A seriously lightweight tent from REI? Yes indeed. The REI-branded Dash 2 is the lightest two-person double wall tent REI has ever made, and amazingly it enters new territory with a claimed minimum weight of just 2 lbs 7 oz (1.11 kg), and it has two side entry doors with vestibules.
Nowadays, a two-person double wall tent is the shelter of choice for couples lightweight backpacking, so it's important to recognize that this review of the Dash 2 is written from that perspective. In contrast, ultralight backpackers commonly prefer a single wall shelter made of a very lightweight fabric or Cuben Fiber, often supported by trekking poles.
We have learned to be suspicious when a two-person double wall tent is claimed to be "lightweight" or "ultralight". Some manufacturers simply re-label a tent, like claiming a 4 to 5 lbs (1.81 to 2.27 kg) tent to be "ultralight" (yeah, right!), and some manufacturers make their tents lighter by making them smaller with less floor space and headroom, or eliminating features like a second door. Thus, a discriminating buyer needs to carefully evaluate factors like floor dimensions and area, headroom, and number of entry doors. For a two-person tent, its desirable to have floor dimensions of at least of 86 in (218cm) long x 50 in (127 cm) wide, and 40 in (102 cm) of headroom. More is better. And two entry doors with vestibules are highly desirable in a two-person tent.
The Dash 2 is a good example of an emerging trend - we are now seeing very functional and livable two-person double wall tents in the 2.5 lbs (1.13 kg) weight range. Previously we raved about a 3 lbs (1.36 kg) tent in this category, thanks to silnylon and lightweight mesh. The lightest woven tent fabrics are now in the 10 to 20 denier range, and tent poles are getting lighter too, both without sacrificing strength. By comparison, 30 denier silnylon now seems "heavy."
Sorting out all the hype and new technologies, does the REI Dash 2 meet our expectations for a functional and livable two-person double wall tent? Read on.
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