The REI Camp Dome 2 is a tent for the thrifty car camper who is content with the basics. It earns a Best Buy Award because it is the lowest-priced tent (in an already budget-focused review), and it still manages to do its job respectably. It features two side doors and good headroom with a straightforward setup. Its primary drawback is the fly construction, which has no vestibules and only partially protects the tent itself from precipitation. If you want a weather protection upgrade, we strongly recommend pretty much anything else in the category.
REI Co-op Camp Dome 2 Review
Cons: Only partial fly, very cheap stakes, ventilation can be hard
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This sweet deal of a tent will keep the first time camper cocooned away for a night or two. Our testing found that the fly design leaves it susceptible to a lot of weather, but it otherwise has similar comfort features and durability that we would expect from other tents in this review. It earns a Best Buy Award because of its basement price and comparatively solid performance.
The REI Camp Dome 2 offers solid comfort, durability, and ease of setup, but its bulk and limited weather resistance bring it back to the pack.
This tent offers many of the same comfort features as its more expensive counterparts. It has two side doors that make entering and exiting easy with two people. At 84" long, it has below average length, but our six-foot testers didn't have any issues spreading out. Its above-average 54" width and generous 43" peak height help compensate as well. Two people can easily sit up and move around without having the crawl over each other.
There are two storage pockets in the corners. They aren't huge, but we did find that they are large enough for a small journal, socks, gloves, headlamps, and most other items that you would want to put in there for easy access.
Since there are no vestibules, however, if there is gear that you want to keep out of the elements, it will either have to go in your car (if you have it nearby) or in the tent with you, which obviously will take up some more of the space. If you can afford to spend a bit more, we would recommend looking at the award winners in this category. They offer plenty of space and multiple vestibules that will keep gear out of the rain and out of your tent.
Ease of Set Up
This model follows the philosophy of 'easier is better'. It has a standard 2-pole design with a short cross pole to support the modest overhang of the rain fly. The poles secure to the tent with grommets at each corner and clips along the length of the poles.
The fly also links to the poles with grommets at each of its corners, as well. We think the double grommets make for a slightly awkward bulky setup that is slightly less convenient than the clips found on the flies of many other models.
This tent is not going to dissolve in the rain, but its design just isn't conducive to superior protection. If precipitation is coming straight down, this tent can handle it as well as other budget models, but if there is any wind (as experience tells us there often is), then rain is liable to blow directly onto the sides of the tent. There is a second weather protection flap that can zip up over the mesh portion of the door, but the next time you open the flap, water will almost certainly drip into the tent. The inside of the door is also lined with what looks like a gutter to collect moisture, which signals to us that this tent was never meant to keep all of the elements out to begin with.
The ventilation is adequate, but in humid, misty weather it can get kind of damp inside. Because the fly does not have vestibules, there are no additional top vents. If you can keep the doors or door flaps down, you can get a nice cross breeze, but if it is raining enough that moisture is going to get on the inside of the tent if the doors aren't totally sealed up, then the there is not a lot of ventilation to be had.
The polyester floor and fly seem to be sturdy. The aluminum poles are bulky and seem a little rigid, so in very high wind or under stress, we wouldn't be surprised if one cracked; fortunately, we never had any issues during testing. The door zippers did occasionally get caught on the fabric, so similarly, this could fray the material or break the zipper over time.
The stakes of this tent are a notch or two above segments of a chainlink fence. Stepping on them or using a blunt object to assist you if you meet any ground resistance during set up will almost certainly bend them.
Weight & Packed Size
Coming in at 5 pounds, the Camp Dome 2 is actually in the middle of the pack for its weight. However, because of its previously mentioned weather resistance issues, it wouldn't be our first choice to bring into the backcountry.
On the other hand, it has a packed size of 7.5" x 25.5", making it the bulkiest tent to tote around.
This is surprising considering that its fly appears to use about half of the material of one with vestibules, but it is, in fact, a large bag to carry around (again, not so much of an issue if it is moving from a car to an adjacent campsite).
This low-cost model incidentally offers great value as well. For the car camper or someone who just doesn't see themselves using a tent that often but feels that they need one on hand, you will certainly get your money's worth. If you have the kids use it in the backyard a couple of times a summer as well, it may just pay for itself even faster.
The REI Camp Dome 2 is a basic tent with a simple set up. It's comfortable enough for two and finds its sweet spot right in the middle of a good weekend of car camping. Its minimal price tag earns it a Best Buy Award. Its fly design limits its effectiveness in a storm, but if you just need a tent for a handful of nights a year with friends, this reasonable investment is worth a look.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch