Dash 2 Tent - Gear Review and Modification Detail for a DIY Adjustable Rain Fly Extension.


REI Dash 2

   The Product

The Dash 2 is a lightweight 2 person 3 season semi-freestanding double wall tent with 2 doors and 2 vestibules.

Manufacturer: REI
http://www.rei.com/media/jj/29c8bdd5-befe-4371-9263-cddbbbd68226.jpgWeb site: www.rei.com
Product: Dash 2 tent
Year manufactured: 2014
MSRP: $349.95 US
Size: 2-person
Packaged weight listed: 2 lb 7 oz (1.33 kg) with tent, 

fly and poles this is dead-on accurate, but...
Actual weight: With footprint and stakes (which you will need) and stuffsacks, it comes in at 3 lb. 2 oz. +/- after tweaks and modification.
Interior height listed: 40 in (102 cm)
Length listed: 90 in (229 cm)
Width listed, foot/head: 42/54 in (107/137 cm)
Floor space listed (tent & vestibules): 40.5 sq ft (3.76 sq m)
Packed size listed: 6 x 20 in (15 x 51 cm) Verified at 6 x 18

Dash 2 poles are 18" long. The rest can pack tight 6 x 3 x 14 for tent & fly.
The stake bag here has stakes & footprint in it.

   The Basics
REI says the  Dash 2 is the lightest tent they've ever sold. I believe it. I had my eye on this tent since it came out. I'd been wanting a nice 2p tent to use when I'm with my girlfriend.  Researching ultralight tents like the Copper Spur UL 2, Fly Creek, HubbaHubba then the NX, Supermega UL 2 and others, all of which have really nice features, was a blast (working in a high-end gear shack has it's perks). I had the chance to try some nice tents, ultralight and not so, big and small and... none of them were really clicking for me. The Dash quickly made the top of my list when it came out because of its weight and what I thought were a great set of features combining features from others I liked. When a Dash came up for a good deal on ebay, I did some more research, went to REI and inspected it, looked again at other options and, in the end, knew I had found what I wanted. I bought it and I'm glad I did.

REI Dash 2 Tent.

Sleeping 2 is cozy with enough room for each to move, sit up, and play. The 2 doors and vestibule doors are easy to reach and operate and getting in and out is as easy as any other tent similar in size I've tried. It comes seam sealed with excellent construction. The 15 denier ripstop nylon fabric for floor, sides and fly is lightweight but requires a bit of careful attention when it comes to the floor and where you pitch it. I might not recommend this as a first tent for somebody. Either way, a footprint is basically needed. 20d mesh and DAC featerlite aluminum poles round out its lightweight materials. It is "semi-freestanding" which means to get the full benefit of its space and features you will need to stake it out. 5 to 11 stakes are needed depending on options( I carry 9). It holds together without stakes which makes for easy cleaning and relocating. Thin guy lines are extremely easy to use for tensioning after figuring them out. The small slot in the tensioner seats the line snugly with a pull up.

Headroom with wide and regular pads.
It has a similar interior size to other lightweight 2 person tents at 90" long x 54" wide (42" at feet) and 40" peak height. It is comfortable for 2 if you like the person you're with. Great for a couple. We use Gossamer Gear Airbeam Sleeper pads ( a Wide 28" wide tapering to 19"  X   56" long and a Regular 21" wide tapering to 14.5"  X  56" long torso length) and they fit great with a few inches to spare on each side and more than enough head/feet room. The Dash has 3 handy pockets and a hang loop well placed for your small gear.

Plenty of room in the foot box.

Stargazing mode. Just tie up the front of fly to poles.

A mix of stakes (hooks and groundhogs) works well.

Overall this is a great design and fine manufacturing with all lightweight materials. Easy to set up, get in and out of, nice size, convenient features and it holds up in the weather. I move a lot and get in odd positions when I sleep and we had no problems with its size. I am 5'10" and 180 lbs. She is 5'7".
I like everything about this tent except the high-cut of the fly. Mas tardes on that.
Of course no tent is right for everybody . I happen to like the overall design of the Dash. The light grey color is good for the desert and maximizing light in it at night. Its size, materials and look are modern and functional while not being loud.

Dash 2 Tent Polycryo footprint instead of factory one.


The REI sold separately Footprint costs $30 and weighs 8.5 oz. Viola, yer at 3 lbs. So... To mitigate this needed weight, I use a polycryo ground cloth, lightweight industrial grade cross-linked polyolefin that is extremely tough for it’s weight with amazing puncture resistance and is economical. $9 at Gossamer Gear http://gossamergear.com/shelters/shelter-accessories/polycryo-ground-cloth-large.html After cutting this down to fit the Dash it came in at 1.3 oz. You could also use Tyvek or just get a good painters plastic from Home Depot for $6 and be at a similar weight savings. Get the thickest clear stuff if you get the painter's tarp.


I also switched out some stakes for MSR Groundhog Stakes. It's just hard to beat the way they hold. I use 4 of them for the fly and 4 aluminum shepherds hook stakes from REI that came with it for the 4 main tent guys.The foot end tent guy and the 2 head end guys do double duty with the fly.


Rear stake. Extend tent guy line.

Another little tweak is to add a short loop of cord to the very rear foot end tent main body guy out line. Extending this by about 3 or 4 inches will allow you to attach the fly guy line to it and loose the need for one more stake.



One more tweak was to put a few drops of Seam Grip evenly and strategically spaced on the inside floor to prevent pad and pillow slipping. I experienced none when I had it out but you know how there are times when the only site has a slight angle to it and all night you're pad seems to slide downhill. Let the Seam Grip cure well for 12+ hrs. before packing away.


   The Problem

REI Dash 2 Tent with pack and shoes exposed under rain fly.

The main complaint from everything I've read on the Dash seems to be the small vestibules and the fly's high-arch cut which could let rain in. The vestibules are smallish but they offer enough space for a pack. My Gossamer Gear Mariposa fit with shoes and a little room to spare. And, seeing the glass half full, it is easy to reach the vestibule doors from inside the tent. The high cut vestibules is another thing. For desert camping this looked more like a plus to me as well as it makes the tent well ventilated, but I appreciate the potential problem. Where I am a monsoon rain can come in fast and hard.  So, I addressed that with a modification. 


Let me preface this by saying, I am not a professional. I have been modifying gear all my life.I fine it fun and rewarding. I like making things customized them to my needs. I have had a fair amount of experience modifying things over 30+ yrs and I try to over think things and experiment before I attempt a mod. With that said, I really had no idea if the tension on the fly mod would work and had no way to do a good mock up before I tried it. I am very pleased with how it came out.


   The Modification

Adjustable Rain Fly Extension.


REI Dash 2 Tent Modification (in white ripstop) w/ pack underneath. After this shot I realized the tension on the foot-end side (Right side in pic) was not right. I trimmed the angle of this end to make for a better anchor and tension for the mod.


A fly extension seems necessary to bring this tent up to par with the protection that other similar tents offer. The vestibules on the Dash 2 are already a bit smallish so the ground clearance of the fly becomes critical. By adding a piece of lightweight ripstop nylon (9 inches at its widest point) to extend the fly on the gear side of the vestibule you can get the much better protection for your gear. I also designed it to be adjustable up and down because. .. well, why not? Up for good ventilation and down when a heavy monsoon rolls in. The end result is an adjustable 3" - 9" rain fly that is 2" or 7" off the ground along each gear-side of the tent vestibules. I have not found it necessary yet to extend the entrance-side of the vestibule with an extension. Living and mostly camping in the desert, I appreciate the ventilation. Time and weather will tell if I need to go back to the drawing board on that.

With a grommet and 10 inch loop of shock cord (white in pic) on both sides to hook into the foot end stakes, this modification added about 4.2 oz to the weight to the tent. This made the tent with added polycryo footprint, 7 stakes and repair kit come in at a whopping 3 lb 3 oz. Some of the guylines it comes with may be trimmed to save a little more weight but I will reserve that for after several trips and test conditions. Not too shabby.

Some Pics of the finished Dash with modification after I trimmed the rear angle and took it for a walk.

REI Dash 2 Tent with adjustable fly extension modification. You can see the new angle of the rear part here.
Modification to the REI Dash 2 w/ doors open. Home away from home.
Ready for take off.
Using a hook stake for main tent foot-end guyouts allows for fly extension to be hooked in for proper pitch.

Decent coverage of gear in vestibule after adding the modification.

The fly extension has held well after multiple set ups. I have cranked on the fly pretty damn hard getting it as taught as I could with both the guyout stakes and fly tensioners. Soaked it and let it stand in a fairly good gusty night. I will continue testing and update here with findings.
                                Here a quick look vid on it.

How to:

You will need:
  • 2 yards (or at least a 6' x 30" piece) of your choice of ripstop waterproof nylon or silnylon.I had white 20 denier on hand so that's what I used. I actually don't think it looks bad at all.
  • A tube of McNett Seam Grip.
  • 2 large boxes of Tear Aid Fabric Repair tape, type A, 5' x 3". (This stuff is amazing. Keep a 10" x 3" piece in your pack for field repairs.)
  • Scissors
  • A 1/4 " (6mm) grommet kit.
  • About 20" of lightweight shock cord. I used 1/8" white.
  • About 3 hours +/-

Layout fabric with Dash Fly over it.
Mark the arch.
Cut fabric.

Seam Grip seam.
Steps: 1. Cut your fabric. Thin ripstop nylon is kind of a hassle to work with for somebody like me who doesn't work with fabrics much. Take your time and make cuts bigger than you might need. You can always trim it.
I laid the tent fly on top of the nylon placing it correctly to make my 10 inch extension cut at an angle and used a pencil to mark the curve I needed it to connect with. I wanted a 10 inch extension so i marked it about 12 inches from the edge of the nylon. There is probably a better way to do this but I couldn't figure it out. This worked.
Lay out the mylon on to of fly.
Then I turned the fly over and laid the newly cut fly extension on to the back of the fly and trimmed it to fit in any little areas I had misjudged. Constantly check to see if it's aligned correctly and marking with pencil where it needs to be trimmer before lifting it and trimming.  Don't worry about having an exact straight line, the tape will give you a little play to cover variables of under 1/4 inch or so. Just make it as nice a fit as you can.
Anchor the ends well. Double tape at angle.

2. Attached the fly extension to the fly. First make a seam on the bottom edge of the fly extension by using the brush supplied with the seam grip to paint a half inch strip along the bottom edge of it. Let it cure for 15 minutes and then fold it over on itself to create a 1/4 inch seam. You want this folded on the inside so rain won't catch on the outside.
Now start at the front corner of the tent fly (head end) to anchor the extension.  I left a long 2 inch tab and seam griped it and folded it to reinforce it. Then seam griped the corner of the tent fly where it will lay and pressed it on. Then took a 5 inch by 1 inch wide piece of Tear Aid and taped it good into the corner. Now paint seam grip along the bottom inside seam of the tent fly. Just on the seam and maybe a 1/4 inch over onto the fly body. This will give you about a 1/2 inch strip of seam grip. Let it cure. Carefully lay the extension onto it a little at a time starting at your anchor and rubbing it on
Foot end anchor.
well. When you end at the front anchor it with another small piece of tape. Now cut your tear aid tape into 1 inch strip length wise. Take a strip and tape the seam joining the fly and extension. It should cover your 1/2 inch glued part and extend another 1/2 inch onto the ebony of the fly. It takes hours for this to cure and every once in a while I would go back and rub it down good to help the bond. I guess you could pile books or something on it to weight it too.

Add grommet.

3. Add guy line. The next day I set up the tent with fly and checked out how it was pitching. It's way too floppy and will get torn and rustle in the wind. We fix that by adding the grommet and shock cord guy.  At the tent foot end where it guys out to stake on the side, find the spot in the extension where it needs to be guyed to naturally pull it taught. Do a double fold here and mark it on both sides. Make sure the outside fold will direct water towards the back away from your gear. Glue this fold on both sides with seam grip. Glue the outside fold up at an angle into the fold so water will naturally run out and away, not collect in the fold. Tape both sides with a 1 inch piece of Tear Aid about 3 inches long. Take another piece and reinforce the tab you've made by running it vertically over the edge and back up the inside.
Use your grommet kit to place a grommet in the middle of this reinforced area about a 1/2 inch from bottom edge.
Let it cure and attach a piece of shock cord to run to the stake. You'll need to pitch it and stake it out to see the ideal length for the cord. You can make the cord tension adjustable by using a fisherman's knot.

Tear Aid tape running up stress point. It goes out to left along sea
but this is hard to see in this pic. That's how thin Tear aid is.

4. Finally,  reinforce the front, back and guy points with 7 inch strips or so of Tear Aid.
The anchor points are under stress when the fly is taught so I found it important to reinforce these with pieces of Tear Aid tape. One end came undone the first time I pitched it, let it relax and tightened it up. I went back to the drawing board and reinforced the stress points by extending strips at the angle of pull and making sure the strip overlapped existing tape edges and had a good "pull" on both fabrics.

5. Repeat this process for the other side. 

Congratulations. You have protected your gear.

FIELD REPORT - Backyard Test

Field Data: Backyard test overnighter in Phoenix Arizona. November 2014.  

Conditions: 10 - 15 mph winds. 44 degrees F. 2 people in the tent. Damp grass. No rain.

Observations: Great tent. Cozy. Certainly roomy enough for us. Modification was taught which was a big relief and held well even after letting the tent relax and re-tightening all guys and adjustments for a nice taught pitch. Modification worked great with no flutter in the wind. Unfortunately there was no rain but the hose test showed expected (hopeful) results with manageable very minor spray on bottom of pack with vertical "rain" and minor slash on bottom of pack with 45 degree angle "rain". Shoes were dry with both. Condensation in the fly the next morning was substantial on damp grass but did not get into tent or on bags. No drips. It dried quickly when left open the next morning but this is Arizona, everything dries quickly.
Update on a real Field Report to come soon. Look back in a few weeks.


The REI Dash 2 Tent is a well built lightweight tent at 3 lbs that works great for couples. It is competitively priced, has well designed features and decent ventilation. In my opinion it needs a DIY Fly Extension to cover gear in vestibules as there is not enough room inside the tent with 2 people to store gear and vestibules are already on the smallish side. It would be nice to have a ceiling vent. 
I recommend the Dash as a lightweight backpacking tent to at least slightly experienced campers who have the skill to pick and prep campsites and handle thin fabrics.
I like it!

Dash with the Dash 2. Absolutely coincidental but yes, her name is Dash.

Leave a comment. Tell me what you think.