REI Co-op’s upgrade to the iconic Half Dome 2 Plus takes it to a new place. Rather than just a solid backpacking tent, this new version is a true do it all tent. It’s big enough for car camping, tough enough for the worth weather and light enough to schlep wherever and however you want to get there. While true light-is-right aficionados will want to look elsewhere for everyone else this is a compelling option at a very reasonable price.
For a backcountry worthy tent, this is a palace. The REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus brags 36 square feet of area, 56 inches in width. That’s enough room to lay two car camping size sleeping mats side by side. The peak height is 44 inches, enough for most adults to sit up comfortably without bumping the roof. Two 11 square foot vestibules add plenty of storage and there are a ton of pockets inside to help with organization. The pole design creates lots of volume for sitting up and moving around. Taken together and this is one roomy tent. When we used it car camping next to six-person abodes we didn’t feel like we were slumming it, like we often do with backpacking tents.
All the liveable room in the REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus comes at the cost of packability. The tent weighs more than five pounds even when we stripped it down to just the basics. Solid fabric choices add to the weight. With a full mesh tent canopy, it still manages to pack up fairly small, a little above average for this category.
The one pole set up on the REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus is multi-legged. It’s a beast to move around, but once it was set up and in position, it went up fast and easy. The tent and fly are symmetrical, so it’s easy to figure out how to position it.
This tent is bomber. Testers endured wind gusts above 40 miles per hour in the REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus. While the tent bucked around, it stayed strong. Same for driving rain. We had to mind the positioning of the vents to prevent drips but otherwise, the tent was bone dry, even with a small puddle forming under the floor. The 40-Denier nylon fly is a nice balance between lightweight and strong. The 70-Denier floor – it’s bathtub style, rising four inches above the ground – proved to be both robust and watertight.
One of the nicest things about the REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus is all the pockets. There’s at least six of them spread between the roof and corners. They helped make the tent feel like home. With a couple of trekking poles, it’s easy to prop up the fly to create a sunshade and keep the fly out of the way. But the biggest thing about this tent is all the room. The vestibules are huge for easy entry and exit and the inside tent is massive.
Ryan Stuart is freelance writer and jack of all sports—trail running, mountain biking, whitewater paddling, surfing, climbing, skiing and mountaineering—based on Vancouver Island. Follow his testing on Google+.