REI Camp Dome 2 Tent Review

REI Camp Dome Tent Review

REI Camp Dome 2 Tent

Ease of Setup
Weather Resistance
Packed Size

Great Value!

The REI Camp Dome 2 Tent is a great couples camping and backpacking tent that's spacious and easy to set up. It has two doors, a must-have for couples, and includes durable aluminum tent poles.

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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 an 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 from one another in the interior for storing personal effects.

Comparable Two Person Budget Tents

Kelty TN224 lbs 4 oz$250
Sierra Designs Summer Moon213 lbs 7 oz$190
Kelty Salida 2213 lbs 14 oz$150
Big Agnes C-Bar213 lbs 9 oz$199
Eureka Spitfire214 lbs 3 oz$180
Big Agnes Frying Pan224 lbs 5 oz$250
REI Passage224 lbs 13 oz$159
MSR Elixr225 lbs$250
The North Face Talus214 lbs 8 oz$199
Marmot Catalyst224 lbs 11 oz$169


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. 


  • 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


  • 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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  1. When I started backpacking this tent would’ve been the absolute lightest two person on the market! Now it’s for car camping. For a $100 it looks like a great tent for a hiker just starting to acquire gear and on a budget. With this tent, one of those Aegismax sleeping bags ($70), a Ridgerest and a reasonable pack you could get going for less than $400!

    • I was thinking the same thing as Bill about the weight of this tent. But I think my Eureka Alpine Meadows 2, the first “real” tent I ever bought in the early 80s, was quite a bit heavier. It was still fairly light for its time and features, though. This REI tent may be a great solution for scouts because it’s affordably priced and its carry can be shared by two scouts at under the 2.5 pounds per person figure that I have seen.

      • Like I said, this is a best buy. It now lives in the trunk of my car. :-)
        Perfect for scouts!

  2. Nice Review Philip

    It’s funny how people make a big deal out of a pound here or there. Best part is that many people I’ve encountered on the trail talking “ultralight” are also overweight.

    Personally, I’m not exactly sure what the big fuss is about when it comes to light stuff. 30lbs pack becomes part of you after few hours and you no longer feel it. I don’t mind the extra weight, but that’s just me.

    • Sure, but it depends completely on what you’re doing. When I go out to do through hiking, doing day after day of 20-30 miles per day, then even one pound will make its presence felt and I try to stay below 25 lbs with three days food and a liter of water. When I do a 1-2 nighter with the Scouts, maybe 8-12 miles per day, I’ll carry all sorts of crap (chairs and books and knives and lamps and extra chocolate et cetera, for 30+ lbs), because I know that I’m going to be sitting around most of the time anyhow…

  3. This looks like a pretty sweet tent, and $99, wow! I’ve owned a couple REI tents and have always been pleased with them, as they offer excellent value. They may not be the lightest or cheapest or most innovative, but they always are fairly light, are pretty low cost and have a couple of nice features. I got a single back in 2009 (Q-dome T1???) on clearance, paid like $125 for it, weighed a hair under 3 lbs (if I’m remembering it right), and it had a sweet pole setup that pulled the side walls apart from the bathtub up to the peak. I thought that feature was really great, as you had all sorts of elbow room when you sat up to get dressed in the morning, and I still miss it in all my subsequent 1-P tents.

  4. Although my current 2 man tents are a pound and a half lighter, I’d have loved to have had this option when I started backpacking over 45 years ago. I may have just found my canoe camping tent.

  5. Our new Camp Dome arrived this week. Except for perhaps that cross-fly pole, it is extremely easy to set up. In our first attempt, we attached the fly first and then tried to get cross pole in — couldn’t do it. Second try, we put the pole ends into the pockets on each side of the fly and then put the fly on. That worked, though I had to assume that the big hook at the top of the tent inner is supposed to fit over all three poles. It sort of does. Did you encounter this?

  6. Is there a trick to getting the cross pole to fit in the pockets/sleeves on the rain fly? Mine seems too long and the pole doesn’t have any give. I can’t seem to get it in both ends at the same time. This is my first tent so not sure if there is something I’m not thinking of. Any advice would be much appreciated!

    • Try pressuring it to bend slightly it slightly. I didn’t encounter any issues doing that. If that still doesn’t work, contact REI.

  7. As a vagabond, I’ve been depending upon the REI Camp Dome 2 for several years and in fact am currently wearing-out my third. For those who are interested in the long-game, the weak link in the construction is the zippers. If you use this tent every single night for about two years, the zippers will begin to bind and ultimately foul and fail. This is not a fault of the Camp Dome design, it is a fault of most zippers.
    If four pounds is too heavy for you, you may want to consider that you’re either a little out of shape or extremely obsessive. I would have to say that, contrary to the author’s excitability about couples enjoying the Camp Dome 2, a two-person tent is only suitable for one occupant, no matter how many doors it has. That is because an experienced outdoorsman is going to place their gear inside the tent where they can get at it but where the spiders, fire ants, ticks and snakes cannot. Vestibules for gear storage are a feature which appeals to the inexperienced. Likewise I have heard complaints that the awnings over the windows permit wind-blown rain to hit the windows. If this is the case, you might want to face the narrow side of the tent (with the double-wall) into the wind rather than the broad side of your tent. It’s common sense, but for some reason novice campers often don’t understand the art of tent placement. You can’t just throw your tent any old place, you must examine the earth and sky and pick a spot which is in harmony with the surroundings.
    For those who are wondering how the hook at the roof peak is supposed to work, it only serves to pull the roof up for an extra inch of clearance in the interior. It doesn’t bundle the poles, in fact it should be hooked on the lowest pole so that it doesn’t make a bump in the rain fly. I’ve had the hook on one of my 3 Camp Domes actually try to pull out and afterwards I simply stopped using it at all.

    • OH! One thing I forgot.
      REI also sells an optional footprint designed specifically for the Camp Dome 2. This footprint is not really an option, it is a necessity for any tent. You need that vapor barrier. The ground is not your friend at night. Get the footprint, or make one out of thick plastic but make sure that it is slightly smaller than the floor, all the way around. The REI Camp Dome 2 Footprint is perfect and well worth the modest investment.

    • Maybe, Bobby, but use cases vary quite a bit. I’m never going to use anything nearly every night for 2 years straight, other than my toothbrush and my bed at my house, so our needs are pretty different. I’ll be happy if I can get in 40 nights this year.

      But like you, I’m also an experienced outdoorsman, and I prefer to not sleep in a tent at all, so I just carry a tarp and only pitch it when conditions require (or when I’m bored, because I do enjoy a good tarp pitch…). Unless I’m car camping with my youngest kid, my shelter isn’t for hanging out in with my stuff. It’s for sleeping and nothing more. So the tarp does just fine. Never had a big problem with bugs/spiders/snakes. Yes, they’re there, but if you know what you’re doing and are a little bit careful, they’re not too tough to avoid.

      And as to your comment about peoples’ fitness: Nah. I’m not out of shape. I guarantee it. I’d wager that I’m probably in better shape than many of the people here. And lightweight hikers in general are often pretty fit people. If you want to cover a lot of distance when you’re not asleep, you have to be. I just don’t like carrying extra stuff that doesn’t meet my needs for what I want in outdoor gear.

      • I would agree that my needs as a vagabond are more specialized. For myself, the tent is the house. It’s where I am whenever I am not out roaming and when I do roam, I carry absolutely everything I own. That makes my pack sit around fifty pounds, plus I also carry an acoustic guitar separately. That’s my trade. You probably make me look like the baggage train and you would be right, I am fond of my comforts. Intermediate Army mummy bag, two Thermarests (air and foam), laptop, solar power bank, hygiene kit, first aid kit, canteen, Gerber, MP3 player and portable speaker, clean clothes bag, dirty clothes bag, food bag/day pack, toilet paper, winding flashlight, marking pens… and you’re right that it adds up pretty fast. The MOLLE pack I carry is heavy when it’s empty. But I have plenty of room for a Camp Dome 2, mosquitoes love my flavor and one morning I woke up with a slug trail across my mouth. Never going back. ;)

      • I like my comforts, too! I can’t be without nail clippers and my water filter (and backup) that a lot of folks would probably consider too heavy, but it keeps me sane. We have pretty different needs, but that’s one of the things that makes meeting people so great. Have fun out there!

    • Have you ever been in pouring rain with this tent? Does it leak on top or bottom?

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