The REI Camp Dome 4 is exactly what you think of whenever you hear the phrase, "Dome Tent." That's not to say it's the $30 Kmart pup tent your whole Boy Scout troop used when you were a kid. The Camp Dome 4 has most definitely stepped into the 21st century, but it's still your standard, reliable dome tent. That said, the price reflects that as well, making it one of the better value tents that we tested. There's no fancy upgrades or incredible new features, but it's going to get the job done. REI makes a quality product, without breaking the bank. The poles are sturdy, the setup is quick; this is a quality tent, if somewhat basic. If you're looking for innovation, you can move on (maybe have a look at the REI Half Dome 4 Plus), but if reliability and familiarity are your game, the Camp Dome 4 is a great choice.
REI Co-op Camp Dome 4 Review
Cons: Lacks high-end features, snug for four adults.
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Camp Dome 4 is a reliable, starter tent. It's not going to win any awards for innovation or draw open-mouthed stares of admiration and envy from fellow campers. What it will do is provide a reliable, high-quality tent that will do everything you want a basic tent to do, and at a significantly lower price than the other four-person tents we tested. It's a more entry-level tent than its cousin, the REI Half Dome 4 Plus, but for those leery of breaking the bank on a tent, it's a great fit.
In what seems to be standard practice in the tent game nowadays, the REI Camp Dome 4 is going to be a bit snug when stuffed with four full-grown adults. At a smidge under 60 square feet, two adults in the Camp Dome is roomy. Throw in a kid, you should still be plenty comfortable. Three adults, as long as you're not complete strangers and didn't just come from the all-you-can-eat buffet, would still be fine. In short, much of your comfort will hinge on how closely you want to hold REI to their stated capacity.
It's a foregone conclusion when talking dome tents, but we'd be remiss not to mention that the walls are not particularly vertical. Obviously, right? I mean, it is a dome tent. Something you'd expect, but also something we feel is important to consider in terms of the amount of space and roominess inside the tent. If the rain forces you inside for any appreciable time, those sloping walls may start to feel like they're closing in on you.
The Camp Dome 4 sports two full doors, an upgrade from those old Boy Scout dome tents of our youth. This means that two people can have their entrances/exits and don't have to crawl over each other for that midnight bathroom break. Each door also has a window, not to mention large mesh panels on the sides, so when the mercury starts to boil, or when you want to fall asleep to the cool night breeze, you'll be in good shape.
Pockets and storage aren't exactly plentiful, but they're at least uniform and well-placed. Each corner has a good-sized pocket to hold your headlamp, phone, wallet, and other sundries.
Each door zipper on the Camp Dome 4 is relatively standard, but we were at first confounded, and then impressed, by the thick lip of nylon around the inside of each door. It just seemed like added material. However, the genius in this small touch is that it eliminates the annoying ability most zippers have to get caught up and stuck in the rest of the tent. When you're hauling your things in or out of the tent, you can easily one-hand the zipper with no worries of it catching and bunching up on you. There isn't much of a sunshade or vestibule, though if you are lying inside the Camp Dome with the window or door open, the minor overhang will block some of those UV rays.
For most outings, the Camp Dome 4 is going to keep you dry. The fly is thick, seam-taped, goes nearly to the ground on the sides, and can be cinched tight at each corner to ensure a taut, waterproof layer surrounds you. While it does leave the doors a bit more susceptible to rain, the mesh on the door windows begins high enough up on the door that the fly's awnings will keep all but the most horizontal of rain from finding its way in and the polyester lower half of the door sides will take care of the rest. The floor, also sturdy polyester, is seam-taped and water-resistant. As long as you don't set things up directly in a drainage or go out camping for extended periods during monsoon season, you'll be fine.
As mentioned before, there is an impressive amount of mesh surrounding almost the entire upper half of the tent, meaning those hot summer days and muggy humidity should be well mitigated in the Camp Dome 4. The mesh upper also means you can stargaze the night away without the fly on.
Ease of Setup
With the obvious exception of the instant tents we tested (the Coleman Instant Tent 6 and the Caddis Rapid 6) the Camp Dome 4 is about as easy to set up as they come. Two poles that each go caddy-corner, crossing in the middle. Attach a few clips to fill out the tent, and that's it. We did find the clips to be a little sticky, compared to some of the other tents we tested, but not enough to truly be a problem, or to diminish our experience with the Camp Dome. It's also entirely possible that the hooks loosen up a bit with more use. The fly is equally straightforward. One pole runs across the top from one door-side to the other and snugs into an easy to fit pocket on either side, creating the small awnings above the doors.
Like any tent in this category, a grain of salt has to be taken when considering packed size. The REI Camp Dome 4 is not an ultralight backpacking tent, designed to cover the entire Pacific Crest Trail in one shot. That said, we actually did think novice backpackers could use this tent on short overnights. At a little over eight pounds, it's certainly not a featherweight, but split between even two people it would be wholly manageable.
For most people, the packed size of the Camp Dome will be perfectly adequate. It's a fairly standard cylindrical shape when packed and can easily be carried from your car to wherever you choose to set it up. Even walk-in sites won't have you gasping for air and throwing out your back hauling this tent. We appreciated that REI made the storage bag a little larger than absolutely necessary. They certainly could have trimmed it down a little bit, but let's be honest, nobody likes trying to cram eight pounds of tent into a four-pound bag, and the difference in packed size is utterly nominal.
REI makes a quality product and stands behind it with a solid warranty and repair department. The Camp Dome 4 is proof of this. We were impressed with the girth and sturdiness of the poles. Having bent more than enough tent poles over the years, these should hold up well for a number of years. The polyester floors are also notably thick, meaning you shouldn't have to worry about any jagged pebbles creating unwanted ventilation in the bottom of your tent.
If we had to make one nit-picky complaint, the hooks that connect the tent to the poles were a little tougher to connect than the Camp Dome's close comrade, the REI Half Dome 4 Plus. Not massively difficult or in any way a deal-breaker, but certainly something we noticed.
All in all, while this isn't a top-of-the-line tent, it's far from being flimsy and poorly made.
The Camp Dome 4 is designed for occasional to frequent campers who want gear they can rely on, without taking out a second mortgage to afford it. If you're the kind of person who appreciated well-worn, well-loved gear that still gets the job done, year in and year out, the Camp Dome is your tent. If you tend to roll your eyes at anything labeled "trendy," and are frequently underwhelmed with "new" and "shiny," you and the Camp Dome will get along just fine.
This is the Camp Dome 4's bread and butter. It's a quality tent, well-built, at a very manageable price. It's not a fancy tent. You're not likely to elicit oohs and aahs from other campers, but you're also entirely likely to be comfortable and happy, and isn't that the point? In the world of "you get what you pay for," you'll get plenty for what you pay for the Camp Dome.
The REI Camp Dome 4 is a simple, effective tent that isn't going to let you down in the vast majority of conditions, and comes at a price that proves you don't have to spend more money to have more fun.
— Wes Berkshire