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Hands-on Gear Review
REI Passage 2 Review
Cons: Cheap materials, weak poles and stakes
Bottom line: An inexpensive tent that will not withstand extreme weather; we recommend car camping in sheltered locations.
The Passage is REI's budget model for people who are looking for an entry level tent. It is roomy and comfortable, as well as easy to set up. We would hesitate to take it anywhere with strong winds as its poles are notoriously weak. We would encourage you to spend the extra money for the REI Half Dome 2+ for a much higher quality tent.
Check out our full Backpacking Tent Review to see how these tents compare to others. Consider an Ultralight Tent for ultralight backpacking.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Backpacking Tents of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
A great tent for car and backyard camping, the Passage is too heavy and not strong enough to bring with you into the backcountry.
The Passage is a roomy, comfortable tent for two. Its dimensions are 90x54, quite large in comparison to some of our lighter backpacking models although we think the NEMO Galaxi 2 is even more comfortable. The Passage has plenty of head room and two roomy vestibules to store any extra gear when it's wet outside. The fly has "pop vents" for extra ventilation.
We think this tent's two small pockets are inadequate because they are a strange, triangle shape that allows items to fall right out of them. We love the REI Half Dome 2+'s huge pockets. We also find the vestibule zippers rather large and feel very conspicuous getting out of the tent in the middle of the night to use the facilities when you have neighbors around.
As soon as we got our hands on the Passage's poles, we knew not to ever take this tent somewhere it would be exposed to high winds. It comes with no-name poles that are a skinny diameter and do not inspire confidence. The hubbed, high quality poles that come with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX and the Half Dome 2+ seem much more sturdy. When we used the Passage we were in sheltered, wooded area but there have been several reports in user reviews online of poles bending and breaking in high winds.
We did experience some precipitation in the Passage and it did a good job keeping the rain out. Although we suspect that in a torrential downpour some splash-back may get in the sides, unless you guy out the side point which does not come with line attached.
Weight and Packed Size
This contender is the 3rd heaviest tent we tested, weighing in at 5 lbs, 6.1 ounces. As we mentioned it is too heavy for backpacking and we would reach for the light weight NEMO Blaze 2p or the MSR FreeLite 2 instead. It has artistic mesh/nylon paneling in the body which looks nice, but could contribute to how heavy it is, as well as its low quality materials.
The Passage is the easiest tent to set up in this review. It has just 2 crossed poles and then you stake out the two side doors. All of the other tents in this review have at least one more step, if not many for a perfect pitch including the Half Dome and The North Face Storm Break. The Passage is extremely straightforward to pitch.
The Passage has heavy, abrasion resistant coated polyester materials that are probably quite durable. However, with most cheap tent materials this polyurethane (PU) material is subject to degrading and breaking down over time. The Hilleberg Anjan 2 has extremely light weight but durable materials including high qulity silicone nylon coated fabrics and sturdy poles. Check out our Buying Advice Article for more details on this process. As we mentioned the Passage's poles are not very strong and are susceptible to breaking easily in high winds — so not very durable.
We would recommend this tent for fair weather campers. Car, backyard and paddle trips where it will be set up in a sheltered location are best.
At $150, the Passage is the cheapest tent in this review, and we mean this in all respects. We would rather pay slightly more for a product like the REI Half Dome 2+ and get a product that will last us much longer and is more reliable when the weather gets bad.
If you are looking for a super cheap, roomy tent to set up in your backyard for your kids to play in, this could be a good choice. We would not take the Passage out on any trip that we were expecting windy weather but this could be a good choice for summer camping trips in the woods. We were disappointed, (but not surprised) in the quality of this tent's poles and stakes based on the price point of the Passage.
— Jessica Haist
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