The REI Passage 2 is an excellent choice in the world of budget backpacking tents. It wins our award for best overall, thanks to its comfort, ease of setup, and weather resistance. Its two large side doors make entering and exiting the tent a breeze. We are also impressed with the fly, which tensions well, and the trapezoidal vestibules, which provide plenty of storage space for the gear you don't want in the tent itself, like packs and boots. This model is a discount rockstar that we wouldn't hesitate to take this tent on our next weekend adventure.
REI Co-op Passage 2 Review
Cons: Doors can be annoying, heavy
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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REI Co-op Passage 2
|Price||$160 List||$140 List||$159.00 at REI||$149.93 at REI|
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|Pros||Two side doors, easy to pitch, large trapezoidal vestibules||Lots of headroom, large vestibule, easy to pitch||Headroom, large tent doors, ventilation||Lightweight, easy to pitch||Roomy, two doors, included footprint|
|Cons||Doors can be annoying, heavy||Poles pinch under fly tension||Heavy, unsteady in high wind, cheap stakes||Small interior, single door and vestibule||Smaller vestibules, small pockets, no top vents|
|Bottom Line||This basic tent is easy to set up and provides comfortable nights of camping on a budget.||This inexpensive tent is just a good as a 1P as it for two.||This spacious tent makes the most of its dimensions and offers plenty of features that will have you camping in comfort.||A budget tent for those who want to minimize weight and don't mind sacrificing a fair bit of comfort.||A comfortable camping tent that serves well in both the front and backcountry.|
|Rating Categories||REI Co-op Passage 2||REI Co-op Passage 1||The North Face Stormbreak 2||Big Agnes C Bar 2||Marmot Catalyst 2|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Ease Of Set Up (10%)|
|Packed Size (10%)|
|Specs||REI Co-op Passage 2||REI Co-op Passage 1||The North Face...||Big Agnes C Bar 2||Marmot Catalyst 2|
|Measured Packaged Weight||5.29 lbs||3.92 lbs||5.89 lbs||3.96 lbs||5.19 lbs|
|Floor Area||33.75 sq ft||20 sq ft||30.5 sq ft||28 sq ft||32.5 sq ft|
|Packed Size||7 x 22 in||7.25 x 22 in||7 x 22 in||6 x 19 in||7 x 21 in|
|Dimensions||88 x 52 x 40 in||88 x 36.5 x 40 in||87 x 50 x 43 in||86 x (52 x 42) x 41 in||88 x 53 x 44 in|
|Vestibule Area (Total, Sq Ft)||18.75||8||19||7||16.2|
|Peak Height||40 in||40 in||43 in||41 in||44 in|
|Number of Doors||2||1||2||1||2|
|Number of Poles||2||2||4||2||3|
|Pole Diameter||8.5 mm||8.5 mm||Not provided||Not provided||8.5/9 mm|
|Number of Pockets||4 + 2 door stuff pockets||2||4||3||2 + light pocket|
|Pole Material||7001 aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum||DAC pressfit aluminum||Velocity HD aluminum 7000|
|Rain Fly Material||Coated polyester taffeta||Coated polyester taffeta||68D lightweight polyester taffeta, 1200 mm PU||Polyester taffeta||68D polyester|
|Inner Tent Material||Nylon/Taffeta Mesh||Polyester||68D polyester taffeta, 1500 mm PU coating||Polyester & mesh||40D/68D polyester|
|Type||Freestanding||Freestanding||Two door, freestanding||Freestanding||Freestanding|
Our Analysis and Test Results
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch