Gear Review REI Quarter Dome T3 tent


Dec 11, 2013
I remember the first tent we bought when we were married. It was a cheap dome tent to get us by until we decided on which "good" tent we wanted.

As an assistant scoutmaster, I was out at Tabernacle Hill camping near the lava tubes when I was made painfully aware of the pitfalls of a $40 department store tent. Even with my pack and water inside the tent, the wind turned it concave, and the poles were no match for the environment. I packed it up and slept in the back of the pickup that night, and promptly did some research about what to replace it with.

I had remembered some nice sierra design tents we had as kids, and I was impressed by them. I headed to REI to check out what they had. After looking at all the models and talking to the sales rep, my wife and I decided on the REI Quarter Dome T3. We weren't backpackers at that time, and we definitely weren't on the ultralight bandwagon at that time. A tent for under 5 lbs sounded light to us, but that didn't really matter since all we did was car camping.



Some of the selling-points for me included:
- aluminum poles. If these ever broke, I could order just the poles from REI
- REI's return policy
- ability to see it packed and deployed in person
- high breathability, with a good rainfly
- color-coded fly, body, and footprint. Put the orange pole in the orange grommet. Put the silver pole in the silver corner. It's that easy.
- it's free-standing, meaning I don't need stakes to pitch it. I pitch it stakeless about 98% of the time.
- awesome door entry design, especially the way it stashes in the top pocket
- great pockets inside and use of space
- near-vertical walls inside, unlike the traditional dome tent
- a stuff sack that is 2 times too big. For UL backpacking, this would seem like extra weight. For every other type of camping, you never have to worry about whether or not your tent will fit. It ALWAYS fits in the bag.

It looked similar in quality and build as the sierra designs tents we used to backpack with as kids. I bought the tent at full price with my hard-earned money.

Fast forward 4 years, and over 200 nights camping in this tent, and I am still thrilled with my decision. In all this time, we've had one tear to the floor (even when using the footprint), and one 2" tear in the netting that we have repaired with a needle and thread. One of the female ends of one aluminum pole has cracked a little, but it still holds strong. The rigid pole that holds the frog eye vent open has become less rigid, but is still 80% effective. Apart from that, this tent has been flawless.

I realize that I use tents differently than some people. I don't use tents to hang out in, or to be able to stand up and do jumping jacks. I basically hang out outside the tent as long as possible, and just climb in when it's time to go to bed.

This tent is pretty heavy by backpacking standards. However, if you split it up into two pieces (one person carries the poles and fly, and the other person carries the rest), it ends up being under 3 lbs each, which is doable but still not ultralight. That's ok though, I didn't buy this tent to backpack, and neither should you.

This tent continues to be my go-to-tent, even when I've had other tents costing 3-4x as much. This tent is WARM in the winter, cool in the summer, easy to pitch by yourself, and it's sturdy. The rain fly makes sense, and the vents are great. It packs semi-small and it's built really well. There's not much more to say, other than this little tent has impressed me so much that many other expensive and whiz-bang tents have failed in comparison to this good ol' workhorse.

I've got a lot of great memories in this tent, and I know there are many more ahead. Here are a few pics of our adventures with this tent through the years:










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Awesome post! I have the REI Half Dome 2 and couldn't be happier with it. Even though it's not the lightest tent on the market, it exceeds all my expectations and I've never had a problem with it.
Nice. I've never used a half dome 2 before, but my buddy has one and he loves it.
Thanks for posting this info! I just bought one of these and it seems like the footprint is unavailable for purchase. Would you please share the dimensions of the footprint? I'm hoping to be able to construct one of my own with some tarp. I appropriate your help!
It's in storage at the moment. If I remember to pull it out, I'll measure that for you.

It's the same exact size as the bottom of the tent, so you should be able to measure that and get super close.
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