Updates to the Passage 1
REI updated this tent for the 2020 season. One of the biggest differences is that the tent now includes a footprint (for the same price as before!), so you don't have to purchase one separately. You can note from the photos below that the door shape has changed, too. The new model is shown first, and the version we tested is pictured last.
Until we test out the updated tent, the review below refers to the previous version. We are, however, linking to the updated Passage 1, since the model we tested is no longer available.
Hands-On Review of the Passage 1
This model is unique from other 1Ps in that it preserves much of what makes its 2P version great. It provides 40" of headroom at peak height and its large, 8 sq. ft. vestibule makes it possible to keep your gear outside of the tent but still protected from the elements.
This 1P pleased us just as much as its larger sibling.
As far as 1-person tents go, this one offers quite a bit more than average. Its 36.5" width is more than enough for a standard 20" sleeping pad, and its 88" length and steeper head and foot walls ensure there is enough room for a 6' foot sleeper. The moneymaker on this tent is the peak height of 40". Typically the move from 2P to 1P versions means a drastic reduction in this critical dimension, but in this case, it's only marginally lower than the 2P and considerably higher than the peak height of many other 1Ps. We love being able to sit up completely without our heads touching the top or having to hunch over.
The large teardrop door tucks away in the top door stuff pocket for fast storage and makes entering and exiting fairly easy. Though it's not quite as natural to slide out of as a D-shaped door, we still like how easy it is to open and close, even with one hand. In addition to the door stuff pocket, it comes with overhead and side gear storage pockets as well. They aren't the most generously sized, but we never found that we needed any more space than they provide. If you do need more space for boots and a pack, the vestibule can keep the gross stuff out of the tent, but still protected from the elements.
The large door and generous peak height are a couple of the primary features that make the Passage 1 so comfortable.
The mesh canopy makes for a solid stargazing experience, while the relatively light privacy panels offer at least the illusion of alone time, even if you keep the fly off at a crowded campsite.
The storage pockets offer plenty of space for one person's gear.
Ease of Set Up
The Passage 1 is about as easy as it gets to pitch a freestanding tent. Much like its 2P counterpart, it comes with a basic X-pole design; two long poles each secure into grommets at diagonal corners. A handful of hooks clip into place to volume out the tent. The fly clips in at the corners, and the trapezoidal vestibule requires two stakes.
If you are flying solo, this tent is one of the best budget options if you need to set up fast in the rain. The poles and fly are color-coded so that you don't have to wonder about whether or not everything is oriented correctly. As would be expected with a tent at this price point, it comes with basic hook stakes. They'll bend out of shape eventually, but they're certainly not the cheapest ones that we have come across. The takedown is equally simple. We think after the second or third time around, one person could set up this tent in just a few minutes.
The isn't overengineered. In fact, two poles and a big hook in the middle is about as simple as it gets.
The weather resistance of this model isn't superb, but it is buoyed by a solid vestibule. It runs long and low to the ground, and the trapezoidal geometry makes it easy to avoid the pitfalls of a saggy fly. It is also easy to tension in other areas as well. The bathtub floor mitigates the effects of splashback from the ground onto the tent. In total, the design sets you up for success when the skies open up. We also like the ventilation, especially if it's possible to keep the fly door open at night.
The flipside of having that lofty peak height is that positioning the tent at a campsite is increasingly important, especially in windy conditions. We recommend trying your best to angle it in such a way that the tent runs perpendicular to the wind so that it isn't getting broadsided all night. It's somewhat modest, but we also appreciate the clearance the fly provides on the non-vestibule side as well.
The broad, low-pitching vestibule of the Passage 1 offers excellent protection from the elements.
With reasonable care, the Passage 1 should last a long time. The aluminum pole segments don't inspire the most confidence in terms of their strength, but together, they seem to be better equipped to bear the stresses of the rest of the tent. The coated polyester main body and fly are burly enough to withstand the typical rigors of a tent site.
The plastic pieces seem like they belong on a budget tent, but they are sturdy enough to withstand being accidentally stepped on a time or two. There's no plastic connector hub on the poles, just a big old plastic hook. We see this as a positive since that style of hub found on many, many other tents (budget and non-budget alike) tends to be one of the first pieces to snap.
Weight & Packed Size
At almost four pounds, the Passage 1 certainly isn't breaking any ultralight records. However, if you do primarily camp alone, it offers weight savings of almost a pound and a half over its 2P counterpart.
It's marginally heavier than other budget 1Ps, but with this category of tent, we don't think it is as much of an issue.
It's a bulky 7.5"x22" and is noticeably larger in the bag than other models, but that makes sense, given how much more space it provides a sleeper when it's pitched. The upshot is that it's heavy and bulky, but at the end of the day, that's what you get with any budget tent, so in practice, it's not such a big deal. We would gladly carry the extra few ounces of this tent for its comfort.
The Passage 1 is larger and a few ounces heavier than some of the other 1Ps.
This tent is worth the investment. Though it may not come with a huge price drop over the 2P version, it is still a great deal for a single outdoor adventurer. Its headroom makes it a great option for taller folks, and it comes with the same materials basic design elements as its larger sibling. All in all, we think we got our money's worth with this one.
The REI Passage 1 offers a solid night's sleep for a solo camper. It's a great option to have on hand in case the opportunity for a weekend getaway pops up. Its interior headroom and spacious vestibule make for good livability, while its straightforward design means setup takes just a couple of minutes. It wins a Top Pick award as the best 1P option in the category, and we wouldn't hesitate to spend some summer nights in this model.
It's a great, comfortable choice for 1 person.