Review of our favorite backpacking tent from REI, the Half Dome tent.
Our favorite tent comes packed with features from REI – and is backed by REI’s 100% satisfaction guarantee. This tent combines the latest in features with value, including standard features that come as options in more expensive tents. Simple setup (1-2 minutes setup and teardown with 2 people), a roomy interior, and lightweight, and great value add up to a tent that we simply love to set up, tear down, and sleep away our nights in the North Georgia mountains.
REI’s 100% satisfaction guarantee promises that if you’re ever dissatisfied with any item, you’re able to return or exchange it at any REI store or through their website. It’s this guarantee that keeps us coming back to REI for most of our outdoor gear.
We love this tent! It’s flexible for variable camping conditions – use rain fly plus footprint, full tent with rain fly, or tent only on warm summer nights. A freestanding frame allows for camping in a wide variety of terrain – from sandy beaches to rocky mountain vistas, and the 4 person version boasts 57 square feet, which we’ve found perfect for sleeping two adults and a large dog, with plenty of room inside to spare for gear- and includes large, easy-to-open doors on both sides of the tent.
The REI Half Dome tent is versatile in a wide variety of weather conditions – from warm summer camping, when the fine mesh breathes well but keeps out flying creatures of the night, to cold fall and early winter camping, when we’ve used tent down to 30 degrees and remained toasty warm inside with rainfly on and vents open.
The rainfly vent system keeps airflow continuous without leaking heat – allowing for adequate ventilation without compromising heat retention during chilly winter, spring, and fall nights.
A rainfly provides extra storage for muddy boots and extra gear that need to be kept dry, and an integrated “attic” – netted area at peak of the tent – keeps cell phones, flashlights, and other essentials handy while you sleep. The REI Half Dome HC also integrates multiple interior pockets – which are large in size for storage of essentials (wallets, keys, cell phones, flashlights) that need to be kept organized for easy access in the darkest of camping nights.
A sturdy loop at peak of the tent is perfect for hanging lantern; the tent also boasts multiple interior loops along pole lines allow for hanging of additional lines or equipment.
This tent provides ultra fast setup – with no tedious pole threading – using a quick hook setup. You extend the poles, hook center of tent to pole center hub, attach poles to color-coded corners and clip tent to poles, and you’re done – a process that takes 2-3 minutes when working with a camping buddy. Tie downs on rainfly allow for extra ventilation.
A footprint is a highly recommended – providing extra protection for the floor of the tent, and is much cheaper to replace or repair than the tent floor itself. The added bonus of the footprint is the ability to skip the main tent body on journeys when weight matters – allowing you to pitch a structure using only the rainfly and footprint with minimal weight and setup time (1-2 minutes).
The tent’s construction is quality throughout – tight, waterproof seams are well-placed to keep wet weather out, and tough zippers wear through the heaviest and most demanding use. Seams are stitched in reference to the high quality aluminum poles to manufacture a tent that, while lightweight, feels extremely sturdy in construction regardless of the wind or weather. The rainfly, when used in rainy weather, is constructed to avoid contact with the tent sides or ceiling to prevent leaks – allowing water to run off without fear of leaking.
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