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View Full Version : Contrail vs Rainbow?



earthbound
10-04-2007, 17:11
I need help deciding which to get for my upcoming AT hike. The weight of the Contrail is appealing, but I would like to hear from people who have used one or the other, or both! Does the pole in the Rainbow help with stability and ease of set-up?

earthbound
10-04-2007, 17:23
also throw in the six moons designs Lunar solo for debate/ comparison.

Appalachian Tater
10-04-2007, 17:37
The Rainbow is easy to set up, very stable, very roomy, semi-freestanding so it works on a platform.

rafe
10-04-2007, 17:48
What Tater said but with a caveat... both tents are single-walled, and are prone to issues with condensation. Aside from that, no problems with the Rainbow that I used on my last section hike.

Appalachian Tater
10-04-2007, 17:51
Since I have no experience with a double-wall tent, let me ask: The second wall is mosquito netting, right? How does that prevent condensation?!?

As I've said before, I have only ever had mild condensation and it was not a problem at all.

earthbound
10-04-2007, 17:53
Tator- did you use the Rainbow on your thru?

rafe
10-04-2007, 17:56
Since I have no experience with a double-wall tent, let me ask: The second wall is mosquito netting, right? How does that prevent condensation?!?

As I've said before, I have only ever had mild condensation and it was not a problem at all.


In a double-wall tent, the non-breathable (rain-blocking) layer is the outermost layer, usually a few inches above the netting. Double-wall tents have much better ventilation, which prevents most condensation. To the extent that condensation does form, it's not likely to end up dripping on you.

Appalachian Tater
10-04-2007, 18:00
Rainbow dripped on you?? How does the double wall tent have better ventilation? Rainbow has one (maybe two now?) top vents, is open all the way around the bottom, and has a huge door that you can leave up partway even in the rain. I'm trying to understand this.

So a double-wall tend has condensation and drips, but the mosquito netting catches it?

Appalachian Tater
10-04-2007, 18:02
Tator- did you use the Rainbow on your thru?

Yes, and slept in it at least 100 times, I don't know for sure, maybe 120 times. I slept in shelters only a few times before Maine but did stay in some hostels, B&Bs, and hotels. Definitely over 100 times though. And I love it.

earthbound
10-04-2007, 18:08
That sure is a glowing review!

rafe
10-04-2007, 18:13
Rainbow dripped on you?? How does the double wall tent have better ventilation? Rainbow has one (maybe two now?) top vents, is open all the way around the bottom, and has a huge door that you can leave up partway even in the rain. I'm trying to understand this.

So a double-wall tend has condensation and drips, but the mosquito netting catches it?

Tater, I can't fully explain it. We've had this discussion. Your experience is 100% with the Rainbow; mine is 98% with double-walled tents (at least since 1980 or so) and 2% with the Rainbow.

In my ancient and trusty Eureka Gossamer, I was never troubled by condensation. I bought the Rainbow mainly to shave a pound of weight, and because the Gossamer is 18 years old.

It would be nice to hear from folks who have extensive experience with both types of tents.

Appalachian Tater
10-04-2007, 18:20
Tater, I can't fully explain it. We've had this discussion. Your experience is 100% with the Rainbow; mine is 98% with double-walled tents (at least since 1980 or so) and 2% with the Rainbow.

In my ancient and trusty Eureka Gossamer, I was never troubled by condensation. I bought the Rainbow mainly to shave a pound of weight, and because the Gossamer is 18 years old.

It would be nice to hear from folks who have extensive experience with both types of tents.

Yeah, somebody should be along shortly! I don't think I actually tried to get someone to explain the difference in the hows and whys of condensation, if I did and forgot, sorry.

Quoddy
10-04-2007, 18:52
I've used the Contrail extensively, including a thru of the LT. There can't be a tent out there that can be put up faster. I consistently take 90 seconds or less to completely put it up. With all the mesh allowing lots of air movement, I've had no problem with condensation.

More recently I've been using the Rainbow and found that other than taking about a minute longer to put up, it too is an excellent choice... particularly in an area where the option to make it free standing is needed. A bit more spacious than the Contrail, but both are huge for a single. No condensation problems with this one either.

For winter use I have consistently used double walled tents. My most recent is the Hilleberg Akto. By nature double walled tents are warmer, but have less ventilation than tarp tents and as such are more prone to condensation. This winter I'll be switching to the new Hilleberg Soulo for improved snow load capibility.

The perception that seems to be common is that the double walled tents have less condensation, but that is really not the case. The inner layer tends to prevent touching the moist outer layer and that's the difference.

Well ventilated Contrail: http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/files/1/1/6/6/8/2Pole-1.jpg

Akto in Winter: http://209.200.85.146/trailjournals/photos/5503/tj5503_030107_165340_203488.jpg

Appalachian Tater
10-04-2007, 18:56
I've used the Contrail extensively, including a thru of the LT. There can't be a tent out there that can be put up faster. I consistently take 90 seconds or less to completely put it up. With all the mesh allowing lots of aire movement, I've had no problem with condensation.

More recently I've been using the Rainbow and found that other than taking about a minute longer to put up, it too is an excellent choice... particularly in an area where the option to make it free standing is needed. A bit more spacious than the Contrail, but both are huge for a single. No condensation problems with this one either.

For winter use I have consistently used double walled tents. My most recent is the Hilleberg Akto. By nature double walled tents are warmer, but have less ventilation than tarp tents and as such are more prone to condensation. This winter I'll be switching to the new Hilleberg Soulo for improved snow load capibility.

The perception that seems to be common is that the double walled tents have less condensation, but that is really not the case. The inner layer tends to prevent touching the moist outer layer and that's the difference.

Well, that is supposed to clear things up? :eek:

Seriously, sometimes there is some condensation in the Rainbow but it is large enough that you don't touch the walls, so no problem. You can sit up and you don't touch anything, you can change clothes in it. I never had it drip even when there was condensation.

rafe
10-04-2007, 19:15
By nature double walled tents are warmer...

True -- unless you set up the double-walled tent without the fly or with the fly rolled up.


...but have less ventilation than tarp tents and as such are more prone to condensation. Say what? How do you figure? Offhand, I'd say that's entirely... backwards.


The inner layer tends to prevent touching the moist outer layer and that's the difference.Ah, but there's more to the story. As condensation accumulates, rivulets form. In a single-wall tent, those rivulets end up inside the tent. In a double wall tent, they end up outside.

I've weathered many intense rainstorms in double-walled tents. In all that time, I never experienced the "micro-droplets" that flew in my face in the Rainbow during hard rain.

Seriously, fellas, I'm not trying to badmouth Tarptents. I'm just relating my experience, which I know for certain isn't unique. The Rainbow is light, roomy and quick to set up. But it's not as dry as the tents I've been using since 1980 or so.

LostInSpace
10-04-2007, 22:35
I have five different double-wall tents and a Contrail single-wall tent. I really like the Contrail.


Neither style, single-wall nor double-wall, has inherently better ventilation than the other. The ventilation depends on the particular designís provision for air flow.


Both styles are subject to condensation. The canopy of the double-wall design prevents you from coming into contact with the condensation, but does not prevent the condensation. The condensation deposits on the inside of the rain fly. I have had condensation at various times on the rain fly of every double-wall tent I have ever owned.


Condensation often occurs when there is a rapid decrease in the external air temperature. Your body, breath, etc., keep the air inside the tent warmer than the air outside. When there is a temperature difference between the inside air and the outside air, the moisture in the inside air will condense on the rain fly in the case of the double wall tent or the canopy in the case of the single wall tent. This is the exact same situation that causes your auto windows to fog up under the right conditions. When the outside air temperature decreases slowly, there is much less temperature difference between the inside and outside because the temperatures tend to equalize over time.


I would suggest selecting you tent for reasons other than whether condensation will occur. It WILL occur given the right conditions. Ventilation capability, whether single or double wall design, is certainly one criterion.

Midway Sam
10-04-2007, 22:45
I have five different double-wall tents and a Contrail single-wall tent. I really like the Contrail.


Neither style, single-wall nor double-wall, has inherently better ventilation than the other. The ventilation depends on the particular designís provision for air flow.


Both styles are subject to condensation. The canopy of the double-wall design prevents you from coming into contact with the condensation, but does not prevent the condensation. The condensation deposits on the inside of the rain fly. I have had condensation at various times on the rain fly of every double-wall tent I have ever owned.


Condensation often occurs when there is a rapid decrease in the external air temperature. Your body, breath, etc., keep the air inside the tent warmer than the air outside. When there is a temperature difference between the inside air and the outside air, the moisture in the inside air will condense on the rain fly in the case of the double wall tent or the canopy in the case of the single wall tent. This is the exact same situation that causes your auto windows to fog up under the right conditions. When the outside air temperature decreases slowly, there is much less temperature difference between the inside and outside because the temperatures tend to equalize over time.


I would suggest selecting you tent for reasons other than whether condensation will occur. It WILL occur given the right conditions. Ventilation capability, whether single or double wall design, is certainly one criterion.

Bingo. I have used a double-wall tent quite a bit in all kinds of conditions and have stayed dry on most nights. In the right conditions, however, I have had condensation problems and have woke up damp.

I now own a Double Rainbow and have only spend one night in it so far. It was during a Cub Scout campout and the Rainbow was pitched on the grass with a space blanket as a ground cloth. My 11yo son and I slept in it and had no condensation problems. I am sure we will in the future, but we will deal with it just as we did with the double wall tent.