The Tarptent Cloudburst 3 is a lightweight 3-person tent that’s perfect for those wanting a lightweight and comfortable backpacking and camping tent. The Cloudburst 3 offers dual doors and dual vestibules that can be staked out or pulled back for optimal views and ventilation. This tent works with two main support poles, but a third can be added for increased resistance to snow loading and heavy winds. I’ve been using this tent as my primary family camping shelter for more than a year now and will share my experience in this review.
Tent Specs and Setup
Size and Weight and Build
In its standard configuration, the Cloudburst 3 comes in at 52oz (1.5kg). The standard configuration includes 4x Easton stakes, guylines, a stuffsack, and 2x arch poles. I always set up the Cloudburst 3 with the extra arch pole (+$25), which adds 5oz. I also ditch the Easton stakes in favor of my MSR groundhogs. My total weight comes in around 62oz or 3.9lbs, which is really impressive given the Cloudburst 3’s size and comfort. The packed size of the Cloudburst 3 is 18in x 5in (iPhone XR for scale).
The Tarptent Cloudburst 3 is a single wall tent, so there is no separate outer fly. For those that have never used a single wall tent before: the benefits are lighter weight, quicker setup, and the ability to pitch your tent in the rain without getting the inside wet. The downside to a single wall tent is condensation.
The Cloudburst 3 single wall roofing and floor is made of Silnylon (silicone impregnated nylon). Tarptent uses a high tenacity, 30d, 1.1-ounce/yd2 ripstop nylon for this. On the inside of the Cloudburst 3, Tarptent uses a ‘No-see-um’ polyester netting, which does a great job of keeping out sand flies and mosquitos.
For those that camp in humid areas, Tarptent has a clip-in liner (+$40) for the Cloudburst 3 which only tacks on 1 oz and packs away pretty small. I only bring this along in humid conditions, which is not often for me here in Southern California.
The Cloudburst 3 uses line-locked guylines that attach to the yellow pole sleeves and O-rings with fasteners to provide tension at the floor level for each pole. The guylines are a non-stretch, 2.5-mm reflective cord with a spectra core. The Easton aluminum 7075-T9 tent poles measure 120in in length.
- Sleeps: 3
- Seasons: 3+
- Weight: 52 oz / 1.5 kg
- Interior Height: 40 in / 102 cm
- Floor width: 62 in / 157 cm
- Floor length: 86 in / 218 cm
- Stakes: 4 x 6 in / 15 cm Easton Nanos (included)
- Packed size: 20 in x 4 in / 51 cm x 10 cm
Note: Tent weight includes stakes, guylines, stuffsacks, and arch poles.
Note 2: The Cloudburst 3 does not come seam sealed. You can pay to have Tarptent do this before shipping, or purchase an $8 kit from them to do the sealing yourself.
The setup for the Cloudburst 3 is a very fast an easy process that can be completed by one person in 5-10 minutes. My setup process involves 6 simple steps:
- Lay the tent floor-side down with the yellow tent sleeves facing up.
- Slide the tent poles through the yellow sleeves and insert the pole ends into the pole tip pockets at each of the tent’s four corners.
- Lift the arch of one side of the tent and stake it out. Add light tension using the O-rings. Follow the same process on the other side.
- Provide equal tension to all O-rings for a taught tent pitch.
- Add the third tent pole using the middle O-rings and tighten using the fasteners.
- Stake out the tents guylines and add additional guylines if needed.
For those wondering how to add the center pole without a dedicated third pole sleeve: it slides through holes in the middle of the Cloudburst 3 and clips to the roof of the tent at the apex.
Adjustments and Configurations
Once I’ve pitched the Cloudburst 3, I’m able to adjust the tent and configure things based on the weather and campsite conditions. For any of you that read my review of the Tarptent Double Rainbow, you’ll know that the configuration options are what I loved most about that tent. The Cloudburst 3 doesn’t have the same dual-porch setup design of the Double Rainbow, but you can use internal clips to wrap up and tie back the doors. There are also a lot of attachment points for additional guylines. This came in handy during a wind and sand storm we camped in somewhere along HWY 395.
Backpacking and Performance
When I first found out I was going to be a father more than three years ago, I instantly started looking for a solid three person tent that would be lightweight, safe, and liveable for three humans and two small dogs. I had nothing but positive experiences with my Double Rainbow and instantly looked to Tarptent’s primary 3P option in the Cloudburst 3 for family outings.
I’ve used this tent for numerous backpacking trips, like the 12 mile roundtrip hike to Cucamonga Peak (8858′). That hike gains 4000ft of elevation, so a light tent makes a big difference. I’ve also used the Cloudburst 3 for a ton of car camping trips like Fossil Falls, Alabama Hills, and Trona Pinnacles. Here are my impressions on this tent’s performance:
The size and space provided in this three person tent is very impressive given its weight and footprint. The arch tube design of the Cloudburst 3 works really well at providing a comfortable living space. Julia and I are both just under 6′ tall, and can sit up very comfortably inside of the tent. Our toddler and dogs have no problem standing up and walking around on the inside.
When all three of us are in the Cloudburst 3, it’s a little tight towards the edges of the tent, and we can’t really sit up without brushing the tent walls. We are rarely in the tent at all at once though, unless we’re sleeping. Three standard size sleeping pads fit comfortably inside the Cloudburst 3 with a few inches of space to spare.
If you’re two adults with a kid or just two adults looking for a big tent, the Cloudburst 3 is a great option. If you’re three full sized adults looking at the Cloudburst 3, you better be very comfortable with each other. You also probably won’t be able to do much in the tent other than sleep.
The front and back door openings on the Cloudburst 3 are great for ventilation when opened and create a tent that optimizes internal space.When the doors are staked out and closed, there is a vent window at the top of each door to keep the air moving.
The downside to the front-to-back dual door design is realized when you need to enter and exit the tent. Campers have to slide and slither forward or backward to get out, as opposed to rolling out of a side door (like my Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3). This isn’t a huge issue though with two adults and a child, but I can only imagine what a night time potty break would be like with three full sized adults.
There isn’t a ton of internal storage and pocket options on the Tarptent 3, but I actually like this as it cuts down on weight and clutter. The tent does have side gutter pockets and small mesh pouches for tiny items.
All of the netting is a ‘no-see-um’ polyester fabric, that keeps out all insects and bugs while allowing wind to flow through. We’ve used this tent on a few outings near water along the Eastern Sierra and were very happy to find that mosquitoes could not find their way inside.
The protection offered by the Cloudburst 3 has been the standout feature over the past year. When I camp alone or with my wife, I don’t mind a little discomfort or the risk of being battered by a little wind and rain. With a toddler, the novelty of harsh weather wears off quickly. As a family that does a lot of camping in the desert, we need a tent that can breathe in the heat, insulate in the cold, stand taught in brutal winds, and keep us dry in the rain. The Tarptent Cloudburst 3 does it all during our 3-season camping trips with ease.
We do a lot of camping in the rocky, sandy, and dusty desert…where I not only have a toddler, I also have two dogs. Needless to say, I need a tent to be tough and rugged, without frays and tears from a little tough love. I’ve been using the Cloudburst 3 for almost two years now, and it is undoubtedly very dirty, but it is still structurally good as new. I’m actually blown away at the condition of this tent given how hard we’ve been on it over it’s time of use. This isn’t a huge surprise to me though, as our Double Rainbow handled the John Muir Trail and countless other backpacking trips without so much as a few marks and scratches.
If you’re looking for a lightweight and durable three person tent that offers great liveability in a backpack friendly size, the Cloudburst 3 is a great option. With a base price of $385.00, you’ll be hard pressed to find many comparable alternatives. For two adults with kids or pets, or two adults just looking for a little extra room to spread out, this three person shelter from Tarptent is my top choice.