Monday, March 29, 2010

REI Quarter Dome T3 Tent

REI is having a sale where members can get a single item at 20% off.  Add in my recently received $60 dividend from last year's purchases, and a tent becomes a good deal.  I found myself in Richmond on Saturday after dropping Lucy off at the airport and heading over to the Richmond Council's Cub Scout Camp for an overnight with my son's Pack.  At REI, I bought my first tent in nearly 25 years.  I went for the REI Quarter Dome T3 tent, a 3 person "ultralight" which is considerably lighter than my current 2 man tent (which was state of the art back when I got it as an employee at Eastern Mountain Sports).  One of the great upgrades in the past quarter century is the brilliant idea that the tent attaches to the poles using plastic clips, rather than being fed through sleeves sewn into the tent.  So now, the poles go up and the tent is clipped to the poles, instead of hoping the poles do not catch on something as they are fed through the tent sleeves.

I got this tent in part due to some glowing reviews.  Outside Magazine said it had the "best space-to-weight ratio."  Backpacker Magazine gave the tent an "Editor's Choice Award" a couple of years ago.  I bought a 3 man so that I could sleep with Will and a friend, or with Will and a couple of backpacks.  I noted that one website review said the tent "advertises a three person sleeping capacity, but realistically it can only fit two fully grown adults comfortably."  Hopefully this is not a problem with a couple of ten year olds.  And the tent appears to be one that can be used by a future Boy Scout as he becomes more adept at backpacking.  A cyclist's blog sums it up, stating, "We both love our tent. It’s a little spendy, but well worth it. So far, in two years of use, it hasn’t let us down once.”

It is now set up in the living room.  What I like is the high headroom of the tent.  And the design is very well thought out, so that two of the poles don't even fully extend across the tent.  They use the tent's tension to keep everything up.  Very ingenious and saves weight.  And it looks like I can share it with a couple of boys, at least for a couple more years.  After that, it will make a good two-man tent.

Two concerns.  First, it seems just a tad short for this six footer.  Several reviews have discussed this, while others claim that taller folks don't understand why there is a problem.  There is a taller version (that I didn't know about when I bought the tent), but it is heavier and more expensive.

Second, I am not sure what I am doing with the rainfly.  The tent itself went up easier than I thought it would, considering there are no instructions included or on the website.  But the fly doesn't seem quite right and I have a 6 inch pole left over that I do not know what to do with. I found a great site online with pictures of the tent's setup, but the writeup does not include instructions on the fly.  So the question becomes, why doesn't REI have instructions or a video online describing the features of the tent?  I look at various cloth loops and wonder what the designers intended.  A quick video on these features and on setup would be a great help to new purchasers and would help REI sell more of these things.

I look forward to testing it out soon.  And to living in it this summer as Will and I road trip to California.


  1. My tent has been offering me good night sleeps during all my recent camping expeditions. Unfortunately I lost it when my backpack was carried away by surface water during a storm. Of all the options I have found from different camping tent guides and reviews, yours is the better option. The REI quarter dome 3 tent is an amazing piece. You can also go through additional options I found here:

  2. I've been camping with my family for ages and to get the best experience for everyone, I make sure that I have the right gear and excellent equipments. Backpacking tents are very important so getting the best from trusted manufacturers is crucial. Durability, affordability and adequate size are all important factors for me. Depending on what seasons of the year we're going camping, our tents have to withstand hot or cold temperatures. If you need more information on what features to look out for, see this site

  3. Yep, the REI quarter dome 3 tent is an amazing piece. Thanks for info.
    [Jerry Gonzalez]


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