REI recently launched the REI Co-op Wonderland X, a top-of-the-line tent with a whopping $1,249 price tag. While pricey, the Wonderland X is one of the most intriguing and multipurpose tents you can find in the family car camping market. The massive tent can be transformed from a livable, four-person tent to a freestanding shelter in just a few minutes, so we knew we had to try it out. We got our hands on the Wonderland X and put it to the test on several camping overnights to weigh the pros and cons and decide if it’s worth your investment.
What we liked about it
A super-versatile, heavy-duty tent that checks all the boxes and more, the REI Co-op Wonderland X caters to campers in search of a group or family-size, three-season tent to add to their camping checklist. Sure to spur campsite envy from any passersby, its configurable design allows it to be set up either as a four-person tent with a spacious vestibule or a stand-alone shelter, making it the perfect car camping basecamp for staying out of the elements on rainy or extra sunny days.
A modular and spacious basecamp
The biggest draw for the Wonderland X is its modularity. It can be set up in two different configurations: one with an inner tent that clips into the underside of the canopy to create a sleeping area and giant front vestibule, and one as a large, open, freestanding shelter.
To use the inner tent, campers must first set up the shelter canopy. The inner tent does not come with its own poles but instead clips into the underside of the canopy walls to hold the tent walls and ceiling open. Once set up, the inner tent converts the shelter into two separate spaces: a private sleeping area that sleeps up to four comfortably and a front vestibule that’s over 38 square feet and perfect as a covered storage area or hangout space. The front vestibule is so spacious we even managed to lounge in a camp chair under the overhang on a recent trip.
On the inside of the inner tent, the ballpark 8-foot-by-8-foot floor space gives you plenty of room for a variety of sleeping configurations. We were able to fit four campers in sleeping bags on sleeping pads inside without feeling like we were sleeping on top of each other, and the Wonderland X can also comfortably fit up to two full-size camping cots, a side table with a lantern and creature comforts like a rug and electric fan if you’re more interested in a glamping setup. If opting for the comforts of an air mattress, we’d recommend a queen size so there’s still room to move around and store your bags inside. Overhead clearance in this tent is very generous. At just over 6 feet tall, there’s plenty of room for most people to stand up and stretch out.
The exterior canopy acts as a rainfly when the tent is attached, but when you unclip the inner portion, it transforms into a spacious shelter. The inner tent is very quick and easy to remove — just unclip the inner tent from the canopy walls to create a freestanding shelter space. You can forgo setting up the inner tent altogether if you’d prefer to use the Wonderland X exclusively as a freestanding shelter, which is what we chose to do on a rainy camping weekend in Wisconsin. The canopy is large enough to fit a camp kitchen setup, a full-size picnic table or several camp chairs and tables for a covered social space. We chose to use the canopy as a shelter area to hang out in during the day to play cards, cook and eat our meals and as a place to store our gear out of the rain when we went out on a hike.
Two oversized doors and four side panels on the shelter can be rolled up for extra ventilation or staked out into awnings for extra sun or rain protection (awning poles not included). Opening up the side panels when the weather cleared was a great way to let a breeze through the shelter and cool down in the humid summer heat. There are also plenty of pockets on the interior walls of the tent and canopy to keep headlamps, cards, board games and other camp accessories organized and off the ground.
Great in the rain or sun
There’s nothing worse than heading into the woods unprepared, especially when the weather takes a turn for the worse. To see if the Wonderland X could handle less than ideal conditions, we brought it along on a number of camping trips this summer, including to Kettle Moraine, Wisconsin, with a forecasted 80% chance of rain and South Haven, Michigan, with no chance of rain.
The outer canopy is made of silicon-treated polyester fabric with a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish. DWR coating, which you can find on most tents and outdoor rain gear today, helps repel water and retain the durability of the fabric. During an all-day rainstorm on our Wisconsin car camping trip this summer, we hung out under the shelter playing cards and cooking meals. The oversized picnic table at our campground was easy to carry through the tent door with plenty of room to spare for walking around and storing gear under the canopy.
Even during a total downpour, the outer canopy fabric kept water from seeping into the shelter and our gear underneath stayed completely dry. It was quick and easy to zip the shelter walls we had rolled open as soon as the rain started falling. We were also thankful for the built-in vents above all six exterior shelter doors, which provided ample ventilation and extra airflow, even when the sides were rolled down to protect us from the rain.
The Wonderland X’s canopy is also designed to withstand strong wind, thanks to its tunnel-like architecture and DAC MX aluminum poles (some of the strongest poles on the market). Tent stakes and guylines are critical to keeping your tent secure during the worst weather, and unfortunately, a lot of tents come with subpar options. Thankfully, that’s definitely not the case with the Wonderland X. It’s equipped with 20 thick metal stakes, 16 attached and reflective guylines with cleat-lock tighteners and a pole repair sleeve in case a pole bends or breaks in extreme weather. The shelter also has reinforcement rope connecting the base of the poles of the shelter for added stability.
Using this tent as a shelter during rain or sunny weather is ideal. Its ability to fit a standard-size picnic table along with a couple of chairs, extra kitchen prep or a side table is perfect for setting up the ultimate basecamp and hangout space at the campground. Whether you need to baton down the hatches to protect your group from a rainstorm or want to roll up the canopy sides for increased airflow, the Wonderland X shelter can keep you safe and comfortable no matter the forecast.
What we didn’t like about it
Heavy and complicated (at first) setup
Weighing in at 35 pounds and 1 ounce, this tent is definitely a beast. We found we needed a pair of extra hands to help carry this tent across the campsite. The Wonderland X comes with a recycled polyester duffel carry bag and separate stuff sacks for the canopy, inner tent and poles and stakes. You can haul it on your shoulder or use the handles to carry the tent to its final destination before setting it up.
The first time we set up this tent, it was clear we were facing a steep learning curve. Between the sheer size of the tent and the fact that it has 12 different poles of varying sizes, it took about 15 minutes for us to decipher what side of the shelter were walls versus doors and what poles went where on the shelter. All of the poles attach to the outside of the shelter and must be set up first before clipping the inner tent into the underside of the canopy. We did find it helpful that the central poles on the outer side of the tent walls, which make an “X” shape, are color-coded green for easy recognition. All in all, it took about 35 minutes for us to set up the tent with three people the first time around. By our second and third attempts, we were able to trim this time down to about 20 minutes.
High price point
The REI Co-op Wonderland X is by far the priciest tent in its category. It trends upward of $250 to $500 more than leading industry competitors like Big Agnes, The North Face and Nemo. If you’re looking for a more affordable family or group-friendly tent, you might consider the comparable but cheaper Nemo Wagontop 8 or the Big Agnes Bunk House 8 tents. However, if you have the extra money to spend and want the best customization in a luxury tent we’ve ever tried, you won’t be disappointed with the Wonderland X.
How it compares
What sets the REI Co-op Wonderland X apart from other tents of this size in the luxury category is its customization, sturdiness and ventilation. Other camping tents we’ve tested lack features like rollable wall panels and extra-large fly doors that provide extra airflow and the ability to set up the shelter without a tent floor.
When the inner tent of the Wonderland X is removed, the shelter does not have a tent floor. Most other large shelter-like tents, with the exception of the Big Agnes Bunk House line, include a pre-attached tent or shelter floor. We’re huge fans of no-floor shelters because it means you won’t drag dirt and sand into the enclosed tent that you’ll have to clean out later and a smaller chance of ripping the floor material when moving chairs, tables and gear inside the shelter. Another pro of the no-floor option is you can lift the shelter up and place it over an existing picnic table at the campground. Another perk of the Wonderland X that we love is the fact you can roll up all sides of the shelter walls and front and back doors for extra ventilation, or to easily move gear in or out of the shelter.
If you’re looking for a slightly more affordable tent with comparable features as the Wonderland X, the Big Agnes Bunk House 8, priced at $799.95, is a solid option. With a floor space of 104 square feet compared to the Wonderland X’s 70.5 square feet, the Bunk House 8 fits double the number of people inside its tent (the smaller Bunk House 4 is 58 square feet and $499.95). Like the option from REI Co-op, the Bunk House comes with the ability to remove the inner tent to create a free-standing shelter; however, it does not come with shelter walls that open on all four sides. This compromises the tent’s ability to stay cool and efficiently move tables, chairs and gear in and out of the shelter.
The Nemo Wagontop 8 is the same price as the Bunk House 8 and larger than both it and the Wonderland X at 124 square feet of floor area. The Nemo Wagontop 8 does not have the ability to remove the inner tent or shelter floor, which means you don’t get the same customizability as the Big Agnes and REI Co-op options. Thanks to its sheer size, this tent does, however, make a great screened-in space for socializing when there are lots of bugs or mosquitos.
Compared to other luxury tents, you won’t find a more durable and versatile tent than the Wonderland X. Its ability to configure into either a large tent with an attached vestibule or a completely freestanding shelter to keep your camping crew dry in bad weather is unmatched in its category.
Campers looking for a group or family car camping tent with all the bells and whistles will find a lot to love in the REI Co-op Wonderland X. We’ve never felt more comfortable heading to the campground with a rainstorm in the forecast than with this tent.
With as steep of a price point as it has, this tent might not be the best option if you’re on a budget or looking for a more entry-level car camping setup. However, if durability, protection from the elements and a shelter to set up at your basecamp are at the top of your priority list, there’s no need to look any further than the Wonderland X.