Passage 2 Updates
REI now includes the footprint with the Passage series tents, so you don't have to make an extra purchase. They have changed up the door design as well, which can be noted in the images below. The first photo shows the updated tent, followed by the model we tested.
We link to the updated tent above, but the review that follows is our account of the previous model.
Hands-On Review of the Passage 2
This tent is an all-around solid option; it's easy to pitch and comfortable to sleep in. It offers good protection from the elements and should stand up to years of use. It's a bit on the heavier side, but for short trips and car camping overnights, this model is our number one choice.
The REI Passage 2 takes the top spot in our scoring and earns best overall for its comfort, easy setup, and weather resistance.
This award winner is great for lakeside camping and weekend adventures.
This tent offers more comfort than most others in our review. Its 88" length accommodates even tall sleepers easily, and its 52" width fits two standard sleeping pads with a little extra space. The two side doors are always an excellent feature, as well. However, in this case, the doors are oriented such that they open all the way around and are attached to the top of the tent. There are door storage pockets in the canopy (which are great for maximizing the scenery if it isn't buggy), but if you are just trying to get in and zip it up again, the door is…in the middle of the door. It becomes an inconvenience if the fly is wet and you have to contend with both the fly door and the tent door at the same time.
The storage pockets are great. There are four (or six) of them — one on each side and two overhead (in addition to the two-door stuff pockets, which can be utilized for gear as well if the doors are closed). We found that we had enough room for all of our stuff sacks, socks, gloves, and lights that we needed to keep accessible. The headroom is more than adequate, even for six-foot folks. It does taper just a little steeply at the top as a consequence of not having a crossbar to spread out the upper canopy.
The large circular side doors are a little unusually shaped but still make getting in and out really easy.
The composition and placement of the tent body fabric is nice as well. The mesh canopy makes for excellent open sky viewing, and the sidewalls are high enough that they provide decent privacy as well if the fly is off of the tent.
The privacy panels on the sides come about midway up the sides of the tent (a little lower at the head and foot ends).
Ease of Setup
This tent is simple to set up. It has a straightforward X-pole design; stake the corners out, slide the ends of the poles into the grommets at each corner and clip the clips to the poles. The fly attaches to each corner with buckle clips, stakes out easily, and can easily be tensioned — a feature that we found is surprisingly challenging to get right.
Instead of a hub at the point where the two poles cross, they are connected by a large hook. We did find that using the velcro pole wraps attached to the underside of the fly helped quite a bit in terms of stabilizing the tent and preserving its interior space. Otherwise, the two poles tend to get pinched together by the tension of the fly.
With just a couple of long poles, this tent comes together in a couple of minutes.
The Passage 2 offers some of the best weather resistance in the fleet. Though its basic pole design doesn't provide the most rigid structure against the wind, the fly with its trapezoidal vestibules offers excellent protection from precipitation. It runs low to the ground as well, so splashback from the vestibule sides is not a problem. We also appreciate that a tent like this includes the guylines already attached; we find that we use them more this way. It comes with four standard guy points, one at each corner.
From the inside of the tent, there are nice condensation management options as well. The fly includes decently large vents at the top with kickstands to prop them open. The dual zipper vestibule doors can also be unzipped (if it's not raining) to create a nice cross breeze and to increase ventilation without having to roll up or unstake any part of the fly.
The fly door opens up fairly wide so it is easy to get a good breeze on a humid day.
We don't have any major concerns about the durability of this tent. The hardware is in line with other models at this price point — that is to say, you sort of get what you pay for.
Having said that, these parts are inexpensive because they are bulky, not because they are fragile. The tent and fly materials, poles, clips, and grommets will all get the job done for years to come. The stakes are certainly basic, and we have bent our fair share of this particular variety over the years, but as far as less durable parts go, these are the easiest to replace.
The clips and other hardware on this tent are not premium parts but they are still solid. Pictured here is the Passage 2.
Weight & Packed Size
The weight and packed size of this model are what hold it back from being even more awesome. At five pounds, five ounces, it's in the scale-tipper range. However, so are many of the tents in this review. We think that there is enough to like about the Passage 2 that we wouldn't let the weight and size hold us back.
Its 7" x 22" packed size also makes it one of the bulkier models in this review. If you are planning to take this tent out for a few nights, we certainly recommend splitting the pieces between two people.
The Passage 2 (middle) beside the Big Agnes C Bar and Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight.
This tent offers exceptional value. It is just about an average price for our budget tent review but offers performance far above that. Despite its weight, we think that however, and wherever you choose to use it, it is well worth the money.
This tent offers nice skyward views (as long as you close up the doors, which are stored in the door stuff pockets in this image).
If you are looking for an inexpensive alternative to a wallet-crushing backpacking tent, this Best Overall Award winner should be on your shortlist for consideration. It is comfortable, easy to pitch, and stays dry when the rains come. It's on the heavier, bulkier side, but that sort of comes with the territory of budget backpacking tents. We will absolutely take it on our next summer excursions.
This inexpensive, livable tent is a great choice for the thrifty backpacker.