I’ve been a fan of the DR since 2007 when I purchased it to complete my northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail that year. My first DR was different than this version and was replaced for free a short time after purchase by Tarptent after the company substituted velcro closures with zippers, and improved the single strut situation over the top of the tent, so this is a review of my third Double Rainbow !
I switched to the DR in 2007 when I reached Harpers’ Ferry, VA . I’ve got bad shoulders, after bilateral surgeries. In addition, my right shoulder has been recommended for complete replacement after I was given 3-5 years of expected service way back in 2007. Yes, I’ve been putting it off. I was experiencing considerable pain in that right shoulder in 2007 when I slept on the ground, so began hiking the AT in a Clark’s Jungle Hammock. I had no pain while sleeping, but became increasingly dissatisfied with life in the hammock. If I wasn’t an author, it might not have mattered. The problem became the sense of cramped confinement I experienced lying back in the hammock and typing out my daily Trailjournal entries. That plus periods of confinement on bad weather days where I was stuck in the hammock.
I successfully completed the AT in the DR, and then used it for shorter backpacking trips from 2007 through 2010. The tent was solid to the point where I was able to complete my 2010 Pacific Crest Trail in that same DR, which was deposited in the first trash can that I found in Canada.
What I liked about the DR was the floor space. I’m 6’2”. The original fit two 20” wide mats side by side with ample room to sit up. The space was then luxurious for the two-pound 8-ounce weight. The double entry doors with vestibules were appreciated on my thru-hike when the main zipper eventually failed on one of the doors. I taped and pinned that one closed and used the other door instead.
In freestanding mode employing two trekking poles, the DR also adapted well to the wooden tent platforms in increasing use here in the northeastern US. I remember snagging a terrific tent site on a shallow ledge that resisted the use of tent pegs.
In 2010 my wife bought me a brand new Tarptent for my birthday This time it was the smaller single-person Moment model, using just one center pole, and only two stakes. It worked fine for my whole Continental Divide Trail thru-hike in 2013, and went on thru-hikes of the Vermont’s Long Trail, Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail, and New Brunswick’s Fundy Footpath. When I last used my Moment a month ago while bike camping in Vermont I tore again a previously repaired area. It became apparent that I would not be sending back the Moment for any more repairs. Another one bites the dust !
I lost my job as a school psychologist on March 19 this year due to Covid-19 and am not going back, due to my wife’s medical condition, the nature of my job, and our ages. Auntie Mame and I continue to quarantine since then. While we’ve been through so much these past 48 years of marriage, being at home together so much gets stressful. Earlier this August was constantly grumbling about the heat and humidity, so Mame suggested that I spend some money for a new tent and take four days to go backpacking.
I bought a new tent! I planned to buy another Double Rainbow but there is now a brand new lighter, stronger, bigger, and improved version- The Double Rainbow Lithium.
From the Tarptent website: “New for 2020, the patented Double Rainbow Li is our lightest arch pole supported shelter. Made with Dyneema®, this tent is ideal for users who want floor space to fit two long, wide pads. Dual side entry with dual vestibules, free-standing capable with trekking poles, and hybrid double-wall with optional liner, the Double Rainbow Li gives you the freedom and security you want for a wide range of conditions”.
The DR Li is shipped-seam taped, with reflective Spectra cord guylines, improved venting, and moisture management features. The DR Lithium website includes a long 23-minute Backpacking Light video review that convinced me to shell out the extra cash and purchase what is likely to be the last backpacking tent I’ll ever need, although if I ever wear it out on other 2,000+ mile thru hikes, that might change. Setup time is 2 minutes. At $649 is this model twice as good as the original DR?
I love doing business with Tarptent. When I called to discuss I wasn’t that surprised when the owner, designer, and original sticher Henry Shires answered the phone and even remembered me from previous contacts. I also met him at a backpacking festival out West in 2010. We chatted and he added that this tent is manufactured in China in a factory that is specifically designed for cutting and assembling ultralight backpacking tents. Henry explained that as a prior Tarptent consumer, the workmanship of this Lithium model will be immediately noticeable. Prior to the decision to go to off-shore assembly, all Tartptents were made in the US. Increasing difficulty at finding experienced sewists in the US contributed to this decision. My tent arrived two days later with free shipping, just in time to test it out on a multi-night section hike of the Appalachian Trail here in Maine.
The tent impresses right away. Packed size is 18×4×5 in. and weight at 1.75 pounds. Even the stuff sack is Dyneema, waterproof racing sailcloth, trademarked as “the world’s strongest fiber”.
What was it like on the trail? Excellent!
Since I had spent hundreds of nights in previous DRs, I was able to set up in under five minutes. Other reviewers on the Tarptent website have written about setup being trickier that the company video leads you to believe, but my results came out tight as a drum. The wider width allows for two 25-inch wide pads to go side by side with a few inches extra to spare. It’s a palace in there for me and all my gear. The only reason I’d ever need the vestibules while solo would be for wet gear and stinky shoe placement. The little ridgepole that was integrated into the previous DR is now separate from the tent itself and is reported to allow for increased performance in windier conditions. I can’t comment on how the tent did in the wind as both nights use of this tent were in heavily forested, protected sites, one right beside a stream.
Normally, camping beside water results in increased condensation inside the tent, and I was pleased when the interior walls were practically dry when I woke up. I’d highly recommend watching the 23-minute Backpacking Light Review on the Tarptent Website to help understand why this tent’s design assists with condensation management.
I’m super pleased after my first multi-night experience in the tent. A longer use review will follow as I’m currently planning a bike-packing trip through the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, hopefully before the snows hit.
NOTE: The tent is out of stock already !