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October 2005

Tent Review: New-School Shelters

Slash weight, not weather protection, with this year's top new ultralight tents.

©Mitch Mandel

REI Quarter Dome UL

Score: 3.9

This is the only sub-4-pound tent we’ve seen that’s both freestanding and has two doors.

When one of our testers handed his partner this tent, the skeptical buddy asked, “Are you positive this is a two-person tent?” He’s a believer now. Little bro to the award-winning Half Dome (Editors’ Choice, 4/02), the Quarter Dome nicely balances space to weight, weather resistance, and ventilation. The two-pole design pitches in a couple minutes the first time–even if you’re alone–thanks to dead-end pole sleeves, color-coded fly straps, and easy-to-adjust stake loops. With the help of external guys, it withstood strong winds from Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains to the Mojave Desert, and another tester stayed bone dry through torrential rains in the Queets Valley of Olympic National Park. Mesh walls and a vent aid airflow; another tester had no condensation even with his wife and two toddlers sardined inside. Best of all, you can pick up the Quarter Dome for a price–$219–that should give competitors night sweats. At this weight, of course, there are sacrifices, mainly headroom and length for campers taller than about 6’2″. Twin doors and (small) vestibules are a luxury, though we’ll nitpick a design that allows rain to drip inside when the outer doors are open. $219; 82″x52″x40″; 3 lbs. 12 oz. (800) 426-4840; www.rei.com.

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