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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > REI Half Dome 2 tent 2013 > Test Report by Michael Mosack

REI HALF DOME 2 TENT
Test Series by Mike Mosack
LONG-TERM REPORT
February 13, 2014

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

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Mosack
EMAIL: mosack@earthlink.net
AGE: 50
LOCATION: San Diego, California, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
WEIGHT: 240 lb (109.00 kg)

I've been backpacking for over 30 years, doing solo and group trips, with and without kids. I do day trips, weekenders and week-long or longer trips throughout the year. I backpack in all climates and seasons and in various locations within the USA, to include my favorites being Yosemite and Sierra Nevada, California. I also have worked in Afghanistan for 4 years and rely on my backpacking equipment constantly. I go lighter whenever possible. Quality and reliability of items I carry are paramount to me over price and weight.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Recreational Equipment Incorporated also known as REI
IMAGE 1
Actual item tested

Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: www.rei.com
MSRP: US $189.00
Listed Package Weight: 5 lb 10 oz (2.55 g)
Measured Package Weight: 5 lb 8 oz (2.5 kg)
Three season / two person tent

Other details:
Available colors include -
Orange Sky/Redrock and Applemint/Boxwood (green)
I am testing the Applemint/Boxwood version.
Instruction sheet is sewn onto the outside of the storage bag for easy access

Contents include -
One tent body - 2 lb 5 oz (923 g)
One rain fly - 1 lb 11 oz (767 g)
Two tent poles - 8.1 oz (230 g)
One ridge pole - 2.7 oz (77 g)
Six tent stakes - 3.5 oz (99 g)
One pole repair tube - 0.6 oz (18 g)
One pole bag - 0.7 oz (21 g)
One Stake Bag - 0.3 oz (9 g)
Four guylines with fasteners - 1.5 oz ( 43 g)

IMAGE 5



This is a three-season, two-person, single-wall, hexagon-shaped dome tent with a bathtub style floor, opposing/duel entry doors and the ability to set it up as a lightweight version utilizing only the rainfly and (optional) footprint. I should note here that the footprint is not included. This tent sets up pretty much like most dome style tents I have seen, but using their specific pole-system. I've included a photo showing this unique feature.

IMAGE 6


The pole-system also is color coded to ease the set up. There are matching color (red and black) sewn tabs to make it easier to match the poles. I've included a photo of this as well. The rainfly is large enough to provide a storage area on each side of the tent body for gear. There is enough room for a backpack on each side and boots as well. When I camp by myself, I keep my pack inside my tent with me, but it's nice to know there's enough room to store it outside too.

IMAGE 3
Ample storage room


The bathtub floor is rectangle shaped which provides equal room for two people. There are two storage loft pockets (see photo). There is also plenty of head-room, even for me when I sit straight up inside.
IMAGE 7

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My initial impression of this tent is that it is a quality item. Just like most tents I've seen, the entire tent breaks down and fits inside its own storage bag. The construction seems very good and there are many features. The zippers run smoothly during both opening and closing. I've covered some of the features already and plan to identify them all throughout the test of this tent. I would prefer to get a footprint with the tent to be able to use it to its full potential, but it is what it is. I don't know of any tents available for purchase that has a footprint included. It'll just be one of my pipe-dreams I guess.

IMAGE 2
Complete packaged tent

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

There is a set of instructions sewn onto the outside of the tent storage bag. Although there really aren't any helpful photographs, they seem clear, concise, easy to follow, and provide instructions on how to set up the tent and rainfly. They also describe how to set the tent up in the minimalist version should I desire to set up the rainfly alone with the optional footprint. There is also an instruction card that came with the tent. The card covers Tent Maintenance on one side and Helpful Hints on the other side.

There is another instruction sheet sewn into the inside of the tent body. You can see it in the below photograph

IMAGE 4
Instructions sewn inside tent

TRYING IT OUT

I've never owned a Half Dome tent before. Even though I have had several dome style tents, I found myself relying on using the instructions during my first set up on my front lawn. It was mostly straightforward. My only struggling point was the initial set up with the pole system. I've added a couple of photographs of the pole system to assist anyone considering buying and/or setting up this tent. If a picture is worth a thousand words then maybe this will help. The tent went up quickly and once I finished I realized it was easier than I first thought.

SUMMARY

So far, I am quite excited about this tent. I have yet to find any manufacturing imperfections or other issues. The quality of construction seems to be top notch. I like the color I received. I am one who prefers to have a tent that blends into the background. When I am camping I like the feeling of disappearing into the countryside. This tent will certainly help with that. The floor is a rectangle design so there is plenty of room for one person and gear. It appears that two people should also have enough room as well. I'll have my 17 year old son with me to try it out.

I like the ability to set this tent up using only the rainfly and (optional) footprint. Being able to leave the tent body at home saves weight which is becoming more important to me as I reluctantly get older. I also on occasion tarp-tent but for those times when the weather really comes in having a full roof will be nice. I can't wait to get started with this tent.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Location #1 - El Capitan Mountain area, Eastern San Diego County in Southern California.
Conditions: Foot trails and rocky outcroppings.
Temperatures ranging from 38 to 75 F (3 to 24 C).
Duration: Two overnight trips

Location #2 - Pacific Crest Trail section in Laguna Mountain region of Southern California, Cleveland National Forest, USA
Conditions: Ungroomed foot trails and forest access dirt roads.
Temperatures ranging from 30 to 75 F (-1 to 24 C)
Duration: 3 days

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

IMAGE 9
My little apartment


I felt like I was in a studio apartment being by myself inside this tent. Lots of interior room without a large footprint. The rectangle-shaped floor gives equal space to two people. I can sleep with my head at either end and have same head/foot room. I really like this aspect as I sometimes change the direction I sleep in depending upon the terrain and/or scenery.

After only doing one practice set up of the tent at home before taking it out, the tent was very easy and quick to set up in the field. Lots of ventilation. The mostly screened roof eliminated any overnight condensation I sometimes get with my other tents. One thing I like about having a free-standing tent is that I often do not need to use the provided stakes. Once I am in the tent, it usually isn't going anywhere. During the entire test of this tent, I'll carry and use the stakes, but after that, I'll either not carry them at all or will carry just a couple to aid in guying out the rain fly only. I am not an ultralight backpacker yet, but I try to reduce obviously unnecessary weight where I can. Leaving the "extra" stakes at home will be an easy weight savings later on.

I like the ease of securing the rain fly and tent door in the open position. I've included a photo of the locking device below. It works much like a button into a button hole with an added slide-tension feature as well. It is quick and easy to lock or unlock and I can adjust the tension as necessary.

IMAGE 8


The stakes that come with this tent are standard "J" hook shaped aluminum. They work well and go into most types of ground. The stakes are strong enough to be pounded into harder ground and the "J" hook top enables me to pull the stake out relatively easily.

The screened roof is almost as clear as glass when looking up through it under a starry night. It is very cool to have a room with a view. The rain fly is not clear so the view is restricted if using that over the tent body. I like sleeping under the stars, but hate the bugs and little creepy-crawlies that visit or land on my face when I'm trying to sleep so having a screened roof like this is great.

OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT

There is an optional footprint that can be purchased separately for this tent. I have gotten one. For those who are unfamiliar with what a footprint is, it is basically a ground cloth that attaches directly to the tent poles securely. The footprint can be used under the floor of the tent body to protect the tent floor. This tent can also be set up with just the footprint and rain fly using the poles for structure.

IMAGE 10
Minimalist setup


The benefit of having this option is a minimalist setup. For the benefit of taking a clear photo (above) I have removed all my stuff from inside the tent. When I'm looking for lighter weight and less bulk in my pack I have the option of leaving the entire tent body at home. I just turned 50 years old so going lighter is something I have been exploring more and more. I also like my creature comforts, so achieving the label of ultralight backpacker is not really on my bucket list. I certainly plan to continue using this tent this way when I can and I wish the footprint was an included item and not something I have to buy separately.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Location - Anza-Borrego Springs, California, USA
Conditions: Typical desert including rocky, sandy, and dry terrain. Temperatures ranging from approximately 40 to over 70 F (4 to over 21 C).
Duration: Four days, three nights.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Well I was not able to get the tent out into any snow but I was able to get it into some cooler night time temperatures. The tent performed perfectly. I staked it out on a sandy area with rocks helping to hold the stakes in the ground. The tent sets up easily and all zippers zip and all adjusters adjust and hold where set. I've set up the tent with and without the rain fly, with and without the tent body utilizing the rain fly and optional footprint. The tent ventilates well with the rain fly attached without feeling too drafty. Taking the rain fly off, the starry night allowed me to see the stars through the tent body ceiling as the mesh is strong yet almost invisible.

SUMMARY

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with this tent. The REI Half Dome 2 has proven that it stands up to the reputation of its predecessors.

Some of the positives are...
It is incredibly roomy with a relatively small footprint
It is free-standing so I can set this tent up about anywhere and leave most or all of the stakes at home.
There is a lightweight set up version when using the poles and optional footprint.
The interior height in this tent allows me to sit straight up and move around easily inside.
The rectangular floor allows two people to have equal space at both the head and foot.
The rain fly allows two of us to store our gear next to our own door.

I have no negatives to write about. The tent worked flawlessly throughout this test. I would appreciate it if the manufacturer included a footprint with the purchase of this tent instead of it having to be purchased separately.

I would like to thank both REI and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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