REI Quarter Dome SL 1 Tent Review

The REI Quarter Dome SL 1 is a one-person double-wall tent that only weighs 31 oz. Despite its low weight, the interior is remarkably livable, with vertical sidewalls, numerous internal pockets to keep you organized, and a roof vent to help minimize internal condensation. A large vestibule provides plenty of extra gear storage, while the dual-zippered door makes it possible to vent the top while keeping the bottom sealed for wind protection and better privacy.

Specs at a Glance

  • Trail weight: 31 oz
  • Capacity: 1 Person
  • Type: Double wall
  • Design: Semi-freestanding
  • Doors: 1
  • Poles: 1 hubbed poleset
  • Dimensions of  inner tent: 31″ x 25″ x 83″ (long) x 39″ (height) as measured by sectionhiker.com
  • Minimum number of stakes to pitch: 6, 7 recommended
  • Materials: PU-coated 15d nylon ripstop fly and floor
  • Color: Olive
  • Footprint: Sold Separately (30d nylon ripstop)

Semi-Freestanding Tent Design

The REI Quarter Dome SL 1 is a double-wall semi-freestanding tent. The tent has a single hubbed pole with three arms: two for the back corners and one for the middle of the front side, with integrated two rooftop arms to create vertical sidewalls. This means that the inner tent can stand up by itself, although the front corners should be staked out to maximize the interior space. The tent will still stand if you don’t stake out those front corners (like on a wooden platform), although it won’t be as spacious or strong.

The tent has a single hubbed pole set with roof poles designed to create vertical sidewalls
The tent has a single hubbed pole set with roof poles designed to create vertical sidewalls

The poles slot into color-coded grommets at the base of the tent and the fly drapes over the top, secured with clips (called jakes foot connectors), while the front of the fly can share the stakes used to peg out the corners of the inner tent. Line locs adjusters on all of the fly guy outs ensure a tight pitch. It really is a very fast and easy tent to pitch.

The front of the fly clips to the center pole while the corners can share the stakes of the inner tent.
The front of the fly clips to the center pole while the corners can share the stakes of the inner tent.

Door and Vestibule

The Quarter Dome SL 1 has a large D-shaped door which makes it easy to get in and out of the tent. The door does not block the vestibule storage, so any gear you store under it can still stay dry if it rains.

The tent has a large side door which makes access easy.
The tent has a large side door which makes access easy, while still providing plenty of vestibule storage.

The vestibule door has a two-way zipper so you can open it a crack for added ventilation or to peek outside without having to open the door all the way. This provides additional privacy, a better sense of security at night, and weather protection.

The two-way zipper lets you open the top of the door for greater airflow without sacrificing privacy.
The two-way zipper lets you open the top of the door for greater airflow without sacrificing privacy.

Livability

The interior of the Quarter Dome SL 1 is roomy, with room for a wide sleeping pad if you have one. There are two pockets in the rear corners for storing items up off the floor as well as two ceiling pockets which can be used to hold a headlamp or other small items. Gear loops hanging from the inner tent seams provide still more storage, while vertical sidewalls provide an air of spaciousness.

There's plenty of room above your feet to relax.
There’s plenty of room above your feet to relax.

The floor is tapered with the greatest width at the “door-end” (31″) and the narrowest at the foot-end (25″), providing more than enough space to store your shoes, clothes, and the contents of your pack if you want to keep them inside the inner tent with you. The length of the inner tent is 83″ and the peak height is 39″, making it very easy to sit up in the tent or change clothes without giving yourself a black eye or punching a hole in the ceiling.

If you’re wondering why our dimensions are different from those cited by REI on the tent’s product page, it’s because we base our measurements on the size of the inner tent (covered, usable space) and not the area covered by the rainfly, which is usually greater. Most tent manufacturers measure tent sizes this way, but that doesn’t make it right or useful.

The rear wall of the Quarter Dome SL 1 can also be staked out for added ventilation. While this creates a space that's large enough to store gear in, it is not accessible from within the inner tent.
The rear wall of the Quarter Dome SL 1 can also be staked out for added ventilation. While this creates a space that’s large enough to store gear in, it is not accessible from within the inner tent.

Footprint

There is a footprint available for the Quarter Dome SL 1, although it is sold separately. If you camp on abrasive surfaces like sand, rock, or pressed dirt campsites, I’d consider carrying a footprint to protect the bottom of this tent which is made with fairly thin material. The footprint also lets you set up the tent without the inner tent if you wanted to use the fly as a lightweight shelter, like a tarp.

Comparable 1-Person Backpacking Tents

Make / ModelTypeWeightPrice
Dan Durston X-Mid 1Double Wall27.9 oz$220
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 1Double Wall30 oz$350
MSR Hubba NX 1Double Wall39 oz$380
Gossamer Gear The OneSingle Wall20.6 oz$299
Six Moon Designs Lunar SoloSingle Wall26 oz$230
REI Quarter Dome SL 1Double Wall31 oz$290
MSR Carbon Reflex 1Double Wall23 oz$450
Tarptent Aeon LiSingle Wall15.8 oz$535
NEMO Dragonfly 1Double Wall32 oz$360
Tarptent ProtrailSingle Wall26 oz$229

Recommendation

The REI Quarter Dome SL 1 is a great backpacking tent because it can fit into a lot of smaller tent sites, including wild sites, that larger tents won’t fit. I really like the olive colors that the tent comes in because they blend in better with the landscape, which is good for privacy, and they’re darker, which helps me sleep better. The Quarter Dome SL 1 is easy to set up and has plenty of interior space inside to spread out and relax. Plus it packs up really small, which lets me use a smaller and lighter-weight backpack to carry my gear. I think that the REI Quarter Dome SL 1 a solid value for the money, especially since it’s less expensive than many other tents that are quite similar to it.

Disclosure: The author purchased this tent.

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Last updated: 2020-10-20 20:35:24
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34 comments

  1. I agree, I have owned and used this tent a lot for the past six months, this is the most functional, easy to set up two wall tent I have ever used. Just a bargain as well. Sad to see REI is apparently discontinued it ? Thank you for the look see . Cheers

  2. That’s strange, a couple weeks ago there site said it was no longer available ? Good news ! It’s a fantastic tent !

  3. Hi Philip,

    Thoughts on this vs. the REI Flash Air 1 tent? And which packs down smaller?

    Thanks!

    • Because the REI Quarter Dome SL 1 is semi-freestanding you’re virtually guaranteed a perfect pitch all the time. That’s not going to be the case with the Flash Air 1 where you have to do more work (if you use trekking poles) to get a good pitch. The Quarter Dome sl 1 is also a double-wall tent, so your gear will never come in content with internal condensation. They both pack down small (I pack my loose in my pack because they take up less space that way). The Flash air 1 is fine if you want a trekking pole tent. I feels somewhat cozier (smaller) and you need to be more concerned about internal condensation mitigation with airflow, but that’s to be expected. Just depends on the kind of experience you want.

  4. Excluding price, would you rate this tent higher than the MSR HUBBA NX? This seems to have a very similar footprint and similar vertical walls and weighs a half pound less. Is there anything about the MSR that would justify purchasing it over this on performance alone before you even take into consideration $90 price difference?

    This Quarter Dome seems like a great deal.

    • While the hubba hubba NX 1 is heavier, it will probably wear a bit better because its made with heavier fabric and doesn’t have a PU-coating so it will last longer. I’d also feel perfectly comfortable using the Hubba Hubba without a footprint, since its 30d, whereas I’d be more inclined to use one with the Quarter Dome SL 1 which has 15d floor. The hubba hubba also has four poles on the inner tent, instead of three, which makes it better for use (ie. the inner is fully freestanding) on challenging surfaces such as rock or sand, where tent stakes are a pain in the ass. Personally, I like the interior feel of the Quarter Dome more than the Hubba Hubba NX 1. But it’s not as clear cut as you make it sound.

      • Thanks for the reply. I haven’t met anyone who has had a Hubba 1p or 2p that hasn’t loved it and have been considering it as an option for solo trips since my Tarptent Saddle 2 takes up so much space. Seeing this tent made me reconsider a little. I do like the green color as well for low visibility as compared to the MSR red.

  5. Hello, I bought this instead of a Big Agnes last minute because of the price point.

    It just seems like a great value and I love the color for here in the North East.

    I never owned a Big Agnes but the Quality seems comparable to the MSR Hubba that I had.

    I am looking forward to using it this Fall.

  6. One issue I’ve run into with my 2 year old quarter dome SL2 is difficulty getting the rainfly to pitch taut. Either the door section or the vestibule section winds up flapping. It looks like the door on this edition is structured the same way. Do you notice any issues?

    • Not at all, actually. The SL 1 has a grommet above the door that attaches to one of the roof poles which helps you get a tight pitch. Make sure that is in use. There are also the clips at the base of the poles with adjusters. Not sure how it works on the SL 2.

      • We now have a SL2 in the family. I’ve only set this tent up once where I could stake it out but I did notice this problem. The SL2 has grommets on the body and the fly so my guess is it’s the same as the SL1 in that regard. The issue maybe that there are three staking points on each vestibule on the SL2. One on the foot corner, the “normal” center one and an additional one on the head door jamb flap. This makes it a bit more challenging to get the fly pitched correctly. Also and possibly more to the point, I think the center adjuster on the fly may come with a line that is a bit too short, encouraging a staking position that is too close in. Extending the center adjuster line may fix the problem. The most flexible solution would be to replace the adjuster line with a longer one…I think it is 1.3 mm cord… but my guess is adding adding about 3 inches of reach to the loop end would be enough.

  7. Almost bought this tent but went with Dans xmid 1. Sometimes wish I had had gone with something more freestanding with a smaller footprint. Sure love the two doors on the xmid.

    • The X-mid is big. Good in wind, but big.

    • Free standing? I have to wonder why. I bought the X-Mid 1p – 200 dollars – shipped to europe, took it to chamonix and bivouac’d at over 2000m in a windy environment and it performed superbly.

      Given the price and structure I’m happy i did not go down the Hubba or Big Agnes route; there again i always use walking poles so I save on that weight too…maybe it’s my age 8-)

      • I own both tents and agree that the XMid is better for very windy conditions, but it requires a huge amount of space to set up and is not suitable for densely forested trips.

  8. Philip, why do you say the X-Mid is not suitable for densely forested trips? Falling pine needles? Requires too much space?

  9. Are you able to compare this tent to the Exped Mira-1?

    • The Mira 1 is a nice tent. I reviewed it a while back.
      https://sectionhiker.com/exped-mira-1-hl-tent-review/
      Different pole structure, but not overly awkward. Much stronger in wind, because the poles run through sleeves and not clips, so it will flap less. I like the fact that it has two gear vestibules, including one accessible from inside the tent although it’s not a door. Better gear coverage that way. It also pitches in small forested spaces. Interior dimensions are similar, including height Slightly more durable fabrics. It’s nice that REI is now selling it. Exped makes some really nice gear, although it has a much more European flavor that Americans might find strange.

  10. I had been researching double wall, freestandingish tents that used tent poles, for a long time, hoping to move up from my beginner Big Agnes Fairview1. I chose this one, and while it is delicate, I am happy. Some splashback got in from a thunderstorm, it happens, but so much lighter and bigger than old tent.

    • I was out this weekend and had to camp on a platform in the rain. Wished I’d brought this one instead of the single wall tent I’d brought along.

  11. Just an FYI, Amazon carries tent stakes designed to slip between tent platform floorboard. Probably worth getting if you know you’ll be pitching a tent on one. They may be available elsewhere if you’re trying to avoid buying via that source. Also, while I don’t own this tent, I do have other REI tents. In March 2019 I bought a similar tent from a competitor which markets its own products. Barely a year later I set up the tent in my living room for a photo contest. I have only used that tent once for a bike packing weekend. When I went to set it up, the shock cords were slack. I called the company which told me that since the one year warranty had just ended, I would need to purchase the new shock cord, plus pay for postage! Well I was shocked! REI would have replaced the poles or at least sent new cord free of charge. I know because of how they have handled past tent issues. The other company has lost my business. Customer service and backing one’s product count for a lot.

  12. How’s this for a taller person? I am 6’3″ and 185lbs. My local REI has one in stock and I was thinking of setting it up if they will let me but, getting a solid pitch indoors isn’t the same as getting it nicely staked out.

    • The inner tent is 83″ long (we measured it). I’m 5’11” and have plenty of length space. I think you will too.

      • Thanks for the response! I am always leery of manufacturer’s listed specs and I really appreciate your taking real measurements. Head and foot ends look pretty vertical as well which is always very helpful.

  13. John Edward Harris

    I have the older (orange) version and LOVE IT. I bought it for a cycling trip but have also used it for backpacking and car camping. We experienced a lot of rain on that six day/four night cycling trip, each night in a different campground, and this tent kept me warm and dry. I simply can not express how roomy this tent feels. I think your review was honest anb picked up on all the attributes of this tent. My only warning is to not leave this tent unattended in even a light breeze unless it is staked down and/or there is gear in it because even a light breeze can send theis tent, when empty and not staked down, sailing away.

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