If weight is a low concern, the REI Half Dome 2 Plus is by far the most comfortable tent for the money. It has a spacious interior and a very thoughtful design; it's also comfy and has excellent ventilation and interior storage. It comes with four kick-stand vents at the top and two large vestibules. Though the fly is somewhat susceptible to sagging, it stands up well to wet weather. Carrying one of the best values around, this tent earns a Best Buy Award because it represents luxury camping (for two) at its finest.
REI Half Dome 2 Plus Review
Cons: Heavy for backpacking, hard to get the fly vestibules taut, not enough stakes or guy lines
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REI Half Dome 2 Plus
|Price||$229.00 at REI||$292.39 at REI|
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|$299.64 at Amazon|
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|$333.95 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Very spacious for its weight, durable, moderately strong, great value||Excellent balance between weight and features, many storage pockets, large vestibules||Two large double doors, good headroom, excellent balance of space and weight||Lightweight, good lateral headroom, large side doors, large overhead pocket||Lightweight, can be pitched in freestanding mode, large 'rainy day' entryway|
|Cons||Heavy for backpacking, hard to get the fly vestibules taut, not enough stakes or guy lines||Tapered foot, pockets are high up||Delicate fabrics require special treatment, expensive||small vestibules, tapered footprint reduces interior space||Low condensation resistance, small doors, tricky learn setup|
|Bottom Line||A luxury tent for a great value.||A superior tent that balances light weight with excellent features.||Our favorite tent for all your backpacking needs.||A comfortable, lightweight tent great for a weekend or a week.||A good choice for all your light and fast backpacking trips for two.|
|Rating Categories||REI Half Dome 2 Plus||NEMO Dragonfly 2||Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2||Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3||Tarptent Double Rainbow|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Ease Of Set Up (10%)|
|Packed Size (10%)|
|Specs||REI Half Dome 2 Plus||NEMO Dragonfly 2||Big Agnes Copper...||Big Agnes Copper...||Tarptent Double...|
|Packaged Weight||5.31 lbs||3.16 lbs||3.06 lbs||3.81 lbs||2.60 lbs|
|Floor Area||35.8 sq ft||29 sq ft||29 sq ft||41 sq ft||30.5 sq ft|
|Packed Size||20.5 x 7 in||19.5 x 4.5 in||19.5 x 4 in||20 x 4.5 in||18 x 4 in|
|Dimensions||92 x 56 x 44 in||88 x 50 x 41 in||88 x 52 x 42 in||90 x 70 x 43 in||88 x 52 x 42 in|
|Vestibule Area (Total)||20 sq ft||20 sq ft||18 sq ft||18 sq ft||15 sq ft|
|Peak Height||44 in||41 in||42 in||43 in||42 in|
|Number of Doors||2||2||2||2||2|
|Number of Poles||3||3||2||3||2|
|Pole Diameter||8.7 mm||8.7 mm||8.7 mm||8.7mm||8.6 mm|
|Number of Pockets||6||3||2||5||2|
|Gear Loft||Yes||No||Sold separately||Sold separately||No|
|Pole Material||DAC Pressfit aluminum||DAC Featherlite NFL||DAC Featherlite NFL and NSL||Aluminum||Easton 7075 E9 Aluminum|
|Rain Fly Material||40D nylon||20D Nylon Ripstop||Silicone-treated patterned double ripstop nylon with waterproof polyurethane coating||proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating||1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silnylon|
|Inner Tent Material||40D ripstop nylon/20D nylon mesh||15D Nylon Ripstop||[Body] Patterned double ripstop nylon/polyester mesh
[Floor] Silicone-treated patterned double ripstop nylon with waterproof polyurethane coating
|proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating||1.0 oz/yd2 (34 g/m2) no-see-um mesh|
|Type||Two Door freestanding||Two Door freestanding||Two Door||Two Door||Two Door|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Half Dome 2 Plus is roomy, making it an excellent choice for car camping. This would also be a good option for the occasional backpacker (and a friend), someone who's extra tall, or a couple with a small child or pet.
The REI Half Dome 2 Plus scored high in several of our performance metrics while maintaining an affordable price tag, earning it one of our Best Buy awards.
On comfort, the Half Dome 2 Plus rises above the competition. Its considerable interior space allows for much more stuff to fit inside, and room to spread it all out. 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.
The extra length could be the difference between a tall person's feet touching the end of the tent and getting wet from condensation — or not. The two large teardrop doors also make entering and exiting the tent a breeze.
The Half Dome 2 Plus has lots of mesh for ventilation, but also nylon panels around the base for just a bit of privacy. We like the extra headroom this pole design offers. Its four kick-stand vents in the top of the fly keep the air flowing in the tent, but the rain stays out.
It also comes in several snazzy color selections so you can choose from antique moss, blue heaven, kabocha orange, or light spirulina — we opted for the stealthier antique moss.
Ease of Setup
Although the three-pole construction looks complicated at first, we found it to be intuitive and, after a bit of practice, relatively easy and quick to set up. Two hubs connect all three poles, one across the top and two down the sides. They 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 setup.
We like the 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 rain and wind protection.
The Half Dome 2 Plus is adaptable in that its size allows for more flexibility. You can squeeze three 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 dog, they can sleep at your feet. The Half Dome does have a fast-pitch setup option, but that requires you to buy a separate footprint. We are not crazy about this setup, and we talk about the follies of fast-pitching in our Buying Advice Article.
The Half Dome 2 Plus fares pretty well in this metric. Though the fly touches the inner tent on the head and foot ends unless it is staked out, it does have trapezoidal vestibules, which provide more stability in heavy wind. Guy lines come included. We also noticed that water sometimes pools on the roof of the Half Dome 2 Plus when the kickstand vents are open.
This tent kept us dry in wet weather. The metal pole hubs are a little chunky, but sturdy as well. The Tarptent Double Rainbow is much less reliable in the wind than the Half Dome 2 Plus.
As with the other budget tents in this review, the Half Dome 2 Plus has lower quality, polyurethane-coated fabrics that are more susceptible to degrade with repeated use. However, as long as you dry and store it properly, this should not be a problem for the first few years of its life.
The materials of the Half Dome 2 Plus are relatively durable but heavy, using sturdy fabric and quality poles.
Weight & Packed Size
Weighing a hefty 5 pounds 5 ounces, this award winner is one of the heaviest tents we tested. Anecdotally we have heard of people taking it on long hauls, but if you are looking for a lightweight shelter, this isn't it.
The Half Dome 2 Plus is bulky, at 7" x 20.5". We would not want to carry this one on our backs for extended periods, but splitting it up with another person for shorter backpacking trips would be fairly reasonable, and it comes with a budget price tag.
The Half Dome 2 Plus is a great value, and it's an inexpensive tent that surpasses expectations. As long as you know what you are getting into in terms of the weight commitment, we think you will want to take this model out again and again.
This is the most luxurious tent in this review with its extra space, plentiful pockets, and excellent ventilation. It did keep 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't be beat, especially when you're looking for a tent that has extra interior room and storage space. We give it a Best Buy Award for being a livable, affordable tent.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch