User Review: REI Arete ASL 2 Tent
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Price Paid: Very good price
While I'd not call it bombproof, I will say that it will handle any conditions that I'm likely to subject it to including heavy snowfalls and high winds. It's roomy enough that if I'm stuck inside for a couple of days it won't fell like a coffin and the weight and price both fit my needs.
- Could use a bit more ventilation
I've had several winter tents from various tent makers and the REI Arete ASL 2 is as good as any of them but with less weight and a better price, especially since I always wait for a sale if possible. Like all REI tents (and most modern tents) the setup is easy and could be done in the dark in bad weather without error or confusion. Once setup and staked it's perfectly taut and stable.
It easily handles heavy loads of wet, clumped snow and it sheds Oregon rainstorms like a duck. The floor is a deep bathtub design and well seam-sealed. The vestibule is roomy enough for gear, boots, or cooking, though I've never had to cook in this vestibule. The vestibule, even when open, overhangs the tent door to prevent drips into the tent body. I will say that unless absolutely necessary I leave the vents in the tent body open. In cold, damp, windless weather condensation can occur, but that's the price for a secure tent. In my experience it's easy enough to regulate condensation but I have heard of others complaining about it.
It's roomy and bright inside (nothing worse than a dark-colored tent/fly in gloomy weather) with good headroom. The floor is 88x60 with 40 inches of headroom over a fairly broad area but with more space at the head/torso end of the tent. There are corner pockets, roof pockets and sewn-in loops to allow for storage.
The tent poles are larger and, I believe, slightly thicker-walled, than most 3-season tents. Of course that adds weight but it creates the strength that makes this a 3-4 season tent.
I had the 3-person version of the tent but when my wife opted out of snow camping I sold it to buy the 2-person model. Yes, I use a 2-person tent for myself because I like the room and am willing to carry the weight. The design of the two versions is exactly the same so I expect that this smaller tent will be as secure as the larger one. In any case, I have the ironclad REI warranty behind it.
The packaged size is, of course, larger than my 2-person Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2, but it's not enormous at 6x20 inches. With snow stakes the package is a little larger, and I often carry a couple of extra lengths of 1/8" guy rope just in case. (Some guy rope comes with the tent, along with a tent pole repair tube, decent non-snow stakes, and bags for the poles and the stakes.)