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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > REI Dash 2 tent > Test Report by Kara Stanley

REI DASH 2
TEST SERIES BY KARA STANLEY
LONG-TERM REPORT
January 06, 2015

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kara Stanley
EMAIL: karguo at yahoo dot com
AGE: 31
LOCATION: Phoenix, Arizona
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

I have been hiking most of my life and backpacking since 2006. I have hiked mostly on the east coast, doing weekend trips in the Appalachian Mountains. Since moving to Arizona, my hikes have ranged from short desert hikes to overnight backpacking trips in the mountains. Recently I have taken up canyoneering and off-trail hiking/backpacking to spice things up. I currently use a solo non-free standing tent, canister stove, purification tabs, and lightweight trail runners, conditions permitting, to cut down on weight. My hikes are solo and range from an overnight trip to 4-5 nights on the trail.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: REI, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Place of Manufacture: Vietnam
Manufacturer's Website: www.rei.com
MSRP: US$349.00
Listed Packaged (as sold) Weight: 2 lb 15 oz. (1332 g)
Measured Packaged Weight: 2 lb 14 oz (1309 g)
Listed Minimun Weight (no stuff sacks, stakes, or ): 2 lb 7 oz (1106 g)
Measured Minimum Weight: 2 lbs 7 oz (1106 g)

List of weights for all parts of the tent:

Tent Stuff Sack: 0.94 oz (27 g)
Stakes and Stuff Sack: 5.60 oz (159 g)
Poles: 12.22 oz (346 g)
Tent without rainfly
Tent without rainfly

Tent without rainfly

Pole Stuff Sack: 0.38 oz (11 g)
Rain Fly: 11.64 oz (330 g)
Tent: 15.36 oz (435 g)

Other Details:

This is a two person, semi-free standing tent (it requires at least three stakes to remain upright) with two doors and two vestibules.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The tent is made from a ulralight weight materials. The floor and lower sides are made from a 15-denier ripstop nylon. This nylon is very light weight, thin, and seems fragile. It is also see-through. I can read the REI logo on the rain fly through two layers of the material.

About 6 in (15.24 cm) from the floor, the tent turns to mesh and the rest of the sides and the roof are mesh. I am looking forward to using just the mesh tent on warm nights without a chance of rain. Living in Arizona, I often leave the rain fly behind on summer trips.
IMAGE 3
The directions on the stuff sack
IMAGE 4
The nalgene size comparison photo


The tent was well packed with directions printed on the outside of the tent stuff sack. This covers setting up the tent and how to attach the rainfly correctly. It also lists out the items that the tent stuff should contain, which could be helpful if you happen to be reclaiming tent parts after splitting up the tent to share with a fellow backpacker.

Additionally, inside the stuff sack with the tent, there was a piece of paper with tent maintenance directions on it. This covered storage (store it dry in a cool place), cleaning (clean by hand with mild soap, use kerosene to remove pitch, sap and grease), zipper care (keep them clean and use silicone lubricant after each trip), sun (don't keep your tent in it longer than necessary), poles (keep them safe and use silicone lubricant on the ends to keep they sliding together easily), and fire (never use an open flame in the tent). The back of the sheet has "Helpful Hints" regarding finding a place to pitch the tent, how to use the rainfly, proper ventilation, stakes, and how to use the pole-repair tube.

TRYING IT OUT

The weekend after the Dash 2 arrived, I had a weekend backpacking trip planed so we threw the Dash 2 in our packs and dashed off to a canyon. My husband carried the tent on the way in and packed the tent in the main compartment of his backpack. He stashed the poles separately in an outside pocket. He was happy with how light his pack was despite carrying the whole tent.
Tent and rainfly when set-up
Tent and rainfly when set-up


Once we arrived at the campsite, we found a nice flat place and checked it for anything that might damage the tent floor. We also carried the foot-print for this tent (sold separately) and I was glad we did. The tent seems fragile overall and I would not want to use it without a foot print or something else under it to protect the floor. The tent stuff sack has directions printed on it and we followed those. One thing that was different about the set up of this tent is that the rainfly loops onto the bottom of the poles under the loop for the tent floor. This did take us a few minutes to figure out. There are thin cords attached to the bottom of the tent to use to stake it down. Also, the guyline tighteners are cool - you simply pull the cord through it, then up to lock off the cord when the tension is correct. I haven't seen tighteners like this before, so at first I thought mine was broken until my husband showed me how to lock it off.
IMAGE 5
Close up of the zipper and the see through tent fabric


This is a semi-free standing tent - meaning that it does need to be staked down in order to stand up correctly. Overall, we didn't find the tent difficult to put up and I suspect that it will be easier and quicker in the future since we'll know what we are doing. While there were two of us putting up the tent, it would be easy for one person to put up on their own as well.

The tent is narrower at the foot than at the head of the tent - with the head of the tent having the two doors. We had two Therma-Rest NeoAir regular sized mats in the tent and found that we still had a bit of extra room. We are both 5' 10" (170 cm) and found that we had enough room to stretch out in the tent. We loved the pockets on the wall of the tent, one by each door, as well as the built-in loft at the top of the tent. They were useful for storing headlamps and lip balm for easy access during the night.

That evening we experienced an Arizona thunderstorm with wind gusts around 20 mph/ 32.2 km per hour as well as heavy rain. Overall the tent took it like a champ! There was a little bit of water that came in through the mesh as a result of splash-up from the heavy rain. The splash-up can be seen on the tent fabric in the picture of the zipper. It rained for about 30 minutes and during this time very little water got in. However, I plan to keep items away from the door areas during times of heavy rain. I'll be interested in seeing if water still splashes in during lighter rain storms, provided we get any more rain exposure during the test period.
IMAGE 6
The rainfly is droopy when set-up as directed
IMAGE 7
Foot of the rainfly needs it own stake



The one odd thing about this tent is that the rainfly covering the foot area of the tent is droopy when the tent is pitched according to the directions. I tried tying a knot in the cord to make the loop smaller and as close to the rainfly as possible in hopes of removed the extra slack from the foot of the rainfly. Even after all of these, the rainfly still has too much slack in it when hooked over the same stake as the tent. It seems that this could be solved with an extra stake. It seems that having a droopy rainfly could let rain into the tent. This didn't occur during the first rain storm, but I'll be watching for moisture in the at the foot area during the rest of the testing period.

SUMMARY

Great Start:
* Light weight!
* Easy to put up
* Two doors - one for each person
* Nice sized vestibules on each side
* Good head room - easy to sit up at the head of the tent by the doors

Things to watch:
* Droopy fly at the foot of the tent - will this cause problems or let dew in?
* Durability - will it last without holes or rips through the testing period?
* Zippers - they seem fragile and small - how durable are they?
* The tent floor seems thin and fragile - how will it hold up over time?


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 2
Set up in the Rockies

When: August, 2014
Length: 2 days/1 night
Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona
Mileage: 18 miles/29 km
Elevation: highest 7,000 ft/2,100 m to lowest 2,500 ft/800 m
Conditions: Hot (70 F/21 C to 90 F/32 F) and sunny

When: September, 2014
Length: 4 days/3 nights
Location: Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado
Mileage: about 40 miles/64 km
Elevation: about 10,000 ft/3,000 m to 13,000 ft/4,000 m
Conditions: 40 F/4 C to 70 F/21 C. Most Sunny, some afternoon clouds and very windy the last night we camped.

When: October, 2014
Length: 3 days/2 night
Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona
Mileage: 27 miles/43 km
Elevation: highest 7,000 ft/2,100 m to lowest 2,500 ft/800 m
Conditions: Warm (60 F/18 C to 80 F/27 C) and sunny

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

On the August Grand Canyon trip, my husband and I split the tent, I carried the poles and footprint while he carried the tent. We left the rainfly at home since the forecast was clear and hot. We had no problem setting up the tent without the rainfly and enjoyed the extra ventilation gained by leaving the fly at home.
IMAGE 1
Sleeping systems for two in side the tent

In September, we took the tent on a 4 day 3 night trip and loved it. The tent is light and very easy to split between two people. On the third night we camped above tree line in the open. About midnight the wind kicked up, my guess is about 10 mph/16 kpm with gusts up to 15 mph/24 mph. We had staked the tent down as tight as we could, but it still flapped noisily in the wind. Finally, at 4 am we gave up and got up since the wind made it too loud inside the tent for either of us to sleep. Even though it was windy, we didn't find the tent difficult to take down. We did, however, just roll the tent, rainfly, and footprint together to make packing up easier since it was the last day.

In October, we took the tent on 3 day/2 night trip to the Grand Canyon and carried the rainfly this time since we were not sure what the temperatures would actually be. My husband wasn't feeling well the first night, so I put up the tent myself without any trouble. This tent is very easy for one person to up put after the first time. Since it stayed warm at night, we did not use the rainfly either night. On the first night it was breezy, probably between 5 mph/8 kpm to 10 mph/16 kph, but without the rainfly on, the breeze blew quitely though the mesh of the tent and we had no trouble sleeping through the night.

SUMMARY

So far I like the tent, however the quarters are close for two people. When there are 2 ThermaRest NeoAir mats inside, the mats touch each other and are only a few inches from the sides of the tent. The tent is very lightweight, which is great on longer trips. Additionally, I love it that each person has their own gear pocket for a head lamp etc. as well as the gear loft which I use to hold an inflatable solar powered lantern at night.

So far I haven't seen any wear and tear on the tent. I'll be interested to see how it holds up over the next few trips as well as how it will be to share the tent with a friend instead of a spouse.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1
On the banks of the Colorado


When: November, 2014
Length: 4 days/3 night
Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona
Mileage: 40 miles/64 km
Elevation: highest 7,000 ft/2,100 m to lowest 2,500 ft/800 m
Conditions: Warm (60 F/16 C to 40 F/4 C) and sunny, with some wind and a dusk dust storm one evening

When: December, 2014
Length: 2 days/1 night
Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona
Mileage: 18 miles/29 km
Elevation: highest 7,000 ft/2,100 m to lowest 2,500 ft/800 m
Conditions: Cool (50 F/10 C to 40 F/4 C) partly cloudy with a bit of rain and some sunny






PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

IMAGE 2
Floor of the tent after the dust storm
On the 4-day Grand Canyon trip, I shared the REI Dash with a backpacking friend. We had enough room for both of us, though both of us did feel that the inside of the tent was a bit smaller than other two-person tents we had shared in the past. However, we both felt that the sub-three pound (1.3 kg) weight more that made up for the smaller feeling interior.

During this trip, we got to experience a dust storm in this tent, and I can say that the REI Dash is not good for dust storms. Even with the rain fly on, a lot of dust came under the rain fly and in the mesh. I think that if the floor/sides of the tent has been a bit higher, less dust may have be able to get in the tent. However, in the three years that I have been backpacking in the desert, this is the first dust storm that I have been through, so I don't see this as much of a drawback.

My Husband and I took this tent on a quick over night to Phantom Ranch, Grand Canyon, Arizona in December. We carried the tent and the rain fly since the forecast called for rain and cool temperatures. While it did rain, we were fortunate enough to snag a shelter to pitch the tent under, so no additional rain testing was conducted. We were camped by a creek and it rained, so it was pretty humid. That night we had the rain fly on and fully closed and in the morning there was much condensation both on the rain fly and my husband's sleeping bag and less on my side of the tent and sleeping bag. This is probably because he seems to produce more body heat than I do while sleeping.

SUMMARY

Overall, this tent has preformed well and both my husband and I have enjoyed it and liked the compact size of the packed tent as well as its weight. The only signs of wear and tear is to the tent pole stuff stack; which has some holes from being carried on the outside of my pack on several trips. Based on wear to that stuff stack, I would not recommend carrying the tent in its original stuff sack on the outside of a pack for fear of ripping a hole through the tent stuff sack and damaging the tent.

My husband and I are both 5' 10" (1.8 m) and we have just enough room lengthwise in the tent. There is not much additional room length wise and a person much over 5'10" (1.8 m) may find this tent to be a tight squeeze. While there is enough room for sleeping, there was not enough room to have two people setting up/taking down sleeping gear or changing clothes at the same time in the tent.

Pros:
* Light Weight!
* No signs of wear and tear to the tent, rain fly, or poles after 6 backpacking trips.
* The three gear storage pockets are very handy.
* While small, the vestibules were nice to store shoes and packs in under dry conditions.

Cons:
* No reflective material in the tent or rain fly tie-down cords, making them easy to trip over at night
* The floppy rain fly tail - which my husband thinks contributes to some of his condensation issues

It is worth noting that we used the REI Dash 2 footprint with this tent for the duration of the testing period. Based on the thinness of the tent fabric and how easily the stuff sack for the tent poles got holes (on the first trip), we would be hesitant to use this tent without the footprint.

Thank you BackpackGearTest.org and REI for a chance to Dash about the west lightly! This concludes my test series.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

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