MYOG Tarpent Rainbow

Posted by: JeremyDuncan

MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 01/26/10 03:19 AM

Hey, guys. A newbie here. Be gentle.

How hard do you think it would be to build a dumbed down Rainbow?

I like the Rainbow, because you enter on the side. I am a side sleeper, and I think it would be real nice to be able to lay there and watch the sunset/rise. I also like the headroom the rainbow offers. Similar to a dome tent, but without the wasted space. Where we camp/backpack, you usually have to change in your tent and that is very hard for me to do if I cannot sit up.

By dumbed down, I mean it doesn't have to have all of the luxuries of the professionally made version.

-Don't care if the floor clips up. I do want a bathtub floor, but it can be "raised" at all times. Making it convertible just seems like extra complications.

-Doest need to be free-standing. The real version has allows you to put trek poles at the ends to make it freestanding. I rarely have trek poles, but almost always have good stake-holding dirt.

-Doesn't have to be SUPER light. As long as it under 3lbs, I am happy.

OK, so obviously I not going to wind up with anything too close to the Rainbow. I just want to make something simple, inspired by that design. Maybe there are similar designs out there I am missing. My main priorities are:

-Cheap. I am poor. I carry a 5lb $25 tent, right now. I know I am going to have to spend a few bucks to make something light, but the point of my research and effort is to save money.

-Height and width. I like to be able to sit up, and I like to sprawl out when I sleep. The Rainbow's dimensions are about perfect. On the plus side I am short. 5'9" I was thinking something about 4'x7' floor with a height of 3 1/2'

-Ventilation- I sleep hot and I camp in warm weather. I could sleep right outside with a light blanket in 45-50 degree weather and be fine. My main concern is airflow. The daytime temp is usually around 75-95 when we camp. We have even camped in a few open fields. When it's about 90 out and that sun starts blazing about 6am. (a good 3/4 hours before we like to get up)

-Bug proof- Yeah, lots of skeeters and critters where we camp and I cannot sleep in a bug suit.

-Privacy. I need to be able to close it up at night, or when changing. We do lots of family camping. Plus I need protection from the boogie man. He can't you if he can;t see you.

-Side door with a view. The whole purpose of this thread is that I want a side entrance. Otherwise I would just go build the original Taprtent.

Again, maybe there is something out there I am missing.If there was something that fit this criteria that I could buy, then AWESOME. I just can't find it...under $200, anyways.

My only concern with the Rainbow is it's one pole. Seems like it would want to tip. Anyone have experience with it?

Btw, I have already checked out:

That's how I found this forum.

Thanks in advance for any help you guys provide. This is my first post, but I promise I will try to become a productive member of this community once I get some more experience. I will post pics and a walk-through of anything I make, too.
Posted by: phat

Re: MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 01/26/10 10:15 AM

Well, it's not a rainbow, but the grandaddy of all tarptents is actually on the makegear site at

this is basically henry's initial design before starting tarptent the company.

It's not a rainbow, but it's a very good lightweight shelter that might be a bit easier to make.
Posted by: frenchie

Re: MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 01/26/10 11:30 AM

An good tarptent to work from or "copy" is the LunarSolo/Duo by SixMoonDesigns

You don't have to bother with the main curve of the Rainbow fly, and you can manage with straight edged panels (though a bit of catenary is better).

I have made several tents quite similar to this model, with sewn-in tub floors, and zippered doors.

All use one single pole or hiking pole for support, and are an irregular pentagonal shape.

You can keep the design simpler with a separate ground sheet, and a "curtain" mosquito door and sides.

Google Sketchup is a free and very useful application to start custom designing your own shelter.
Posted by: JeremyDuncan

Re: MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 01/26/10 04:45 PM

@phat - Thanks for the suggestion. Tarptent was actually the starting point of my research into this project. Looks like a fairly simple design, but it's missing a few of the things I really need...well, want.

@frenchie- I really like this idea. There is a very good chance this is the route I will take. I am surprised (and a little disappointed in myself) that I didn't catch this when I was at the SMD site. I saw this model, but thought it was just a tarp.

I have a couple questions, if you don't mind.

- Do you have a problem with you or feet or head touching the top, thus risking getting wet from condensation? I guess you just have to make sure it's long enough. I am 5'10" and I have had this problem even in 7' dome tents. Wonder if 8' would be long enough...

-What material did you use for the floor? Silnylon 1.1? Is there something more rugged, yet lightweight that is waterproof?

-how did you attach the bug net to the top of the tarp? Or it fully enclosed in bug (no seem-ums) net? Even if it is fully enclosed, you still probably have to attach it at some point, so it doesn't droop, right?

I like the idea that I don't HAVE to use a trek pole, but have that option when mine are available. I don't think the sipper would be a problem.

Do you happen to have any of your design sketch ups or notes laying around that you might want to share?

Sorry for all the questions. I have rushed hastily into complicated projects before enough times to know you really have to do your research.
Posted by: phat

Re: MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 01/26/10 10:50 PM

FWIW Jeremy, I actually *own* a lunar solo, and like it a lot.
I'm 5'11' and it fits me with some room to spare, and I can sit up in it. It is my go-to solo tent if I am not hammocking.

Frenchie's copies look convincingly like the original.
Posted by: Franco

Re: MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 01/27/10 12:13 AM

There are three main reasons why people make their own :
1) to save money
2) to "create" something different
3) for pleasure/hobby
(could be a combination of the above)

Seems to me that you main reason is to save money. In this case it may not be so simple.
Frenchie can set me right here, but if you factor in all of the materials you need to purchase (including shipping costs...) , not just the one used , maybe you will find it cheaper to buy a new one.
And of course if you make a mistake , that will cost you money too.

Posted by: JeremyDuncan

Re: MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 01/27/10 04:35 AM

Definitely a combination, bit mostly the money. smile

OK. Frenchie, I took your advice and downloaded Google sketch up. I still don't know entirely how to work it, but I think I got some pretty good plans in the works, here.

Would you mind taking a quick look at them and tell me if they're close to what you did?

This first diagram is something I got from the SMD site. I used it to get some rough dimensions. I changed them, so it is not going to be proportional. The Sketch Up pictures should be proportional, though.

Sorry about the big pics. I couldn't figure out how thumbnails with Photobucket.

I couldnt figure a good way to represent the vent or web loops (for tie downs, and ties for door flaps.

I did not show the pole in these diagrams. Thought it would make it even more complicated.

Posted by: JeremyDuncan

Re: MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 01/27/10 06:31 PM

As it is, I am considering the following routes(listed in order of likeliness):

1. PurchaseEureka Spitfire Pros:CHEAP $100! kinda roomy, side entry. Cons: Weight 3+lbs (even though its listed at 44oz)

2. Purchase Tarptent RainbowTarptent Rainbow: Pros:side entry, super roomy, freestanding. COns: PRICE $225! not as light as Lunar Solo 33oz

3. Purchase SMDLunar Solo: Pros: Weight 23oz!, side entry, one pole setup Cons:Price $235, not as roomy

4. MYOG SMD Lunar Solo?: Pros: Price (I know I could do this around $100), weight, side entry Cons:Potentially lose money, potential flaws (waterproof, ect), very time consuming and hard.

-There still may be better options out there. If I could get my hands on the Coleman Cobra (disc.) for the right price, or anything used that is cheap and decent....and cheap.

Thus far, seems like I could get the Eureka for the same or cheaper than building a tent, and it matches most of my criteria.
Posted by: frenchie

Re: MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 01/28/10 09:06 AM

Originally Posted By Franco
There are three main reasons why people make their own :
1) to save money
2) to "create" something different
3) for pleasure/hobby
(could be a combination of the above)

Seems to me that you main reason is to save money. In this case it may not be so simple.
Frenchie can set me right here, but if you factor in all of the materials you need to purchase (including shipping costs...) , not just the one used , maybe you will find it cheaper to buy a new one.
And of course if you make a mistake , that will cost you money too.

True, I make gear, especially tents for the reasons above, in a somewhat different order :):
1-For fun and pleasure
2-It's custom made (I'm short and "wide" and know my taste and needs in matters of "space"!)
3-Money comes last now, but lightweight gear was late to come to Europe, and most products are still expensive and have to be imported (high fees and custom taxes fall upon us!), so I took this habit of MYOG many years ago.

If JeremyDuncan is ready to battle time, knowhow, the inevitable mistake and unexpected trouble, then be it.

If not, a good search and careful advice can help to find the right product.

Beware, gear making is highly addictive!
Posted by: JeremyDuncan

Re: MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 01/28/10 07:40 PM

Thank you to everyone for your help, advice, and...warnings. Haha.

I decided to purchase a tent. The Eureka Spitfire. Got it new on Ebay for $90 after shipping and handling. It isn't the lightest, or the greatest, but it fits ALL of my criteria and has all positive reviews. I love the Rainbow (and Lunar Solo), but I just can't justify spending that kind of money on a tent, right now.

I am pretty new to backpacking and sewing, alike. I've made a daypack. It was costly, time consuming, and turned out just ok. I think I better do more camping, to fine tune my needs, and do more sewing before I tackle a project of this scale. Walmart has some $150 material (cheap cotton stuff) that is an additional 20% off, right now. I might stock up on some of that to make some prototypes to use for patterns. Then I can get it right before switching to expensive silnylon.

My next sewing project will most likely be a 5x9' silnylon tarp/poncho for my hammock. That should give me more practice sewing these materials and satisfy some of my MYOG urges.

Anyone wants to use my design, of course, go for it. I'd love to see my idea (even if it was inspired elseware) out to use. Call it the Rev. Jeremy Duncan Tipi Tarpent. Or the "Rev. JD TP"; for short. Haha. I would be more than happy to email the actually Google Sketchup document to you so you can get the exact dimensions, have a 3d model, and make any adjustments (I saw someone above recommend something different with the mesh) My email is

Thanks again!
Posted by: phat

Re: MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 01/29/10 05:23 PM

I think you made the right decision that will get you out in the woods faster with your budget at hand.

When you start doing more, then maybe you can justify upgrading, either by buying something fancier/lighter or by investing the time to build the same...
Posted by: JeremyDuncan

Re: MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 01/30/10 04:37 AM

Yeah. With more experience I will learn what features I may or may not want. Since most of that stuff is personal preference, then I can make a more educated decision when spending the big bucks (or time) on a tent that fits my needs.

I am pretty excited about the Spitfire. It will be a HUGE upgrade to the $25 5.5lb 7x7 leaky dome tent I have been carrying.
Posted by: unclejoe

Re: MYOG Tarpent Rainbow - 02/10/10 01:23 AM

I agree with the others, Jeremy; you made a very good decision. I used the Spitfire during the first two seasons of my backpacking experience. Yes, it's heavy, but you'll learn a great deal about what you want out of a tent. Plus, the Spitfire is easy to set up, and this provides a good foundation for understanding tent design (especially in severe wind and rain). It's a rugged little tent, good ventilation (remember to angle the rear-first into the wind). I still own my Spitfire and will probably always have it.

For my 3rd season, I went with Henry Shire's Sublite Sil ( A fantastic little package with an amazing amount of room--and very light weight. However, there's no vestibule to speak of, which can be a challenge when cooking in bad weather.

Now that I'm in my 4th season of backpacking (still quite the newbie), I'm starting to play with tarps during the winter, and I'm starting to play with making my own shelter.

So, you see, eventually you'll learn and get the experience needed (probably sooner than me).

By the way, nice job on your design.