Tarptent Rainbow vs. Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1

5:02 p.m. on August 10, 2012 (EDT)
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170 forum posts

If I could creat a poll I would.  Normally I don't ask questions like this but I keep vacillating back and forth between the two.  The Tarptent is a little lighter (38 ounces with the optional liner???) and a little cheaper.  I can get the Copper Spur UL1 at a very good price through Pro Motive and it is probably a little less subject to condensation.  I wish there was a clear cut winner in a straight up comparison between the two.

If any of you have experiences, especially bad, with either of these tents please let me know!

7:24 p.m. on August 10, 2012 (EDT)
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I'll throw in some stuff I've read online that you should consider. Big Agnes Copper Spur uses silicone & pu coating, henry shires tarptent uses only silicone coating. The PU coating is heavier, does not mist and is fire retardant unlike silicone coating which mists, and catches fire easily. PU coating may peel from sunlight exposure overtime though, either way the copper spur uses both coatings, I found that silicone coating alone sags quite a bit from rain and condensation.  According to Rick, the Big Agnes tents give their measurements from grommet to grommet (he has the copper spur), the tarptent gives actual usable floor space(I have a tarptent Stratospire2).  In my opinion, if you use trekking poles get a tarptent that sets up with poles, the stratospire for example, is 32x86 and is 33oz, you can also widen the floor by lowering the bathtub and get it to be 42inches wide from head to toe, if you don't use trekking poles, you might be better with the copper spur. Another thing to consider, the tarptents set up all together, while the copper spur goes body then fly, which makes setup slower and exposes the interior to the elements before you bring up the fly. Rick might be able to give you some other info on the copper spur.

9:21 p.m. on August 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Good points Maxx.  I have a Contrail right now and for several reasons wish I had gone with the Rainbow instead.  

6:57 a.m. on August 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey dm1333, how are ya?

So, looks as though you are in the market for a UL solo shelter. As maxx has stated I do own the Copper Spur 1. 

If you have not had the opportunity to see it yet I did review this model here on Trailspace. It is a great 1 man tent. Vents very well, shed rain well, quite roomy(my opinion) blah blah blah. Most of what I could tell ya here is contained in the review itself so I don't know if it is really necessary to rehash it all again here. 

I was just looking at the Rainbow again(it was on my short list when I purchased my Spur) and a few things stood out to me. 

The biggest thing is how high the floor extends. My primary worry with this is if you are caught in a real wash out of a storm the splashing effect could be an issue. 

With the Spur the fabric above the bathtub floor may give you a bit of added protection should you find yourself in a really harsh hammering rain storm. 

I actually treat this area of my Spur w/Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarproof to add a little more wet weather protection(rain seems to like me and follow me alot(bheiser will probably comment on that if he sees this. :)

Another thing you may want to consider is the Rainbow is essentially a single wall shelter. So on a clear night if you want to lay in your tent and star gaze you are somewhat dead in the water unless you sleep outside your tent.

You can pitch the inner alone on the Spur at which point the only purpose it will serve is to keep the creepy crawlies off of ya. 

Also as stated in the review you can fast pitch the Spur with just the footprint and fly which will drop the weight down to 2.2lbs. I typically do this in the early fall. 

I do like bugs(as well as all critters) but I have had an experience where I found a Brown Recluse making its way to try and make a home with me so for that reason I typically use the inner as well. 

The above is one of the main reasons I do not like using trail shelters. 

On the condensation subject...

As I stated the Rainbow is essentially a single wall shelter. So with that being said condensation could be an issue. Then again this is all relative to when you are going to use the shelter, what steps you take to negate this issue, what type of bag you are using and most of all what seasons you are using the tent. 

The colder the temps, the more condensation becomes an issue. My worry is that the footbox of your bag could become "damp" from making contact with the tent. 

Typically when condensation occurs the moisture will make its way to the inner of the fly. With a double wall tent this isn't much of a problem being your bag won't make contact with the fly being the inner won't let it do so. 

With a single wall shelter the outer tent is also your inner tent so there is no space between the 2(bag & outer.)

As I stated this is more of a problem in colder temps so this would all be relative to your own personal use. 

I have not used the Rainbow so the above is based on experience with other single wall shelters, so on and so forth. Then again for me a double wall is the way to go because humidity levels here can be completely bonkers at times.  

On the whole misting thing I have had times where I thought the Spur was misting. This was typically in an extended downpour in high humidity conditions. What I came to realize was the condensation that accumulated on the inside of the fly & the poles was being hammered from the outside by the rain and it was causing it to mist in a sense. It wasn't a big deal, and to be honest with ya I hardly noticed it. I only noticed it when sitting up during a downpour. Mind you when I mean downpour I mean a 6hr+ deluge that resulted in me having a zero day on trail.

I watched the video for the Rainbow and something kind of stood out to me. If you watch the video when the gentleman utilizes his trekking poles for a horizontal pitch it looks as though there is a good amount of stress on the poles being there is a "bow" to them.

Here is that video(I can't post the actual video but here is the link:)

See setup:


I am not quite sure that I would utilize my trekking poles for this type of use. I mean I am pretty rough on my gear and I use my gear alot. The extra added stress generated from the bowing of the poles just seems somewhat unnecessary to me. I am just leery of having my poles bent like this for hours on end. It would be my luck that this would cause a problem in the shafts or locking mechanisms that could be a potential headache on the trail. 

Vertical pitch should be fine though. 

I am not knocking the Rainbow. It is a sweet little rig. It just depends on what abilities you want out of your shelter which varies from individual to individual. 

There are trade-offs w/both models just like there is with pretty much all gear. 

Its basically a pick your poison scenario. 

I would like to mention for 2012 BA 86d the small pass-thru door opposite the entrance that is covered in my review to shave more weight from the Spur. 

Is this a deal breaker? Nah, but I have to say I am a fan of having this little storage area for my boots, a Nalgene, or other small items as stated in the review that I wrote. 

Either way I hope I may have helped you a bit. If you have anymore questions that I may have not covered feel free to fire away.

Happy hiking. 

9:24 a.m. on August 11, 2012 (EDT)
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106 forum posts

Gonna throw some more things in there.

I'd say also that the rainbow looks closer to the stratospire than the contrail.
The Rainbow fly can be pitched very low to the ground and not so low, the pitches I've seen with the copper spur the fly leaves a very big gap(you can google and youtube reviews on both and see the difference), which helps with ventilation, when I took my Stratospire2 to Yellowstone, the first night it rained all night long, not crazy Florida storm rain, but just a nice consistent rain with good amount of wind behind it, I set the tent with the fly as close to the ground as possible, opened both the top vents, and had no problem with condensation or rain getting in the tent at all, it didn't mist on me. The ventilation on this tarptent is superb, that, the fast all up at once pitch, the weight and the packed size is what sold me on it. With the rainbow, when you open the zipper, there is a rain flap there, you can leave the zipper open and the flap will protect against the rain and allow better ventilation, check out the video for it.
The shell design of the Contrail is very different than the rainbow, the fly rides higher, the setup pole is right in the center of the entrance, it's wider but shorter. If you let us know what you like and dislike about your old tent, what you expect out of the new tent, and where you are going to be using it at, maybe we can give you more specific advice, so far I've just been throwing general info out there to help the comparison.

7:07 p.m. on August 11, 2012 (EDT)
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170 forum posts

maxx, Rick,


Right now I am hiking out west but who knows where I will be next year.  Oregon?  Wisconsin?  Still here in CA?  It all depends on where the Coast Guard wants to send me.  I'm thinking of moving to CO, UT, TN or possibly a place like WY when I retire from the Coast Guard.

I like the room of the Contrail, the light weight and the quality and durability.  What I don't like is the fact that mine gets saggy towards morning and it needs to be staked out.

I like the fact that the Rainbow is nearly as light, can be free standing with trekking poles (I always use two now) and it is very roomy for a one person tent.

I like the fact that the Copper Spur is built of heavier materials and it also free standing, and that it is a double wall tent.  what I don't care for is the weight.  I hate fricken' bugs and you'll never catch me using just the fly and the footprint.  Even in relatively bug free areas when I sleep out in just my bag I seem to attract a crowd of flies, gnats and mosquitos.  Condensation may be an issue I have to deal with if I end up retiring in eastern TN.

When it comes to shelters, if I was alone at the site and it was raining pretty hard it would be nice to set up the tent inside the shelter, out of the rain and keeping all the mice and spiders at bay.

Rick, this question is aimed at you.  Big Agnes lists the Copper Spur with a packed weight of 44 ounces.  Have you ever weighed yours, in the stuff sack with all the guy lines, poles, etc. needed to use the tent?  The Rainbow is listed at 34 ounces, 38 with the optional liner.  For the weight of a cup of coffee I think I just may go with the Copper Spur, but I'm also wondering if the listed weight is actually correct.  My Contrail weight matches the weight listed in the specifications.


6:39 p.m. on August 12, 2012 (EDT)
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170 forum posts

Well, I went with the Copper Spur UL1. We'll see how it works out!

10:14 p.m. on August 12, 2012 (EDT)
2 reviewer rep
712 forum posts

Of course PU coating can mist. Misting has to do with Hydrostatic Head and not the coating.

I've used both. Go with the Rainbow. It has much more volume which is in fact similar to the 2 person Copper Spur. Although the Rainbow is single walled, it has an optional liner that mimics a true double wall ( I.e. with a fabric inner tent). The Rainbow also works well in the snow. Two trekking poles can be placed vertically at each entrance (there are grommets) which then turns it into a three pole design. Super stable.

Oops....I see you already ordered! Ignore the above.

May 21, 2018
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