Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent Review
Big update – Tarptent no longer makes this tent in the USA… Booooooooo on Henry Shires! Original text:
Considering the price to performance ratio, the Double Rainbow is one of the top lightweight tents one can buy regardless of where it’s made. At $299 retail it offers more than tents costing twice as much. I’ve thoroughly run it through its paces and am keeping this one as my personal shelter. The Seattle, USA made Double Rainbow has earned our Best Buy Award. It just begs the question – Double Rainbow!!… What does it mean!?
Often we hear corporate executives defend their transfer of manufacturing jobs overseas and mass layoffs as a “necessity to remain competitive.” How do they explain the American made Double Rainbow which outperforms the big brand name tent imports that cost twice as much?
As a durable, storm worthy two person tent weighing under 3 lb., this tent sits well within my sweet spot for a versatile shelter. Sometimes I like to backpack solo and other times I like to share my tent. Remarkably, the 2 lb. 10 oz. Double Rainbow achieves its light weight while also being spacious. There’s plenty of room for two to comfortably sit up straight (I’m 6 ft. 1 in.) and room for backpacks and boots under the two side vestibules. I had more than enough room to stretch out while sleeping. With its 88 in. floor, this tent is great for taller folks and those wanting more space. It’s more spacious and more affordable than its closest competitors from brands like Big Agnes and NEMO.
The Double Rainbow’s design, materials, and quality of stitching are top notch. Despite its lightness, it met the hard rains, high winds and snow of Wyoming’s high country with ease. I used this tent while working Forest Inventory and Analysis plots for the Forest Service. Thus the Double Rainbow joined me while backpacking up to 25 miles per day on many 2-week work hitches in the rugged mountains of Northwestern Wyoming including the Absaroka, Teton, Wind River, Salt River, and Gros Ventre Ranges. Wyoming’s wet, gusty, and unpredictable summer monsoonal weather at our working elevations (between 8,000 and 11,500 ft.) provided the testing ground.
Not once did I get wet through many gusty downpours, long rains and light snows. In Outdoor Gear Labs review of the Double Rainbow I read splashback could occur. Thankfully I never experienced any splashback and suspect that’s due to my keeping the tent corners, and pole tensioners tight and taut, and clipping the bathtub floor clips. The Double Rainbow gave me confidence in high winds, unlike my old REI Half Dome whose poles smacked me in the face every time a gust whipped up. I did have an interesting situation however when the original tent stakes pulled out of loose, pebbly dirt during a 50 mile per hour squall in the middle of the night… large rocks placed over the stakes rode out the rest of the storm just fine. I attribute this to the poor site location and the stakes, not the tent design. I didn’t have any problems in high winds when the stakes were anchored in firmer ground. The Easton Nano (nail type) stakes provided with the Double Rainbow are incredibly light but I prefer a more secure and durable anchor such as MSR’s Groundhog stake. Another night one of the Easton tent stakes broke when pounding it into firm soil; I’m glad I had brought a couple extra MSR stakes.
Condensation does affect this tent, but no more so than most other single wall tents I have tried. Of course it also makes a huge difference where you pitch the tent and whether you open a vestibule for greater airflow. Staying away from water, lush greenery, and out of depressions kept condensation to a minimum. The tent wisely provides two small vents near the top for ventilation. Tarptent also has a clip-in breathable liner available as an additional purchase to prevent condensation, but I found the liner unnecessary.
The Double Rainbow setup and take down is fast and easy with just one central pole and no rainfly to mess with. I averaged around 3 minutes for setup if I could push the stakes in with my boots (pounding stakes takes longer of course). Takedown was similarly fast and simply rolling the tent up tight around the single pole was the best method I found for stuffing it into the stuff sack. Compact and narrow when packed-up, the tent fits inside my ULA Ohm 2.0 or 45L Cilogear backpack with plenty of room for other gear. Once the tent is up, it’s easy to find in the dark due to its reflective spectra cord guylines. Lastly, the tent can be used with trekking poles for additional freestanding support and different vestibule arrangements, but I never tested this since I don’t carry trekking poles.
To this day, after years of regular use I’m impressed with the Double Rainbow. It doesn’t show much wear and tear and I expect it to last many years. It’s a fantastic all around three season tent. Could it work for 4 seasons? I’ll update my review when I test its heavy snow shedding abilities ski trekking later. * See update below.
The Double Rainbow can be found directly from the manufacturer:
More Information from Tarptent.com
Note: I do NOT have any affiliate links for this tent, and did not receive any money for writing this review. I also paid full retail price for my Double Rainbow. Regardless, affiliate links do not influence my opinions and recommendations on gear.
* Update May 22, 2019: I’m still using this tent regularly through 4 years and it’s still performing well. I’ve now tested this tent extensively winter camping/ski trekking in my home Wasatch Range and the Canadian Rockies in both light and heavy snow. It can handle a little light snow, but it’s not a 4-season tent (and was never meant to be). It won’t shed heavy snow accumulation; the sides of the tent cave in with snow so only a narrow point underneath the central pole is not buried unless you constantly push snow off the sides through the night. Luckily it’s just been me using this tent in heavy snows so I could manage solo sleeping in the narrow middle, however condensation also becomes an issue while winter camping. It’s an awesome 3-season tent, just don’t expect any miracles if it’s snowing and you’ll be happy.
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