REI Co-op Wonderland 6 Tent
– Price: $599
– Weight: 22.9 lbs (10.4 kg)
– Floor size: 120” x 100” (305cm x 254cm)
– Peak height: 75” (191cm)
– Number of compartments: 2
– Capacities: 6 person / 4 person
– Shape: Tunnel
– What we like: Spacious, livable, high quality
– What we don’t: Not great in wind, expensive, no exterior storage
The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict
This is our review of the REI Co-op Wonderland 6, REI’s latest flagship camping tent with interior room to spare.
REI is often many new camper’s first stop when planning an outdoor adventure, and their in-house Co-op brand has earned a well-deserved reputation for providing high-quality gear at fair prices. The Wonderland is a bit of a departure from that ethos, and matches premium materials with a more “premium” price tag, so we couldn’t resist adding the Wonderland to our camping tent field test to see what all the fuss was about.
We spent a long weekend with the Wonderland evaluating all the most important aspects of a proper plus-sized camping tent. Our hands-on testing takes an up-close look at everything from material quality to weather performance, and the REI Wonderland 6 did great!
All right, let’s take a closer look at how the Wonderland performed in the field!
As noted above, we spend time in every tent we test to evaluate important factors ranging from the quality of the stitching to larger concepts like a tent’s all-around value for the money. Our experience with the Wonderland was largely positive, but it may not be quite what you think at first glance.
Space and Comfort
Nothing gives that big, plush camping tent feeling like a massive interior, and REI absolutely knocked that aspect out of the park with the Wonderland 6. This is REI’s direct replacement for their beloved Kingdom 6 model, and we found that it actually shared the exact same interior dimensions as its predecessor.
The ceilings are exceptionally tall, topping out at 75” in the center of the tent, and we appreciated REI’s decision to keep the Kingdom’s tunnel shape and near vertical walls for maximum shoulder room. The Wonderland actually feels even larger and more spacious inside than the Kingdom, which we chalk up to the abundance of mesh and the two new ground-level windows, which give the feeling of 360-degree views inside the tent, even with the rainfly in place.
There’s definitely room to fit six campers inside, but we found the Wonderland to be ideal for four campers on sleeping pads or a single queen-sized mattress with extra room to spread out. REI also includes a room divider with the Wonderland 6, which actually works well considering it splits the tent straight down the middle and takes full advantage of the tent’s two-door layout.
We appreciated the Wonderland’s abundance of interior storage pockets, which were particularly important considering there’s no real exterior vestibule outside either door. There’s ample space left over to stash gear near the front of the tent with four people inside, but adding a fifth camper would reduce that feature dramatically.
The Wonderland’s weather protection is relatively solid, and it’s clear that REI put a lot of effort into waterproofing the tent. We were a bit skeptical of the Wonderland’s scalloped rain fly at first (it raises up in the middle to preserve the views/ventilation from the dual ground-floor windows), but after spending a long weekend with the tent, we don’t have any serious rain-related concerns here.
The Wonderland’s seam taping is clean and robust, and both the doors and windows get additional drip protection from overhanging fabric when the shelter is properly guyed out. The tall vertical walls definitely aren’t designed for use in heavy winds, but REI knowingly designed the Wonderland for primarily fair-weather campers, so there’s really no surprise there.
The frame of the Wonderland feels nice and sturdy, and with the six main guyout points properly tensioned, we felt the tent would handle light rainstorms just fine. It definitely isn’t designed for heavy winds though, and we felt that strong windblown rains might overwhelm the relatively limited protection covering the Wonderland’s side windows, but for your average camper in typical conditions, wet weather shouldn’t be an issue.
Ease of Set-Up
We had a little trouble getting the Wonderland pitched, and while we were able to set it up with a single camper, there were some snags along the way.
The first half of pitching the Wonderland went very smoothly: REI did a great job color coding the Wonderland’s pole system, and getting the canopy of the tent up was a breeze. REI uses corresponding colored clips and anchors throughout the tent body, so there’s no guesswork involved there.
Where things got a bit more challenging, however, was the rainfly. Our six-foot tester found the combination of the tent’s height and tunnel shape made getting the fly in place and secured somewhat challenging, and as a result, the Wonderland took a few extra minutes to get covered up and guyed out. Granted, this would likely be a much easier job with a second set of hands, but compared to the other tall shelters in our camping tent field test, this was one of the trickier setups.
We found durability to be a high point of the REI Co-op Wonderland 6 overall, and were particularly impressed by the strength and quality of the tent’s poles. The entire pole set is made from sturdy aluminum, but the poles for the main body of the tent are particularly noteworthy with a whopping 16mm diameter.
The tent’s floor is also impressively sturdy, and its 150D polyester fabric was on par with some of the best in class from brands like The North Face and Nemo. Seams and stitching all felt high quality, and REI did a great job adding extra reinforcement in high-stress areas. Even the factory tent stakes felt built to last, and although their relatively simple shape left a little to be desired, we didn’t manage to bend or break a single one throughout our testing.
Ultimately the only potential question mark we found in terms of durability was the Wonderland’s new windows: We didn’t experience any actual issues here, but we did feel that the design looked and felt less solid than the hardware found on the doors themselves. The zippers are less robust, and while they’re well protected from any water encroachment by a nice overhang of fabric, they could certainly be beefier.
Weight and Packed Size
The Wonderland is intended for car camping only (meaning you won’t be trying to hike it into the backcountry), so both the weight and packed size of this shelter aren’t particularly important from a performance standpoint. This is a very large tent, and as expected, it looks and feels the part when packed down into its carry bag.
Two impressions we think are worth sharing here: The first is that the Wonderland’s drawstring-closure carry bag feels impressively tough. This is a commonly overlooked detail by many premium brands, and we appreciated that the bag looks like it will last just as long as the tent itself.
With that being said, we’ll also point out that REI’s simple drawstring design made packing the tent back inside a bit of a chore. This is one of the only tents we’ve had to refold and reposition multiple times to get back in the bag, and that’s always a bummer when you’re ready to break camp and get back on the road. We know it will get easier with practice, but compared with the wide mouth carry bags you get from brands like The North Face and Kelty, it’s considerably less convenient to live with.
When REI first introduced the Wonderland 6, value was something of a low point for the tent. Original MSRP for the Wonderland was $600, which took a lot away value-wise compared to something like the $450 North Face Wawona.
The Wonderland’s saving grace is that the REI regularly runs deals (especially for Co-op members) which reduce the cost by up to a whopping 40%. Should you catch it during one of these sales, the Wonderland actually becomes one of the best values on the market for a large camping tent.
We felt that the Wonderland’s combination of durable materials, impressive interior space, and outstanding livability all make a strong argument for its asking price. By the numbers, this wasn’t quite the largest 6P camping tent in our field test, but the combination of the tunnel shape and breathable mesh in every direction make it feel like the most spacious model we’ve tested.
The lack of exterior storage was the main sticking point for us here. While a lack of exterior vestibule is an acceptable compromise for budget-focused tents like the Kelty Discovery Base Camp series, it was a bit of a bummer considering this is now REI’s flagship three-season shelter. If it weren’t for all the extra interior space available for storage, this might have been a deal breaker, but there’s just so much room left over with four campers inside that it didn’t feel like a major drawback from a livability standpoint.
What We Like
As you might expect, the massive amount of interior space is our favorite part of REI’s new Wonderland 6. This was also our favorite part of the outgoing Kingdom 6, so considering that the interior dimensions are basically identical, there’s no surprise there.
We also appreciated all the additional mesh REI added to the Wonderland’s canopy, which, in combination with the two new ground-level windows, really crank up the ventilation and give the tent a nice open feeling. You could certainly argue that the Wonderland trades a degree of weather protection for a more enjoyable fair-weather camping experience, but honestly fair weather camping is what tall tents like this are built for, so we felt this was more of a feature than a flaw.
Lastly, we like how rugged every part of the Wonderland feels from floor to ceiling. The poles are impressively thick, the floor feels sturdy enough to go for years without a footprint, and the new triangulated center pole design feels more wind-worthy that its predecessor. Value can also be a benefit here, and although that’s contingent on snagging the Wonderland during one of REI’s semi-regular sales, getting a tent this big and well put together for $100 off (or more) is a sweet deal.
What We Don’t Like
Our biggest gripe with the Wonderland was its lack of exterior storage, which is no small complaint when comparing this tent to other models in our test with similar asking prices. Granted, this is a premium tent with a pricetag to match, but even with this much livability, $600 is a big ask for a relatively fairweather tent without a vestibule or any kind.
Of course REI sells a “mudroom” accessory for the Wonderland that solves the exterior storage problem, but again, if you’re paying MSRP for this tent, you’d be excused for not wanting to add another $100+ to the bill to add a feature that comes standard on the competition.
The other main complaint we have here is the Wonderland’s limited poor weather capability: Again, REI was thorough in rain-proofing the Wonderland, but a tent this size and shape just isn’t cut out for serious winds. While we left feeling that the improved pole design and solid guy-out points gave the Wonderland some extra points here, we don’t expect it to hold up to a proper storm quite as well as something like the North Face Wawona 6.
- Nemo Aurora Highrise 4/6: Nemo’s latest full size camping tent offers similar interior space, but adds proper exterior storage and a little more weather worthiness. Read our full test and review…
- North Face Wawona 6: Outstanding value, impressive external gear garage, and serious wind and rain protection. Read our full test and review…
- MSR Habitude 6: Traditional dome tent with better weather protection and exterior storage. Read our full test and review…
- Nemo Wagontop 6: Similar tunnel design with incredibly tall ceilings and an impressive front vestibule. Read our full test and review…
The Bottom Line
As a plus sized camping tent with oodles of livability on offer, the REI Co-op Wonderland 6 is a fantastic place to spend a weekend in the woods. We feel that the tent’s tunnel-shaped construction combined with vertical walls and impressively tall ceilings will be just what the doctor ordered for 99% of car campers out there, and if you can catch it on sale, you’ll be getting a ton of tent for the money.
While the Wonderland’s weather performance is ultimately limited by the very same factors that make it such a pleasure in clear weather, it’s received some design improvements (improved ventilation, sturdier frame, etc) that make it better suited for waiting out the occasional shower. We feel that its high-quality materials and construction should make a smart investment for large groups or family camping trips, and its nice to know that you can always add exterior storage later if you need it for a few extra bucks.