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77568FR - REI Half Dome 2 tent - Kerri Larkin

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  • Kerri Larkin
    Dec 16, 2013
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      Hi Ray,

      Please find following my FR for the Half Dome 2 tent. The html can be found HERE, or at: http://tinyurl.com/k7akn6u

      Thanks in advance for your edits.

      Kind Regards,


      I've used the Half Dome on two separate trips now, totaling eight nights. Unfortunately, the weather has been kind and mild for all of those nights, so I haven't been able to 'push the envelope' in testing this tent. That said, the Half Dome 2 has performed really well so far.

      My first camping trip was to Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia, where I used the tent for seven nights. Field conditions varied from very warm and humid to cool and damp. Highs reached 31 C (88 F), with averages around 28 C (82 F) and the lowest overnight temperature was 12 C (54 F). Humidity stayed mostly around the 70% mark but was up to 80% some days when there were showers. We camped one night in a large open paddock, but five of the other nights were in a deep forest with towering Kauri Pines. The last night was spent in a coastal dune area with strong winds and showers, although my site was protected.

      My next trip was to Sherwood State Forest, with elevations ranging from 50 m (164 ft) to 300 m (984 ft). Again, conditions were mild with highs around 25 C (77 F) and lows around 18 C (64 F). It was sunny during the days and clear at night, with some dew. This camp was for two nights as I explored some of the local tracks.

      I've enjoyed using the Half Dome 2 tent - it's been comparatively easy to set up, is roomy inside (especially for one person) and has great ventilation. At times, I've found the long poles a bit unwieldy when trying to bend them to shape  and clip in to  the grommets.  When first assembling the poles, one ends up with a large spider-like shape which then has to be bent inwards to fit the tent base, and this can mean the 'spider legs' are going in every direction initially! It's no big deal and is a common feature of this style of tent, but can lead to some funny moments when 'leg wrangling'. Once assembled, the entire tent can be picked up with one hand and moved to the 'perfect' spot

      One thing I have been very grateful for is the colour coding of the fly sheet - this makes it very simple to ensure the fly is the right way around every time. With other tents I've put the fly on, staked it out and then found it was on backwards. That's not possible with this tent, and is a very handy feature.

      CAPTION: Setting up the inner tent and frame

      Most nights I've slept in the Half Dome 2 have been very still and calm so it's difficult to comment on how the ventilation flaps work at this stage. I've kept them open every night as I'm a hot sleeper and love lots of air around me. I've also usually left the leeward side of the vestibule open to encourage more airflow. I envisage leaving both sides open when the hot weather arrives.

      I have found the fly a little hard to peg down: the webbing tabs seem a bit short to reach the ground unless the fly is pegged right up against the tent. Using longer 'J' pegs has solved this problem, however I may attach some short lengths of shock cord to allow the pegs to be fully pushed into the ground.

      CAPTION: As can be seen above, the fly seems a little short to peg down to the ground, and without longer pegs some of the inner tent is left exposed.

      There's heaps of room inside the Half Dome 2, more than enough to be comfy inside all day should the weather turn foul. There's plenty of headroom too, and I can change my clothes from a kneeling position which makes this tent very user-friendly. I've been able to luxuriate in the tent most nights as I've been camping by myself mostly. I've shared the Half Dome 2 with my dog for two nights in the Sherwood State Forest but as he's pretty small, it's not really a fair test of capacity. I can see, though, that there would be more than enough room for two adults to sleep comfortably, and there's enough room in the vestibules to store packs and boots. Having openings on both sides is a real bonus when sharing with another person and saves the acrobatics of crawling over the person nearest a single door to get in and out. Bliss.

      The overhead storage mesh has worked well and I usually place a small LED lantern up there to illuminate the tent at night. I haven't needed to put much more than that up there due to having so much floor real estate. It's big enough to take a jumper or coat so it's easy to find for those night time nature calls. The four smaller storage areas, one at each corner, have been perfect for holding my glasses, phone and a torch. I use one of the other pockets to hold my drink bottle, which keeps it safe and easy to find.

      I love how light this tent is too. Although it's not considered ultralight, it's a great compromise between weight and durability. The Half Dome 2 appears to be really well constructed and gives the appearance it will give many years of faithful service. Many of the large camping chain stores in Australia tend to produce equipment which is, well, average at best. Not so this REI tent. It really does seem to be built very well and looks like a tent make by a tent maker, not a cheap chain store. It's small enough to fit inside my pack but is also easy to strap to the outside.

      One surprising thing has been how quiet this tent is: most tents seem to be quite 'flappy' in anything other than calm conditions, yet the Half Dome 2 has been remarkably quiet with minimal flapping. That makes for a very peaceful sleep.

      Although I haven't been able to push the tent yet, the 'wet' season is here now and I'm hoping I'll have a chance to test the Half Dome 2 in heavy rain and strong winds during the next phase of testing. The storm season has arrived now and have already had some vicious storms, so I'm hopeful there will be some very testing conditions ahead.

      CAPTION: Typical Kauri Pine forest canopy on Fraser Island

      The REI Half Dome 2 tent is proving to be a winner: it's roomy, easy to set up, light enough to carry in a pack and has plenty of storage options. I've set up this tent solo each time and had no problems getting it together. It provides plenty of room for one person and should offer a very comfortable abode for those days when the weather is foul and one is forced to remain inside. It's not ultralight, but it's not marketed as such. It is strong, though, and appears to be a very well constructed tent which should give years of service.

      I'm looking forward to wilder weather to test the waterproofing and ventilation systems.

      That concludes my Field Report on the REI Half Dome 2 tent. I'd like to thank both REI and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item. Please check back in around two months for my Long Term Report.
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