User Review: Tarptent Rainshadow 2
Design: tarp-tent with swen-in bug netting and bathtub floor
Ease of Setup: just 5 stakes and and either 2 or 3 poles make for a quick, but not free-standing, setup
Weight: 42 oz
Price Paid: $255
Weighing in at just two and a half pounds and offering 50 square feet of very livable space, the Tarptent Rainshadow 2 by Henry Shires is a veritable palace. Don’t let the “2” in the name fool you: most manufacturers would call a tent this size a three-person.
The design is straightforward: a waterproof silnylon tarp is supported by a single aluminum hoop at one end and two trekking poles at the other. A sewn-in full-coverage insect with zippered door net hangs from the tarp and attaches to the optional floor.
Like most of Shires’ Tarptent designs, the Rainshadow is available with or without a floor. We opted for the floored version. Once you factor in the weight of an additional ground cloth, the weight savings of the floorless model are negligible.
Unlike pure tarp designs, the Rainshadow 2 incorporates two poles: a hoop in the rear and a small "strut" at the top of the front door. Both poles “open up” the tent, providing more than adequate headroom and creating a sizable screened opening to promote cross-ventilation.
Condensation is a concern in any single-wall shelter, but we haven't had any problems with the Rainshadow 2. The tent has a built-in front beak that can be pitched fairly low to create a small vestibule and provide shelter from blowing rain or tied back to the body of the tent to allow for maximum ventilation. In extremely humid conditions, Shires recommends leaving the screen unzipped and tied back to achieve adequate ventilation. We haven’t needed to do this, but there is a noticeable increase in airflow when the door is unzipped.
During a night of constant rain this summer, we had neither leaks nor condensation. The Rainshadow's optional floor is cleverly designed. In dry conditions it can lay flat for maximum ventilation. But when conditions get wet the corners can be easily clipped to the canopy to create a bathtub floor.
With a little experimenting, it's also possible to pitch the sides of the tent low to the ground for protection or high for ventilation. The bottom of the tent canopy is several inches wider and longer than the floor, so even with a high pitch there is adequate protection from non-blowing rain. In wind-driven rain a low/tighter pitch is necessary.
The Rainshadow 2 is not freestanding, but pitches easily with just five stakes. (Lightweight Easton aluminum nail-type stakes are included.) The rear hoop design requires just a single stake to the rear of the tent, and all the other guy points can be easily accessed from the front door for any necessary adjustments during the night. The inclusion of lightweight reflective guy lines (Kelty Triptease Lightline) is a nice touch.
My only qualm with the Rainshadow 2 is that it can be rather difficult to stow. The Rainshadow’s stuff sack can at times seem maddeningly undersized, with slippery silnylon popping back out as quickly as its stuffed in. The sewn-in front strut also demands careful handling in order to fit in the stuff sack without putting undue stress on nearby seams. The tent originally came nicely folded and rolled, but I’ve not been able to duplicate that.
At two-and-a-half pounds, about a third the weight of comparably-sized double-wall tents, the Tarptent Rainshadow 2 is a great way to lighten up in summer and milder three-season conditions.