Gear Reviews

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) Camper 4

The perennial BACKPACKER favorite gets an upgrade with better ventilation.

Brand: Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC)

Model: Camper 4



7lbs. 4oz.

[editors ’ choice update]

It wasn’t broken, but REI fixed it anyway. This longtime favorite—winner of both Editors’ Choice and Editors’ Choice Gold Awards—gets an update that proves the best can always get better. The improvement: ventilation-boosting changes that increase the space between the tent and fly and add two additional fly vents (for a total of four). The modifications increase the tent’s overall weight by two ounces, but testers deem it a fair price to pay for superior airflow: On 25°F nights in Utah’s Canyonlands, some condensation collected beneath the fly, but the interior walls stayed dry.

Space and layout remain unchanged, meaning the Half Dome is just as livable as it’s ever been. A 40-inch peak height and steep walls create outstanding headroom (the brow pole actually pushes the fabric beyond vertical, which keeps water from dripping off the fly and through the open door). The 32-square-foot floor amply accommodates two six-footers, and setup (using one hubbed pole) is uncomplicated. Stability is excellent: Our testers slept soundly through canyon gusts that failed to create so much as a flap or a rattle in this freestanding dome. And although it’s not the lightest two-person model on the market, it continues to earn top marks for its performance-to-price ratio. $189; 5 lbs. 2 oz.;

Our game-changing Camper 4 is back and better than ever. No department store toy, it’s a real tent you can use for real camping and backpacking, at a real good price. The secret sauce is a combination of basic aluminum poles and inexpensive yet functional fabrics, put together with quality construction.

The upgrades include: A new roll-in style stuff stack that makes packing the tent up so simple and fast, you’ll be able to do before your second cup of coffee. And new DAC J-stakes, with a V-cross section that holds better than needle or wire pegs.

*Price is CAD