The REI Camp Dome 2 is a two-door tent perfect for couples car camping.
The REI Camp Dome 2 is a two-door tent that’s perfect for couples car camping.

The REI Camp Dome 2 Tent is an amazingly good value for only $99. With two doors and durable aluminum tent poles, it’s a perfect entry level camping or backpacking tent that combines comfort, ease of use, and durability for multiple years of use. If you’ve been looking for a inexpensive tent for campground or basecamp camping, boy scout 50 milers, fishing and hunting trips, or music festivals, the Camp Dome 2 is head and shoulders better than the cheap camping tents you find at big box stores.

Specs at a Glance

  • Design: Truly Freestanding, although staking is recommended
  • Doors: Two
  • Poles: (3) aluminum
  • Fabric: Polyester, seam-taped
  • Inner Tent Dimensions (actual, measured): 53″ x 82″ x 43″
  • Trail weight: 4 lbs 2 oz (minus stuff sacks and tent stakes)

The Camp Dome 2 is a freestanding double-walled tent designed for two people, with separate side doors, one for each occupant. Getting a tent with two doors is a must-have if you plan to share a tent with a partner, because it means you can take a “midnight stroll” without having to climb over them to get in and out of the tent. Each door can be rolled back for maximum ventilation and has a separate screen window which can be zipped close to block blowing rain or wind in bad weather.

Each door can be rolled open for maximum ventilation or ease of access.
Each door can be rolled open for maximum ventilation or ease of access, with a mesh window that can be unzipped (shown) or closed for maximum weather protection.

Setup is super simple with two multi-segment, shock corded aluminum poles that cross over the top of the inner tent. The rain fly drapes over the poles and clips into the same corners as the inner tent, while a cross pole slots into pockets in the fly and hooks over the top. With a little practice, you can easily set it up in under 2 minutes, even in the glare of car headlamps if you get to a campsite late at night.

Setup is super easy because the inner tent clips to two symmetrical poles that slot into corner grommets.
Setup is super easy because the inner tent clips to two symmetrical poles that slot into corner grommets.

Unlike most inexpensive tents, the Camp Dome 2 comes with aluminum poles, which are far more durable than the fiberglass poles that are sold with many tents sold in big box stores. Fiberglass poles break very easily and I’d recommend against buying a tent with them. Aluminum poles should last for the lifetime of the tent because they’re stronger in poor weather, more resilient, and won’t snap in two if bent accidentally.

The rain fly awnings protect the side windows from rain, but aren't large enough for gear storage like a backpacking tent with side vestibules
The rain fly awnings protect the side windows from rain, but aren’t large enough for gear storage like a backpacking tent with side vestibules

While the Camp Dome 2 is waterproof, it’s designed more for fair weather car camping than backpacking. While the rain fly forms an awning over the side windows, you’ll need to zipper close the side windows of the inner tent if rain starts to blow sideways under it. The side awnings don’t provide the same level of weather protection or room for storing gear as the side vestibules on a two person backpacking tent like the REI Quarter Dome 2, so you’ll need to store your gear inside the tent with you or put it in your car to keep it dry if it rains.

You can pull back the RE Camp Dome 2 rain fly for maximum ventilation or stargazing
You can pull back the REI Camp Dome 2 rain fly for maximum ventilation or stargazing.

Ventilation is good if you keep the side windows unzipped and there’s a cross breeze. In dry and calm weather, you can also pull back the rain fly for even more air flow and stargazing through the mesh roof transom. The interior space inside the Camp Dome 2 is very good –  53″ x 82″ x 43″ (actual, measured), permitting the use of two full-sized 25″ width sleeping pads. There are also two mesh side pockets located across form one another in the interior for storing personal effects.

Recommendation

The REI Camp Dome 2 is an excellent two-person, freestanding car camping or basecamp tent with two side doors for easy entrance and exit. Priced at $99, it’s an amazing value, complete with durable aluminum poles that should last for the life of the tent if cared for properly. While best used for car camping, the Camp Dome 2 weighs just 4 pounds 2 ounces, which is lightweight enough to be used for basecamping or short backpacking trips. It’s also quite easy to set up and deserves my wife’s “no shouting setup” seal of approval. Highly recommended. 

Likes:

  • Under $100; the Camp Dome 2 is a great value
  • Aluminum tent poles are more durable than fiberglass ones
  • Freestanding tent
  • My wife’s “no shouting setup” seal of approval

Dislikes:

  • Weight is on the heavy side compared to lighter weight backpacking tents
  • Overhanging side awnings don’t provide same amount of gear storage tents with full side vestibules

Disclosure: REI provided the author with a sample tent for this review.

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