Spur. Among other reasons, the Double Rainbow is lighter and we felt safer in strong winds.

Value
Price is where the Double Rainbow seals the deal. The tent only costs $275!
In comparison, the Terra Nova Solar Photon 2 costs nearly $200 more and only weighs ten ounces less.

Accessories
A $30 four-ounce breathable nylon liner turns the Double Rainbow into a double wall tent. It sheds dripping condensation, adds warmth in the winter, and cools in the summer. See it here.

How To Get It
The Double Rainbow is not sold by major commercial or online retailers. You can order it from the manufacturer at www.tarptent.com/double-rainbow.html

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: June 6, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.8)

100% of 6 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
6 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 83%  (5)
3 star: 17%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   May 9, 2014 - 02:21pm
silverdarling · Fisherman · edinburgh, scotland
So far i've used this for cycling, kayaking and trekking around Morocco, Senegal and Guinea Bissau.

For the hot, hot, hot West African climate it is an amazing tent; best i have ever used; super simple, light, adaptable, plenty space and quick to pitch. Plenty of air with good bug proofing. 100% recommendation for hot weather.

cons: the materials while pretty tough will not withstand any direct fire. cinders from a camp fire will go straight through it, as will cigarettes … my old hilleberg a wee bit more resistant in this regard … In the mountains I found it a bit cold, so I'm not sure what it will be like in northern European climate. costs a bit more to import to UK.

I love how simple the tent is, makes other tents look like fancy nonsense. I'm now off to use it on the Scottish Islands which doubtless will give it a good heavy rain test.



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Cycling in Anti-Atlas, Morocco
Credit: silverdarling


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Bijagos islands, Guinea Bissau
Credit: silverdarling

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the kids like it ... Bijagos islands, Guinea Bissau
Credit: silverdarling

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Bijagos islands, Guinea Bissau
Credit: silverdarling


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   May 15, 2013 - 03:37am
Marco Ajello · Backpacker · palermo
Hello everybody,
so this is a preliminary review. I bought the DR in April 2013 and I've used it for a total of 10 nights so far. For people wondering whether to buy or not this tent, I give an advice: this is not a normal tent.

This is a tarptent and requires some knowledge and acceptance.
First, the design is brilliant and the tent can be pitched really quickly, much more than any other tent (tested with friends). The tent is up in 2, 3 mins max.
Obtaining a taut pitch is easy once you realize (I had to ask Franco Darioli) that you have to move the pegs around with the tie outs fully out. Now, I get a pitch really quickly.

The tent is light, has lots of space (for the weight) and the materials (the silnylon, the pegs) are first class.

Some cons now. The mesh sags no matter how you pitch it. I plan to modify the tent so that the mesh is linked to the fly and this would provide a larger more confortable space inside. Space inside is good for two. If you are not intimate with the other person, you can just sleep with the heads on the opposite side and that will provide ample space. The vestibule are good for gear, pack, shoes etc, but they are not huge.

The tent is drafty: i.e. there is constant flow through it. The top vents don't normally stay open, so one needs to modify them. I experienced heavy (and I mean heavy) condensation in 2 nights on the californian costs. The humidity was so high that the tent started condensating on the inside before we moved inside the tent. When that happened it started raining on us (from our own condensation). After the 1st painful night I realized you need to wipe the inside of the fly regularly to avoid this problem. Anyway, that was quite a lot and I decided to mount the inner liner. So far so good.

I had the tent seam sealed from Tarptent, however, seam-sealing was probably not perfect and the first night when I tested the tent, it rained (not much) constantly and I woke up with lots of little ponds inside the tent. After that I did seam sealing myself to avoid problems. Henry Shires proposed to re-seam-seal it, but I preferred to do it on my own. The closures of the doors, mesh etc would really need to use toggles. Clearly those will be changed as well. The opening of the mesh doors does not facilitate going in and out. Either opening from the above (like a Big Agnes tent) or from the side (instead from the center) might work better,

Customer service has been kind of slow (despite the reviews) and the best resource out there is Franco Darioli (thx Franco for the many suggestions).

Final verdict: I love this tent. It takes sometime to get used to it, but despite all it's really a nice piece of equipment. It's strange that some simple things (mesh sagging reducing space, vents not opening and higher bath tub) are not available and one need to do themselves.
I'm not sure I would recommend it to a friend. First I would try to describe what this tent is and what is not. Somehow I'm afraid that in cold/windy environments the tent would be cold and drafty. I will test that soon as well.
cheers
Click to enlarge
Picture of the DR on the east rim of the Zion National park. That was a cold night. I thought that the temperature went below freezing (but the water was still liquid). We had a constant raft through the tent. My friends in a double-wall tent told me they
Credit: Marco Ajello
marco

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jan 22, 2013 - 10:24am
simply_light · Backpacker · Midwest, Indiana
Great Tent. Bought one used in 2012. Loved the dual vestibules and attached rain fly. Very light weight, durable, easy to set up. And the ability to use your trekking poles to make it free standing is a nice plus. If you don't use trekking poles it can still be staked out, or you can make your own lightweight poles to use in place of the trekking poles.

The optional liner is nice, but it's durability is questionable. I found that the way it is attached to the inside (adhesive is used to hold velcro tabs in place) is not ideal. In hot weather the adhesive bond weakened allowing the velcro pieces to come loose. Also, the mitten hooks used to hold the corners of the liner in place kept coming undone everytime you pack up the tent, so you would have to rehook them on every set up.

It is a great tent, especially if you do not need the liner.

Jared M. Baker
http://www.simplylightdesigns.com

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jan 4, 2013 - 12:48am
Wheatus · Climber · Thousand Oaks, CA
Bought the DR in 2011 based on a friends recommendation who used it on the entire PCT. Super light and easy to set up. Surprisingly durable. The first week we used it in the Sierras in 2011 we had perfect weather. August 2012 we tested it in high winds, hail and thunderstorms everyday for a week in the high country of the Sierras. You need to pay attention that the straps at the floor are pulled up tight to make sure the floor rolls up the sides some to avoid water from getting in during heavy rain. We stayed dry even in 4 hour long down pours of more an an inch an hour. A very small drip developed near one corner after 3.5 hours of heavy rain. The drip was so small it barely wet a corner of the floor. I called Tarptent and they said you need to seam seal the tent using the instructions on their website (silicon and mineral spirits). I guess I did not pay attention or overlooked the seam sealing requirement when I bought it. You can pay extra and have Tarptent seal the seams.

Overall, I am very happy with the quality, durability, ease of setup, weight, and stability. It is surprisingly roomy for such a light tent. Beats my Moss tent at 2.5 times the weight.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jan 3, 2013 - 08:07pm
Rhodo-Router · Climber · the secret topout on the Chockstone Chimney
Click to enlarge
Qinghai.
Credit: Rhodo-Router
My wife and I used this tent from May-September 2011 while cycling from Kunming to the Pamirs. We were impressed with the incredibly light weight and the adequate protection from the elements over a variety of conditions: snow, rain, desert, wind etc. The thing looks really flimsy and at first I was highly dubious, but in fact the DR both held up and protected us surprisingly well, considering its amazingly light weight. I wouldn't knowingly take it into really burly conditions, but for backpacking (or cycle touring) when you'd actually want to be out there it's fine. We have pro-deals with the usual suspects and happily paid retail for this small-company tent after researching ultralights for a few hours on the internet.

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It's about yak-high.
Credit: Rhodo-Router

Our friend travelling with us had a Tarptent Squall 2, which was decidedly inferior in everyone's estimation.

More beta here:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/reviews/board/message/?o=1&thread_id=41892&page=1&nested=0&v=5

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jan 5, 2013 - 05:57pm
Rhodo-Router · Climber · the secret topout on the Chockstone Chimney
Wheatus' rain experience sounds worse than anything I have lived through in this tent.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Jun 6, 2014 - 01:21pm
 
Lucky Man · Hiker · WPB, FL
I don't have the Double Rainbow but do have and like the TarpTent Notch, which isn't listed here but which I wanted to recommend for those seeking a tent that's even lighter than the Double Rainbow. It's easy to set up, and fits me at 6'2".

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Credit: Max Neale
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