REI Arete ASL 2 Tent
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.)
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Price Paid: Very good price
Update on Nov 16, 2015:
I take extreme care of my tents with much drying after trips, loose storage in a bedroom of my house (not packed), poles fully extended, and as much care as possible on the trail. The seam tape on all the fly seams began to disintegrate. This caused a dust of seam-tape flakes with every gust of wind.
And of course it leaked like a sieve. It would be possible to seam seal the tent on the outside, but great effort would be needed to get all the old seam tape off to prevent your eyes and lungs from filling with this fine dust.
I scrapped this tent after 3 1/2 seasons of winter only use, being rotated with another winter tent that I have had for many, many years. I would not buy this tent again for more than $200. It did very well in high winds, light snow, and very heavy rain. All in all it was good for a strong and light tent, but it failed the test of time. End update.
Used several trips in mountains of SE. Nice tight tent. Had some strong gusts and some sideways rain and it was good to go. I stayed dry and the tent did very well at shedding 40 mph gusts.
Water did come in the upper vents from the sideways rain, but it was negligible. The nylon guy outs on the front vestibule loosened during the night, but it was a real rocker of a storm.
The zippers take two hands to operate because the fabric is not sewn just right, but I got in on sale so I'm okay with the less than perfect quality.
The floor is thin—use a ground sheet. I use an SOL two person emergency blanket on the inside of the floor (perfect fit) and a sheet of tyvek under the floor.
The body stays taut—it's actually difficult to get the poles in the sleeves. The fly is pretty tight and adequate guy outs.
Setup is easy. The fly-on feature works, but it's difficult. The velcro on the sleeves that matches to velcro on the fly can get pretty noisy when the tent is getting whipped all night by big winds. Humidity was not an issue.
It's dry, it works, listed weight is accurate—until you add enough stakes to use all the guy outs. I'd buy it again for $224 because it is a lot of tent for the weight.
Price Paid: $224 shipping incl
It was very good, while it lasted.
- Hits the sweet spot of versatility, capability, price, stability, size, and weight.
- 4-season capable for all but the worst mountaineering conditions
- Adequately ventilated
- Seam tape and fly coating disintegrated after a few years, despite infrequent use and always storing it dry. Had to throw it out.
I really liked this tent (I had the first of three updated versions, I think). It was the 'Goldilocks' sweet spot for me of a four-season-capable tent with more interior room than most two-person mountaineering tents, and better ventilation than most as well as lighter weight.
Was easy to set up, had good number of interior pockets, and decent vestibule space. The tradeoff was only one door, and fly not going completely to the ground, so would let wind and spindrift blow under there in storms. I found the colors also pleasing and relaxing. After previously having red or orange tents, while they are easier to see in a storm or while descending from a climb, living in them for any length of time messes up the color balance of your vision (everything looks blue), and has a stressful feeling.
After using the tent probably less than a dozen nights in total over five years, the fly and floor of the tent just fell apart. The seam tape disintegrated, causing all of the velcro attachment points for the poles on the fly to fall off, the clear window to fall off the fly, and a huge storm of plastic flakes to get on everything, and complete loss of waterproofness. In addition, the coating on the fly became sticky and began peeling.
I've read numerous accounts, including reviews on REI's site, of others with the same problem. I'm now faced with the decision whether to ever trust REI again to have improved their materials, and update to the latest v3 version of this tent, but it may be too risky, now that the REI has gotten rid of its lifetime warranty.
I owned it for 6-7 years, used it on numerous trips in all four seasons, and have used many other tents for decades.
Source: bought it new
Nice tent for the weight, but a little on the thin side. The fabric is just OK and not as durable as high end tents...however the weight is saved.
- Very good in windy conditions
- Packs small
- Four-season for price of a three
- Thin material
- Entrance door on fly is tight
- Stakes and guy lines cheap
Overall worth the money. Lightweight, pretty durable, good quality, and REI one-year warranty. The cheap stakes (not enough) and guy ropes are a joke. I replaced them immediately.
Using the vestibule entrance with two people is a pain because it's small. Nice that it has plenty of room inside for two and the packed size and weight are worth the money. Material is thinner than most four-season tents, so I will have to see how it holds up.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $326
My go-to winter tent for two.
- Reasonable weight
- Easy to pitch
- Need more stakes
This has been my tent for winter camping in the White Mtns for the past three years. It has been a reliable shelter with no issues, although I only camp below tree-line.
It is easy to pitch from the front side only, and the fly can remain attached while you pitch, so that the tent can be mostly covered if it's snowing. The venting is as efficient as it can be, and you only ever need to guy out two points for the best results. The fabric shows little sign of wear and it's easy to clean.
This tent fits two and some gear comfortably, and it has plenty of headroom. You do have to knock the snow from the fly before you exit the vestibule, but that goes for most tents. For the weight and price, this tent has been exactly what I needed, even before I knew exactly what that was.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: ~$200
Just got the Arete with the 30% off REI gear sale. I set it up inside with no problems. It actually seems bigger than expected but still will be cozy for two guys which is a tradeoff for the weight.
Can't wait to try it this winter in Big Bear or the Sierras. More after I really test it.
Price Paid: $200
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Historic Range: $169.93-$449.00
Reviewers Paid: $200.00-$326.00
|Minimum Trail Weight||
5 lbs 10 oz
6 lbs 5 oz
6 x 6 x 20 in
88 x 57/60/44 (L x W head/shoulder/foot) in
32.9 sq ft
8.7 sq ft
|Number of Doors||
|Number of Poles||