REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent Review

REI’s 2021 update to their legendary Half Dome series was a success: the design is lighter but still impressively livable

Table of Contents

5 lbs. 0 oz. (w/footprint)

88 x 50/45 in.

2+, 3+

Well-built, easy to use, and tons of room at a good price.

Relatively heavy and only comes in “plus” sizes.

A favorite among backpackers for a long time and the REI CO-OP’s Half Dome is now updated for 2021 , with a major reduction in weight. Although it’s made of thinner materials (they’re still durable by current standards) The most recent SL+ model should remain popular with backpackers because It’s extremely spacious inside, simple to install and use, comes with all the features you require to enjoy three seasons and offers a great value. We tested it to the test by putting Half Dome SL 2+ to the test in Washington’s Hoh Rainforest, and below we discuss our findings. To determine which way the Half Dome stands up to the competition read our article about the most comfortable hiking tents.


LIVABILITY as well as Interior Space

Similar to the previous-generation “Plus” model The latest REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ is a top-of-the-line in terms of the interior space. The spacious 35.8-square-foot floor is 3 square feet bigger than the majority of competitors (more about this below) It also proved that it can accommodate two standard backpacking pads that have inches of space to free. Additionally the floor is perfectly symmetrical (nice to sleep head-to- foot with a partner who is backpacking) The ceiling is high at 42 inches across the middle and the sides only add to the feeling of spaciousness and roominess. All of this makes it an authentically livable model for two, which is unlike any other backpacking model that can boast of (those who are concerned about space usually expand to the size of a three-person tent).

However, it’s worth noting that just like all other tents we’ve tried Half Dome isn’t the only one. Half Dome’s dimensions inside are considerably smaller than the given figures. The corners of the floor measures wide and long – 88 inches inches wide (compared to the 92 x 56 in. specifications) It is difficult to accommodate 2 “wide” 25-inch backpacking pads. You could expect the sides to be right up against walls. To make it clear this, it is clear that the Half Dome is an industry leader in terms of livability in terms of its design, particularly considering its weight. However, those who want to truly spread out might still need to upgrade to the bigger SL 3Plus version (dimensions can be found as the 92×80-inch. which is 50.1 sq. feet. of floor space and an 44-in. high peak).

Weight and Size


The Half Dome prioritizes interior space and durability over weight and even while it’s true that the SL model is lighter than the previous model but it’s still on the heavier side in the industry. According to my scale, the complete capacity of this tent weighs 5 pounds (its weight on the label is 4 pounds. 13.5 oz. The previous-generation model was 5 pounds. 5 oz.). It’s important to note that this figure includes the footprint, meaning you can cut off 7.8 ounces by leaving it in place. Since the majority of tents don’t have footprints, it is recommended to subtract the footprint’s weight in comparison specifications. For comparison, the top backpacking tents, such as the Nemo Dagger 2P or MSR Hubba Hubba Hubba NX (both 3lbs. 14 oz.) is less expensive than 14 oz.) is less expensive than the Half Dome by about 10 ounces. However, they have a higher price and are made from lighter and less durable components. Under $300 Marmot’s Tungsten 2 with Footprint (5 pounds. 4 oz.) as well as Kelty’s Dirt Motel 2 (4 lbs. 13 oz.) weigh the same, but don’t compare to what the Half Dome’s interior dimensions or overall build quality..

The size of the packed bag is almost always in tandem with the weight of the bag, so it’s not an issue to find that the Half Dome measures a fairly big 7 by 20.5 inches. One factor that increase the size of the bag can be the single-pole design which weighs more when it’s dismantled as opposed to tents with several poles. However, it’s just about an inch larger and a few inches wider than the lighter model, and we’ve have never had any issues with storage issues for the tent (plus it’s possible to divide the poles off from the tent’s body and rainfly before putting the poles inside your backpacking bag). A final note about the size of your bag: like the majority of REI’s bags for stuff The Half Dome’s bag is large enough to hold less than perfect packing. We appreciate this.

Build Durability and Quality

Backpacking equipment is lightweight because of its purpose and requires some effort However, this REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ is one of the more durable tents available that are available. With a huge forty-denier (D) flooring and a a 30D rainfly (down from 70D and 40D respectively in the earlier more heavy-duty model), It doesn’t need any as delicate an incline as the 15x20D floor of the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, for instance. Utilizing the footprint that comes with it can extend the lifespan for your camping tent however in general, there are only a few points of concern.

The remainder part of Half Dome SL 2+ is also well-constructed. The 20-denier mesh that is on the body of the tent is free of snags, and the zippers move extremely smoothly. REI went with the industry’s top DAC for their aluminum pole system hubbed which is a high-quality design and feel, and the hubs themselves are sturdy models (two years earlier it was it was the Half Dome had cheaper plastic hubs that had some issues with their durability). REI also upgraded their stakes using the SL version, which is now an DAC set which is a good modification since we bent a few of the pegs included from the previous model.

Weather Protection

The Half Dome SL is equipped to withstand the most demanding conditions of three seasons due to its robust freestanding construction, fully-coverage rainfly and a raised floor for the bathtub with high-quality seam taping. We haven’t had the opportunity to try the brand new version in a true storm yet, however it’s structure is almost identical to the previous model which performed well in sleet and rain at the Patagonia Huemul Circuit (as as we remember to shut the vents on the roof when the rain was blowing in the opposite direction). The high profile of the tent could cause it to be more prone to bowing when there’s a lot of wind (an issue we experienced during our time in Patagonia). To ensure that the tent is weatherproof it is recommended to bring additional stakes to stake it up, since there are only eight stakes included.


With huge vents, plenty of mesh, and plenty of space between the rainfly and the tent body The Half Dome SL 2+ is an excellent ventilator. The vents are well-designed and easily accessible on the sides of the door as well as the Velcro tabs make a huge opening (and easy to close). This means you’ll be able to have a lot of air flow to keep condensation to an absolute minimum on hot days. The cold temperatures climbed to the mid-20s for us over the course of the night–we noticed that the additional airflow felt somewhat cold inside, however closing one vent made a difference (and it was still pleasant to wake with a dry, clean interior).


The Half Dome’s two-door-and-vestibule design means it’s easy for two people to store their packs, hiking shoes, and other gear on either side of the tent with plenty of room for entry and exit. As with the original Half Dome model, the modernized SL features 22.5 sq feet divided equally across the sides. We also like the zipper design of the fly, which can be opened both sides and downwards to create a large and safe opening to allow into and out. The rainfly is extremely adaptable it is possible to turn the ends half-way up to enjoy stargazing or pull them back to improve airflow or even zip it up to secure your gear during storms.

Storage space is somewhat restricted with the most recent SL version. One sacrifice is the reduction in weight, but still plenty even for two travelers. Inside the doors are pockets that are huge along the roof. You can also find triangle-shaped mesh pockets in each corner to allow for quick access when you’re sleeping in sleeping in your mattress. There are also numerous loops that run along the ceiling to hang lights for a night-time playing game.

Setup and Take Down

The tent’s freestanding structure with a symmetrical design and single-piece hubbed pole makes half of the REI Cooperative Half Dome SL 2+ extremely simple to put together and to take down. If you place the poles in a proper manner (with that gold-colored ridgepole spanning centrally in the camper) It’s as easy to connect the 4 corners by securing the entire thing together, then attaching the ridgepole. The footprint, too, is attached to the lower part of the body of the tent and you’re able to keep it there (removing it too is easy). The process of adding the rainfly is as simple, but we found that it’s beneficial to join the grommets on the ridgepole prior to securing the rainfly at the bottom of the bag, to prevent from having to work to get it in place. REI has also included instructions for setting up on the bag for tents However, this is a procedure that will be down in a matter of minutes after some practice.


Other Capacity Rei Co-op Half Dome 3+

Alongside being the SL 2+ model tested here, REI also makes the Half Dome in a bigger version of the SL 3+. This model retails for $329, weighs 15.7 pounds and 15.7 ounces and has 50.7 cubic feet of floor space and a peak height of 44 inches and folds down to 7×23 inches. We mentioned it earlier people who prefer to travel in groups will be able to benefit from upgrading to a three-person model, though we miss the older 4P option that was used for more casual camping trips. Also, REI also eliminated the one-person Half Dome, although it was not a huge distinctive model when it came to its weight (one of the primary reasons why backpackers prefer one-person models is because of weight in the first in the first)

What We Like About

  • The space is extremely comfortable for two with a big area and close-to-vertical walls.
  • A fantastic value for $279 This tent is well-made and features a myriad of thoughtful features, including the ability to adjust vestibules for different sizes and excellent stargazing.
  • The tent is made of durable materials that will last over time (especially when compared with model backpacking).
  • The large interior makes it a feasible cross-country option for car camping.

“What We Never Do”

  • Although it has cut some pounds, the most recent Half Dome still is pretty weighty at 5 pounds. (4 pounds. 8.2 oz. without footprint) and it doesn’t fold down extremely compactly.
  • The tall profile is a major factor in interior comfort over wind protection all-around.
  • We’d like to see a smaller, lighter version available (and we’re a bit nostalgic about the original 4 Plus for camping trips on the go).

Comparative Table

Rei Co-op Half Dome SL 2+$2794 lb. 13.5 oz.40D35.8 sq. ft.42 in.22P, 3P
MSR Elixir 2.$2506 lb.70D29 sq. ft.40 in.21P, 2P, 3P, 4P
Marmot Tungsten 2P$2145 lb. 4 oz.68D32 sq. ft.42 in.21P, 2P, 3P, 4P
Rei Co-op Access 2$1595 lb. 10 oz.75D31 sq. ft.40 in.21P, 2P, 3P
Kelty Dirt Motel 2$2604 lb. 13 oz.70D28 sq. ft.42.5 in.22P, 3P, 4P
Nemo Firefly 2P$3503 lb. 5 oz.68D29 sq. ft.41 in.22P

The Contest

It is the REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ is a great improvement over its predecessor and is among the best of line in the under $300 camping tent category. It’s a strong contender to the MSR Elixir two tent that has a similar design as the Hubba Hubba’s original Hubba however it has a more budget-friendly construction, more durable materials (including 70D floors and the 68D fly) and less mesh as well as a more spacious interior. Additionally, at just $250 including the footprint the price is $29 less that it’s counterpart, the Half Dome SL 2+. If you’re looking for more security and more warmth as well as protection from wind that comes with Elixir’s thick fabric for the tent’s body, then the MSR is an excellent choice. However, you can’t beat the Half Dome. Half Dome is larger in every dimension and weighs just 2.5 pounds less, which is a tough combination to beat.

Marmot’s Tungsten 2 is a budget-friendly model from a trusted tent manufacturer. The area where the Tungsten is able to gain an advantage against that of the Half Dome is value: at $214 with its footprint is less expensive than its counterpart, the Half Dome by a considerable $65 and is still quite affordable for floor size (32 sq. feet.) and the weight (5 pounds. 4 oz. total). However, if we had to choose to stretch our budget, we’d go up to Half Dome. It’s bigger inside, has bigger and more attractive vestibules, and is constructed with better materials in general (although the floor of Tungsten is more robust in 68D). If you’re on a budget and aren’t waiting for a coupon from REI to lower the price We recommend to go with the Half Dome.

Within the REI’s range of tents, the cheap backpacking tent, the Passage 2, is an excellent choice for backpackers who are new or not frequent. For the price of $159 (footprint included) the tent is an open-air set-up that has similar features, including two big doors, plenty of storage space, and a robust construction. However, the Half Dome SL 2+ is more spacious with regard to floor space as well as height. However, the Passage appears dated due to its basic X-shaped pole (it’s worth noting that REI also has its Trail Hut, which splits the difference in price at $199 and also includes a central Ridge pole that offers better quality of life). In all it’s clear that the Passage is a great value for people with a tight budget (for more information, read our deep Passage Review) However, we believe that the more expensive Half Dome is worth the purchase for those who spend time outdoors regularly.

Another option to think about one of the best options is the Firefly2P from Nemo is a great illustration of the weight that you can cut by increasing the price. With a price of $350 and 5 ounces in total the Nemo, the Nemo is cheaper than its counterpart, the Half Dome by over a half a pound, but without sacrificing the quality (it comes with an 68D floor as well as a 15D fly, making it an extremely sturdy tent). But, you have to sacrifice livability by having an interior that is more snug (especially in terms of width). It is stated at 50 inches. in comparison that of the Half Dome’s 56 inches. ) and its floor tapers that are asymmetrical on one side making it more difficult for two campers toe-to-toe. If the weight increase isn’t a major issue for you, we’ll consider an Half Dome the more well-rounded alternative.

Editor’s note: We typically offer a live price comparison table in our reviews of outdoor gear however, it is not the case with this model. Half Dome is sold exclusively through REI Co-op. The Half Dome this page and help us out in the process. Thanks!