Home Blog The Tale of the Iconic REI Quarter Dome Tent

The Tale of the Iconic REI Quarter Dome Tent

From REI:

With the upcoming release of the 2017 REI Quarter Dome tent, we interviewed the people behind the magic. Our designers took us back in time through the history of the Quarter Dome.

The Beginnings

To truly know the Quarter Dome, you have to know about David Mydans. A self-described dirtbag climbing bum with an art degree, Mydans shaped the way tents were designed at REI for over 30 years.

Mydans was the lead designer behind the first three versions of this tent. When asked how he came up with the design he told us, “Insight comes in a moment. You have this problem constantly ticking in the background of your mind. When the whole thing comes together, it comes together in a rush. You see it. Then you make it.”

He started with a mockup, taking a big piece of fabric and drawing out the floor plan. He put grommets where the poles should be set, cut shock-cord and pieced together the poles. From there, it was all about fine-tuning.

And so, in 2005, the Quarter Dome was born. Built of the same lightweight textiles as our all-season mountaineering tents but applied to an “X” pole structure, it was small and strong—made to withstand tough weather conditions, yet light enough to get a spot on every backpacking trip.

Version Two: Still Light, Yet Larger

The response to the Quarter Dome was overwhelming. Members loved it, but wanted more interior space, even at the cost of some structural strength. Born of this request was an even better tent. It also scooped up Backpacker magazine’s Editor’s Choice award in 2008.

The new pole design was totally unique. The design team placed one full-length pole between opposing corners and used two shorter poles that angled outwards. This created more shoulder and head space, which users loved. Two people could sit up, …

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