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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Review: Nemo bikepacking sleep gear

Words and photos by Adam Newman

Bikepackers and cycle tourists have been using traditional backpacking and camping gear for ages, but Nemo’s new trio might be the first aimed specifically at bike riders. What makes it “bike touring specific”? Not much to be honest. These three products are essentially just variations on tried and true designs that work for both wheeled and foot travel.

Apollo 3P bikepacking tent – $300

While it’s rated for three people, it’s also big enough to fit yourself and your bike, provided the bike is laying on its side. If you want to get creative, you could tie it off to the bike’s handlebars or some other fixed point to get you a little more headroom. On its own the Apollo is tall enough to sit up in, a non-negotiable feature in any sleep setup if you ask me. It’s not freestanding of course, but it is super simple to pitch with the included center pole, which is itself adjustable, so you can fine-tune the tension on the guy lines. The body is 15D Sil-Nylon in a light green that can help you blend in if you’re stealth camping on a bike tour.

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At 1 pound 5 ounces the Apollo is quite light for its size (57 square feet), but it achieves that weight by trading off some features, notably a floor. Now the Moonwalk bag is designed to go directly on the ground— more on that in a bit—but one of the key elements of a sleep system, to me, is the floor. Sure, if you want to sleep under the stars on a clear night, you could just use the Apollo as a ground sheet, but when it rains the moisture doesn’t hit the ground and magically disappear.

Let’s say it’s been raining all day, the ground is muddy and soft, and you need to set up shelter. A tarp will keep the rain off your noggin, but you’re forced to sit on the soaking wet ground. And put your stuff on the ground. And make your dinner on the wet ground. You get the idea. I’d be really interested if there was a ground sheet shaped to match the outline of the Apollo’s five-sided footprint.

These criticisms are not limited to the Apollo and indeed apply to all tarp setups, so I can’t be too critical of its execution. If you are a tarp user, you’ll like the Apollo. I’ve always been a big fan of tarps—that is until I discovered ultralight tents.

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Moonwalk down sleeping bag – $280

Because the Apollo has no floor, you wouldn’t want to put your nice sleeping bag right on the ground would you? Well, the Moonwalk has you covered with its waterproof, bathtub ground panel built in. If things get a little soggy, the down insulation will stay dry, and you’ll stay warm. Down also packs much smaller than synthetic insulation, and if you’ve ever crammed 40 liters of stuff into a 10 liter pannier, you’ll appreciate that. The down is also treated to be more water repellent with a product known as Down-Tek. It’s ethically sourced, environmentally friendly and weightless.

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I put the Moonwalk to the test through a week-long expedition through the mountains of British Columbia and tested everything to the limits of its waterproofness. Even when my shelter became saturated and began dripping all over me during the endless rain, the Moonwalk kept me comfortable. It’s rated to 30 degrees, and I feel that’s a pretty accurate temperature rating. At 2 pounds 2 ounces its weight is competitive but not ultralight by any means.

I appreciated the integrated sleeping pad sleeve that prevents you from rolling off the pad during the night and cuts down on the amount of annoying noise it generates from sliding around. I would have liked a pillow pocket of some kind, but I found that I could shove my puffy coat into the pad sleeve and it would mostly stay put where I wanted it.

While I DO recommend the Moonwalk as an all-purpose sleeping bag, I DON’T like the idea of putting it directly on the ground. Why? Because I go out of my way to keep my sleeping bag clean so I can limit the amount of times it needs to be washed. If you’re putting it right on the soggy ground, it’s going to have to be washed every single time. You can’t just throw a down sleeping bag in the hamper with your gym socks, so I try to avoid it at all costs.

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Escape Pod 1P bivy – $120

Because the Apollo tarp has no lining it can’t keep out the creepy crawlies that seem to bother so many folks about the outdoors. Nemo’s answer is the Escape Pod bivy that slips over your head and down around the mouth of your sleeping bag. Like Nemo’s other bivy bags, it uses an inflatable beam rather than a pole to keep the material up off your face. Unlike other bags, it is mesh-only and doesn’t offer any protection from the elements.

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I gotta say, this thing just left me shaking my head. If bugs and stuff are a concern, just use a regular tent. Maybe there’s a chance you’re going somewhere that has killer, blood-sucking mosquitos and you need something just in case, but you’re still better off going with a fully lined shelter that has room to sit up, change your clothes, cook food, etc. There’s only one thing you can do with the Escape Pod and that’s sleep. As long as you don’t move in your sleep, that is, and knock it over or get your arms caught up in it or whatever.

I think this is a solution in search of a problem.

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