The Ace is REI's attempt to make an affordable single wall tent. This tent does a good job for what it's designed for, and beats other comparable tents in the price neighborhood.
Features- dead-end pole sleeves for quick setup
- vaulted end to accommodate people with height
- highly customizable venting
- double vestibules/doorways
- lightweight aluminum poles
ReviewLet’s start by making one thing clear: the two-person, three-season Ace SW2 ($300) backpacking tent is yet another solidly-built product from REI.
This single-wall (i.e. no fly), 30.2-square foot tent is light (4.4 pounds) and sets up in a jiffy--I credit the “dead end” pole sleeves, in which the pole slides into a closed pocket instead of an open sleeve. The first time I set it up, it took just a few minutes without instructions. And, thanks to the asymmetrical pole construction--where one end is vaulted higher than the other--I could sit up completely with extra head space and I'm 6'2".
Along with its intuitive set-up, it's also extremely durable for being so light. Even without a separate fly, it's waterproof walls and siliconized nylon pop-out flys shed fair amounts of water during moderate rain. The tent was barely affected by a freak, 50 mile-per-hour wind gust on the shores of Lake Superior. The damage? A mildly bent pole (good thing REI has a 100% satisfaction guarantee).
The downside to the Ace SW2? The “breathable” fabric did not perform very well and the tent had to be vented pretty heavily to avoid condensation build-up on the inside walls (but that's to be expected from most single-wall tents).
To sum up: this tent is a high-quality item and will perform very well for its intended use. On a budget? Skip a single-wall tent (which can run you upwards of $500) and go for REI's Half Dome 2HC tent which has just a tad more square feet, weighs an additional pound, but costs half as much at $170--which should leave you a little something for a cushy sleeping pad.
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