As soon as I came home from my Europe Trip last summer, I jumped online to look for a lighter and more compact tent. Don’t get me wrong, the tent I brought with me, the REI Quarter Dome 2, did its job. It provided me with shelter for the 3 months I was out there, as well as on previous trips for the past 5 years, but the seams started to leak, so I had to use a tarp to prevent it from getting wet on the inside (I ended up seam sealing it when I got home). Whenever we had to jump on a train, we had to wrestle with our bikes, 4 panniers, and all the stuff that was sitting on top of my rear rack. This consisted of my 6lb tent, rain gear, tarp, and bungee cords. I just needed something lighter with less space to carry around on my tours.
The goal was to get the lightest “compactable” 1-person tent. I scoured the Internet and found myself going back to the REI brand. I settled on the Quarter Dome 1. It weighed only 2lbs 2 ounces and it packed down to 6” x 20”. It was a fairly new model at the time and came in the trendy orange and silver color scheme and not the green and gray scheme like the previous year’s models.
I picked up this tent for $229 + tax and also bought the $22 footprint. I actually lost the footprint and bag of stakes somehow on the Adventure Cycling Colorado trip, but that’s another story for another time. I used the tent on my July MeetUp at Lake Kumeyaay in San Diego for the first time.
There’s nothing like the smell and feel of a new tent when you first set it up. The setup was so easy and quick that I figured it out in less than 10 minutes. You basically lay everything out based on the colored tabs of where the tent poles go, and then snap the poles into place and insert them into the matching colored tabs.
It was even easier to pack up as you just stuff the tent back into the bag and fold the poles into place. My initial impressions were favorable, but I couldn’t come up with a final review of the tent without really putting it to the test.
2 Trips With REI Quarter Dome 1
That was when I brought it along on my 2 trips with Adventure Cycling. The first trip was the Colorado Family Fun Ride. Having this tent was a blessing as it was so small and compact that I barely even noticed that it was there. I had my backpacking bag for that trip and just stuffed my tent in the bottom of the bag.
Being able to set up my tent really quickly allowed me to help my teammates with other tasks as tour leads. In fact, it took longer for me to inflate my Thermarest Neo Air XTherm sleeping pad than it did to set up my tent. The small floor plan, made it possible for me to squeeze between spaces that were a little harder for other participant’s larger tents.
We got rain and wind on a few days of our trip, but my little tent held up great and was not blown away, and my gear stayed dry.
The True Test
The real opportunity to truly test the limitations of this tent was my 1 and half month Pacific Coast North tour from Washington to Eugene, Oregon the following month in September. This tent faced possibly the wettest conditions that you can put a tent through in the Pacific Northwest.
On our first few days in Washington, we faced probably one of the windiest storms of the century where winds were blowing 60 mph in some locations, knocking down power lines and blowing in storm clouds. Before you think that I used this little tent in these windy conditions, I’ll tell you that I didn’t. I slept in the van in those nights.
When we finally arrived to our campsite near Bellingham, I set up the tent and left it there for 3 days straight. That was when the tent endured epic rain conditions that I had never experienced. For the first 2 days, it withstood whatever mother nature had to offer, but at the end of the third day, the ground around me became really saturated and started to form muddy puddles. So when it rained again, the water splashed under the rainfly and got the tent itself wet. Also, the rainfly did not cover every inch of the tent. This resulted in damp areas above my head, the right side, and the foot of the tent.
Luckily, after that, the weather was fairly pleasant for the month we were traveling. It wasn’t until we reached Beverly Beach, Oregon when the mother of all storms came in during the night and started to flood the campsite. I was getting wet during my sleep as heavy rain pelted our tents. Again, it wasn’t the top of the tent that got wet, but rather the sides of the tent. I actually retreated to the van in the middle of the night for a few hours. Eventually, I returned to my tent when the rain mellowed out.
Who should buy the REI Quarter Dome 1
- Someone who is looking for an ultralight 3 season tent that is super easy to set up and pack away
- Someone who camps in locations that have little to no precipitation.
- Someone who packs light and don’t have much gear to be covered under the vestibule.
- Someone who is thinking about buying a bivvy sack, but wants to have the ability to sit up at night.
Who should NOT buy the REI Quarter Dome 1
- Someone who is over 6 feet tall. Absolutely no vertical foot space.
- Someone who wants substantial rain protection.
- Someone who is concerned about condensation build-up.
- Someone who is traveling exclusively on a bike tour. Comfort is key here.
My Wish List
- Better rain protection – Is it really hard to make the rain fly an inch longer? That is my main gripe about this tent and is a big reason why I won’t recommend this tent wholeheartedly.
- Having two doors – Maybe I am just so used to having the convenience of 2 doors in my old REI Quarter Dome 2, but to be able to put my gear on both sides of my tent and have the option to use 2 doors to enter and exit is very nice.
- More pockets – Having more pockets on the inside for my things would be nice. There were times where the top pocket was so stuffed that the belongings inside started falling out onto my head.
Check out my Gear Review video about the REI Quarter Dome 1 for an in-depth review of the tent.
Buy Yours Here
Let me know if you own the REI Quarter Dome 1 tent. I’d love to hear what you think about this tent. Do agree or disagree with my review?
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.