The iconic REI Half Dome 2 tent has been a bestseller since its introduction in 2001. A lightweight backpacking tent with crossover appeal, the newest version of the Half Dome sheds a half-pound of weight and comes in six fun colors for spring 2015.
A great backpacking tent is a delicate balance between weight and livability. Since it’s inception in 2001, From the get-go, the Half Dome 2-person tent has fine-tuned that illusive formula, picking up a 2010 Outside magazine’s Gear of the Year award along the way.
Celebrated for its roominess, reliability and two-door design, the Half Dome makes a comfortable home base on the trail—spring, summer or fall. “Once in the backcountry, the tent is a critical shelter and safety item,” says David Crumrine, lead gear designer at REI. “[It’s] also an emotional center of the site that needs to provide a comfortable refuge and sense of security. For REI tents, we think about how we maximize interior space, entrance/egress, air flow and gear storage, yet always keep in mind the carry weight.”
Lighter by Design
Thanks to new, lighter fabric for the rain fly, the design team was able to shave about eight ounces off the spring ’15 Half Dome 2.
“The weight savings on the spring ’15 Half Domes are largely the result of great work from REI’s materials and research and testing teams in creating materials that meet all of our performance requirements in a lightweight textile.”
Building a better version of the Half Dome means gathering and acting on insights we gain from stores, our customers and reviews, along with teams using the products. “As a team we are definitely getting outdoors with the gear throughout the design process,” says Crumrine. “[We’re] thinking about what a customer might be considering. So, we’ll use products and say ,‘What can we do better?’”
For the first time, the fly also comes in six color choices, while the main tent body and poles are the same.
Extra Headroom and Comfort
Creating interior space starts with the pole set, which, much like a skeleton, forms the entire structure of the tent. Next comes the REI-exclusive tension-truss architecture, which creates triangulation between two main seams of the tent body and the pole set. “The benefit is a stronger and more stable tent,” said Crumrine. The tension-truss design also directs the exact shape of how the poles bend, creating interior volume at levels that are most useful and meaningful for two occupants.
The pole set is also essential in creating the tent’s vertical sidewalls. “A tent with vertical sidewalls will be more livable for two backpackers,” said Crumrine. “It provides more side-by-side room which is especially noticeable when occupants are shoulder to shoulder.”
Quarter Dome, Half Dome or Dome: Which Tent is Right for You?
The Half Dome is made for backpackers who are willing to carry a little more weight for extra living space. For the ultralight crowd, REI has the Quarter Dome series which are considerably lighter. Finally, for the casual car camper, REI boasts a large selection of spacious tents, such as the classic Camp Dome.
Feature photo by REI Employee Jason Zabriskie.