Tent Review: REI Quarter Dome 3

When I first started camping, I realized that Andrew’s old two man tent just wasn’t going to cut it for me.  The tent both narrowed and got way lower closer to your feet, which is fine, but only had an initial height of about 32″ – hardly enough to sit up.  It was also moderately heavy, at about 7 pounds.

In May of 2014, we purchased the REI Quarter Dome 3.


We love this tent! You can find it at REI here for $370.  We picked ours up during the anniversary sale last year when it was on sale for $300.  You get the tent, the rainfly, and some (crappy) stakes for your money.  I highly recommend the footprint ($35, or you can make your own).  We replaced the included stakes with some MSR Groundhogs that Andrew had used with an older tent.  For us, the total weight of this setup (tent, rainfly, footprint, stakes, stuff sacks, paracord for tie outs) is 5 lb 1.5 oz.  For the two of us, that’s a little over 2.5 lbs each, and if you were going to use it for three people, that puts you at a little over 1.5 lbs a person.

The best part of this tent is how roomy it is – for two people it’s an absolute treat.  It’d be tight with 3, but doable.



  • Large vestibules.  There’s two doors and two really generous vestibules at each one.  They each easily fit a full pack and pair of boots.  There’s also a vestibule at the “head” of the tent that has a zipper so you can access it from inside the tent itself.  If you have a third person, you could put a pack there.  We usually put our boots “behind” the tent because we wear camp shoes during the afternoon/evening and it keeps them out of the way.
  • Good gear space.  There’s a lot of pockets inside of the tent for easy access things like sleeping bag stuff sacks, Kindles, headlamps, and glasses.


  • High ceilings.  Andrew and I can sit face to face and play cards if it’s storming.
  • Good use of space.  The tent does narrow at the feet, but not much.  You can fit 3 20″ sleeping pads in the tent if you don’t mind being cozy, and 3 mummy ones would fit easily.


  • Rain performance and lack of condensation.  We had one night on the trail with a major thunderstorm and pouring rain.  We had kept the top zippered vent open when we went to sleep, and I felt a few drops on my face as the wind picked way up. I love that I was able to stick my arm out the top of the tent and quickly close it up.  After an hour or two, the rain had died down and it was starting to get a bit stuffy, so we opened the vent back up.  We must have had more than two inches of rain that night and the bottom and inside of the tent were comfortable and dry.  We’ve only had one day where there was any condensation in this tent, and it was below freezing that night.
  • Versatility.  This is another piece of gear that works great for both car camping and backpacking.  You can also do a “fast fly” with just the fly and the footprint.  We haven’t done that yet to actually sleep, though we did pitch the tent fly first when backpacking to avoid getting the inside of the tent wet in a rainstorm, which was great.
  • Easy setup.  One pole is kind of weird at first, but we’re experts now!  Check out a video below.  This was taken over the course of 6 minutes.



  • Durability.  This tent is extremely thin, which is how they made it so light.  A footprint is essential.
  • Awkward to carry.  The poles for the tent, because they all go to one hub, are slightly different sizes.  It can be really difficult to find the right spot for them in your pack, so we usually carry the poles separately.

Overall Opinion

  • If you don’t want to sacrifice weight or comfort, this is the tent for you.
  • It’s not the best for those who don’t care about weight – far too expensive if you don’t care.
  • This is one of my favorite pieces of gear that we own.  I’d buy it again in a heartbeat. 5/5.
  • Will we carry this on the JMT? Absolutely.


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13 thoughts on “Tent Review: REI Quarter Dome 3

  1. What a great review. I love the 360 degree view and the pictures with 2 sleeping mats, I can really see how much space I’ll have. I’ve been considering this tent and your review sealed the deal. REI should pay you royalties, ha. Thanks!

    • Glad you found the review useful! If you really want to give me a royalty (no pressure!), my referral link for REI is here. If you use this link, I’ll receive 6% of whatever you purchase over the next 30 days.

  2. I can NOT figure out how to get the three short poles to all attach to the rain fly. It just seems too tight. Any ideas?

    • Hey Carol,

      What I do is loosen the straps on the fly as much as possible (even wetting them if needed the first time) before trying to strap them in. I also work in an X pattern when putting on the fly. Hope this helps!

    • I had the same problem….I got the two side ones to snap in easy, it was the one in front that no matter what, I could not get it. I finally started by snapping that piece on first. It worked then.

    • TLDR: The grommets fit better one way than the other, flip them and try. The grommets will stack like cups or bowls if they all go on in the same ‘direction’. Order to put the grommets on the poles is tent, footprint, rain fly.

      The grommets on the pole attachments, that go over the ends of the poles have a preferred ‘up’ and ‘down’ side. Look at them and try snapping them on and off from both sides and you will see what I mean by this. The grommets kind of cup together if you put them all on the same way. If you are switching the preferred direction, they will take up too much room and won’t stack right on the ends of the poles.

      There is also an order to put the grommets onto the ends of the poles, and it makes sense if you think about it.
      The tent goes on the pole first, followed by the footprint, followed by the rain fly.

      The tent first. The tent and the poles are really one free standing structure. So they go together. The tent is useless without the poles. so tent and poles first.

      The foot print second. Sure you can use a sheet of plastic, a tarp or a sheet of Tyvek. Many people use their own groundsheet, no problem. You should always use a ground sheet or foot print to protect the bottom of your tent. If you are using the REI footprint made for this tent, it goes second because you won’t use the tent without it.

      Rain fly third. The rain fly is optional. Use it when it rains. Or when its a little cool outside to just leave the mesh sides exposed. It goes third because it is not always needed.

      If you are doing just the footprint, poles and rain fly pitch, then the order is different, of course. Then you attach footprint first and rain fly second.

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