REI's Quarterdome Tent: Is It Really 2-Person?
One of the downsides of aging is your body doesn't always agree with your mind. As a teen and 20-something, carrying 40-45 pounds on my back up and over mountain after mountain after mountain wasn't that big of a deal. These days, though, it's a VERY big deal. And while mind often thinks it's up to the task, my body doesn't hasten to say, 'No way!'
So, when it came to transforming into a lightweight backpacker or not packing at all, I decided lightweight was a very good thing. One of my first steps in this direction was to add Osprey's Aether 70 backpack to my gear den. Weighing just 4 pounds, 12 ounces and carrying 4,400 cubic inches of gear, this seemed to me a very good place to start my transformation into a lightweight packer.
The next major step was a lightweight tent, one that preferably could sleep me and my wife. Well, I scored on the first count, but I'm not so sure on the second.
REI's Quarterdome tent ($209 MSRP) is definitely lightweight, adding barely 4 pounds to my pack. But while the floor measures 85 inches by 52 inches, seemingly enough space for two bodies, it's pretty much a cram for a 6-foot-tall guy and his 5'7" wife, particularly when you add miscellaneous items such as headlamps, fleece shirts for pillows, water bottles for that midnight slurp, bear spray and what not.
Of course, my wife won't complain, as she sleeps cold and prefers my arms around her. Me, on the other hand, I sleep hot and like to sprawl. As a result, the Quarterdome is not a very good home on the range for us. A better solution for us is taking a larger, almost twice-as-heavy two-person tent -- Sierra Design's Meteor Light CD - and splitting the weight between our packs.
That said, the Quarterdome is a very nice, roomy, solo tent. It sets up quickly, thanks in part to the dead-end pole system in which one end of each pole sleeve is closed so you merely slide the pole in until it stops and then insert the other end into the grommet. For dummies, they even color red the end of the pole that goes into the sleeve.
Velcro strips allow you to leave the rainfly on at all times. As a bonus, you can roll the rainfly up halfway, allowing not only great ventilation through the mesh ceiling and side walls but also starry views.
There are two decent pockets near the head of the tent for small items, and loops along the ceiling for tying a clothes line, hanging a candle lantern or flashlight, or installing a gear loft. Now, the additional footprint ($25 MSRP) does add 8 ounces to your weight, but that's a reasonable burden to bear to extend the life of your tent.
Bottom line? Great solo tent, not-so-great two-person abode.