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REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Review

This inexpensive tent is spacious enough for laid-back car camping and light enough for short to moderate backpacking trips
REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+
Photo: REI Co-op
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $279 List | Check Price at REI
Pros:  Spacious, affordable, included footprint
Cons:  Heavy, bulky poles
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 12, 2021
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 10
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 7
  • Weight - 20% 4
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 8
  • Packed Size - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The REI Half Dome SL 2+ is an excellent tent for those who like to split their time between car camping and short backpacking trips. Its dimensions are roomy, but if you wanted to split the weight and take it out for a weekend with a partner, it is versatile enough for both. As one of the least expensive tents in this review, it is an excellent option for those looking for their first tent. It comes with a ton of storage capacity, and its symmetrical structure and color-coded poles make it easy to pitch. Though it is far from an ultralight, we would love to take out this budget option on adventures where the primary goal is some R&R in camp.

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Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  
Price $279 List
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$500 List
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Pros Spacious, affordable, included footprintExcellent balance between weight and features, many storage pockets, large vestibulesTwo large double doors, good headroom, excellent balance of interior space and weightLightweight, good lateral headroom, large side doors, large overhead pocketGenerous dimensions, large vestibules, good balance between weight and durability
Cons Heavy, bulky polesTapered foot, pockets are high upExpensive, delicate materialsSmall vestibules, tapered footprint reduces interior spaceSmall doors, expensive, zippers don't always open smoothly
Bottom Line A tent with lots of room and great value for those go weekend car campingAn exceptional choice for both front and backcountry adventuresThis tent balances the key aspects of a backpacking tent better than all other modelsThis tent offers enough room for three, without weighing you downA tent that offers comfort and quality at a good weight
Rating Categories REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 NEMO Dagger 2
Comfort (25%)
10
8
8
7
8
Weather Resistance (25%)
7
8
8
8
8
Weight (20%)
4
7
7
7
6
Durability (10%)
8
8
7
7
8
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
8
8
8
8
8
Packed Size (10%)
4
8
9
9
6
Specs REI Co-op Half... NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Copper... Big Agnes Copper... NEMO Dagger 2
Packaged Weight 4.82 lbs 3.16 lbs 3.09 lbs 3.88 lbs 3.76 lbs
Floor Area 35.8 sq ft 29 sq ft 29 sq ft 41 sq ft 31 sq ft
Packed Size 7 x 20.5 in 19.5 x 4.5 in 19.5 x 6 in 21 x 6 in 19.5 x 6.5 in
Dimensions 92 x 56 in 88 x 50 x 41 in 88 x 52 x 40 in 90 x 70 x 43 in 90 x 50 x 42 in
Vestibule Area (Total) 22.5 sq ft 20 sq ft 18 sq. ft 18 sq ft 22.8 sq ft
Peak Height 42 in 41 in 40 in 43 in 42 in
Number of Doors 2 2 2 2 2
Number of Poles 1 3 1 3 2
Pole Diameter 2 mm 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.5/9/9.6 mm
Number of Pockets 6 3 3 5 2
Gear Loft No No No No Sold separately
Pole Material DAC featherlite NFL aluminum DAC featherlite NFL DAC featherlite NFL Aluminum DAC featherlight NSL
Guy Points 4 5 4 4 10
Rain Fly Material 40-denier ripstop nylon/20-denier nylon mesh 20D nylon ripstop 15D 1200mm silicone nylon ripStop proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating 15D Sil / PU nylon ripstop (1200mm)
Inner Tent Material 40-denier taffeta nylon 15D nylon ripstop [Body] 10D polyester mesh, [Floor] 20D nylon ripStop proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating [Body] 15D nylon ripstop / No see um mesh, [Floor] 30D PU Nylon Ripstop (3000mm)
Type Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Two door freestanding

Our Analysis and Test Results

This fully freestanding double-wall tent has an awesome peak height of 42 inches and two vestibules that are each over 11 square feet — plenty of space for packs and boots. All things considered, there is a lot to like here.

Performance Comparison


This is a good option to have on hand for a quick, casual weekend...
This is a good option to have on hand for a quick, casual weekend camping trip.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort


You can spread out and get comfortable in this shelter. Its 92 inch length is one of the longest in this review. It is more than enough space for a pair of six foot sleepers. Combined with its peak height and similarly generous width of 56 inches, the reality is that you could attempt to squeeze a third person in, and it wouldn't feel any more ridiculous than two people in some of our ultralight models.


The two massive side doors are easy to open and close with one hand. In addition to standard (totally sufficient) side pockets at each corner of the tent, each person also gets an overhead pocket large enough for a book, maps, or other gear you want to keep organized in within reach. Even with two people, it is easy to avoid touching the tent walls at night (and keeping the foot of your sleeping bag dry, even if the tent itself is wet). There is so much headroom it is no problem for two people to sit up and even kneel at the same time.

The massive side doors are great to peel back when the weather is...
The massive side doors are great to peel back when the weather is nice and make it super easy to enter and exit.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

We like that the fly can roll back for stargazing. The side panels aren't especially high, but they do provide a modest amount of privacy if you happen to remove the fly. The doors open in opposite directions from each other, which suggests that the tent is designed for head-to-toe sleeping, which may or may not be what you are looking for. However, they are easy to tie back, and if it's not buggy out, offer excellent views when open.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Weather Resistance


This three-season tent does well enough in the rain. Its large profile gives it a little bit of a bag-in-the-wind feel. The design of its pole structure isn't especially rigid, but it offers two stake points for each of the vestibules, which makes them easier to tension and less susceptible to flapping. The vestibules also have multiple tie-back options. Depending on the weather, the doors can be opened partially or fully.


The kickstand vents are covered, so unless you find yourself in a truly gnarly thunderstorm, precipitation won't find its way in that way either. The all-mesh canopy also allows condensation to escape easily. The vestibule zippers aren't waterproof, but they do have a protective flap. The two-pitch shape to the vestibule door also makes it possible (and very convenient) to enter and exit the tent while it is raining without dripping extra accumulated water from the door on yourself or your gear.

Top vents help dissipate condensation throughout the night.
Top vents help dissipate condensation throughout the night.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The Half Dome SL 2+ also comes with an included footprint, which does a nice job of protecting the floor from seepage if you happen to pitch on some already-damp soil.

Weight


With everything included, this tent weighs as much as any other in this review (and for the most part, substantially more, to be honest). At over four and three-quarter pounds on our scale, this one is worth splitting between at least two people.


Having said that, it seems to benefit from continually improving materials technology and thoughtful design. Considering all of the space and livability that this tent brings to the trail, it is certainly versatile enough to be a car-camping workhorse and a backup backpacking tent.

This tent is light for what it offers in terms of interior space...
This tent is light for what it offers in terms of interior space, but we think that the extra ounces are in part coming from all of the pole segments it uses to create that space.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Durability


The floor and fly are 40 and 30 denier nylon, respectively. These are on the thicker side of tent fabrics, and though it makes for a heavier overall product, the increased durability is noticeable. Add in the footprint, and the floor is well-protected from the usual wear and tear of a well used shelter.


The aluminum pole structure is not totally rigid, but the crossbar gives it enough stiffness that it would take some very strong wind to cause it to buckle. It does also come with a pole splint in the event that on-trail disaster strikes. The floor and side panels also extend up the walls high enough that they effectively prevent debris and moisture from getting through.

The included, pre-attached footprint provides extra protection for a...
The included, pre-attached footprint provides extra protection for a floor that is already fairly durable on its own.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ease of Set Up


We like how simple it is to pitch this tent. The pole structure is symmetrical, which means all of the parts are easier to orient correctly. The poles, clips, and grommet webbing are color-coded as well, so there is no confusion about which pole end slides into what. The fly attaches to the tent with traditional buckle clips and stakes out at the tent corners and two points on each vestibule. It's very straightforward, even for one person.


On the downside, we found that the pole structure itself is a little unwieldy. All of the segments are connected to each other, and since the tent is so large, the poles are consequently very long, and the whole thing splays out in enough directions that getting the first two corners in takes some extra effort. It didn't prove to be too problematic in practice, but there were a couple of times that we found ourselves wrestling with it just a little more than the average tent. All things considered though, it's easy to stake out and tension well.

The pole structure takes some time to sort out.
The pole structure takes some time to sort out.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Packed Size


Coupling with its weight, this model certainly takes up some space in a pack. The pole structure has a lot of segments, and the hubs and clips are chunky. The fabric is thick, which is beneficial for its durability but doesn't do it any favors in terms of its portability.


It's a generous extra, so we can't especially knock it, but the footprint also adds weight and bulk to the whole setup. However, if you are using this tent primarily as a car camping or backyard campout companion, its size is not a problem.

It's one of the larger packages in this review, but the tent is...
It's one of the larger packages in this review, but the tent is still manageable for two people.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Value


The REI Half Dome SL 2+ is one of the best values around. It leverages good versatility as both a car camping option and a viable backpacking tent. Its durability also makes it a likely candidate to serve you reliably season after season. Its components and fabric are not top of the line, but the design, execution, and quality for the price are excellent.

Conclusion


This tent is spacious, durable, and easy to pitch. Taken all together, we would love to have this one ready to go for a leisurely weekend in the wilderness, whether we are driving up to the campsite or carrying it ourselves.

The mesh canopy improves skyward views.
The mesh canopy improves skyward views.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch