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The Passage is REI's budget model for people who are looking for an entry level tent. It is roomy and comfortable, as well as easy to set up. We would hesitate to take it anywhere with strong winds as its poles are notoriously weak. In general, we encourage you to spend the extra money for the REI Half Dome 2 Plus for a much higher quality tent. That said, the Passage is might be your perfect tent if you backpack infrequently and mainly want a roomy, easy to pitch tent at a great price.
2018 Product Updates
REI updated the Passage 2. Keep reading for side by side comparison photos and info on the new model!
The 2018 Passage 2 vs. the Older Version
REI has revamped the Passage 2. It features a new door/vestibule design, increased mesh, and a new pole design. See the new version on the left, below, compared to the one we tested on the right.
Doors & Vestibules Redesigned — The new tent's doors are oval shaped and located in the center of the long walls of the tent instead of off to the side as they were on the last tent. You can note the difference in the photos above.
Pole Configuration — New poles create extra vertical space at either end of the tent.
Increased Mesh — This version of the Passage features more mesh on the walls of the tent for increased ventilation.
These updates appear promising, but since we haven't pitched the new version of the Passage yet, the remainder of this review is applicable to the original version we tested.
Hands-On Review of the Passage 2
A great tent for car and backyard camping, the Passage is ideal for shorter backpacking trips where you won't mind the extra weight.
The Passage is a roomy, comfortable tent for two. Its dimensions are 90x54, quite large in comparison to some of our lighter backpacking models although we think the NEMO Galaxi 2 is even more comfortable. The Passage has plenty of headroom and two roomy vestibules to store any extra gear when it's wet outside. The fly has "pop vents" for extra ventilation.
The two small pockets use a strange, triangle shape that allows items to fall right out of them. We love the REI Half Dome 2 Plus's huge pockets. We also find the vestibule zippers rather large and feel very conspicuous getting out of the tent in the middle of the night to use the facilities when you have neighbors around.
As soon as we got our hands on the Passage's poles, we knew not take this tent somewhere it would be exposed to high winds. It comes with no-name poles that are a skinny diameter and do not inspire confidence. The hubbed, high-quality poles that come with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX and the Half Dome 2+are more sturdy. When we used the Passage we were in sheltered, wooded area but there have been several reports in user reviews online of poles bending and breaking in high winds.
The Passage did a good job keeping the rain out. We suspect that in a torrential downpour some splash-back may get in via the sides unless you buy guylines (not included).
Weight and Packed Size
This is one of the heavier tents we tested, weighing in at 5 lbs, 6.1 ounces. It's too heavy for long backpacking trips. It has artistic mesh/nylon paneling in the body which looks nice but could contribute to how heavy it is.
The Passage is the easiest tent to set up in this review. It has just two crossed poles and then you stake out the two side doors. All of the other tents in this review have at least one more step, if not many for a perfect pitch including the Half Dome and The North Face Storm Break. The Passage is extremely straightforward to pitch.
The Passage has heavy, abrasion-resistant coated polyester materials that are probably quite durable. However, with most cheap tent materials this polyurethane (PU) material is subject to degrading and breaking down over time. The Hilleberg Anjan 2 has extremely lightweight but durable materials including high quality silicone nylon coated fabrics and sturdy poles. Check out our Buying Advice Article for more details on this process. The Passage's poles are not very strong.
We would recommend this tent for fair weather campers. Car, backyard and paddle trips where it will be set up in a sheltered location are best.
At $159, the Passage is one of the cheapest tents in this review. Unless you are mainly using this for car camping, we would rather pay more for a product like the REI Half Dome 2+ and get a product that will last us much longer and is more reliable when the weather gets bad.
If you are looking for a super cheap, roomy tent to set up in your backyard for your kids to play in, this could be a good choice. We would not take the Passage out on any trip that we were expecting windy weather but this could be a good choice for summer camping trips in the woods. We were disappointed, (but not surprised) in the quality of this tent's poles and stakes based on the price point of the Passage.
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