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REI Camp Dome 4

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: REI Camp Dome 4 three-season tent

This is a five star family camping tent!


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to set up
  • Spacious for two people
  • Storm worthy


  • Door design

I have car camped in this tent for about five years and have used it on several touring trips around Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. It is inexpensive, roomy, well-ventilated, easy to set up, and moderately storm-worthy.

Prior to buying this tent, I camped eleven years in its predecessor — the REI Family Dome 4 — and considered it to be an excellent family camping tent. I decided to write this review because I think the Camp Dome 4 deserves more than the four star rating given by the other three reviewers. Since other reviewers have noted many of its positive features, I'll focus my comments on their expressed cons of the tent.

Vestibules: I have camped in several other tents with vestibules and now prefer tents without them. My wife and I do not need vestibules because we can easily store all of our clothing and personal items inside the tent. We usually leave our dirty clothes and boots in the car overnight because they smell bad. We have found that opening and closing vestibules several times a day is a hassle and the rain fly usually soaks your clothing when you try to get out of the tent after a storm. 

We have found that vestibules typically reduce the door height and make the tent harder to enter and exit. We have also found that tents with vestibules require more time to set up and more time to pack up. This fact makes them less desirable when traveling long distances and making several overnight camps. The primary purpose of the vestibule is to withstand strong wind and rain, but in many years of camping I have only once experienced such strong stormy conditions and the older Family Dome (without a vestibule) stood the test well.

Finally, vestibules increase the cost of the tent and make them semi-free-standing rather than free-standing tents.

Pockets: Granted, other tents have many more pockets and tent reviewers always want more of them. But I don't understand what campers put in the pockets? I will usually put small cords used to tie up our air mattresses in a pocket but other than that, we don't use them. Overnight, I put my glasses and headlight in the corner nearest my head so that I can easily find them in the dark.

I stuff most of my clothes in a medium stuff sack and use it as a pillow. I put my medicine, book, iPod and water bottle on the side floor near my shoulder. My shower bag packed for the next day goes near my feet. In the past, when I tried to put more stuff in the pockets, the weight of the stuff made the side wall sag and I was afraid that the weight would tear the material. Plus, I had to empty all of the contents every time I needed to get one thing out of the pocket.

My only complaint (and it is a small one) is that the door drops to the floor when open rather than hanging from the side.

In conclusion, of ten tents I have used in my lifetime for casual camping in state and national parks, I would rate this Camp Dome 4 as one of the two best.  

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $200

Finally, someone else shares my sentiment that lack of a vestibule is an advantage. I completely agree with each of the reasons given. This tent is exceptionally easy to set up and, even more importantly, to take down and pack up. After a day of travel and in need of an easy camp set-up, this tent is perfect. 

I have never understood why car campers, especially, think a vestibule is necessary. We've had them on other tents, and while they may serve a purpose in wet weather, they are a lot of extra bother. The extra work makes setting up camp start to feel like more of a chore than it needs to be, especially on long trips.

This summer at Lewis & Clark State Park in Montana, we set up the tent in fierce winds. The poles were caving in and we were afraid they might break. But we used guy lines and the tent held just fine, and the poles maintained their shape afterwards.

The Camp Dome 4 is so pleasant to sleep in. The two doors/windows and mesh allow good ventilation and easy in-and-out for two people. We put a wool blanket on the floor for warmth. The height is adequate for standing to change clothes in this compact tent. It is luxurious for two people, and we are quite happy with our decision to purchase this simple, well-made tent.


Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $180

Great family camping tent. Stable, protective, durable.


  • Strong
  • Keeps out elements
  • Non-obtrusive look
  • Easy setup

This was my first family tent. We bought it for a Yellowstone trip when we had one, then even with our second child. It fit two trifold mats, one regular self-inflating Thermarest, and a Phil and Teds pack and play. It kept us warm and dry, and made me feel truly domesticated.  

This is a great starter tent for those who want to car camp without having to break the bank or take a class in tent design and assembly. Two poles for the body, one for the fly, and a square-bottomed dome tent. Two doors, mesh all around, no-nonsense. Leave it to REI to get it right over and over again with a no-frills classic.

Perfect for car camping.

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $100

I used this tent as a rental from REI. I was VERY impressed with it. Even though we are novice campers, my partner and I were able to set it up quickly and easily. We even found ourselves caught in a "severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado" and I won't lie, there were some scary moments, but as far as the tent went, NO water inside at all.

We were really impressed with this tent. It was just spacious enough for two adults, a Boston Terrier, and all our stuff.

My only complaints are that there aren't quite as many pockets on in the inside as I'd like (there are 4), and I think I'd prefer an "entryway" on a tent I own.

Sleeps: 4
Ease of Setup: easy for two novices
Price Paid: $50 Rental

Bought it used with the footprint. Is easy to set up and has good ventilation. Held up good in a thunderstorm and soaking rain. Sleeps 2-3 with some gear, 4 is cramped.
Only complaint is that there is no vestibule with the rain fly.

Design: three seaon
Sleeps: 4
Ease of Setup: easy
Weight: approx. 8.5 lbs
Price Paid: $125

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Price MSRP: $199.00
Historic Range: $138.93-$199.00
Reviewers Paid: $100.00-$200.00
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