If you're in the backcountry alone and dark clouds start blowing in, the last place you want to be is struggling to set up a tent. No matter what scenario in which you need to pitch a tent, you want it to happen fast. Whether you're exhausted from a day of hiking or just want to stay dry, you definitely also want to be comfortable when you get in there. But how do you choose a tent that is so light as to be nearly forgotten on your back but still offer the space you need to rest in? Enter the REI Quarter Dome 1.
This tent is REI's lightweight solo offering for the backpacking crowd. If the only person you're sheltering is yourself, and you want a tent that will always be there when you need it, REI is a good place to start. They know their gear well, and they worked hard to make their Quarter Dome 1 tent something you'll want to sleep in for weeks on the trail. That doesn't mean they don't have some competition, though, and here we'll help you see how the Quarter Dome 1 stacks up.
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The REI Quarter Dome 1
REI is well-known for its wide selection of outdoor gear. Its knowledgeable staff and customer-focused structure have earned it a strong reputation. Of course, it is also known for its own products, such as the REI Quarter Dome 1 tent. The REI Quarter Dome 1 is the single-person variant of REI's Quarter Dome line. These tents, which range from one-person to four-person capacities, are more lightweight than others that REI carries. While this can cause some durability issues, this can be mitigated with proper care. With such care, a lightweight tent like the REI Quarter Dome 1 can last on the roughest trail without weighing you down.
The Quarter Dome 1 weighs in at two pounds and seven ounces. Its square footage of 18.9 square feet is enough for any solo camper. The Quarter Dome 1 comes with a single-hubbed poleset. That means all of the poles needed for the tent connect in one place, allowing for quicker setup. It comes with interior pockets and hang-loops to keep the one-person tent free of clutter. The tent also comes with a rainfly that has a built-in vestibule and vent, freeing up more space within the tent even when it's raining.
Why pick the REI Quarter Dome 1?
Picking a tent is a sort of art. It's a narrowing process that starts with a selection that's almost impossibly wide. The REI Quarter Dome 1 falls into the category of backpacking tents. To be even more specific, it is an ultralight tent. Ultralight tents are made for long backcountry hikes where the weight of your pack is a constant. Minimizing weight is a challenge to an ultralight hiker. But even if you're not obsessing over every ounce, a lighter tent like the Quarter Dome 1 is appealing. If it's just you in the backcountry, having more space for sustenance gear may take the fore. Room to sleep comfortably may be all you want out of a tent.
If that's what you're looking for, the Quarter Dome has some recent renovations that help it bring more to the table. As of 2017, REI made the Quarter Dome symmetrical, allowing for significantly more square footage within. It also has a vertical wall structure, giving you the chance to comfortably use that space. The vestibule, the part of the rainfly which protects your door and gear, is also bigger. Changes such as these made the Quarter Dome more comfortable and quicker to assemble. Gear Junkie's reviewer said the tent went up in under four minutes and had enough room to sit up comfortably in.
What others say
This tent has a user rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on the REI website. Given the visibility of REI and the recent remake of the Quarter Dome, there are a few reviews covering the new changes. Since the tent comes in several sizes, we also looked at reviews that focused on larger Quarter Dome sizes, as far as construction and materials were concerned. For example, Switchback Travel reviewed the Quarter Dome 2. However, they do take the opportunity to say that the tent is made with good materials and has large vestibules for easy entry -- this also applies to the REI Quarter Dome 1. We did not use reviews such as these to comment on the tent's size.
Regarding size, Bicycle Touring Pro says the Quarter Dome does not surpass its competition in either size or weight. Where it does beat out its contenders is price, which is discussed below. It also gave a good performance at that price point, standing up to "rain, wind, snow, and sun." Dirt Rag magazine said the tent should be on your short list for solo tents. In addition to its price and roomy interior, the Quarter Dome makes for easy setup with color-coordinated poles.
The REI Quarter Dome 1 is listed at $200 to $300. Since it is an REI product, it is not available outside of REI stores or their website. Compared to other tents on this list, the Quarter Dome 1 falls a bit below the average price. At market price, every tent except for the REI Half Dome 1 is more expensive than the Quarter Dome.
How the REI Quarter Dome 1 Stands up to the Competition
The outdoor gear market is full of brands that try to make their name synonymous with camping and other outdoor activities. Some are operating on a budget, while others opt for quality. The REI Quarter Dome 1 falls into the latter and goes up against powerhouses like NEMO, Big Agnes, and MSR. Of course, REI is a powerhouse all its own, so we took a look at their classic Half Dome 1 tent as well. These brands represent some of the strongest options for backpacking tents available today, and the best competition for the Quarter Dome 1.
How We Reviewed
Competitor tents were chosen based on reviews, specifications, and customer feedback. These factors allowed us to find the top backpacking and ultralight tents available on the market today. We looked at the weight, durability, size, and price of each tent. We listed them in alphabetical order.
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 balances lightweight with size and space. The Copper Spur's smallest size weighs just over 2 pounds, while still offering 22 square feet of space. That makes it one of the biggest solo tents available. Plus, its weight means it can be carried easily on a long hike without adding too much to your pack. In addition to its impressive footage, the Copper Spur adds space with its vertical walls. These let you use more of the tent and keep you from feeling cramped. In order to limit clutter, the Copper Spur features interior storage space and a stash pocket for the door when it is unzipped. When all you have are 22 square feet, every inch counts.
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 was given positive reviews on the Trek. Reviewers there liked its size as well as its durability. The camper reviewing the Copper Spur for the Trek used it for three months. They reported no holes in the lightweight exterior.
MSR Hubba Hubba NX
The MSR Hubba Hubba is heavy for an ultralight tent, and on our list is only surpassed by the REI Half Dome 1. Its trail weight is two pounds and seven ounces. According to Clever Hiker, this is a little bit heavy for a tent that is for ultralight hiking.
The Hubba Hubba also comes in a little smaller than other tents on this list, at 18 square feet. However, the MSR Hubba Hubba does have several features that let it sit comfortably among the best backpacking tents. Its "Stay-Dry" rainfly makes sure that water stays out, even when the door is open. Its vestibule is large enough to keep your gear dry. Plus, like many competitors, the Hubba Hubba includes vertical walls which maximize its floor space.
The NEMO Hornet is one of the largest and lightest tents available. It is an ultralight setup, weighing in at under two pounds. It also includes one of the largest footprints of any tents on this list. At 21 square feet, it rivals the Big Agnes Copper Spur while remaining several ounces lighter. For all its lightness, the NEMO Hornet offers some advanced engineering that makes it a viable choice in harsh environments. For one, the high-walled floor keeps you safe from water and from strong winds when in your sleeping bag. With the correct setup, including supportive guylines, the NEMO Hornet is a strong shelter despite its weight. Even better, the Hornet sets up in less than a minute. If you really need a shelter as soon as possible, the Hornet will be there for you.
The NEMO Hornet also includes a couple of additional features to make the tent more welcoming. Volumizing clips allow the tent to expand somewhat, giving you more room inside. At the same time, a lantern pocket uses your headlamp to spread light evenly throughout the tent.
REI Half Dome 1 Plus
For all of its exterior competition, the REI Quarter Dome 1 also faces products from the same company as well. The REI Half Dome 1 Plus is from REI's signature tent line. It offers a more well-rounded list of features at the expense of weight. A full 2 pounds heavier than the NEMO Hornet, the REI Half Dome 1 Plus also gives a solo camper 24.3 square feet of sleeping space. It includes features that improve ease of setup. One is a one-hubbed poleset that allows for quick assembly. The other is a two-vented rainfly. With a mesh roof that offers easy ventilation and a view of the night sky, the rainfly allows you to keep that breathability in a storm. It also rolls down quickly in case of a surprise rain shower.
In addition to added weight, the REI Half Dome 1 Plus offers more durability than the Quarter Dome. However, reviewers on Switchback Travel found this additional weight to be a serious drawback. The Half Dome 1 Plus weighs more than some two-person tents. For a hiker watching every ounce, the Half Dome 1 Plus is a non-starter.
Pros and Cons
For a number of reasons, from weight to price to durability, other tents beat out the REI Quarter Dome 1. Still, it is a good tent and may be the shelter you pick.
The Final Word
On a hike, your choice of shelter is as important as your choice of hiking footwear. It comes between you and the elements, so durability is important. You wouldn't want to spring a leak when the nearest building is miles away, or for the tent to blow away in heavy winds. However, you also want a tent that can take to the trails with you. If it's too heavy or too large, you're going to regret it at the end of the day. Fortunately, the REI Quarter Dome 1 does its best to split that difference. At two pounds and seven ounces, the Quarter Dome is a good, middle-of-the-road choice for your hiking. However, it's not necessarily the best on this list.
If you're looking for a lightweight tent, why not go with the lightest? The NEMO Hornet combines an ultralight tent with extra features to flesh out the experience. With its tub floor and guyline system, the Hornet can hold up to some seriously harsh weather. With add-ons to make the tent roomy and well-lit, you could ride out a storm in comfort three seasons out of the year.
If space and comfort are a big pull for you, and weight isn't a major point, there's a reason the REI Half Dome is their core tent. The Half Dome 1 Plus offers sturdier materials and a lower price tag than the Quarter Dome. Add that to its bigger interior, and weight is the main reason not to get the Half Dome instead.
Ultimately, the REI Quarter Dome 1 is a good tent. It easily matches up with any of the tents included here. The tent offers vertical walls, a well-ventilated rainfly and vestibule, and easy setup. Its price tag falls a little lower than others, and the tent is sturdy. While it may not top the list of the best one-person tents around, there's no mistaking that it would be a good choice. But with a few extra ounces for slightly fewer square feet, it's not necessarily the best.