5 Best MSR Tents Reviewed — Are They Any Good?

By Emma

News flash: We found the Hubba Hubba NX to be the best MSR tent. No surprises there.

OK, I know what you’re thinking. What are the other ones? Don’t worry, we will cover these. 

As usual, our team did all the hard work by sifting through huge volumes of technical data, specifications, and feedback. After hours of brainstorming and debates, we were able to narrow down our choices to the five best options.

Are MSR tents any good? 

Actually, they are one of the best ones out there! MSR delivers top-end products that come with some of the best technical features and superb reliability. 

Our pick for the best MSR tent is the Hubba Hubba NX, a prime example of the excellent engineering and quality that MSR stands for. Comfortable, super easy to set up, and exceptionally lightweight, the Hubba Hubba is a winner.

The Advance Pro 2 Ultralight is another unique MSR tent that really got us excited with its excellent storm resistance. The single-stance pitching and a compact packed size make it perfect for pro-adventurers heading to high-altitude terrains.

For buyers on a budget, we have picked the Elixir 2 backpacking tent. Quite simply, the stability and durability of the Elixir are top-notch. It’s not a high-end tent, but we were sold by the great balance of price and performance.

Top Recommendations

Here’s the list of the top MSR tents that we recommend.

Best overall: MSR Hubba Hubba NXA durable and well-designed tent for backpackers and trekkers

Best Value Choice: Elixir™ 2 backpacking tent A reliable and stable tent with an affordable price tag

Best Family Tent: Habitude™ 4 TentA superb tent that balances comfort and weight to perfection

Best Mountaineering Tent: Advance Pro™ 2 Ultralight 4-Season TentA lightweight and storm-resistant shelter that offers the best support in technical terrains

Best Backpacking Tent: Zoic 2 Lightweight backpacking tentA comfortable and sturdy tent for casual summer camping

What’s Unique about MSR Tents

We have to admit that MSR tents aren’t a budget-friendly option. But when you consider the quality, features, and level of detail engineering, the price is justified.

Mountain Safety Research, or MSR, was formed by engineer and mountaineer Larry Penberthy in 1969. Through the decades, the brand has been designing some of the most well-engineered gear for adventure lovers.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the special design features that make their tents stand out.

  • Top-grade materials for the perfect balance of weight and durability
  • Use of cutting-edge technology to create superior components like the virtually unbreakable Easton Syclone tent poles
  • Detailed field tests and rigorous analysis for each tent
  • Features like reinforced stress points, durable waterproof coatings, and an ergonomic design
  • Long-term durability to make each tent a sustainable choice for the buyers

Are MSR Tents Waterproof?

Interestingly, MSR has enough confidence in its engineering capabilities to make bold choices. 

When competitors are using a higher waterproofing rating, the rainfly in some of the top MSR tents comes with a lower rating between 1000 to 1500 mm.

Let me tell you why.

The fact is, MSR strives to deliver the best balance between waterproofness, weight and durability, instead of going after higher numbers. 

They mention a higher waterproof rating can be obtained by giving a thicker coating on the fabric. But that makes the rainfly fabric heavier and more rigid. Since the rainfly has to withstand dynamic forces from heavy winds and the tight guylines, making it thick and heavy will affect the material strength in the long run.

However, MSR also mentions that since the groundsheet is subjected to more abrasion, it needs a thicker waterproof coating. That’s why they use a higher rated material with figures around 3,000 mm or more for groundsheets.

MSR also uses an exclusive Xtreme Shield waterproof coating for their tents like the Hubba Hubba and the Zoic. They claim that this material is three times more durable than other water proof coatings.

That sounds impressive. But there’s more…

To prevent the taped seams from peeling off due to weathering, MSR uses a special lap-felled seam and a poly-cotton thread blend. The thread swells up when wet and delivers a strong bond that lasts for years.

All these features create a tent that’s ready to serve you year after year without fail.

In essence, when it comes to tents, three words can sum up the MSR design philosophy – “simple, functional, and reliable”.

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX

Best for: Campers looking for top-end features in an ultralight package; $$$

The Hubba Hubba is a premium product from MSR. In fact, many outdoor experts have marked it as one of their favorites.

The fact is, there’s a lot to love about it. 

To start with, the tent offers 29 square feet of floor area and 17.5 square feet of vestibule area. That delivers enough shoulder space for 2 campers. What’s more, the symmetrical design provides uniform headspace all across the area. The result is a more spacious feel.

Even taller users above 6 feet loved the interior space. Quite simply, unlike the many other ultralight 2-person tents, you won’t feel cramped even with your gear.

With a hub-and-pole system and a freestanding structure, setting up the Hubba Hubba is a breeze. Even for one person, setting up the pole sections by using the color-coded clips and tensioner straps doesn’t take more than 10 minutes.

However, the inner fabric of the tent has a lot of mesh in it. So make sure to set up the rainfly quickly while pitching it in rainy weather.

Users loved the excellent durability. Quite a few of them mentioned that the tent has lasted for years without failing. Quite simply, the Huba Hubba strikes the right balance between material quality and weight.

MSR has used top-grade ripstop nylon in the rain fly and the groundsheet. The tent poles are made from special composite material to ensure years of service, more durable than your typical aluminum poles. The bars are reinforced in all the necessary points for better wind resistance.

But that’s not all…

Another area that the tent shines is weather resistance. Users found it highly resistant to rainstorms and strong winds.

The rainfly is coated with a special material called Durashield which improves water resistance. The bathtub-style groundsheet design makes sure that the insides stay dry in wet conditions. The D-shaped door has StayDry technology for preventing water entry.

Also, the flexibility of the poles provides just the right amount of rigidity to withstand stress during strong winds. So there are no chances of the poles snapping during a storm.

Coming to ventilation, the nylon micro mesh in the tent body allows excellent airflow. In addition, there are ventilation channels in the rainfly and vestibule to keep the insides free from moisture.

In fact, users have used this tent in fluctuating temperatures and didn’t face issues with condensation.

Last but not the least, the Hubba Hubba weighs just 1.54 kgs. So carrying it around in a rucksack is no problem at all.

What about the downsides?

Well, some users mentioned that this tent isn’t the right choice for enjoying panoramic views. Then again, the seams are not fully sealed. You need to do it separately for better weather resistance.

On the whole, no matter the type of adventure you prefer, the Hubba Hubba is a solid pick. For outdoor lovers who are looking for a lightweight, rugged tent, MSR has knocked the ball out of the park with a superb design. 

Pros

  • Excellent balance of space and comfort
  • Four interior pockets for storage
  • Reflective guy-outs
  • Special zipper orientation for side entry
  • A limited 3-year warranty

Cons

  • It’s expensive
  • The quality might be overkill for casual summer campers
  • The stakes aren’t of the best quality

Elixir™ 2 Backpacking Tent

Best for: Budget buyers looking for the balance of top-end features and price; $$

Needless to say, MSR tents don’t come cheap. However, the Elixir is one option that offers the right bang for the buck for budget buyers.

Even though it’s an entry-level tent, it has some great design features along with excellent liveability.

To start with, the tent offers 29 square feet of floor area and 24 square feet of vestibule area. So there is enough space to spread out and relax without feeling cramped at any point. The headspace is good enough for two tall individuals to sit comfortably. Solo campers will find it extremely comfortable.

However, some tall users felt that the 84 inches of length were on the shorter side.

Like most MSR tents, setting up this tent is super easy. The two-pole system is color-coded, and the rainfly comes with color-coded webbings for easy connection. The whole process takes around 10 to 12 minutes.

MSR has used ripstop nylon for the rain fly and the groundsheet. Users also mentioned that there were no instances of the fly whipping on windy nights.

The aluminum poles are lightweight and feel durable. The poles are connected by high-quality metal hubs that ensure superb stability. 

Another thing users added was the tent stood up well against strong winds and gusts. Once the vestibule is staked properly, the overall structure creates a trapezoid shape that offers solid wind resistance.

The rainfly and the groundsheet come with special coatings that make them waterproof. Considering MSR’s reputation for quality, we expect the coatings to last for years. Overall, the tent can handle nasty weather with confidence.

Other than that, the tent also offers good ventilation. There are two vents with kickstands in the rain fly along with mesh panels used in the inner tent. You can also fold back the rain fly and enjoy the night sky.

Users also appreciated the intelligent design of the fabric linings on the canopy roof. In case of any condensation, it directs droplets away from the occupants.

Most importantly, the Elixir stands out from the other MSR products due to the excellent value it offers. Admittedly, the Elixir lacks a few advanced features and isn’t ultralight. Still, anyone looking for a reliable and durable tent with the stamp of MSR quality will find it a good investment.

In case you have the budget and are looking for the best comfort levels, you can always pick the Zoic 2.

We wholeheartedly recommend the Elixir to frequent backpackers as well as casual weekend campers.

Pros

  • Dual vestibules and dual doors
  • Very good stability in rough weather
  • An affordable price tag
  • Glow-in-the-dark zipper heads
  • Built-in gear lofts

Cons

  • Not ultralight at 2.77 kgs
  • The packed size is on the higher side
  • Ventilation isn’t the best for summer camping

Habitude™ 4 Family & Group Camping Tent

Best for: Families looking for a spacious and durable tent for casual camping trips; $$$

The Habitude is a roomy tent designed for enjoying camping trips with the family.  With the usual high-grade materials and attention to detail you expect from MSR, this is a tent you can depend on.

Keep in mind, this tent is available in 4 and 6 person variants. The 4 person model comes with 62.5 square feet of floor area-  big enough for a family of 4 with two kids. In addition, you get 23.5 square feet of vestibule area. The design optimizes the inner space to make it feel roomy.

Moreover, since the walls are almost vertical with a center height of 73 inches, there’s plenty of headspace to stand comfortably.

Users mentioned that it doesn’t take much time to pitch either. From connecting the four main poles to fixing the guy lines, a single person can complete the process within 15 minutes. The poles are color-coded to make the process easier

What most users liked is, it’s not a heavy monster of a tent that’s a pain to carry. With a weight of 5.44 kgs, it can be easily handled by a single person.

Now, that doesn’t mean it’s not durable. The rainfly is made from high-quality ripstop polyester. There’s taffeta polyester on the inner roof and floor that ensures wear resistance. From the chunky zippers to the aluminum poles, everything feels robust.

The design also ensures it withstands medium showers without any problems, thanks to the applied polyurethane coating for better waterproofing. The rainfly fabric has a rating of 1500 mm and the floor has an astonishing rating of 10,000mm! MSR mentions that the design balances strength and waterproofing to perfection.

What’s more, the pole geometry is designed to withstand medium winds. That said, it’s not designed for withstanding storms. 

The Habitude is good for warm and sunny weather too. The micromesh on the ceiling ensures good ventilation. Besides, there’s a sufficient gap between the flysheet and the inner tent. That provides good airflow on warm days.

However, some users pointed out that it’s an inner-pitch-first tent. So on a rainy day, the inner tent can get wet while pitching.

All in all, this is a fantastic tent for families or a group of friends. It has the right amount of space for families looking for comfort in a car camping trip without compromising on quality.

Pros

  • A top-end family tent from all aspects
  • Floor fabric has 10,000mm water resistance
  • Carrying bag with compression straps
  • Top-grade YKK zippers
  • Multiple mesh pockets and hanging loops

Cons

  • It’s expensive
  • Not for extreme weather conditions

Advance Pro™ 2 Ultralight 4-Season Tent

Best for: Alpinists looking for an ultralight tent that offers solid wether resistance; $$$

Designing a high-quality tent for professional alpinists isn’t easy. But with the Advance Pro, MSR has done a solid job.

The Advance Pro has a minimalist style that won’t weigh down mountaineers during the day. At the same time, it has enough features to protect the occupants from the elements at night.

To start with, the tent offers 24 square feet of inner space. Frankly, that’s not the best in terms of comfort for two people along with gear.

But look at it this way…

This isn’t a tent designed for comfort. It’s for adventurers looking for shelter on narrow rock ledges or small clearings.

Users loved the ease of setting up this tent. The pole sleeve system allows a single person to set it up without moving. 

Pro tip: make sure that the front door is zipped up while setting it up in a windy spot. Otherwise, the tent might get blown away beyond reach.

In terms of design, the Advance Pro is a freestanding tent that comes with a single layer of fabric. The outer material is breathable ripstop nylon with 1000 mm of water resistance. The floor fabric comes with a special Xtreme Shield technology that improves wear resistance.

Now, single-layer tents are light and super easy to pitch. However, they aren’t the best in terms of insulation and ventilation. There’s no mesh, after all. Also, even though the tent feels solid, don’t expect it to last as long as dual-layered models.

Users pointed out that in lower altitudes, the inner walls gathered some condensation. The single vent for ventilation works better in colder and drier weather.

Other users liked the weatherproof design of the tent. The two specially designed Easton Syclone poles cross each other creating an X-shape for stability. While this is a standard design, the poles in the Advance Pro are connected by a hub-like piece to offer better structural strength.

There are six reinforced guy lines that keep the tent secure. In addition, there’s an extra reinforced tie-in point at the apex point for extra support. 

Here’s something interesting: there are polymer discs connecting the guy lines with the tent body. That distributes the tensile force on the lines and prevents them from being ripped out by strong winds.

Also, the poles are made of a special composite material that resists breaking during storms. Overall, this small bivy tent can be classified as a 4-season tent.

With a packed weight of 1.46 kg, the Advanced pro is one of the lightest tents in this category. For adventure trips where every ounce of extra weight matters, this is the right tent to carry along.

Admittedly, this is a tent for a selected range of users and not a comfortable and versatile tent for casual campers. However, when it comes to fast and light trips at high altitudes, the Advance Pro offers superb value.

Pros

  • A lightweight design with a small footprint
  • Cutting edge design for extreme weather conditions
  • Orange color offers high visibility
  • Packs down in a small size
  • Easy to pitch and pack

Cons

  • Limited interior space
  • Overall breathability isn’t the best

Zoic 2 Lightweight Backpacking Tent 

Best for: Couples looking for a comfortable top-end summer camping tent; $$$

Looking for a spacious two-person tent in the MSR stable that has the best comfort level? The Zoic 2 is a great choice.

With 33 square feet of floor area, it offers good shoulder and leg space for two adults. For storing gear, there’s a separate 18 square feet of vestibule area. The headroom available is good, but not the best in this segment.

The good news is, you can place two 25-inch-wide air mattresses in this tent. Not many tents in this range can boast of that.

Users mentioned that setting up the tent is very simple. There are two major poles that are connected by a hub and the flysheet is clipped with the pole bases. The tent is freestanding and you can easily move it around when it’s not pegged down.

Coming to durability, the rainfly is made of ripstop nylon, and the floor sheet is taffeta nylon. The poles are made from aircraft-grade aluminum that’s light but strong enough for tackling rough weather.

Reviewers also stated the tent delivered excellent waterproofing in wet conditions. As usual, the rainfly has special polyurethane coatings that MSR terms as Xtreme Shield. 

Note, MSR specifically uses precision stitching for the seams but no sealing. If you are planning to camp in extreme weather, you may apply a sealant separately.

What else?

One of the best things that make the Zoic 2 a great summer tent is the excellent ventilation it offers. The nylon micro-mesh panels allow a better flow of air. There are two doors on either side that adds to the airy feel. None of the users mentioned any instance of condensation in this tent.

On clear summer nights, you can easily sleep under the mesh without the rainfly. Perfect for stargazing! The mesh will keep you protected from bugs too. Also, the rainfly can also be rolled up to enjoy the views.

Caution: be careful of thorns and sharp edges that may damage the mesh structure.

However, the superb ventilation will make the insides of the tent quite cold in low temperatures. If you’re using it for fall or winter, make sure to pack heavy-duty sleeping bags.

The extra space in the Zoic 2 adds to its overall weight and it’s not an ultralight backpacking tent. But at 2.19 kgs, we feel that it offers a good balance of space and portability.

Anyone looking for a backcountry-ready tent for summer camping will find the Zoic 2 a good investment.

Pros

  • A spacious and comfortable option
  • Good breathability and moisture control
  • An affordable price tag
  • Built-in gear lofts
  • Easy to pitch and pack

Cons

  • Not suited for winters
  • Some users reported leakage through the seams in heavy rainstorms

Final Verdict

Time to rewind and look back at our best choices from the MSR stable.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Hubba Hubba NX is our top choice. The MSR team has done a great job in combining comfort and weather resistance while keeping the weight incredibly low. This is a superbly engineered tent that you can use for years without any hiccups.

The Advance Pro 2 is the model we can recommend for technical high-altitude camping. Considering the super-lightweight design and ease of pitching, the amount of storm resistance this tent offers is exceptional. While it’s not for everyone, it’s a great tent for the purpose it’s designed for.

If you’re looking for an MSR tent that won’t break the bank, the Elixir 2 is an easy recommendation. It’s not premium-grade but has the signature MSR durability and quality that’s sufficient for weekend camping trips for a couple.

So we have shared the best MSR tent reviews to help you make the right choice for your next camping trip. Rest assured, you’ll get your money’s worth from each of them.

Best get started with it.

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AUTHOR

My name is Emma, and I’m a city dweller who jumps on every opportunity to get out and enjoy nature! I’ve gone on a number of car camping and backpacking trips over the past few years. I created this site to inspire others to get outside and to make the process easier for you.