Friday, May 1, 2015

GEAR REVIEW: REI Passage 2 Backpacking Tent

Boy, I just love REI's tent design. You've already heard my feelings on my REI Base Camp 6 car camping tent. So recently when we attended the REI Garage Sale in Madison, I took a look at the backpacking tents. I didn't particularly NEED one, I have a Hammock, and a Car Camping Tent, and though I have a lot of complaints about the quality of my hammock's accessories, it worked pretty well for me when I camped in it at Flint Ridge. But I wanted to see what they had. Lots of them were fairly expensive even after the generous discounting that the garage sales imply, and I'm sure they were fine tents... but I was looking for a tent on the cheap. I checked tag after tag, and had gone through most of the tents, seeing $300 tents marked down to $150. $400 down to $200. I was about to head back into the ramp and find Bob when I saw it, a REI Passage 2 tent, normally $160, marked down to $50.

I packed that tent up lickety split! The tag that explained the return reason claimed that the poles were bent. Either REI replaced the bent poles and never updated the price, or the reason given was bologna. The banter I had with the REI employee nearby seemed to indicate that a lot of the reasons were. Bagged up what looked like a perfectly fine tent, grabbed the boots I was buying, and made for the checkouts. When I set it up at home, I found that it WAS 2 stakes short, but those are a trivial addition to the purchase price. We picked up a pair of Coghlan Ultralight stakes at wal-mart for $0.76 each, but I don't have anything impressive to say about them. I accidentally kicked one and it bent. It did come to me used, and you can tell this tent has seen a number of adventures. The mesh shows a little wear, there was some grit inside, the exterior looks a little weathered. Those 'bent' poles are immaculate. The rainfly is in great shape. The bag holds everything fine, though the webbing straps that tighten it don't like to stay snug (that's okay though, we have Gear Ties for that.

It's not an ultra-light tent, though if you combine the rainfly, Poles and footprint and leave the tent at home, you can use it as a very lightweight shelter. I'll take the extra weight and use the full tent. Set-up is super fast, you just plug the poles into the grommets in an X shape, clip the tent to it and sling the fly over, socketing the fly's grommets into the pole-ends on the bottom. Stake it all down and you're done. 5-10 minutes when you're first figuring it out. 15 minutes when every step you take, every move you make aches like hell. And then you've got shelter. Easy peasy.

Spent the night in the tent after my 12.5mi jaunt down the Ice Age Trail this Tuesday. Like I said above, setup is a little slower when you're in pain, but it's still easy. It's good that it is simple to put up, because after 7 and a half hours on the trail, my mental capacity was way down. Didn't bounce back until after dinner and two desserts. So, setting up a tent while tired, hurting and derpy is not a good situation for complicated designs. I've gotta say, Thanks REI for making such an easy to pitch tent. Ventilation was good, I left the vents at the top open (and you can move the door zippers to their upper most position and open them wide enough to get a hand out , if you need to open/close the vents from inside the tent.) and it got kinda chilly in the tent but I didn't have to worry about everything being soggy from condensation.

Would I recommend this tent? Based on what I've seen so far I definitely would. You can get lighter, but I'd wonder about their sturdiness. You can probably find sturdier, but I can't imagine they'd be any lighter. This one sits comfortably in the middle of weight and durability. The retail price is hard to beat too, I don't think you're going to find many worthwhile tents cheaper than $160. If you're not an ultralighter and you're looking for a backpacking tent, I say head over to REI and pick one up!


  1. Thanks for the great post I enjoyed it a lot. Choosing the right tent, bags and other gears is an important aspect of camping in the wilderness. One has to make sure tha all gears are in tip-top shape and that you've bougt it only from trusted sellers or manufacturers. For more analysis and review on just about anything backpacking here's a stellar site for you

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  3. Thanks for sharing this informative Blog. And I am agree with Mr. Alice Taylor, we should Check that the gears are in tip- top shape or not. We The Camping Canuck also providing the online service of Tents. We have Tents with best Quality. For more information you can visit our website.