REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent Review

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Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running. Our reputation is our most important asset, which is why we only provide completely honest and unbiased recommendations.
A hiker sitting in the open doorway of the REI Half Dome Sl 2 adjusting his shoes - there's a lake pine forest and a mountain in the background

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

The REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ is one of the absolute best value tents money can buy. This tent is easy to set up, spacious, and made with high-quality materials, yet it costs significantly less than most tents in its class. We think one of the Half Dome’s best assets is its versatility – it’s large enough for car camping and light enough for backpacking trips. We highly recommend this tent for any hiker whose main priority is saving money without sacrificing space and quality.


Quick Specs

MSRP: $329

WEIGHT: 4 lbs. 11.5 oz.

DIMENSIONS (LxWxH): 90 x 54 x 42 in.

OTHER OPTIONS:Half Dome SL 3+

The REI Half Dome SL 2 tent set up in a campsite with a lake and pine forest in the background

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Pros

Affordable Compared to other tents on our Best Backpacking Tents list, the Half Dome is the third most affordable tent. It’s beaten out only by the much heavier REI Trail Hut 2 and the one-person Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo.

Tents that offer a comparable amount of space at a similar weight – like the NEMO Dagger OSMO 2 and Sea to Summit Telos TR2 – tend to cost over $100 more.

A hiker putting the rainfly on the REI Half Dome SL2 Tent with a lake and a mountain in the background

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Spacious – The interior of the Half Dome 2 feels absolutely massive due to its generous floor dimensions (33.75 square feet total), cross pole that pulls out the headroom at the peak, and dome shape. There’s plenty of room inside for two hikers, their gear, and a dog. 

You can even stick two wide/long sleeping pads inside – usually two-person tents will only comfortably accommodate one wide and one regular at max – and you’d still have four extra inches of side to side space and plenty of room left at the foot.

And if you need even more space, the Half Dome is offered in a 3+ size which is 24 inches wider (roomy enough for three wide pads) and two inches taller (for a peak height of 44 in.).

A view from above showing the headroom in the Half Dome SL 2 - there's a hiker sitting inside with some sleeping bags and other gear

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Durable – While the Half Dome is on the heavier side for a backpacking tent, the materials are made to last. The canopy and floor are made with 40d nylon that’s much thicker than the more common 15-20d that’s used for lightweight tents, so you’re far more protected against punctures and rips. 

If you’re particularly hard on gear, you’ll be happy to know that the Half Dome comes with a footprint included which adds even more value to the already great price.

The hardware is also exceptional. The aluminum poles are built by DAC – the industry standard for quality – and they provide an excellent balance of structure and give for strength in high wind. The zippers are smooth, don’t snag, and they can be operated with one hand.

A hiker sitting inside the REI half Dome SL 2 - the door zipper is half open and they are zipping it closed with one hand

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Great weather protection – The Half Dome has a full rainfly, a deep bathtub floor, and sturdy poles that make it bomber in nasty weather. 

The stout pole architecture and dome shape make the structure of the Half Dome very sturdy, and the aluminum poles allow for some bending so the tent won’t buckle under heavy wind.

There are also several tie-out tabs on the fly for attaching guy lines to add extra stability in high wind.

A side view of the REI Half Dome 2 with the rainfly on to show the space it takes up and the size of the vestibules

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Weight is reasonable when split between two hikers – The Half Dome weighs 4 lbs. 11.5 oz. with all of the included components (tent body, rainfly, poles, footprint, stuff sacks, stakes, repair kit), and has a minimum weight of 3 lbs. 15 oz. (tent body, poles, and fly only).

We think the true weight most backpackers will carry on trail sits closer to 4 lbs. 4 oz. since most will want to carry the stakes for solid structure but might opt to leave the footprint behind.

When split between two hikers, that would leave each carrying just over two pounds. Many solo hikers will carry that much weight for a one person tent (or a roomier ultralight two-person tent), so the weight is reasonable when viewed through that lens.

A view through the mesh body of the REI Half Dome 2 of two hikers sitting inside and smiling at each other with sleeping bags pulled up to their chests

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Versatile – We named the Half Dome SL 2+ Best Crossover Tent on both our Best Backpacking Tents list and Best Camping Tents list. It’s light enough for backpacking, but spacious enough to feel luxurious when car camping.

When split between two hikers for backpacking, each will carry just over two pounds. When used for car camping, you can fit the long/wide double Exped Megamat (our number one camping mattress from our Best Camping Mattresses list) inside with room to spare!

Since this one tent can fulfill both needs, it’s a really awesome value.

A hiker sitting in the REI Half Dome 2 with the door open - they are blowing up an orange sleeping pad

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Good ventilation – The Half Dome has large vents situated above both doors on the rainfly. They’re held open by struts, or they can be closed if rain is blowing sideways. The tent body is constructed with a good amount of mesh to allow air to flow, which helps prevent condensation. 

In areas where weather is unpredictable, you can use the fly with the sides rolled up to get a cross-breeze while leaving yourself the option to quickly deploy the fly if rain starts. On clear nights, the double-wall construction allows you to leave the fly off completely for maximum ventilation. 

A closeup view of the vent struts holding the vent open on the rainfly of the REI Half Dome 2

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Easy to set up – The Half Dome is a freestanding design with a symmetrical floor and a color-coded pole system, so it’s quick and easy to set up. You technically don’t need to stake it out, but we usually prefer to since it maximizes the interior space and weather protection. 

The fly is quick to set up as well – all you have to do is throw it over the top, clip it onto the body, and stake out the doors.

A hiker attaching the poles of the REI half Dome 2 to the tent body with a lake and some pine trees in the background

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Cons

A bit bulky – The packed dimensions of the Half Dome are 7 x 20.5 in., so it’s definitely on the bulkier side for a backpacking tent. To cut down on bulk, we usually like to put the poles in the side pocket of our backpack and secure them with compression straps. Then you can stuff the tent body and fly into the tent bag a bit more efficiently for a smaller package. 

If you’re splitting the Half Dome between two hikers, the bulk won’t be too bad if one hiker takes the tent body and poles and the other takes the fly and stakes.

A hiker facing forward and smiling holding the REI Half Dome 2 packed up in its stuff sack - there is a lake and some pine trees in the background

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

A bit heavy – The Half Dome is the second heaviest tent on our Best Backpacking Tents list. While we’ve mentioned that the weight isn’t too bad when split between two hikers, those that want the option to use their backpacking tent solo or hikers who don’t plan to divvy up the load may find the Half Dome’s weight to be too much. 

We would also point you toward a lighter tent if you plan to cover long distances or you go on strenuous hikes with a lot of elevation gain. The longer and harder you plan to hike, the more weight will matter and the more you should look at getting a lightweight tent.

We generally prefer keeping our backpacks light so we can spend more energy enjoying our hike. But since the Half Dome is significantly cheaper than most lightweight tents, you can use the money saved to go lighter in other areas – like a sleeping pad, backpack, or sleeping bag – to make up for the weight. It’s all about finding a balance.

A hiker sitting inside the REI Half Dome 2 with the door and one side of the vestibule open - the hiker is putting away some gear and there's a lake and a pine forest in the background

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

BOTTOM LINE

The REI Half Dome SL 2+ is genuinely one of the best tent deals available on the market. It’s a great choice for both backpacking and car camping, so you’ll only need to own this one tent for all of your outdoor adventures. While it’s a bit heavier and bulkier than many other two person backpacking tents, it’s still reasonable when split between two hikers. And for many hikers, that monetary savings – along with the Half Dome’s extra roomy dimensions – will more than make up for the bit of extra bulk and weight. 

A hiker standing next to the set up REI Half Dome 2 with the rainfly off and the doors open - you can see a red sleeping bag inside and there's a lake a mountain and a pine forest in the background

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

MORE Half Dome Photos

MORE INFORMATION

We hope this review helps you determine if the REI Half Dome SL 2+ is right for you. As always, please leave a comment below if you have any recommendations, questions, or suggestions or visit our Facebook page and Instagram to join the community conversation. If you found this review helpful, please share on social media and click the little heart button below to give us a digital high five!

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Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a modest commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running. Our reputation is our most important asset, which is why we only provide completely honest and unbiased recommendations.