REI’s outdoor gear enjoys a reputation of high quality. Their signature tents are designed well, with welded seams to seal out water, easy-to-use zippers which won’t catch and snag on the tent fabric, and multiple interior options to enhance the camping experience. REI’s venerable Half Dome series of tents have impressed and satisfied backpackers and car campers for years, and with each iteration of the design, REI has incorporated feedback from its customers and improved the product. The Half Dome tents are, year after year, REI’s best selling and most popular tents, and for good reason.
The Half Dome 2’s mass appeal springs from its simplicity and versatility. The Half Dome 2 assembles in just a few minutes, thanks to helpful, color-coded poles, and can be modified to make a basic shelter using just the poles, included rainfly and separately-available footprint (useful for camping on rugged ground). At just under 6 pounds, the REI Half Dome 2 packs well in a car, and won’t burden a backcountry camper’s load.
As the name suggests, the Half Dome 2 is designed to sleep two people comfortably. With two side wall doors and two vestibules, the Half Dome 2 gives each camper independent access and storage, and the symmetric design provides the campers with the option of sleeping next to each other, or head-to-foot, with no difference in accessible amenities. The Half Dome 2 also contains ample side pockets, corner pockets, and hang loops for additional interior storage. With regard to the interior, the 2010 version of the Half Dome 2 offers an interior volume over one third bigger than the previous Half Dome 2 by incorporating an innovative pole arrangement to provide almost vertical sidewalls, offering fantastic headroom for the class of tent.
The Half Dome 2’s bottom is waterproof, and the floor’s seamless construction and integration into the sidewalls ensures the bottom stays dry in case of a downpour and standing water. The design of the tent, and the polyester rainfly, ensure the tent will stay taut and roomy, even in a storm. For fair weather camping, the Half Dome 2 offers two vents for airflow which also allow stargazing from the mosquito-free interior.
The REI Half Dome 2 tent retails for $179.99, and includes a rainfly, poles, stakes, guylines, tighteners, pole and stake bags and a pole repair tube. It is available on-line and in most REI locations. REI also offers a slightly larger version, the Half Dome 2 Plus, for those campers who want a little extra room inside. On a scale of 1-5, the REI Half Dome 2 tent rates a highly-recommended 5.