Tarptent Double Rainbow Overview
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. Corny though it may be, Dorothy and Toto often find their way into my thoughts when I’m inside the walls of my Tarptent Double Rainbow. It’s a happy place for me, my home in the wilderness, the spot where I wonder and dream about what lies ahead on the trail.
The “double” in Double Rainbow it’s a two-person tent, but, weighing in at a mere 43 ounces (two pounds 11 ounces), it’s light enough for a solo hiker who wants the extra room. The hybrid bathtub floor drops flat when you don’t need weather protection, giving you a couple more inches of glorious floor space when you’d like it, and it can be staked or left freestanding (if your trekking poles are long enough).
Lightweight, spacious, and adaptable: these are just a few of the reasons why we’ve awarded the Tarptent Double Rainbow our Budget Pick for the Ultralight Backpacker.
For the record, there are lighter shelters that cost roughly the same or less. You can fit two people under a tarp, but we find that most backpackers, even ultralighters, don’t want that experience. They want comfort that includes a cut in weight, not one that sacrifices it completely. There are also tents that are similar in comfort and cost. The most prominent is the Tarptent MoTrail, which has a single door and a few other differences, but it’s worth checking out.
Below, read the full Tarptent Double Rainbow review.
Tarptent Double Rainbow Star Rating
The Double Rainbow is my go-to outdoor shelter. It’s an ultralight tent that was designed with versatility and convenience in mind.
Update: Tarptent has had the Double Rainbow model for a number of years, as is, and there are no major updates in 2019.
Tarptent Double Rainbow Specifications
|Feature Type||Feature Specs||What This Means|
|Packed Weight||2 lbs 11 oz. (1.17 kg)||Very lightweight. Anything under three pounds for a two-person tent is solid.|
|Type||Staked and Freestanding Modes||The tent as is only sets up with stakes. You need to stake four corners and insert the main pole to set it up. However, Tarptent encourages you to make it freestanding by using trekking poles or their own poles. This adds some weight, but a freestanding tent is easier/quicker to set up.|
|Wall Type||Single||The Double Rainbow doesn’t have a separate inner tent and rainfly. The rainfly is the top of the tent, therefore it’s just a single walled structure. This helps with weight, but makes ventilation and condensation a potential issue.|
|No. of Doors||2||Two large doors on the Double Rainbow allow full entry and exit for both people.|
|Sleeping Capacity||2-person||The Double Rainbow is just large enough for two people. You won’t have tons of room, but enough room to sleep flat.|
|Seasons||3-season||The Double Rainbow does well in inclement weather, but it’s not meant for true winter.|
|Packed Size||18 x 4 in. (46 x 10 cm)||This is a relatively small pack size. You can decrease it further by storing the pole somewhere else.|
|Floor Dimensions||50 x 88 in. (127 x 225 cm)||A 50-inch width means two 25-inch sleeping pads can sit side by side (with no extra room). Overall this space is fairly large for how light the tent is.|
|Floor Area||30.5 sqft||A solid amount of square footage for an ultralight tent.|
|Peak Height||43 in. (109 cm)||You can sit up fully in this tent, even on your knees. Great peak height, and while it does slope, the slope isn’t severe.|
|No. of Vestibules||2||Two full vestibules on either side means space to store gear and shoes.|
|Vestibule Area||7.5 sqft per vestibule||A decent amount of space. Large enough to store a small backpack and pair of shoes/boots, but not much else.|
|No. of Poles||1 pole||The Double Rainbow comes with a single pole that slides through a long sleeve over the top of the tent. It also comes with a small cross-beam pole to help raise the doors, but Tarptent doesn’t list this for some reason.|
|Pole Material||Not Listed||Tarptent doesn’t list the materials of the pole. It’s likely an aluminum pole.|
|No. of Interior Pockets||2 pockets||Two small mesh pockets, large enough for a phone and wallet.|
|Rain Fly Material||30D silicon coated fabric||Tarptent uses 30D silicon coated for the Double Rainbow. It is durable, but needs to be seam sealed properly.|
|Floor Material||30D silicon coated fabric||The same fabrics are used for the floor.|
|Mesh/Body Material||30D silicon coated fabric, NoSeeUm Mesh||The same fabrics are used for the body (which is also the Fly), and the mesh doesn’t let bugs in.|
|Footprint, Fast Setup?||No Specific Footprint||There is no specific footprint for this tent, as is true for most ultralight backpacking tents. You can order a pre-cut Tyvek groundsheet from Tarptent, or get some yourself. We do recommend using a basic groundsheet.|
|Manufacturer Warranty||Lifetime Limited Warranty||Tarptent purchases are fully guaranteed for the original purchaser against fabric and workmanship failure. Normal wear and tear repairs are done on a “non profit” basis, meaning they fix the tent at no extra cost beyond the materials. It’s a small company and they have a more detailed return process, so get in touch before sending back your tent.|
|Retail Price||$289+||A low cost for an ultralight, roomy tent. This is the base price, and there are plenty of add-ons that can make the Double Rainbow more expensive.|
Gear Review of the Tarptent Double Rainbow
Origins: Easing You In
My wife and I have taken our Tarptent Double Rainbow on countless adventures to lands as wonderful as Oz: from the Southern California deserts to the Washington Cascades, and just about everywhere in between.
We thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2015 with the Double Rainbow. The tent sheltered us from 80 m.p.h. winds, thunderstorms, hail, and snow. It survived five months of daily use and abuse with barely a scratch to show for it, and still remains a useful piece of gear in our arsenal to this day.
On my most recent trek I revisited the PCT, backpacking solo through a section of Northern California’s Trinity Alps Wilderness and Marble Mountains Wilderness.
Fires were ravaging much of the wilderness in the nearby areas, filling the sky with smoke and leaving the trail barren. No one else was out there. I was all alone. My nerves started to get the best of me. (Lions and tigers and bears — or more like cougars and fires and bears, oh my!)
The Double Rainbow was my light in the darkness, my home away from home. Even when my fears started to get the best of me, I knew I could stop wherever I was and set up my tent in an instant, shielding myself from my worries.
Revelation: The Moment I Knew
I’ve known for a long time that I loved this tent, but the memory that comes to mind is from the beginning days of my PCT thru-hike. In the first few weeks we camped in a desert gorge next to another thru-hiker. It was a pleasant evening when we made camp, but sometime in the middle of the night the wind started whipping through that ravine, its power so intense that it literally folded our tent down on top of us. My wife and I had to push back against the fabric with our hands and feet to keep it from pressing into our faces.
After an hour or so the intensity abated, and the Double Rainbow stood upright once more. In the morning our tent was still staked properly and in good shape, while our neighbor had unfortunately suffered a tent-tastrophe. His tent had been torn to shreds, and one of its poles had snapped.
It’s revelations like this one from years ago that have turned into security today. When a thunderstorm rolled overhead on my most recent PCT-venture I knew that the Double Rainbow could withstand its ferocity. I also knew that the tent is so quick to setup that I could hop into it at a moment’s notice if needed.
Anecdotes say a lot about the feel of a tent, but the numbers matter too. Being ultralight, the Double Rainbow is designed to weigh as little as possible, and for some it may be a little small.
The floorspace is 50 inches wide and 88 inches long, though these measurements shrink a little when you clip up the hybrid bathtub floor, which you need to do when the weather is poor. This leaves just enough room for two 25-inch sleeping pads to fit side by side.
There are two interior storage pockets that are large enough for your phone and wallet, and the two large vestibules provide plenty of exterior storage space, which is easily accessible through the zippered mesh doors on either side of the tent.
Tarptent has made it so that you can camp as you’d like with the Double Rainbow, as most cottage gear companies do, by giving you lots of add-on and customization options. These can rack up the costs, though, so do some research to find out what you actually want and need.
The Double Rainbow is a single wall tent, meaning it doesn’t have a rainfly separate from the mesh and tent body. This cuts down on weight, but makes condensation an issue. I opted to add the $30, four ounce clip-in liner which acts as an “almost” second-wall, helping to regulate the inside temperature of the tent and keep moisture at bay.
Another component of the Double Rainbow is that the base price doesn’t include seam sealing. If you’re used to buying a tent from a big-brand name, it is always seam sealed. You have to do this before use, or your tent will let in tons of water. The company will seam seal the whole thing for an extra $35 bucks, or you can opt to do it on your own, which is much cheaper.
There are multiple ways to pitch the tent. The most basic form is to stake it out, which is what I’ve always done. (I have yet to find myself in a spot where there wasn’t enough dirt or big rocks to stake my tent with.) If that is a concern of yours, you can make the Double Rainbow freestanding by purchasing the optional support poles (which adds weight) or using a pair of 57-inch or longer trekking poles. (Tarptent even sells tip extenders if your poles are too short!)
All these options sure do pile on the conjunctions and parentheses and potential cost, eh? To keep this a budget tent, go light and lean. Learn how to seam seal yourself, and take the exact poles and stakes you need.
Sleep Comfort 4 Stars
The Double Rainbow has plenty of ventilation, all of which is adjustable with various clips, zips, and velcro strips. The outer fabric gets soaking wet in bad weather, though, so I’d recommend you get the optional clip-in liner like I did if you plan to use it in a rainy climate. It doesn’t leak if the tent is properly seam sealed, but condensation can build up, and a big cold droplet splashing your cheek at 2 a.m. is an unpleasant way to wake up.
Durability 5 Stars
The 30D silicon-coated walls and mesh doors are surprisingly strong. My tent has been through hell and back (otherwise known as 2,650+ miles) without having taken any major damage.
Only the zippers have started to weaken, and that’s after years of dust has worked its way between the slides and teeth. Keep your teeth clean (says the Tent Dentist) and the Double Rainbow will last you a long time.
Ease of Setup 4 Stars
One pole and a handful of stakes. Couldn’t get more simple than that, but you should practice in the backyard a few times to get the pitch right. I’ve had nearly six months of practice, so I’m used to it. There are may clips and straps, all of which help to dial in a perfect pitch. The finer points are about keeping your tent weatherproof, so you’ll want to really get to know all of its adjustability.
If you’re used to a freestanding tent — the kind where you put poles into grommets and the tent pops up and can be moved around — this doesn’t work like that. Unless you have trekking poles that make it freestanding, but even then it’s not as simple. I haven’t tried the trekking pole method, but Tarptent’s setup video shows how simple the process is for that as well.
You can also use trekking poles to create a front porch, which is an even fancier setup.
Space 5 Stars
There is enough room in the Double Rainbow for two average height-and-build people to sit and sleep comfortably. If you clip up the bathtub floor it gets a bit more cuddly, so choose your tent buddy accordingly!
For someone on the larger side this makes an excellent single-person tent, but is a stretch for two people.
Vibe 5 Stars
It’s a cool tent that looks a bit like an alien spaceship with it’s bright centered bow and funky, aerodynamic design. I’ve chilled in this tent for hours at a time listening to audiobooks and planning the next day’s hike. It’s a delightful place to hangout by yourself or alongside another.
After so many miles of use, I know the things that annoy me about this tent. Fortunately nothing is a deal-breaker, which is clear because I still use it all the time.
That said, the zippers are starting to annoy me these days. It is partly my fault for allowing them to gather as much dirt as they did over the years, but they are not hardy in any sense of the word. From day one of owning my Double Rainbow I knew the zippers would give me trouble at some point. In order to stay ultralight Tarptent used tiny little zippers, and tiny zipper teeth clog more easily.
My advice if you get the tent is to care for the zippers better than I did. Spray the teeth with a compressed air duster after every excursion and scrub them clean with an old toothbrush on occasion.
There’s no place like home on the trail, especially a home that’s as versatile as the Tarptent Double Rainbow. This two-person ultralight tent can be setup in a flash and adapts to almost any camping situation you can throw at at. Clip it. Strap it. Stake it. Bop it!
Where to Buy Tarptent Double Rainbow
Tarptent is a cottage gear company, which means they are quite small, and you can only buy their tents (and other gear) from their website. This means Double Rainbow prices don’t fluctuate much, but also means there’s not a huge markup on the tent.
The base price for the Double Rainbow is $289. This includes the tent, six stakes, and one pole. Tarptent offers many upgrades for this tent: Add a Liner to help regulate condensation for $30, get a seam-sealing kit for $6-$8 and do it yourself or have Tarptent seam seal the tent for $35, and/or purchase two Vertical Support Poles for $32 to make the tent freestanding. You can also use your own trekking poles to make it freestanding, but they have to be 57-inches (145 cm) in length.
True to a lot of ultralight gear, options and add-ons abound. Purchase the exact version of this tent you need!
6 responses to “Tarptent Double Rainbow Review”
Hi. Question about using the optional clip on liner. Do you experience condensation dripping down and onto the tent floor where the liner terminates at either end? Thanks.
Hi Herbert. No I’ve never had it drip. If anything the liner will cling to the tent walls when the tent is sopping wet because the outer walls can sag a bit when the tent is soaked from consistent rain.
A fair, thorough review! I have the sil-nylon Double Rainbow—they now also make a Dyneema version—that i’ve only used a few times so far. As the review notes, it’s a comfortable tent, especially for solo use, which is how i’ve been using it, though it’s a bit heavy for just one person. If i had known the Dyneema version was in the works, i might have held out and saved up for that.
I especially like the “porch” feature which allows the fly doors to be configured to make a little overhang. Makes cooking in the rain from inside the tent easier (and safer). The “porch” can be supported with a short, optional pole available from Tarptent, or you can use a stick or trekking pole.
Great review and really useful to read. They now make the double walled version of this tent, which is excellent. A useful tip to not use the clips for the bathtub floor.
Which way do you pitch in stronger winds and have you added extra guy ropes?
Glad you found the review useful, Andy. I still use this tent today!
I have not used guy ropes with it. I always pitch the tent so that it acts like a shark’s fin in the water—so that the arc of the rainbow slices through the wind in the direction that the gusts are coming from.
I’ve had the wind direction switch on me in the middle of the night when it gusted over 60mph, though, and I was awoken to the tent folding flat down onto my face. It was quite funny! The tent never ripped and the stakes never came out of the ground.
My Double Rainbow was bought new in 2007, has been with me and my wife on the length of the AT twice, countless nights camping since then, and is still going strong. They have since made some design improvements but it hasn’t changed that much. I cannot recommend this tent strongly enough.