Hands-on Gear Review

Compare backpacking tent ratings side-by-side >

REI Half Dome 2 Plus Review

   
Best Buy Award

Backpacking Tents

  • Currently 4.0/5
Overall avg rating 4.0 of 5 based on 3 reviews. Most recent review: May 10, 2015
Street Price:   $150 | Compare prices at 1 resellers
Pros:  Lots of room for its weight, durable, moderately strong, great value
Cons:  Heavy for backpacking, hard to get the fly vestibules taut, not enough stakes or guy lines
Best Uses:  Mostly car camping and occasional backpacking.
User Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0 of 5) based on 2 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (2/2) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   REI
Review by: Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ May 10, 2015  
Overview
The REI Half Dome 2 Plus wins our Best Buy Award for its extra spacious interior and thoughtful construction - it provides the most bang for your buck. We think it is very livable, with great ventilation and interior storage. The Half Dome 2 Plus has four kick stand-vents, large vestibules, and the whole tent is super comfortable. It stands up well to wet weather, but did not come with enough guy line to keep the fly off of the inner tent, causing some moisture to get in. The Half Dome's stakes are also of very low quality and it did not come with enough for each guy point. These things make the Half Dome more susceptible to bad weather.

If you want something lighter and are willing to pay just a bit more, check out the REI Quarter Dome 2 which weighs under 4 pounds, packs smaller, and is still fairly livable. Check out our complete Best Backpacking Tent Review to see how the Half Dome 2 Plus compares to all 23 other tents we've tested.

New Colors - May 2015
The Half Dome 2 Plus is now available in new colors! See below for more information.

Compare top rated competitors side-by-side >

  • Photos
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge


OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

The New Version of the Half Dome 2 Plus vs. The Older Version



The Half Dome 2 Plus is now available in six new colors (for the rainfly): applemint, lion, lucite, redrock, rhapsody blue, and true teal. Though this was the only difference that we were able to find, we have contacted REI for confirmation. See below for a side-by-side comparison, with the latest version shown on the left and the older model pictured on the right.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge 



Hands-On Review



A great value for a car camping tent that can also be brought on occasional short backpacking trips, the Half Dome 2 Plus is super roomy and luxurious. We think this would be a great choice for a new family or a couple with a dog.

Performance Comparison


Click to enlarge
The REI Half Dome 2 Plus below Mt Langley, Mt. Corcoran, and Mt. LeConte in the Sierra.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Set-up


Although not as complicated to set up as its lightweight cousin the REI Quarter Dome 2, the Half Dome 2 Plus has a somewhat complicated 3 pole configuration. Once you set it up a few times it will be almost as fast to set up as a two pole design like the Kelty Grand Mesa 2, but it takes some practice. There are two large, bulky hubs that connect all three poles together, one across the top and two down the sides. The poles have color coded ends that match the webbing with grommets at the bottom of the tent body. Once you have the pole ends inserted into the grommets, everything else is pretty standard for set-up.
Click to enlarge
The Half Dome 2 Plus has a somewhat complicated 3 pole configuration. Once you set it up once or twice it will be almost as fast to set up as a two pole design. Veronica and Austin Palmer have no trouble with it since they carried this thing on the entire Appalachian Trail!
Credit: McKenzie Long

We like the Half Dome's cord locks on the vestibule doors, but have difficulty getting the vestibule doors guyed out properly. The fly always looks a little floppy and is not as taut as we would like for weather and wind protection.

Livability


This where the Half Dome 2 Plus rises above the competition. The 2 Plus model has added an extra 10 inches in length and 4 inches in width over the REI Half Dome 2. We think this is a significant amount of space and allows for much more stuff to fit inside or just room to spread out your stuff. It has two large roof pockets, two small side pockets, and two large vestibules that give you an extra 20.4 square feet of covered storage space.

Click to enlarge
The REI Half Dome 2 Plus has lots of storage space including two large roof pockets and two small side pockets.
Credit: Jessica Haist

The Half Dome 2 Plus has lots of mesh for ventilation, but also nylon panels in areas where there is more tension for reinforced strength, like at the top cross pole point and by the doors. Its four kick-stand vents in the top of the fly keep the air flowing in the tent but the rain out.

Weather Resistance


As mentioned earlier, the REI Half Dome 2 Plus is difficult to guy out properly. For some reason the vestibule doors never seem to become taut, no matter the angle the doors are staked at. It also does not come with enough guy line for all the guy points, so the fly will touch the inner tent on the ends unless you add your own cord to stake it out. This makes us think that it is less weather resistant than it could be if we could tighten all the guy lines and make the fly smooth and tight. Without any upgraded cord, there will be a lot of flopping of the fly in the wind and condensation from the fly touching the tent body. We also noticed that water tends to pool on the roof of the Half Dome when the kick stand vents are open.

Click to enlarge
It is difficult to get the vestibule doors guyed out properly and the fly always looks a little floppy. It's not as taut as we would like for weather and wind protection.
Credit: McKenzie Long

All that being said, it did keep us dry in wet weather, but having the ability to guy it out properly would make us feel more confident having it in high winds and in less than vertical rain storms.

Adaptability


The REI Half Dome 2 Plus is adaptable in that its size allows for more flexibility. You can squeeze 3 small people inside in a pinch, or bring your 6'5" friend along with no problem. There is extra length so if you bring your furry, four-legged friend along, they can sleep at your feet. The Half Dome does have a fast-pitch set-up option, but that requires you to buy a separate footprint. We are not crazy about this set-up, and we talk about the follies of fast-pitching in our Buying Advice Article.
Click to enlarge
Mike gets cozy in the Kelty Cosmic Down sleeping bag and the comfortably roomy REI Half Dome 2 Plus tent.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Durability


As with the other budget tents in this review, the REI Half Dome 2 Plus has lower quality, polyurethane coated fabrics that are more susceptible to hydrolysis. As long as you dry and store your Half Dome properly, this should not be a problem for the first few years of its life. For the short term, we believe that the Half Dome's materials are relatively durable but heavy, using strong 75 Denier fabric and quality poles.
Click to enlarge
The Half Dome 2 Plus has lots of mesh for ventilation, but also nylon panels in areas where there is more tension for reinforced strength like at the top cross pole point and by the doors.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Weight and Packed Size


Weighing in at a hefty 5lbs 15 oz, the Half Dome 2 Plus is one of the heaviest tents we tested, but we believe that its space-to-weight ratio is better than many of the other tents, including the REI Half Dome 2. Its packed size is also rather bulky, at 7x21 inches. The bulky plastic pole hubs contribute to this large packed size. We personally would not want to carry this item on our backs for extended periods of time. The Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL has a better space-to-weight ratio and only weighs 2 pounds 9 ounces, but it costs a lot more!.

Limitations


The REI Half Dome 2 Plus' limitations lie in its poor quality components. The materials make it susceptible to deterioration, especially if it is not stored properly, and the low quality stakes and guy lines (and lack thereof) make it susceptible to bad weather. It is also heavy - partially a result of the aforementioned materials which makes it less ideal for frequent backpacking trips.
Click to enlarge
The REI Half Dome 2 Plus keeps us dry in any wet weather, but having the ability to guy it out properly would make us feel more confident having it in high winds and less than vertical rain storms.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Best Application


Our tester's favorite application for the Half Dome 2 Plus was on a horse-pack supported trip! We would also recommend it for car camping or any type of camping where you won't have to carry too long or far. The 2 Plus version of the Half Dome provides extra space for tall people, families, pet owners, or pack-rats. The 2 Plus is also great for short backpacking trips - especially if you have one or two friends to help carry the load!

Click to enlarge
Our tester's favorite application for the Half Dome 2 Plus was on a horse-pack supported trip! Can you see the orange stuff sack on the mule in the center of the frame?
Credit: Jessica Haist

Value


The REI Half Dome 2 Plus is great value and the space-to-weight ratio is even better than the REI Half Dome 2. We think this tent and the Mountainsmith Morrison 2 are the best bang for your buck of all the backpacking tents we tested.

Conclusion


The REI Half Dome 2 Plus is the most luxurious tent in this review with its extra space, plentiful pockets, and great ventilation. It kept us dry in the rain, but would benefit from more guy lines and stakes. We recommend purchasing better quality stakes and additional cord. The Half Dome 2 Plus's value can not be beat, especially when you're looking for a tent that has extra interior room and storage space.
Click to enlarge
The REI Half Dome 2 Plus wins our Best Buy Award for its extra spacious interior and thoughtful construction - it has the most bang for your buck
Credit: Jessica Haist


Other Versions and Accessories


The REI Half Dome 2 Plus comes in a standard 2 person size and a 4 person version. You can purchase footprints separately for the Half Dome models for their fast pitch modes. The REI Quarter Dome 2 is REI's lightweight backpacking tent, and shaves about 1.5 pounds from the weight of the Half Dome.

Jessica Haist

Compare this product side-by-side to top competitors >

Where to Buy?

Seller Price  Shipping Cost Visit
REI
$149.99  -  32% off! FREE!*

Thinking about buying some gear we've reviewed? Help OutdoorGearLab out if you do. Just click on any of the above seller links and if you make any purchase, the seller will contribute a portion of the sale to help support this site. It won't cost you anything extra, and it's a simple way to help us fund our gear reviews. Thanks!

*Most retailers free shipping offers apply only to lower 48 US states using ground/economy shipping. See retailer's website for details.


OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 10, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (3)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 2 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
Write a Review on this Gear

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Feb 27, 2015 - 06:00pm
Erik Smith · Hiker · Spokane, WA
This is a solid performing tent, although it is pretty heavy and bulky for backpacking.
I have used this tent extensively for the last 5 years and camped in it about 40 times per year, sometimes a lot more, and it is still in very good condition. I have pitched it on top of sticks, in stubble grass, and on rocks, and have not had any degredation of the outer material. I haven't always been the best at airing it out when wet or damp but the tent shows no sign of mildew or discoloration. In fact, after one miserable week, I put the very went tent away and didn't manage to pull it out until it had dried itself completely…I expected a black mess, but, no, it looked just like a wrinkled, dry tent. It has withstood some very windy conditions as well, and although on occasion, a strong gust would bow the sides of the tent on top of me, the tent held together and only had minor water intrusion.

A few drawbacks:
The poles go together in an X style with a cross bar in the middle, and the "v" joints add the bulk of the poles.

It's not completely intuitive to set up initially, but easy once you get it.

I have had water drip into the tent when leaving the roof vents open.

The vestibule areas are small and if you have two peole in the tent with their packs in the vestibule area, it's not real easy to manuever around the doors and gear to get out. There are doors on both sides, though.

Overall, it's a roomy, very durable tent, with a very good price point.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Feb 11, 2015 - 12:35pm
"I didn't want to spend a lot on this muffler!"

I like to camp comfortably, especially when solo. I borrowed my brother's Half Dome 2 for a couple years when camping with just my elementary aged son on cub scout campouts. REI has been doing the half dome for a while now, so you'd think they've got it right by now. They do.

I've also had a Half Dome 4 for family campouts and really love it. Now that my son is in Boy Scouts, he's with the boys and I'm in my own tent. I like camping in a 2 person tent just due to the room and ceiling height. REI ran a special in December for the Half Dome 2 Plus so I jumped on it.

First, to compare it to the normal Half Dome 2. The Plus is wider and longer (and at 6'1" I liked the extra space). The materials seem slightly different than the previous model, but still appear ready to take on the wear of multiple camping days. I checked the seams and all were water tight. The bathtub floor comes up a bit higher than the previous 2.

Secondly, the color coding of tent poles, etc., makes for a 5 minute setup. Yes, you only get 6 stakes, so you may want to buy 2 more depending on your preferences. However, 6 stakes will get the corners and the vestibules staked out nicely. Unlike the OGL review, my fly and vestibules were easily kept taught

I always buy the footprint and did so with the Plus. This footprint was a little loose, though covered the whole floor. Would love the same type of adjustment on the straps that the fly has (though this is not a review of the footprint.)

I've now done 3 campouts ranging in temps from the upper 20's to the upper 50's at night. I did get some inside condensation though none dripped within the tent. I haven't tried in the warmer weather yet, but have enjoyed both my 4 and the previous 2 in warm weather with plenty of air circulation.

As far as a backpacking tent, you definitely are carrying more weight at 6 lbs. Though if you use the rule of thumb of 3 lbs of tent or less per person, this is still perfect and very roomy. Two adults can fit comfortably in the Plus, and there is plenty of room fr gear with two vestibules. When the vestibules are staked out, they are slightly higher than the old HD2. I haven't experienced bad weather yet, but could present a concern.

Bottom line. I spent around $160 on a tent with metal poles, a good warranty and right at a decent backpacking weight. For bang for your buck, I can't see anything better. You could spend $200 more to save 1.5-2 lbs. I saved the weight by getting an UL backpack. Due to slight deviations and fit, I only gave 4 stars. But would highly recommend

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No


Have you used the REI Half Dome 2 Plus?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...

Write a Review on this Gear
Click to enlarge
REI Half Dome 2 Plus
Credit: REI
Where's the Best Price?
Seller Price
REI $149.99  -  32% off!
Compare prices at 1 sellers >

*Help support OutdoorGearLab. If you click on one of the seller links and make a purchase, a portion of the sale helps support this site
Related Review
The Best Backpacking Tent Review

The Best Backpacking Tent Review

Over the course of several years we tested over 20 backpacking tents to find the most livable and most practical tents to bring in the backcountry.
Helpful Buying Tips
How to Choose the Best Backpacking Tent - Click for details
 How to Choose the Best Backpacking Tent

by Jessica Haist and Max Neale