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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > REI Half Dome 2 tent 2013 > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence

REI HALF DOME 2 TENT
Test Series By Theresa Lawrence
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - September 21, 2013
FIELD REPORT - December 14, 2013
LONG TERM REPORT - May 26, 2014

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Theresa Lawrence
EMAIL: theresa_newell AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 36
LOCATION: Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)
WAIST: 27.5 in (70 cm)
INSEAM: 32 in (81 cm)

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

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1Manufacturer: Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI)
Manufacturer's Website: http://rei.com
Year of Manufacture: 2013
MSRP: US$189.00
Made In: Vietnam

Listed Packed Weight: 5 lbs 10 oz (2.55 kg)
Measured Packed Weight: 5 lbs 10 oz (2.55 kg)
IMAGE 2
Photos courtesy of REI website
Dimensions: 88 x 52 " (2.24 x 1.32 m)
Included in Purchase: fly, tent body, 3 poles, 1 pole repair tube, 6 pegs, 4 guy lines, tent bag
Type/ Capacity/ Seasons: free standing, 2 person, 3 seasons
Colors Available: Applemint and Boxwood, Orange Sky and Redrock (tested here)

Type of Materials Used:
- Fly: 75 D polyester taffeta
- Body: 40 D ripstop nylon/ 20 D nylon mesh
- Floor: 70 D nylon taffeta
- Poles: DAC aluminum

IMAGE 3
Air Vents - Photo courtesty of REI website


The REI Half Dome 2 Tent looks like a typical dome-style tent with a rectangular footprint. It features 2 side-entry doors symmetrical to each other with large zipper openings. The fly, pegged out in front of the doors, creates a vestibule for each side. There are 4 small, yet, unique ventilation openings in the roof of the fly that stay open with struts sheathed in hook-and-loop fabric (see photo). There are 4 guy-line attachments on the outside of the fly as well as extra loops for extra pegs. A footprint designed specifically for this tent, though not included, is available to purchase separately for US$29.50 at REI. Storage options within the tent include 2 overhead pockets and 4 small ones in each corner, all of mesh. As well, there are multiple hang loops.


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My initial impression was that this is a well constructed tent. Everything is streamlined and there's no evident defects in craftsmanship. Instructions are written on the tent bag, which I did need to refer to as I wasn't familiar with the 3 pole set-up. Once I understood where things went, all of which were color coded, the tent was very easy and quick to set up, a big plus. Take down was just as easy. I particularly liked the way the fly had adjustments to tighten and loosen, which aided in putting on and taking off. The head space inside the tent seemed quite roomy and the vestibules looked to be able to hold each occupant's backpack and boots. I like the idea that each occupant has their own convenient side door. The tent doors were in such a place to lend themselves to getting in and out easily. The venting seemed a bit small, but their actual effect will remain to be seen. Fly doors can also be held open with toggles for more ventilation. The fly seems to sit well over the tent, extra pegs I found were needed to peg the fly out so that it doesn't touch the main body. I had to use my own pegs as the 6 it came with were used up by the main tent and vestibules. If I could make a quick (minor) suggestion here, I'd say include more tent pegs for all the pegging spots.

SUMMARY

So far, I see a tent with great potential and I'm very excited to take it out to see if it meets my expectations. I'm headed into the rainy, cooler season in the Canadian Rockies and snow realistically isn't that far away in the future. So, it may end up in a season it wasn't meant for depending on the weather over the next few months. Something for me to keep in mind as to what expectations would be appropriate for the tent's intended design.

PROS:
- Bright color (I enjoy spotting my tent from afar, it makes me smile, I don't know why).
- Large side-entry doors for easy access in and out of the tent
- Roomy vestibules
- Adjustable fly makes it easy to set up and take down
- Multiple storage options

CONS:
- Not so sure about the small vents (to be determined)
- More pegs included would be nice to peg out the fly and the guy-lines

Thank you to REI and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to take part in this test series. Please stay tuned for my field report in about 2 months time.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1I received this tent in September and the first trip at the end of September to Willamina Lake set the precedent for the weather and conditions that followed. We have had a very cold fall and while this is only the halfway point of this test series, we are well into winter here in the Rocky Mountains.

- 1 overnight to Willamina Lake, Elk Valley, British Columbia, Canada
* 350 m (1148 ft) elevation gain, 6 km (3.7 mi)
* weather - snow, sleet, gale force winds, temperatures: -1 (30 F) to 2 C (36 F)
- 2 overnights to Bowman, Lower and Middle Quartz Lakes, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA
* 610 m (2000 ft) elevation gain, 17 km (10.6 mi)
* weather - dry, sunny, one night of rain, temperatures 1 C (34 F) to 13 C (55 F)
- 1 overnight to Tunnel Creek Hut, Elk Valley, British Columbia, Canada
* 900 m (2953 ft) elevation gain, 10 km (6.2 mi)
* weather: crisp sunny day after a snow storm, lots of powder, temperatures: -15 to -10 C (5 to 14 F)
*set up the tent in the snow and freezing cold, but decided to stay in the nearby hut

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

FUNCTIONIMAGE 2

For a 3-season tent, REI's Half Dome tent has managed very well in the conditions I have thrown at it. From its very first trip with gale force winds, freezing rain and snow. It withstood it all. We stayed dry throughout the night. The tent stayed grounded through the duration of gale force winds that went all night, and wasn't very noisy. What was noisy flapping in the wind was my tarp that broke free and was hanging off a tree tied by one corner. We took that down and all felt very calm considering what was happening outside. The ground was soaked through and the floor of the tent had no seepage whatsoever.

Setting up the tent was very easy on my own and even quicker with two people. I was even able to set the tent up wearing big bulky mitts in the snow. It is possible to just set the tent up with the fly standing alone and then set the body of the tent up after so that it doesn't get wet. This was a bit more awkward, but did work. I really liked the adjustability of the fly, where it can be set up loose, then pulled tight when it's hooked up to all the poles. This saves struggling to pull and hook it over the poles avoiding that desperate feeling that there's no way it's going to fit, but it must.

I did find that pegging out the middle sections of the fly (not the corners) didn't work with the small webbing provided. It doesn't reach the ground with a peg as it is several inches above the ground. Leaving it unpegged I found the walls of the fly and body would touch, which stayed glued together all night because of condensation. As a fix, I extended the webbing with a short piece of cord (see photo) and this helped pull out the fly from the body. Another suggestion for REI would be to put the guy-lines on this face, which would pull the fly away from the body and eliminate the need for pegging. As it stands right now, the guy-lines on this tent are actually positioned on the edges of the fly along where the poles are, which do help to stabilize the poles in high winds, but I believe it would still do so if they were placed on the face. Just some thoughts for improvements.
IMAGE 3IMAGE 4
The vents did work, although there was still a lot of condensation on the fly. Once the tent was rigged so that the fly didn't touch the mesh body of the tent, none of that condensation came through the tent, however, packing it up was wet, but it also dried quickly.

COMFORT AND SPACE
IMAGE 5
With full capacity of two adults, there was enough space for two sleeping pads and a bit extra room on each side, as well as above and below. The tent had a nice size to weight ratio. The head space with the dome was exceptional. However, with the more items that were placed in the 'overhead compartments' (stretchy net pockets on the ceiling), this space started to become limited pretty quickly and there wasn't really any other options for storage except for the really small and odd shaped pockets in each corner. Not much fit in these corner pockets, though my mug of tea fit nicely, keeping it upright and prevented it from spilling in the tent, which I thought was quite handy. However, I don't feel we needed 4 of these sized pockets. Perhaps 2 of this style and 2 of another more usable shaped pocket would be more helpful. Otherwise the overhead pockets were quite handy. I could place a head lamp in one, which acted as an overhead light for the whole tent. But, there was nowhere to hang a lantern (my Lucy solar powered LED lantern to be exact) from the ceiling of the tent. Small loops sewn into the ceiling seams at a couple of points would be handy for this.

I really appreciated having the two side entrances, each occupant had their own entrance with their own gear vestibule for boots and backpack. This worked really well as once in the tent, gear was really easy to access and getting in and out at inconvenient times in the middle of the night didn't disturb my partner and vice versa.

DURABILITY

The construction of the tent appears to be of high quality and REI is a trusted brand, rightly so. All the seams remain intact and I have no qualms that they will continue to do so for long while. I have stored the tent stuffed in a stuff sack and once set up and stretched out all the wrinkles disappear and the material feels strong and not at all compromised.

SUMMARY

REI's Half Dome tent has performed very well considering most of the conditions that I have met with during this test have been well beyond that of a 3-season tent. I had a few suggestions in my report for REI with regards to pegging out the fly, and also about storage options inside the tent. Aside from these minor points, I have really enjoyed using the tent and I am very confident in its ability to keep me dry and hold up in strong winds. As a two person tent, the design with the dome and the side entrances with vestibules really made the tent feel spacious and easy to get in and out. Unfortunately the next two months ahead are going to be well within the Rocky Mountain winter and I will be switching to a 4-season tent for any backcountry camping for obvious reasons and hence my test of this product likely ends here. But, this is definitely the tent I will be looking forward to come spring.

IMAGE 6LIKES
- Very easy to set up alone and takes almost no time at all with a partner
- Both fly and body can be set up to stand alone
- Side entrance and vestibule for each occupant
- Well constructed
- Rain and water do not penetrate the tent, reliably dry
- Lightweight
- Unique storage options inside the tent

DISLIKES
- Fly and body stick together (fixed with extended loop on fly or suggest moving guy-line to face of fly)
- Overhead storage compartments start to limit headspace if filled up
- The corner pockets' size and shape limits their use
- No ceiling loops to hang stuff (like a lantern)


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

It has been awhile since my field report due to the long harsh winter of the Southern Canadian Rockies requiring me to keep it safe in storage. However, since weather started warming up I've taken the Half Dome 2 tent out on another 4 trips. In April, I brought this tent on 2 different weekend overnights near Koocanusa Lake in Montana. Temperatures had risen in this region to highs of 17 C (62 F) and lows of 1 C (34 F) overnight. We had some significant wind come up from the lake, but for the most part clear, warm, sunny days and cooler windy evenings made for some enjoyable rock climbing. At the beginning of May I brought this tent on an overnight spring backcountry ski-tour in the Southern Canadian Rockies near Fernie, British Columbia and camped in the snow at 900 m (2953 ft). Temperatures ranged from 1 - 18 C (34 - 64 F) and the weather endured was everything from freezing rain, wind and snow to calm brilliant sunshine. On the holiday May long weekend, the tent was used for 2 nights at a kayak paddling fest near Pincher Creek, Alberta. During this weekend the tent endured a heavy storm with heaps of rain.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Half Dome 2 tent has been tested under some unruly weather and has survived well. After a night on snow and another 2 nights of heavy rain, there was no seepage of water through the floor. The rain continued to bead on the tent fly, which demonstrated continued water repellency. However, I did notice that the fly, after the heavy rain was soaked right through. Just as wet on the outside as the inside, but because of the design the mesh body never came in contact with the fly and was never wet. Everything remained dry inside the tent. There was no points of dripping into the tent.

I have continued to enjoy the ease of set up and take down, which can easily be done with one person and even easier with 2 people. Because the tent body is mainly mesh fabric, when it was exceptionally windy, the tent was quite drafty. The vents are very effective and are easily opened and closed from inside or outside the tent. I am a fan of this design. No condensation was found throughout the test series.

In the snow, we used small wiffle balls that we attached to the guy-lines and corners of the tent, which we stepped on to bury under the snow. This was incredibly effective in securing our tent in the snow. The snow dried like cement and we needed a shovel to dig up the end of the lines.

The tent has endured really well. It still looks new and all the seams remain intact demonstrating a very solid construction. The design has certainly been proven to withstand large gusts of wind. The side zip entries on both sides with vestibules made it very convenient for 2 occupants as we never had to climb over or disturb one another to get in and out of the tent. And having each vestibule to store ones own shoes and backpack was also convenient as my stuff was always right beside me a short arms length away. I still find the 4 corner pockets to be a bit small to be useful for most items in my tent, however, the overhead pockets did make up for it somewhat.

SUMMARY

I have really enjoyed the REI Half Dome 2 Tent. It has withstood all sorts of weather within and beyond the 3-season scope. However, because it was quite drafty at times, I would avoid colder temperatures in the future. This tent has proven to be solidly constructed and lightweight and convenient to set up and take down. My Likes and Dislikes remain the same as above and I plan to continue using this tent for summer and shoulder seasons.

Thanks to REI and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to take part in this test series, I have really enjoyed my time with this product.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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