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Over the past several years, REI has tweaked and tinkered with the design of the Quarter Dome 2 to improve upon an already bomber product. REI put a lot of thought into redesigning the Quarter Dome line to improve its weight and comfort. This contender now weighs about 1.3 pounds less than the T2 (the original version) and has a larger interior. We love its almost vertical sidewalls that give it lots of headroom, allow for sitting up without crouching, and its great ceiling stash pockets. It is in the middle of the pack for its weight as well as its price.
Since our last hands-on review, REI updated this tent to the Quarter Dome SL2, an even more lightweight version of the Quarter Dome. The updated tent weighs in at under 3 lbs. We link to it above, but the review below refers to our experience with a previous version.
Our Analysis and Test Results
Hands-on Review of the Quarter Dome 2
The Quarter Dome 2 is an excellent all-around backpacking tent, and is a good compromise for someone looking for a lightweight, comfortable tent for under $350.
The Quarter Dome is a very comfortable tent for its weight. Even with its tapered floor design, it feels quite roomy. It is still a tight fit for two people, but the added vestibule room makes it very do-able.
We think it is more livable and comfortable than both the Hilleberg Anjan 2 and the Hubba Hubba NX because of its vertical sidewalls so both people can sit up at the same time without crouching. We like its large end pocket and two ceiling pockets to stash stuff like headlamps and sunglasses. The vestibules are relatively roomy and can fit a medium sized backpack and some shoes, but its walls start high off the ground and rain may be able to get into the vestibule during a windy storm. The Quarter Dome feels very well ventilated and airy, and much less claustrophobic than the slightly smaller sized competitors. A small but annoying detail we noticed is that the doors hang in your face when you are trying to get your shoes on or off, unless you take the time to tie them back each time.
REI's hubbed pole design seems like it is sturdy and would hold up well to strong winds. As with the MSR Hubba Hubba, we noticed a bit of squeaking in the wind when the fly was taught against the poles. Even though the Quarter Dome is well ventilated, it also has high nylon panels that will help protect the inside of the tent from splash-back and spindrift.
The Quarter Dome has ample guy points but only came with two supplementary guy lines and adjusters. We had to add our own cord to the tent, but when we did it seemed very sturdy and weather resistant. It also comes with low quality stakes, which we suggest replacing with something more solid. For stake recommendations check out our Buying Advice Article.
Weight and Packed Size
We are impressed with how light the Quarter Dome 2 is. Its maximum weight is only 3 pounds 9 ounces, which puts it in the middle of our tested field. REI shed pounds with details such as tiny zippers and other lightweight features while using very lightweight fabrics. This is a tent we would carry around on longer backpacking trips. Its packed size is a little bulkier than some because of its awkward double hub pole design. The pole sections are all different lengths and the hubs make the single pole bulky. The REI Half Dome 2 Plus is accurately named, since it is almost twice as heavy as the Quarter Dome at 93 ounces.
Ease of Setup
REI has taken strides to create a very livable two-person tent while shedding some extra pounds. In the process they have created a unique pole design to create extra headroom. This design makes the tent very confusing to set up for the first few times. Its "hubbed" design is similar to the MSR Hubba Hubba, but slightly more complicated. The tent body has two clips that need to slide into the master point at each major hub intersection. These master points can be flipped the wrong way when you are inserting the poles into their corner grommets.
Once you figure this out and are careful to make sure the hubs are the right side down, it becomes less of a nuisance. We have discovered that you need to set the Quarter Dome 2 up in a very particular order for each piece to be able to snap in right. You have to make sure that all the single sections of pole snap into their little plastic keepers on the fly before you can attach the corners. All that says that the Quarter Dome takes a bit of time and fiddling to set up.
The Quarter Dome is not very adaptable. It is a double wall tent, so it can be pitched with or without its fly. We were disappointed that it does not have a floorless pitch mode. You have to buy the separate footprint in order to pitch this tent without its body.
We are concerned with the durability of the Quarter Dome 2. During our test period, we ripped apart the tent's stuff sack, which appears to be made from the same material as the fly. REI uses a delicate 15 denier ripstop nylon for the Quarter Dome's fly, which has a polyurethane waterproofing coating. This very lightweight material combined with the PU coating makes the fly material the most vulnerable to damage and deterioration — see our Buying Advice Article for more about these materials.
The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 also has 15 D weight material. However, we were definitely rougher with the stuff sack than we would be with the fly, and purchasing a lightweight tent is always a compromise between weight and durability. The Quarter Dome's tent floor is made from a more durable 30-denier weight fabric, so it should stand up to slightly more abuse.
As we just mentioned, we believe the Quarter Dome's main limitation is its durability. This tent needs to be treated gently when setting it up and users should make sure it is not near something like a tree branch that could puncture its delicate fabric.
It has a strong pole design and seems to stand up to high winds quite well, but you will need to purchase more guy cord for all the guy points and consider purchasing higher quality stakes to make this tent as strong as possible.
REI's Quarter Dome is a great all around backpacking tent. It is light enough to carry on long backpacking trips or other self-propelled adventures like bike touring. It would be okay for car camping, but we would suggest something more durable like the NEMO Galaxi 2 or one of our Camping Tents if car camping will be its primary use.
The Quarter Dome is a good value, and after the Tarptent Double Rainbow, is the lightest tent for under $300 (okay, so it's $299, but still!). We think it is also the most comfortable tent at its weight. You will have to be gentle with it because we suspect its fly material is not as durable as some of its more expensive competitors like the Hilleberg Anjan 2 or the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2.
If you are looking for a good all-around backpacking tent for a reasonable price, the REI Quarter Dome 2 is your tent. We think it is a very livable — but tight — shelter for two, or very roomy for one with its two doors and vestibules, great ventilation, and lots of pockets. The hubbed design is a bit tricky to set up for the first few times, but we believe it is very sturdy during bad weather and love the extra head room. We are concerned with its durability, but if you treat it carefully, it should be okay.
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