Review: REI 1-person tent, sleeping bag and pad

Start dreaming of spring and camping season with this long-term review of a 1-person tent, sleeping bag and pad from REI. 

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REI Co-op Quarter Dome 1 Tent

Price: $279

The REI Co-op Quarter Dome 1 is a 1-person, 3-season tent. If you are in the market for a tent or know someone who is, this tent should be on your short list to consider. After a long-term review period and multiple nights in the 2017 model REI Quarter Dome 1 tent, here is my assessment.

The packed weight on the entire tent is 2lbs 14oz, with a packed size of 6 x 18.5 inches in its bag. You can drop that weight down if you individually pack just the tent body, rainfly and poles taking it to a trail weight of 2lbs 7oz.

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The color-coded poles and buckles made this tent very easy to set up. I had it complete in 5 minutes with no experience with last years model. The aluminum tent poles are robust and snap together easily, attaching to the grommets without a struggle. The rain fly attachment is also color-coded and has buckles making it simple to attach and adjust tension.

The main vestibule is large enough to store my bags, a little gear and there is also a small area on the non-door side of the tent that can be used to free up a little space if needed. The inside area gives enough room in the tent for sleeping pad and bag, nightly clothes, a few nighttime gadgets, plus my labrador-mixed-breed dog. With floor dimensions of 88 x 35/27 (L x W head/foot) inches, the footbox has enough room to accommodate said dog, or make things a bit more roomy if you’re sleeping solo. The peak height on the QD is 42 inches and I’ve seen a 6’3″ person sit-up completely in it.

This tent stayed dry through heavy rains and without the rain fly on, it opened the opportunity on a clear night to enjoy the sky. REI continues to work on improving their outdoor gear and the changes from last year’s model such as the increased height, color-coded poles, wider doors, more stash pockets, and rainfly buckle replacing grommets made for a nice improvement to this particular domicile.

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REI Co-op Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad

Price: $99.00 – $119.00
Sizes: Long (reviewed), Long Wide, Regular, Regular Wide

A good sleeping pad can go a long way after a full-day biking adventure. The REI Co-op Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad surprised me with how comfortable it is. The pad uses multiple inflating pockets that result in the pad feeling stable and not bouncy. The down-side to this comfort is lack of rigidity – if you’re putting down clothes on uneven ground to even out your sleep area, the pad will bend around the items rather than remain horizontal like more rigid pads. But no matter the surface I slept on with this pad, the two-inches of cushion gave me a comfortable sleeping experience.

The sleeping pad weights 15 oz and has an R-value of 3.7. An R-value is a way to measure a materials thermal resistance. For example, a winter-ready sleeping pad R-value would be a 4.9. So, if you encounter snow this pad will be a little on the cold side, so pack extra clothes to put underneath. The Flash has separate inflate and deflate valves, making this pad super easy to use. About 17-20 good puffs will get this pad fully inflated. With the two valves, you can add air to this pad while you are laying on it and not have it deflate. Just make sure not to pull the deflate side.

The pad is 30 denier polyester which can be a little concerning if you’re sleeping on bare rocks or under a bivvy. I intentionally attempted to put a few holes in the pad and failed to do so. I could see over time a few holes appearing, but with good care, this pad should last a while. Know that a patch kit is NOT included with the Flash.

Overall this pad is comfortable, low weight, has good warmth retention, and excellent valves, making this a contender in three-season pad choices. Make sure to purchase that patch kit and if you find yourself sleeping on slopes a lot maybe look for a more rigid pad.

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REI Co-op Magma 17 Sleeping Bag – Women’s
Price: $349.00 -$369.00
Sizes: Long, Regular (reviewed)

The new REI Magma women’s sleeping bag went on many adventures this year for a long-term review. Let’s start with the biggest draw with this bag, the price. REI’s Magma sleeping bag series costs nearly $100 less than similar bags on the market.

The Magma is 850-fill water-resistant down with a Pertex Quantum shell bringing the bag comfort rating to 17 degrees. Note that the men’s version of this bag is rated at a lower limit of 10-degrees, the women’s is rated at 3-degrees. So the women’s bag is warmer than the men’s and that is because women tend to cool down quicker than men. The hood of the bag wraps around your face like a cocoon and there is even enough room for a pillow. Along with the overall softness of the bag, there is a yoke under the chin to really ensure cold air doesn’t sneak in.

The Magma comes with a mesh storage sack and a nylon stuff bag. If you are bikepacking and need every inch of space I would recommend picking up a compression sack. The regular size bag weighs in at 2lbs 4oz and fits up to 66″. The Long size weight is 2lbs 6oz and fits up to 72″ in length. Overall impressions of the Magma are that it is comfortable, warm, and affordable. The only concern I had with the sleeping bag is the lack of a double-layer outer shell which could potentially reduce moisture protection and affect the long-term lifespan of the bag. With that said, I have been using this bag almost all of the past year with zero complaints, just sweet dreams.

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First Impression: REI Co-Op ARD 1.2

Adventure outlet REI is ushering in spring 2017 with their new bike line, Co-op Cycles. This new line of bicycles increases their focus on adventure products by placing a slightly increased emphasis on the popular, and growing, segment of gravel and adventure inspired bikes. Feedback from a co-op members survey directed REI’s decision making after it was determined that members were looking to purchase bikes for adventure, freedom and fun. Sounds good to me.

Select representatives from the cycling and outdoor industry were invited to kick the tires on the new offerings and do a short mixed surface bikepacking overnight in the outskirts of Austin, Texas. Part of the Austin REI team led the ride on paved and gravel county roads, giving riders the full experience on the Co-Op ARD 1.2, their all-around, gravel/adventure bicycle.

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Men’s Co-Op ARD 1.2

Women's Co-Op ARD 1.2

Women’s Co-Op ARD 1.2

The ARD 1.2 represents the middle-of-the-road option in terms of trim and pricing. It features an aluminum frame with a carbon fork, Shimano 105 drivetrain, TRP Spyre-C dual piston mechanical disc brakes, rack mounts and a front thru-axle.

The bike comes stock with 28mm tires and a generous amount of room for fenders. For this ride, the ARD 1.2 was set up with beefier 35mm tires as we made our way through some thicker dirt and gravel areas. There is still a fair amount of clearance with the 35mm tires, but REI doesn’t recommend using fenders with tires larger than 28mm.

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The ARD 1.2 was capable of riding through a variety of terrain and was just fun to ride. The Shimano 105 2×11 drivetrain offered enough of a range to see me up and over most of what Texas hill country could dish out and the carbon fork helped dampen front impacts while remaining stiff and light.

While I don’t often ride drop bars bikes, I really enjoyed my (relatively brief) time on the ARD 1.2. It handled both smooth, flat asphalt stretches and sketchy, gravels descents with equal predictability and seemed up for just about anything else I might want to throw at it.

Photo courtesy of REI

Photo courtesy of REI

Available in men’s and women’s sizing, The Co-Op ARD 1.2  will set you back $1,299. If this is a little rich for your blood, Co-Op offers a more reasonably priced (the Co-Op ARD 1.1) model which goes for $849. Of course, the componentry is not as robust as the 1.2, but that is pretty typical when the price drops on a bike (top tip!).

There are also two higher priced carbon models. The ARD 1.3 has a carbon frame and fork, is equipped with Shimano Tiagra components and is priced at $1,799. The most pricey model is the full carbon ARD 1.4, which comes with American Classic wheels and weighs in at 19lbs 1.1oz(!) and will set you back $2,299.

Photo courtesy of REI

Photo courtesy of REI

I walked away impressed with the Co-Op ARD 1.2 and feel like REI really took their members’ feedback to heart. This bike is a great choice for a wide range of cyclists who are looking for a moderately priced adventure bike.

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First Impression: Novara Mazama

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Every day is a good day for an adventure bike! This one comes to us by way of REI. Say hello to the steel Novara Mazama, designed for bikepacking, grinding gravel and all of your off-the-beaten-path adventures. It seems to work well on the plain-old road too, just in case you were wondering.

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At first blush, this is a pretty great bike. It’s got most of the things I’m looking for in a commuter/hauler/adventure buddy: 40c tires, three bottle cage mounts, a comfortable saddle, lots of gears (30 if you’re counting), mounts for fenders and racks and disc brakes.

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It does have some slightly odd handlebars, though. Not quite sure how I feel about them yet. Right now I can’t get into a super comfortable position with them, but time will tell.

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The Mazama does have bar-end shifters, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. You are, aren’t you?

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Another cool feature with the Mazama is the Head Block turn limiter. Basically it limits the turning radius of the stem so that your bars don’t come in contact with the frame.

It will be interesting to see how functional it is in real world use, or if it’s just a pain in the long run. So far, it makes a lot of sense.

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Among other thoughtful component choices, Novara went with TRP Spyre mechanical discs matched up to 160 mm rotors. TRP designs the Spyres so that both pads are brought into contact with the rotor with the same force, allowing for more even wear. The pads are pretty easy to adjust as well. They have provided ample braking force on a few commutes and an excursion along the singletrack near my house.

I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time in the saddle and reporting back in a future issue of Bicycle Times how it all went. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss it, or all the other great content we’ve got lined up!

 

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