REI Quarter Dome T3 Tent Review

REI Quarter Dome T3 Tent Review

Up until a couple of years ago, I had always slept in cheap tents. You know, the kind you can buy at Target for $30 (or $60 if you’re going for the really “nice” one). These had always done the trick for the basic weekend getaways, and even worked just fine for winter camping when we were able to drag it in on a sled.

The last straw was when we hiked the Pow Wow Trail in 2010 with our cheap old tent. The weight had been fairly inconsequential when we threw it in the canoe in previous years, but hauling that massive thing on our backs while walking 30 miles made us see the light. That tent was just too heavy for the BWCA, and we couldn’t put off getting a more lightweight model any longer.

For years we had been eyeing the Mutha Hubba tent from REI. We had looked at them in the store about a dozen times (yes, that’s excessive, but we were broke college kids and buying a nice tent on a whim was out of the question), and decided that a three-person backpacking tent would be ideal for the two of us. We, by the way, is my husband and I. This would give us enough space for the two of us to lie down, and also to keep some of our gear inside the tent with us. I’m also a bit claustrophobic, so super small tents with no room to move around just won’t work for me. A three-person tent also fits nicely on most tent pads in the Boundary Waters, as well as Minnesota state parks.

REI dome tent green

Size of the Tent

The photo above is our REI Quarter Dome T3 tent set up in the Boundary Waters. We ended up choosing this tent over the Mutha Hubba simply because it was on a great sale, and it was similar enough. This tent, much like standard backpacking three-person tents, could fit three people if everyone lays straight and side by side. There would not be a great deal of wiggle room, and extra gear certainly couldn’t fit in there with you.

We keep most of our gear (other than our food and other smelly things, which we hang in a tree), in the vestibule. As long as you set the tent up in a high area where the water won’t be flowing down across the path of your tent, the stuff you keep out there should stay mostly dry from the rain. On stormy nights, or nights that are rainy and windy, things under there could get a little moist. This is the point where waterproof bags come in handy.

REI Quarter Dome T3 tent without fly

Ease of Set-up

This tent really is a breeze to set up. Especially compared to the cheap, heavy tents of the past. One of my favorite features is that the poles are interconnected and practically set themselves up. If you take the poles out of the bag and hold them up, they start clicking together in a very pleasing manner. Of course, a little bit of help is needed but this is negligible.

One person can easily set the tent up alone. I have done so many times, and it takes me less than 10 minutes if I’m being leisurely about it.


We have sat in the tent during many nights of rain and a few storms during the last couple of years, and it has not leaked on us yet. The fly can pull down tightly to the ground, which helps prevent splash-back from water hitting the ground and bouncing inside the tent.


The fabric of the tent is made of ripstop nylon. We have not tested it against excessive force, but it has not ripped on us yet. The design of the poles and tent make it stand up to wind very well. We have slept in it during some fairly strong storms, and the tent has not flattened on us or leaked (like we have experienced with the cheaper tents we had purchased from Target). I also appreciate that the poles are made of aluminum (actually, Aluminum DAC Featherlite NSL); in the past I have had poles sliver apart on my and painfully embed shards into my skin – these poles have never broken, bent, or splintered.

sunrise in the BWCA from inside REI tent


Especially when compared to the size and weight of the tent we used to carry around, the weight of this tent is practically negligible at 4 lbs, 11 oz. If even that is too heavy, you can purchase the footprint (below) and use it along with the poles and stakes for a more lightweight option. We are very pleased with how well it packs down, and easily fits inside one of our packs.


REI sells a “footprint” that goes underneath the tent. It is the size of the tent and folds up compactly. We personally do not use this, but use a small tarp instead to save some money. If space becomes more of an issue, we may need to invest in this in the future.

REI Quarter Dome T3 Footprint REI Quarter Dome T3 FootprintThe REI Quarter Dome T3 footprint extends the life of your tent by protecting the floor from abrasion and excess wear and tear. It is sized a bit smaller than the tent floor to prevent water from pooling underneath the tent during rainy weather. Webbing stake-outs at corners provide easy attachment.

Buy this tent from REI! See the information below.

REI Quarter Dome T3 Tent

REI Quarter Dome T3 Tent

The REI Quarter Dome T3 is a freestanding tent that pioneers innovative architecture to keep weight low, ensure high interior volume and bolster strength and stability. Rectangular floor plan makes it easy to arrange sleeping bags and gear, and allows efficient use of space. REI-exclusive Tension Truss enhances structural stability and prevents deformation in the wind. Advanced frame design maximizes headroom, interior volume and strength. Combi Poles of different diameter and stiffness create room around head and shoulders where it’s most useful. High interior volume and low overall weight is provided through the use of lightweight materials and the DAC NSL hubbed poleset. Pole clips provide quick and easy tent set-up. Windproof, breathable perimeter fabric blocks dust and sand from blowing in under the fly. Dry Entry vestibule offers convenient access and ample storage capacity. Fully adjustable, high-level vents mitigate condensation, drawing cool air under the fly from the lower perimeter and exhausting warm, moist air. Silicone-treated, lightweight ripstop nylon fly stays taut in the rain while keeping you dry. Bathtub floor with seam-sealed corners ensures waterproof protection. No-Wick welded construction ensures that moisture won’t wick through susceptible areas such as guyout points, pole wraps or zippers. REI Quarterdome T3 tent offers multiple interior storage options provided by various combinations of mesh side pockets and hang loops located throughout. Includes tapered, easy-to-stuff compression stuff sack, 6 stakes, 4 guylines and tighteners, pole repair tube, pole and stake bags. Fly/footprint minimalist pitch option allows the fly, poles and footprint (sold separately) to be combined into a lightweight shelter without the tent itself.

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1 Comment

  1. the seed
    May 23, 2013

    Two heavy-duty tarps, some rope, stones to weight the corners and a little know how and you have a tent that is lightweight, easy to manage and durable enough for all climates. A fool could build one with ease. I always take more than one tarp so that I can cover the ground with one and then attach the two tarps at the edges by rolling them together.

    You can also fit several people into and under such constructions. You can fold most tarps into a 12inchX12inch squares or roll them into tight bundles like bedrolls. Also, if you are in an area that has a lot of tree cover and fallen timber you can use that to make a prop to drape your tarps over homemade frames.

    Another good practice is to use a natural rock formation/outcropping or dugout and build the tent over them for added protection from the elements.

    Tarps are cheap and not as bulky as tents with all the accessories or what I like to call “headaches”. If you want to be able to carry more without the added bulk I suggest incorporating tarps into your camping pack. They are cheap, weather proof (in most cases) and you don’t have to worry about them being torn or losing needless equipment or accessories.

    You could also learn the art of building a lean-too and incorporating your tarps into your construction. I have been camping out in the wilderness for most of my life and when I was a boy, my grandfather never used a tent. We always used tarps, rolls of plastic or we constructed lean-toos or small huts/hovels from the surround substrate and then incorporate the tarps/plastic into the construction.

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