First Look Review

REI Quarter Dome 3 Review

A lightweight choice for a good value.
Quarter Dome 3
By: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief  ⋅  Oct 25, 2017
Price:  $399 List  |  $399.00 at REI
Pros:  Lightweight for three people, strong, spacious, good value
Cons:  Fabric is not durable, complicated setup, low quality stakes and guy lines
Manufacturer:   REI

Our Verdict

The Quarter Dome is our favorite three-person tent option. It's relatively lightweight, durable, and well-priced at $399. It's the most versatile tent we tested, and we used it three ways: as a deluxe tent for two people, a standard 3-person tent, and a "fast fly" setup for three people. In "fast fly mode" (just the fly, ground cloth, and poles), it weighs 2 lbs 12 ounces, or less than 1 pound per person. The only other options that are lighter are either tarps (which offer far less protection, versatility, and ease of set up) and tents that cost $100 more and only save you a few ounces, like the Copper Spur UL 3. If you use the fast fly set up with two people, it's still less than 1.5 pounds per person, and you end up with a lot of comfort and space.

We also love the REI Quarter Dome 2 but it didn't win any awards in this last round of tent testing. There is just much more competition in the two-person tent line-up and the Quarter Dome 2 doesn't stand out from the pack in either weight or price. At $349 it's only around $50 less than some of our top-rated tents. By contrast, the Quarter Dome 3 with footprint ($60, sold separately) is $120 cheaper than the Copper Spur 3 ($166 less expensive if you join REI).


Our Analysis

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Performance Comparison


Quarter Dome 3 in fast fly mode.
Quarter Dome 3 in fast fly mode.

Comfort


We fit 170 pound guys ranging from 5'10" to 6'2" in this tent comfortably. The vestibule is fairly generous. When in fast fly mode, there is still plenty of room around the edges to put your packs and extra gear (which helps further enclose the tent and block the wind). We highly recommend extra garbage bags and trash compactor bags so that you can put your gear up to the edges and keep it dry.

Quarter Dome 3 in fast fly mode.
Quarter Dome 3 in fast fly mode.

Ease of Setup


The set up is not intuitive at first. After a few times, it becomes relatively fast to pitch with 1 or 2 people. There is a distinct order of operations. If you do things in the wrong order, you have to do it over.

Durability


We've spent 15 nights in this tent so far with no issues. We expect this tent to have an above average durability score. In addition, the fantastic REI warranty means that we're fairly confident they will quickly repair or replace any defects or damage.

Weather Resistance


This tent is above average for weather resistance. It has relatively sturdy poles and fly material that, when properly staked, stays put in strong winds. There are ample guy points, but you will likely have to buy more guylines; we recommend the Kelty TripTease. You will likely also need more stakes.

The photo below shows how much area extends beyond the footprint to store gear whether you are in fast fly mode (shown below) or regular mode with the tent body.

Quarter Dome 3 in fast fly mode.
Quarter Dome 3 in fast fly mode.

Weight and Packed Size


The Quarter Dome is not the absolute lightest in our fleet, but it's about as light as you get for the money (for three people). The entire weight is 4 pounds 9 ounces for all components; however, if you camp in the "fast fly" mode, with only the fly, the weight slims down to 2 pounds 12 ounces. Only a few free-standing tents are much lighter, and it's usually by only a few ounces.

Value


This tent defines value: not cheap, but will give you great performance for the money. Few other tents offer this quality at this price.

Best Applications


We use this for comfy car camping with two people and backpacking trips with three people. It's also a great option for ultra light trips with three people using the fastfly setup option.

Conclusion


While no tent is for everyone, the Quarter Dome is a very versatile tent that works in more situations than most. It offers great value and many set-up options for a variety of camping needs.

Chris McNamara

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