REI Half Dome Tent
- Great value
- Easy set up
- Big doors with smart storage
- Two doors, two vestibules
- Fly tends to touch tent body
- Elbow room off the floor lacking
The REI Half Dome is a solid choice for a first backpacking tent or for those preferring value over weight. This tent provides a lot of features for not a lot of money.
The Half Dome’s rectangular design creates 32 square feet of floor space (52” wide and 88” long). The arcing line from foot to head, tops out at 40 inches, and rather than being tapered towards the head, the height is centered—great for eating and playing cards but offering less room when laying down. The pole system creates vertical walls for the doors and the two 8 square foot vestibules offer plenty of outdoor storage.
While 4.5 lb. may not seem like a light tent, when split between two people it's an easy load to carry. The Half Dome also packs down pretty small (22 inches by 8), on par with the Losi.
The single pole and double hub pole design looks like an inverse dachshund. Four long legs make up the main stems and a shorter "body" extends beyond at each end into a nose and tail that help push the entrance walls to nearly vertical. The "legs" create an arch shape that tapers steadily towards the head and feet. The single pole makes set up fast and easy.
The arcing shape easily handles water and directs wind over the tent. The "tail" and "head" of the pole set up (see above) help push the vestibule away from the tent doors—creating enough overhang that drips don't land in the door. Just be sure to peg carefully, particularly around the head and feet, otherwise water tends to land on the tent body just below the fly, and/or the fly touches the body mesh above the head and feet.
The doors rock. The teardrop shaped opening zips from both sides and almost meets at the top, creating a large entrance. The door also conveniently stores in an overhead pocket, keeping it out of the way. The tents pockets are well placed near the head and the door, and the two vents (over the vestibule entrances) help kick up a condensation-fighting cross breeze.
This tent is a great deal. It is relatively light and roomy and can be used in three seasons.
How We Tested It
The tents is this test were used in a variety of conditions, from the Vancouver Island rainforest to uninhabited islands in Baja. In total, more than 50 nights were logged in the five tents. At home we set them up in the yard, timing how long it took, sprayed them relentlessly with hoses, and left them set up during a 60 mile per hour wind and rain storm.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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