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Thread: Product Review - REI Quarter Dome T2 Tent & Trakker Sleeping Pad

  1. #1
    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    Product Review - REI Quarter Dome T2 Tent & Trakker Sleeping Pad

    I recently joined REI (finally!) and one of the benefits is access to the several times a year "Attic Sales", basically where they sell everything that has been returned used or with relatively minor problems, at fire sale prices. I went for a sleeping pad and anything else I might come across, and left happy. Staring at my purchases I couldn't resist so I took off for a night camping on Skyline Drive.

    First, the sleeping pad. I have a 15 year-old Thermarest self-inflating pad, it still works great but the 1" thickness no longer makes for a comfortable sleep and the full 70" length makes for a somewhat bulky fit on the bike. I initially snagged what I was after, a 2.5" Big Agnes Air Core inflatable mattress pad (regular $50, sale $20). I really wanted to like this but it is a real pain to blow up - matter of fact I gave up half way though inflating it to check for leaks as it did not seem like something I'd want to do after a long day of riding. Instead, the REI person recommended an REI offering:

    REI Trakker 3/4 Length 1.75" Self Inflating Mattress Pad
    $54.50, comes with stuff sack and velcro compression ties


    I was torn between this and the Thermarest 2" offering, the real deal-sealer was the REI pad's smaller size and the fact that it comes with the stuff sack (Thermarest wants $14 for theirs) and the velcro straps. The difference in comfort was negligible.
    I used it last night for the first time and it was a real treat! I was a bit worried about the short length but I really didn't notice it. I used one of my bag liners as a pillow so the pad started right above my shoulders and ran to about mid-knee. The non-skid surface made staying put in the sleeping bag easy and I didn't notice my feet not being under the pad. Best of all, it rolls up nice and tight and no more struggling to get it in the stuff sack with the velcro compression straps.

    Pros: Compact, even thickness, non-skid, self inflates quickly, velcro straps
    Cons: No included repair kit ( the optional Thermarest kit works as well as with the Thermarest but there is no pocket for it like with the Thermarest stuff sacks.)

    Conclusion: I'd give it a recommended buy - inexpensive, well made and very comfortable.

    Next up was the tent. I recently bought a Marmot tent and it is a great buy. That said, it is not a hot weather tent with limited mesh but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better tent for mild to cold temps and harsh weather. But I came across an REI Quarter Dome T2 that packed was just TINY for a 2-person tent, on the smaller side of a loaf of bread or two-liter bottle of soda. It had been used only once and was marked down from $269 to $69.

    REI Quarterdome T2 Two-Person Ultralight Tent
    $269, comes with matching ground pad and compression stuff sack
    I originally took an interest in this tent because it is completely mesh from the floor tub up, perfect for warmer weather camping.


    The free-standing design also comes with a full-cover fly with adjustable storm vents:


    I really like this tent, it has a lot of great features that make for a comfortable sleep.

    Pros:

    First, it is an ultra-light tent so the floor tub is a thick rip-stop nylon. While waterproof and quite durable, it is not as durable as traditional tent floors and the included tent footprint must be used if you are set up on a gravel pad. The tub seams are factory sealed and at least mine, completely waterproof.

    Second, the tent itself is entirely mesh. I am a big fan of this, especially on warmer summer nights. Without the rain fly you can feel every slight breeze and there is none of that stuffy, clammy feel of tents with less mesh. There are two pockets built into the side to hold keys and such, though I would have preferred the gear loft that comes with the Marmot.

    Third, the fly is full coverage and with tent pegs will create two big vestibules, and without the vestibule folds over on itself to resemble a dome tent. The fly itself has two clever "vents" built in with well-protected mesh underneath with an attached rigid arm that can be adjusted to full open to completely closed - in last night's short downpour and heavy winds I had it set to full open and no water entered. Nevertheless, I could stiff feel the breeze coming through - a really nice feature.

    Fourth, the pole structure. The pole structure is a single design with three poles going through two hubs, sort of like a "#" with one of the lines missing. I had a bit of trouble setting this up in the dark at first, then I figured out the poles and appropriate placements are color coded red or silver and it is a simple matter of seating the poles and laying the single pole grid on top of the tent, then plugging things in and attaching the clips. Another great design element is that the poles sit a good 2" above the tent, and are spaced so that with the rain fly on there is no sag any place where the rain fly and tent would come into contact in heavy rain. I have found careful attention to this in tent design means far better air flow and far fewer leaks. Lastly, the footprint, tent and rain fly all use the same four color-coded corner points so the whole tent can easily be picked up and moved.

    Fifth, easy to take down! The single pole structure (three actual poles connected together through two hubs) makes that part a cinch, plus the tent itself has little sewn hash marks at the fold points - tent with footprint is folded 1/3 left-over, 1/3 right-over, then the fly is folded in half then half again and placed on top. With the pole stuff sack as the starter, just roll it up and drop it into the stuff sack Then use the stuff sack compression straps to tighten it all up.

    Sixth - size. It was a bit comfy in there with all my riding gear, tank bag, side case liners (aka pillows) and such though it was still plenty roomy. The floor is 4 and 1/4 feet wide and 7 feet long, plenty enough for one but no-way would it fit two people if anything other than sleeping bags was involved. Tent height is 40", enough for plenty of room to sit up in and similiar to my Marmot, but quite a bit less than my heavy and large 15 year old LL Bean 2-person Dome tent (the one made by Moss, before Beans replaced them with a cheap version from China.)

    Seventh - the tent is a mirror copy, each half has a door and vestibule.

    Cons: You know there had to be some

    First - the tent door zippers are small and get stuck easily. The ones on the rain fly work great, not sure why they went with the small ones for the tent.

    Second - the included footprint is about an inch undersized, personally I prefer foorprints to be about an inch oversized. It is super durable, fits well and the color-coded common attachment points are great features, but it would be nicer to have the whole tent on the footprint rather than everything but the edge.

    Third - Both the footprint and rain fly appear very similar top and bottom, setting up in the dark it was a bit of a pain looking for the label to find the "TOP". It would be nice if they embroidered "TOP" and "BOTTOM" on the corner straps. That said, after a few times setting the tent up I think it would become easier to tell the difference.

    Conclusion - I really like this tent for warm/hot weather camping. It packs down to smaller than my sleeping bag and is well designed and durable. For colder or really stormy weather I'd probably prefer the Marmot Limelight-2.

    On a final note, I also got a brand new pair of Keen sandal shoes for $20 down from $100, a few assorted things like stuff sacks and such, a lightweight gore-tex jacket, and was beaten to a new but torn packaging Jet Boil for $20 by a guy who shot me an elbow and grabbed for it
    Last edited by Ted; 06-13-2010 at 06:48 PM.
    Ted
    "A good stick is a good reason"
    1994 K75RT
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  2. #2
    mymindsok
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    Well, well...!

    I just happen to have used a couple of the same items, during my coast-to-coast trip last summer, so I'd like to add comments that might help everyone make a decision.

    Firstly, I've had and still have several Therma Rest type, self-inflating sleeping pads but I don't like them. Firstly, the usual covering cloth is slippery enough that I keep waking up at night because I've slid off of the pad. Then I have to squirm around to get back on the pad and end up waking up again later, only to go through the same gyrations. Who needs that?

    When I chose the Big Agness "Lost Ranger" sleeping bag, it was because it was a non-mummy bag (I hate feeling confined!) and because of the inflatable sleeping pad that slips into the panel in the bottom of the bag. That fetcher makes it very unlikely that you'll slide or roll off of the pad.

    And yes, if you're going to inflate the mattress using lung power, it's going to take a while but Big Agnes has a fix for that problem as well! The company makes a 10"X 20" rip stop nylon bag that tapers almost to a point at one end. The pointed end gets fixed around the air valve of the mattress and the top is open. In order to inflate the sleeping pad, you simply wave the bag through the air, to fill it with air () and then roll the top down and squeeze the trapped air into the mattress. Filling the mattress takes maybe three minutes and you won't even be breathing hard! The Big Agness "air pump" makes filling the mattress a breeze!

    When I fill my mattress in the evening, I fill it till it's pretty hard and then, once I'm in the sleeping bag, I open the air valve a little and deflate the mattress until it feels perfect to me. Same thing with the air pillow. I just love being able to adjust the comfort level to taste and the air mattress/ pillow combination makes it possible for me to ignore the occasional rough camp site.

    Tents:

    I bought the same tent that you have (Except that I paid full price!) and I really love mine. Those "two person" tents are actually about the right size for one person with a little gear, so next time I'm going to get a three person tent to provide myself with a bit more space. OTOH, I spent 6 weeks plus camping in mine and never felt deprived.

    You're right. The mesh is great! I even slept through several intense mountain rain storms, without feeling claustrophobic or having even a drop of water enter the tent.

    Using the tent:

    1st) It'll take you five or six times putting the tent up before you become comfortable putting it up in the dark. I found that laying out the ground cloth and then laying the tent out over that, made things a lot easier. I do remember once spending almost 40 minutes trying to erect the damn ground cloth but I was very tired. Whats your excuse?

    2nd) Once the tents up I get the sleeping bag together and toss that into the tent. I always sleep with my head to the left of th door and I stack my riding gear and tank bag in the right front corner.

    3rd) I remove the bags from my bike and stash then under the "rear" vestibule and leave my shoes and riding boots under the edge of the "front" vestibule.

    This way, if I need to get into a saddle bag during the night or if it's raining in the AM, I can simply zip open the rear door and everything is conveniently at hand and dry. Stashing the bags under the vestibule also keeps them out of sight and out of other peoples minds.

    4th) I also bought a package of REI's reflective tent rope. Using that for all of my tent and accessory cords makes finding my tent in the dark much easier and we all know that theres nothing as frustrating as tripping over your own tent pegs, while returning from the latrine.

    5th) I don't worry much about the small zippers used in my tent. Yes, they jam from time to time but If they break down, REI will probably replace the entire tent for free!

    The last thing that I'll say about my REI gear is this: I can fit my complete tent outfit with pegs, hammer, sleeping bag, mattress, pillow, repair kits, stove, cooking tools, a basic food stash, plus a bike cover, all into a medium size Dry Bag with room to spare. I like that!

  3. #3
    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mymindsok View Post
    Firstly, the usual covering cloth is slippery enough that I keep waking up at night because I've slid off of the pad.
    I can't agree more - fortunately the REI pad has a non-skid fabric that actually worked quite well.

    Quote Originally Posted by mymindsok View Post
    Big Agnes has a fix for that problem as well! The company makes a 10"X 20" rip stop nylon bag that tapers almost to a point at one end.
    Well well well, that would have changed things! It is called the Big Agnes Pumphouse and looks like REI only sells it online (still you'd think the sales people would know about it...) Since I bought the pad full price (and it is therefore returnable) I might have to give the Air Core another look - it does pack down to a quarter the size of the self-inflating pad plus it looks like the Pumphouse is not only a pump and stuffsack, but a pillow too.


    Quote Originally Posted by mymindsok View Post
    Whats your excuse?
    I had only set it up once before in the store, it was completely dark out, I was tired, it was threatening rain, I can dig up a few more Seriously, after figuring out that the whole thing is color-coded it was a breeze.

    Quote Originally Posted by mymindsok View Post
    4th) I also bought a package of REI's reflective tent rope.
    GREAT suggestion!

    Quote Originally Posted by mymindsok View Post
    5th)If they break down, REI will probably replace the entire tent for free!
    Unless you buy it for 70% off in the attic sale, then it is "all sales final" - not that I am complaining. I'd buy it again at either price in a heartbeat.

    Quote Originally Posted by mymindsok View Post
    The last thing that I'll say about my REI gear is this: I can fit my complete tent outfit with pegs, hammer, sleeping bag, mattress, pillow, repair kits, stove, cooking tools, a basic food stash, plus a bike cover, all into a medium size Dry Bag with room to spare. I like that!
    Yes, me too. I used to use the big waterproof REI River duffel when traveling with the big Bean's tent:

    It was one of the only big ones I could find at the time with handles to snake straps through.

    A lot has changed in 15 years - both the Marmot and REI tents are half or more the size of the Bean tent, sleeping big is easily half the size, etc. - now I use a much smaller Outdoor Research bag.
    Ted
    "A good stick is a good reason"
    1994 K75RT
    Moto Pages

  4. #4
    Douglas Williams
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    I've had the half-dome for 10 years and it has held up nicely. One feature I discovered, when packing in the rain to leave the VT MOA rally, is I could pack all my gear dry while in the tent and then dress in my rain gear. Then I stepped into the vestibule and unclipped the tent while leaving the rain fly in position. The tent packed up dry and only the fly was wet when I hit the road.
    Sent from a Galaxy, far, far away

  5. #5
    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted View Post
    Second - the included footprint is about an inch undersized, personally I prefer foorprints to be about an inch oversized. It is super durable, fits well and the color-coded common attachment points are great features, but it would be nicer to have the whole tent on the footprint rather than everything but the edge.
    If the footprint stick out beyond the edge of the tent any water that runs down the tent will be collected by the footprint, leaving a puddle between footprint and tent bottom. I learned that in the days when my footprint was a piece of blue tarp, not something made specifically for the tent.

  6. #6
    Registered User froggy's Avatar
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    +1.And if in slight depression it will scoop water under tent where U will now have a water bed.
    We drove all this way for a DEAD END ! My son!!!

    02 Silver RT1150 My 1st BMW Bike
    Craig

  7. #7
    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    Well you learn something new every day! I must confess, the Bean tent I have and have used much of the last 12 years is such a battle wagon I have never used a footprint or ground pad for it, it has still never leaked on me. The Marmot has a footprint but it seems to match up the tent pretty tightly, maybe 1/2" inside the outer perimeter. The REI version is a bit more than that.

    Thanks for the insight!

    As an aside - the Bean tent uses fiberglass poles, which are heavy and bulky and I worry about them snapping. Is there a place to get reasonably priced replacement poles for a tent?
    Ted
    "A good stick is a good reason"
    1994 K75RT
    Moto Pages

  8. #8
    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted View Post
    As an aside - the Bean tent uses fiberglass poles, which are heavy and bulky and I worry about them snapping. Is there a place to get reasonably priced replacement poles for a tent?
    http://www.polesforyou.com/ although I haven't a clue as to how reasonable the prices may be.

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