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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > REI Dash 2 tent > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence

REI Dash 2 Tent
Test Series by Theresa Lawrence
Initial Report - August 9, 2014

Field Report - October 15, 2014












TESTER INFORMATION

Name: Theresa Lawrence
Email: theresa_newell AT yahoo DOT com
Age: 36
Location: Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)

I have more than 15 years of backpacking experience. Day hikes and 2-3 day backpacking trips take place on most weekends throughout the year while longer trips are only occasional. I backpack predominantly in mountain terrain (Coast Range, Cascades and Canadian Rockies) with the goal of summiting peaks. Activities I use my gear with include mountaineering, ski touring, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, trail running, Search and Rescue and overseas travel. I like my gear to be reasonably light, convenient and simple to use though I would not claim to be a lightweight hiker.

Initial Report - August 9, 2014
PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI)
Manufacturer's URL: www.rei.com
Year of Manufacture: 2014

Made in:
Vietnam
MSRP: $349 US
Listed Weight: 2 lbs 7 oz/ 1.1 kg (fly, tent, pegs, poles)
Measured Weight: Spot on and 2 lbs 14 oz/ 1.3 kg (with stuff sack & repair pole)
Listed Length:
90 in (2.29 m)
Listed Width (head/foot):
54 in (1.3m)/ 42 in (1.07 m)
Listed Floor Area:
29 sq ft (2.69 sq m)
Listed Vestibule Area:
5.3 sq ft (0.49 sq m) each
Listed Peak Height:
40 in (1.02 m)
Type/ Capacity/ Seasons:
ultralight, semi-freestanding, 2 person, 3 seasons
Color Options:
Beachstone/Cactus (comes in 1 color only)
Floor & Fly Material:
15-denier ripstop nylon
Canopy Material:
15-denier ripstop nylon/ 20-denier mesh
Pole Material:
8.5 mm (0.33 in) DAC aluminum
                    

DESCRIPTION & FIRST IMPRESSIONS  
     
                                                                          
REI's Dash 2 tent is advertised as an ultralight, 2 person, 3 season tent. It is certainly the lightest 2 person tent I've ever had the chance to play with. The weight is spot on from what was advertised at a mere 2 lbs 7 oz (1.1 kg). The fly, floor and the non-mesh part of the body are all of the same material, which feels very light, silky and delicate. The manufacturer's website states this new REI 15-denier ripstop nylon is designed to minimize weight while retaining its strength. It came with three stuff sacks; one each for the poles, pegs and tent. It also came with an extra guy line and a pole repair tube. The tent has two side door entrances as well as two vestibules made out of the fly. Two small side pockets and one overhead pocket are available for storage inside the tent. There is also a hang loop on the ceiling for hanging items like a light inside the tent. The poles assemble into one long skeleton with a T-junction at the foot and a Y-junction at the  head. REI calls this their exclusive tension-truss architecture, which is supposed to allow for stable vertical walls maximizing the head space and minimizing the pole weight. There is a footprint available, but is sold separately.

TRYING IT OUT

An instruction sheet was provided with the bag that admittedly I didn't reference before diving in and 'winging' it. And apparently I didn't need the instructions because the tent went up as intuitively as I've ever experienced a tent assembly. I laid out the tent, put the poles together into one big skeleton, which could only go in one obvious configuration to the tent. The poles secured into the grommets at the corners of the tent and clipped into clips on the tent. The fly went on just as easy with tighteners at each corner. The interface where the fly meets the cross bar junctions gives me some concerns as the junction corners gives the suggestion that it will wear right through the fly at the designated reinforced spots. However, time will tell if I should have been worried. It is considered semi-freestanding because the front corners of the floor need to be pegged as well as the vestibules to get the full form of the tent. However, before pegging down, the tent could be picked up and moved around till the perfect spot is found. The fly appears to just cover the mesh areas of the tent creating what seems to be quite small vestibules. I am curious if they will be big enough to shelter my backpack and boots. Inside the tent is cozy, but has enough room for two adults to sit up comfortably. The truss-tension architecture was supposed to support vertical walls, but the walls as far as I can tell are definitely not vertical.

SUMMARY

Overall, my initial impression of the REI Dash 2 tent is that it is a well constructed and designed ultralight tent. I liked that it has two side door entrances and two vestibules, one for each occupant. The tent is very compact and I am quite curious if the fly covers enough of the tent to keep me dry and shelter my belongings in the vestibule. I am pleased with the lack of weight I have to carry in my backpack and I'm curious how this light material will stand up to the Rocky Mountain weather and terrain over the next couple months of testing. It is definitely easy to set up, which is a plus and it can be used with or without the fly.

Field Report - October 15, 2014


FIELD CONDITIONS

Over the past couple months I have had the opportunity to use this tent in a variety of conditions, however, not in any really ill weather. Fortunately for me, the weather has been consistently fabulous. The following are descriptions of where I have used this tent and the conditions that it was exposed to.

- 1 overnight car camping/rock climbing trip to Frenchman Coulee/Vantage, Washington - dry desert, windy, sunny, 18-37 C (64-99 F).
- 2 overnights car camping for Search and Rescue Training in Nelson, British Columbia - dry, humid, cloudy, sunny, 5-25 C (41-77 F).
- 1 overnight backpack trip to Silver Springs Lakes, near Elko, British Columbia - dry, humid, sunny, 10-27 C (50-81 F), 6 km (3.4 mi), camp elevation 1000 m (3281 ft).
- 1 overnight  backpack trip to Connor Lakes, Height of the Rockies Provincial Park, British Columbia - humid, sunny, cloudy, 5-18 C (41-64 F), 19 km (11.8 mi), camp elevation 1820 m (5971 ft).
- 1 overnight backpacking trip to Window Mountain Lake, Crowsnest Pass, Alberta - dry, forceful winds, sunny, 5-20 C (41-68 F), 4 km (2.5 mi), camp elevation 2025 m (6644 ft).
- 2 overnights backpack trip to Jewel Basin Hiking Area, Montana - dry, grassy, forceful winds, sunny, 5-25 C (41-77 F), 35 km (21.7 mi), camp elevations between 1680 m (5500 ft) and 1830 m (6000 ft).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

COMFORT & SPACE
On all outings with the tent I have had another occupant and can say that it fits two adults comfortably. The other occupant was my partner who is 5 ft 9 in (175 cm). It fits two standard sleeping pads with about 2 in (5 cm) on either side and another 6 in (15 cm) of play beyond head or foot. The tent was small and compact as intended, so while there wasn't a lot of extra room, there was sufficient space to sit up and maneuver in and out of the tent without disturbing the other occupant. For the weight of the tent (or lack of it) I found the space and height for headroom very accommodating.
Having a vestibule and a side door for each occupant has made the tent feel bigger and did add to the ease of getting in and out of a small tent. 

FUNCTION
This tent was incredibly light and proved to be easily compressible for packing into my backpack. Not much volume was lost to the poles, tent and pegs. The tent was very easy to set up in the field by just me and even easier with the help of my partner. When the climate was more humid, we had some significant condensation, which dripped on the mesh tent, but did not reach us inside. In windy conditions, the air circulated through the tent preventing condensation and in the desert there was very little if any condensation at all. The weather encountered was too good to determine how things would have turned out if it had been a lot colder with the wind or had it been raining. The vestibules are quite small and so far I have been stashing my backpack and boots in the vestibule. I am still concerned that they may be too small to keep my gear dry, but I have yet to test this in the rain. The position of the storage pockets on the inside of the tent has been very useful. The overhead compartment fits both of our books, gloves and beanies. The small pocket in the corner on each side of the tent, one for each occupant, has been a great place to stash a headlamp, so it is easily accessed in the middle of the night. It has also be used for other small items like a pocket knife or a camera.
I have really enjoyed the design of the doors and storage of this tent. There was also a handy little loop in the middle of the ceiling that was useful for hanging my small LED lantern, which lit up the whole tent.

DURABILITY
The material has held up so far on the tent. However, the tent pole bag, which I believe is the same material, already had a rip after my first backpack. At the time, I had the poles strapped to the outside of my pack and I believe it must have snagged a branch. I now carry all of the tent and its accessories inside my backpack to protect it. From this experience, my impression of the material is that it is quite fragile, but with care seems also to be robust. The tent when set up withstood some significant winds to date, which has given me some confidence in its stability. And I now take extra caution to ensure I'm not setting up the tent on some sharp rocks or branches that can snag the material and position it away from trees and bushes that may catch the fly.
However, I have yet to test it in the rain and other ill weather, which I plan to do in the next couple of months.

SUMMARY

So far my first impressions in the field have been very positive. The tent has been easy to set up and pack. I have enjoyed that the tent is so light and yet I still had comfortable and sufficient space for myself and another occupant. Despite a small rip in the tent pole sack indicating that the fabricate is quite delicate or at least not immune to being snagged by a branch, the tent itself and its structure has withstood some fearsome winds. I still have some outstanding testing to do in the rain and other ill weather and so the jury is still out as to how well this tent will keep me and my stuff dry. If all goes well for rain, then this tent quite likely will replace the bivy and tarp that act as my emergency shelter in my Search and Rescue (SAR) ready pack. This is because there is no difference in weight between this tent and my tarp and bivy and because if I had the choice I would much rather be in this tent than in my bivy under a tarp.

Likes
- Lightweight
- Very easy to set up
- Two side doors with vestibules
- Well positioned storage pockets
- Sufficient space for two adults
- Durable in wind
- Well ventilated in the wind
- Condensation doesn't get past the mesh tent (stayed dry)

Concerns

- Concerns that the vestibules may be too small
- Concerns that the tent will be drafty in cold weather and winds
- Not much ventilation when not windy causing significant condensation when humid

Thanks to Recreational Equipment Inc. and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to take part in this test series, stay tuned to hear more of my observations in about 2 months time.



Read more reviews of REI gear
Read more gear reviews by Theresa Lawrence

Reviews > Shelters > Tents > REI Dash 2 tent > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence



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