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 comfortable 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. 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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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; in fact, it was the only contender in our lineup that scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in this metric. The 2 Plus model adds an extra 4 inches in length and width over the standard (and we believe discontinued) REI Half Dome 2 and is roomier than the tent with the second largest interior, the NEMO Galaxi 2.
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 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. Other top scorers include the NEMO Dragonfly 2, Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 and NEMO Dagger 2.
It also comes in several snazzy color selections this year 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 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 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 fared 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, but the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 comes with all the guy lines you need already attached. 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. Our testing found that the Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT, complete with an extended vestibule, was the most weather resistant tent in our review, earning the only perfect 10 out of 10 in this metric, though it does come at a price.
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. If you like what this tent is about, at $229, you can buy a second Half Dome Plus for around the price of one of the higher scoring tents (or three for the price of the Anjan GT).
The materials of the Half Dome 2 Plus are relatively durable but heavy, using sturdy fabric and quality poles. The Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT's materials are of much higher quality and will last longer.
Weight & Packed Size
Weighing a hefty 5 lbs. 5 oz., this award winner is one of the heaviest tents we tested. The only heavier tent was the NEMO Galaxi 2 at over 6 lbs.
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 of time, but splitting it up with another person for shorter backpacking trips would be fairly reasonable, and it comes with a budget price tag.
Our testers' favorite application for the REI Half Dome 2 Plus was on a horse-pack supported trip. We would also recommend it for car camping or any outdoor adventure that doesn't require you to carry gear for too long or too far. That said, we know people who bring this one on the AT! It provides extra space for tall people, families, pet owners, or pack rats. This tent is also great for short backpacking trips — especially if you have one or two friends to help carry the load.
At $229, the Half Dome 2 Plus is a great value. We think it is 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