The REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus Wins Coveted Backpacker Hall of Fame Award

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After a quarter-century of gear testing, the crew at Backpacker has their favorites and the REI Co-op Half Dome 2+ is a must have.

On the 25th Anniversary of Backpacker's Editors' Choice Awards, the team behind the recommendations and evaluations you've come to depend on are announcing the Hall of Fame Awards. The REI Co-op Half Dome 2+ will be forever enshrined in this place of honor as one of the best tents around.

“When the Half Dome 2 debuted more than 15 years ago, it set a new standard in livability and affordability for a two-person tent,” says Backpacker editor-in-chief Dennis Lewon. “The latest model is still a benchmark for all-around backcountry shelter: light enough for backpacking, big enough for car camping, tough enough for regular use. We especially like the new fly design, which opens wide from the side. And the tent is plenty stable in strong winds, despite two extra inches of peak height compared to the previous model.”

When the Half Dome first appeared on the market, it broke the mold of a traditional tent. The two-door side-vestibule design was the first of its kind making the Half Dome a true icon in the tent world. Today, numerous brands have adopted similar designs for the ease of entry and the efficient use of space.

The Half Dome is no stranger to major awards. This tried-and-tested shelter received the Backpacker Editors' Choice in 2002, the Gear of the Year award from Outside magazine in 2010 as well as an Editors' Choice Gold award from Backpacker, also in 2010.

“When the Half Dome 2 debuted more than 15 years ago, it set a new standard in livability and affordability for a two-person tent,” says Backpacker editor-in-chief Dennis Lewon.

“The Half Dome is an iconic tent in the industry,” says REI Co-op Brands lead designer Chris Pottinger. “We kicked off the 2018 Half Dome update project back in the Spring of 2016 with one of the most comprehensive design research projects we’ve ever done on any singular product. It feels really good to receive this recognition.”

The co-op uses a unique program of members and employees to help provide feedback and recommendations during every stage of development and construction of gear and apparel. Designers and Field Agents regularly take gear out into the wild to test ideas. This process means every piece of REI Co-op gear and apparel is truly made by the people and for the people of our co-op.

“We connected with employees and members across the country asking the simple question: ‘How can we make it better?’ We heard feedback and ideas, but also felt the confidence and love in some cases the co-op has for the tent," adds Chris. “That experience helped us scrutinized every single detail that goes into making the tent, from door opening, to architecture or ease of pitch, and right down to the very fabric used on the Half Dome.”

The update of the Half Dome wasn't just about the one tent either. It was also about the future of tents and the future health of the outdoors.

“Awards like this year’s Backpacker Hall of Fame are a signal to me that we’re on track, making products that work a little better, are made a little cleaner, and contain the essential DNA of the co-op.” - Chris Pottinger, lead designer, REI Co-op Brands

“Based on the high volume of the business for the Half Dome, we were able to develop an industry leading solution dyed mesh that helps to reduce the water, chemicals, and energy used to manufacture the material,” says Chris. “As a direct result of that success we’re now using solution dyed meshes on all our tents moving forward and we encourage other vendors to join us to shift the entire industry, leading to an even broader impact.”

When the co-op first started in 1938, the Andersons thought about a different way to do business and we continue that tradition today.

“When I think about the 80 years REI has been around, the people that came before us, and consider what contributions we’ll make while we’re here, it comes with a sense of responsibility,” says Chris. “That we need to be good stewards of the brand that’ll hand it off to the next team down the road a little better than we found it. Awards like this year’s Backpacker Hall of Fame are a signal to me that we’re on track, making products that work a little better, are made a little cleaner, and contain the essential DNA of the co-op.”

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