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068 New Tarptent 2009-04-10


Our new Tarptent, a Double Rainbow, was delivered on Wednesday. As soon as I opened the box I stuck the tent on the scales which produced the magical number - two and a half pounds! Now that is not a super light tent, but we had other criteria that needed to be met: it had to be big enough for sleeping two people and a ninety pound dog, a vestibule big enough to store boots and packs, and enough headroom to sit up to read or play cards. We actually compared a number of tents to the Tarptent, but finally decided that it was the best compromise. We would give it a try, sight unseen.

The setup was flawless. Put one pole through the continuous sleeve, stake out six points, and get in. I could sit up inside, there were two vestibules, two doors, and the dog seemed happy to lay down beside me. Our Thermarests covered most of the floor space. It would be tight for the three of us, but the dog always sleeps at my wife’s feet. She is vertically challenged and sleeps in the fetal position not taking up much room. (She doesn’t walk in two circles before laying down like the dog, though.)

The Tarptent is also capable of being set as a free standing tent, by using trekking poles on the ends. Though the setup was a bit more convoluted than the standard method, it was not overly hard, and now would be easy if I ever wanted to use it in the field. On a side note, I do not mind staking out a tent. It is easy to do and if the ground is too rocky to accept stakes, then generally there are enough rocks close by to use as anchors so that you can do without stakes.

The tent requires seam sealing. Boo, hiss, hiss. I know, a throw back to the nineties before the companies learned how to factory seal the stitching, but I am sure the do-it-yourself sealing keeps the manufacturing cost and weight down. Of course there are lots of folks who used to be too lazy to seam seal their tents. They would just complain about the leaks, that is probably why tape sealing became a necessity. For me the seam sealing ritual was easy and gave me the time to inspect every stitch and hole in the tent - adding a little extra glue where necessary. Having to seam seal also makes the user set the tent up and become intimate with it is details, which is not a bad idea before taking the tent into the wilds.

Overall tent scores: Design - A, Weight - A, Dimensions - A, Setup - A, Workmanship - B (just too many ugly seams).

We are off to South Cumberland State Park (TN) to go backpacking over the weekend. I know we will like the weight of the tent but we are also excited to learn how to adapt our needs to the Tarptents’ features. More when we return.


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