Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gear Review: REI Half Dome 2 Plus Tent

I'm a big person who likes to hike and camp. Quite frankly, that makes it a bit of a challenge to find gear that works for me. There are very few sleeping bags for tall people that are also small enough to take on a hike. I only have a small selection of shoes to choose from, as most boots only go up to around 12 or maybe 13. And until I lose some weight I can forget about finding certain hiking clothing that will fit me*. And of course, one of the biggest problems is finding a shelter that works.

It is here that my height is the primary limiting factor. Many tents are eliminated because they are too short, unless I accept my feet touching the edge (thus reducing it's moisture and temperature protection), or perpetually sleeping in a bent position. In addition, my height makes it harder to get into tents, a fact which is further worsened by knees that aren't exactly in pristine condition. The difficulty of getting in and out renders a tent with a door on the end instead of the side pretty much useless to me. For a long time I thought I was completely stuck, without a viable option for sleeping outdoors in relative comfort.

And then I discovered the REI Half-Dome 2 Plus Tent. As it's name implies, it is a tent meant for two people. Of course, what they didn't tell you is these two people are both jockeys. Even with it's plus size rating, it would only be comfortable for two people of a moderate build, and only if they don't mind being close to each other. Fortunately, for me, this means it's rather comfortable for one person.

It is plenty long, allowing me to put my long length sleeping pad straight on the floor. I can lay in it, even with a pillow and other things around my head, and not touch either the head end or the foot end.

Almost as important as length is height. If I can't sit up in the tent, I can't use the tent on long fall nights, or when it is rainy and miserable out. The tent becomes an oversize bivy sack, and I don't want that. The height mixed with the length and width gives me room to maneuver, which makes it easier to get in and out, and to do anything from read to change clothes while still in the tent.

So far, I've used it one night during fairly steady rain, and one night right after it rained. Both nights I stayed dry, and the tent floor never got wet (beyond a bit from wet clothing and/or wet knees due to having to get in/out of the tent). The walls stayed mostly dry, although at points condensation did collect. The rain fly was soaked of course, although it certainly kept me from getting rained on.

As for setup/teardown, it isn't too difficult for me, especially once I got the hang of dealing with the poles. However, a smaller than I am could very well have issues putting up this tent by themselves. Of course, a smaller person than I would likely be using this tent with another person, so they should have some help setting it up.

By the far the biggest downside to this tent is it's weight. At over 5 pounds, it clocks in on the heavy side of backpacking tents. In fact, it's almost too heavy to consider using for anything other than quick weekend jaunts to the backcountry. Again, if you are planning on using this for you and someone else, the weight can be distributed between each other, making it less burdensome. Considering my size and strength, weight isn't my biggest concern, so much as space. Between the tent, rain fly, and poles, it takes up quite a bit of my pack**.

All in all, I am happy with this tent. It's price is in the middle of the pack for backpacking tents, although closer to the high end than low. Still, the roominess, double doors, decent rain protection, and large vestibules make it a good value. If you are a big person looking for a one person tent for car camping and casual backpacking, or a "normal" looking for a decent hiking tent for you and your partner|spouse|close friend|dog, I would recommend giving this tent a shot.

* This is further complicated by the fact that I refuse to hike in shorts. This is primarily because of my propensity to fall down, but also because I like not having my legs sliced by various thorny ground plants.
**A good compression sack will help with some of this. Using one, I was able to fit my tent, fly, footprint, sleeping bag, clothes, jacket, and a stadium blanket into my pack, allowing me to fit everything in.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for taking some time to write this post. When you shop around for backpacking supplies, a place to rest your head will be one of your main concerns. Your search for the best backpacking tents on the market will reveal several options and, before you make any decisions, it’s important to weigh up each option. See more