The REI Co-op Half Dome 3 Plus is an entry-level 3-person, 3-season, backpacking tent weighing in at 6 lbs 6 oz (2.89 kg). That said, I’ll provide you with a bit of a spoiler here and tell you that I would recommend this more as a two-person car camping tent than a three-person backpacking tent, but an argument can certainly be made for both.
The Half Dome 3 is the larger version of REI’s Quarter Dome 3 Tent with 10 ft2 (0.93 m2) more floor space, larger vestibules, and a peak height that’s 2 in / 5 cm higher – the Half Dome 3 Plus also retails for $120 less than its Quarter Dome equivalent.
Ease of Set Up
I used the REI Co-op Half Dome 3 Plus for car camping during the fall and on short overnight backpacking trips. I’ve only ever used it as a two-person shelter despite it being capable of sleeping three. I’m a firm believer that if you want to be comfortable backpacking, you need a tent that’s made for one more than the number of people sleeping in it.
- Weight: 6 lbs 6 oz / 2.89 kg
- Minimum weight (no stuff sack, stakes, or guy lines): 5 lbs 14 oz / 2.66 kg
- Capacity: 3 people
- Seasons: 3-season
- Doors: 2
- Vestibules: 2
- Freestanding: Yes
- Poles required: 1 (included)
- Pole material: DAC Pressfit aluminum
- Canopy material: 40-denier ripstop nylon
- Interior door material: 20-denier nylon mesh
- Floor material: 70-denier taffeta nylon
- Rainfly material: 40-denier nylon
- Packed Size: 23 x 7 in / 58 x 17 cm
- Interior Peak Height: 46 in / 117 cm
- Floor Area: 92 x 80 in (50.1 ft2) / 234 x 203 cm (4.65 m2)
- Vestibule Area: 11.25 ft2 (each) / 1.05 m2 (each)
- Number of Pockets: 6 (8 if door stuff pockets are included)
- Color: Blue or Green
- MSRP: $279
- Hubbed, color-coded pole assembly
- Mesh panels in the upper portion of the tent for ventilation and views; ripstop panels in the lower portion for privacy, to reduce drafts and exposure to blowing dust or dirt
- Fly allows sides and ends to be rolled up
- 4 ceiling vents in the fly to prevent condensation buildup
- Doors stash out of the way in pockets inside the door opening
- Pockets and hang loops help organize the interior
- Includes guy lines with tighteners, pole-repair tube, pole bag, 8 stakes, and stake bag
- Made with solution-dyed mesh to reduce water and energy use in manufacturing
THE SETUP | Setting up the REI Co-op Half Dome 3 Plus is not difficult and it can be done by a single person (although if you’re using this tent, I would hope that you have someone to help you set it up). It has a single hubbed pole set with one pole for each corner of the tent and a crossbar that attaches at each of the two doors.
THE VESTIBULES | The tent has two large vestibules with plenty of space for gear. If you’re using this as a three-person shelter, you could easily fit three packs in one of the vestibules and leave the other empty (for views or bears or catholes). Each of the vestibules has two vents on top (so a total of four) which can be opened or closed for ventilation, heat retention, peeping out of, or keeping the boogieman out.
THE POCKETS | The Half Dome 3 Plus comes with a total of six pockets. Although the two overhead pockets are partitioned into three separate areas and there are an additional two pockets meant for stashing the doors when they’re all the way open, so the argument could be made that the tent has a total of twelve pockets.
THE VALUE | At $279, this tent falls toward the lower end of the 3-person tent price spectrum (for $200 you can also check out the REI Co-op Passage 3 Tent which weighs about the same but is a bit smaller in terms of floor area). If you don’t need something too light and you want plenty of usable space (or are looking for a solid and relatively inexpensive car camping tent), the Half Dome 3 Plus is a great value.
THE DOORS | The doors on the REI Co-op Half Dome 3 Plus are a bit unique in that they are attached to the tent body at their peaks and they unzip all the way around (i.e. if you unzip/open a door all the way, the mesh door will be hanging in the opening). On either side of the tent, there is a stuff pocket where the door can be easily stashed. The design is interesting and I don’t know if I’m in love with it, but it’s functional and at the very least interesting.
THE PACKABILITY | This tent is a fairly bulky, but when all of the pieces are removed from the stuff sack (I never keep my shelters all together in one stuff sack – it makes packing them into a backpack much more difficult), it can pack down to a reasonable size – especially if you’re traveling with another person (or people) to share the load. That said, if you’re packing the entire tent into a single backpack, you can expect it to take up a not-insignificant amount of space in the pack.
THE BREATHABILITY | Four overhead vents are built into the fly to provide ventilation. I have not experienced condensation in this tent (or on my gear when using this tent), but elsewhere I’ve seen reported that the interior of the fly can become damp with condensation in some conditions. Also, I’ve never used this tent with three people (the addition of a third person increases your chances of condensation buildup – unless they don’t breathe much).
THE WEIGHT | There’s no avoiding the facts, the REI Co-op Half Dome 3 Plus is a heavy tent. At 6 lbs 6 oz / 2.89 kg, even if you were able to split the weight evenly between three people, each of you would be carrying 2 lbs 2 oz / 964 g. There are single-person tents that weigh less than this (REI’s own Quarter Dome SL 1 Tent comes in at 2 lbs 6 oz / 1.08 kg). For the weight, you do get a large floor and vestibule area, but when used as a two-person tent (as I would suggest), the price for this room can be heavy (get it?).
THE LAYOUT | The layout of the Half Dome 3 Plus is such that if you are three people using the tent, two of you will be next to the doors and the third will be in the middle. This means that should the person in the middle need to get out of the tent (i.e. to pee during the night), they will have to crawl over one of the other people to get out of the tent. If you’re using this as a two-person shelter (as you should be), then this won’t be a problem and you’ll both have your own door and vestibule.
THE PITCH | The tent body has four points – one in each corner – for staking it out. However, there is no way to adjust/tighten each of these points once the stakes are in. You can always move the stakes once you have them all in to get a more taut pitch, but this can be a pain if the ground isn’t very stake-friendly. The tent is freestanding (i.e. it does not have to be staked out to be pitched), but a taut pitch (which comes more easily with adjustable stake out points) is still helpful for maximizing floor space and weather resistance.
THE FOOTPRINT | This is something that I hate about practically all tents on the market right now (I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t fall into this category) – the footprint for the Half Dome 3 Plus is not included. That said, the floor of this tent is made of 70-denier taffeta nylon which is fairly tough and should not require the use of a footprint.
Who is it for?
BEGINNER BACKPACKERS | As I said above, if you want to be comfortable, the number of people using your tent should be one fewer than the tent’s maximum capacity. If you’re a couple looking for a solid (and relatively inexpensive) first tent with plenty of room, the REI Co-op Half Dome 3 Plus is a good option for you to consider.
WEEKEND WARRIORS | If you’re regularly going out on backpacking trips as a couple (or maybe as a group of three), then the REI Co-op Half Dome 3 Plus could be worth considering. However, if you have the budget, it may be worth considering something lighter along the lines of the REI Quarter Dome 3 or MSR Mutha Hubba NX.
THRU-HIKERS | If you’re considering a thru-hike, you probably want to stay away from the REI Co-op Half Dome 3 Plus as it’s fairly heavy for this realm of thru-hiking. That said, if you are on a budget, thru-hiking in a group of three, and you all plan on sharing a tent every night (this sounds horrible), this could be worth considering as you could split the weight up fairly evenly. That said, I still don’t this tent for any thru-hike.
CAR CAMPERS | Probably the best use of the REI Co-op Half Dome 3 Plus (so far as I’m concerned) is as a two-person car camping tent (or two people and a dog, or maybe two adults and a child). The great part about car camping is that you don’t (really) need to worry about weight (or bulk), and when you remove these two considerations from the Half Dome 3 Plus, it becomes a much more attractive option.
The $279, 6 lbs 6 oz / 2.89 kg, three-person, three-season REI Co-op Half Dome 3 Plus is a solid tent that is an attractive option for couples getting into backpacking looking for an affordable tent for shorter trips or for car campers looking for something reliable and easy to pitch.
If you’re looking for something lighter, check out the REI Quarter Dome 3, and if you’re looking for something less expensive, check out the REI Co-op Passage 3 Tent. Looking for something much lighter but twice the price? The MSR Mutha Hubba NX may be worth a look.
Think the REI Co-op Half Dome 3 Plus might be a good fit for you? Check it out here.
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