Always have a roof over your head!
To the un-initiated, a tent is just a tent. There’s nothing special about it, it’s just a sheet of nylon and somewhere to get your head down while you listen to everyone else’s sugar-fuelled children scream the campsite down. I fell into this way of thinking when I bought my first one.
There are a huge range of tents to choose from, with every google result of ‘best tents’ or ‘top 10 tents’ giving an entirely different result with every link, we’re very spoiled for choice. But how different can they all be?! Surely, it’s just a case of ‘will my stuff fit in that space’? When I first purchased the Berghaus Cairngorm 3, I thought as much; it was bought for the vast amounts of space, cool porch area and hey, what’s 5kg between friends?! Well, it turns out, when hiking 20km to your wild camp spot, 5kg is an absolute killer.
So, lesson learned. The Berghaus is a solid tent, I have no argument about that, but it has been retired to strictly car-side campsite duties due to its weight and pack size. So, what next? You already know; The MSR Hubba Hubba NX.
As I delved deeper and deeper into the internet trying to get as much information about MSR and their apparently favourite offering, the Hubba Hubba NX, I came across reems and reems of top-rated reviews, but a few worrisome comments about an issue with its’ ability to withstand heavy downpours had me thinking whether this was a good choice for the UK.
However, a near obsession with the look of the thing, reassurance that the issues had been addressed and a price I couldn’t argue with from a local retailer, I pulled the trigger, picking it up for around £380.
So, let’s address the apparent issue, the root cause and the apparent fix, as I imagine some of you will be here to find out about just that. Previously, MSR has taken the time to seam-seal every seam on their rainfly’s but decided to try something a little different with a batch of Hubba Hubba NX’s; as a result of some (presumed) research, MSR decided that a more elegant stitching solution at the seams would eliminate the requirement for seam-sealer to be applied (a time-consuming and laborious process for anyone that has had the pleasure).
No Bueno. Countless people have complained about previous Hubba Hubba’s leaking worse that your Grandads Land Rover, with none of the charm. This isn’t exactly ideal in a country where it rains. A lot.
The fix? You guessed it, seam sealer. The tent I received (a newer European model) came fully seam sealed from the factory. This, as I’ll discuss further on, has shown me no issues whatsoever. To make up for their failings in ‘Stitchgate’, MSR do offer a service where you can return your un-seam-sealed rainfly to have them sorted OR they’ll ship the seam sealer out to you to do yourself (the latter being the far quicker option, if a little more labour intensive.)
So, onto the tent itself! First thing you notice is the quality of the entire package. Coming in a well presented and not-so-easy-to-miss stuff sack, the entire package comes in at around 1.5kg, seriously less than the Berghaus I previously reviewed!
Everything feels amazing, the materials are scarily thin but induce confidence with use. The poles slide together with ease and the provided pegs are just right for the use-case.
Made from DAC featherlight aluminium in a fetching red to match the tent inner, the poles are light and SOLID. They have the kind of feel that, even if you wanted to, you’d struggle to break them.
The pitching process is relatively effortless, just match all the coloured webbing and away you go. It does pitch inner first as standard, not ideal for a downpour. However, it is possible to pitch the outer first (without the groundsheet, contrary to popular belief) and then assemble the inner on the inside. However, this method is significantly fiddlier; I’d recommend some practice doing inner first to the point that you’re so quick getting it up, the rain need not matter!
The inner has a lot of space for a 2-man tent, with two large pockets and plenty of hanging points should you want to hang lights, wet clothing or anything else that may not want to be on the floor. We use two budget sleeping mats and still had room to move about. The near vertical sides help massively in being able to sit up and not get in each other’s way.
With the install of the rainfly, two gear porches are created and again, are pleasantly large. Bag, boots, stove and snacks were all stashed away with plenty of room still available to get in and out of the tent with no issues. It’s also fair to say that the colour of the rainfly is perfect for UK wild camping – where you may not want to be seen all that easily. It is also well-matched to the wet UK weather, shrugging off a typical shower with no leaks and no concerns. In addition, the nice little rain gutters that prevent you getting dripped on while the door is open are a nice touch.
I should also mention the absolute ease of being able to tension the rainfly properly. As you can see in the pictures, really simple webbing tension straps and guy lines allow us to get a very clean and taught set-up with minimal effort. This essentially eliminated any condensation issues, as the rainfly didn’t touch the inner mesh at all!
Two large vents can be propped open using proper supports that are sewn into the rainfly, giving a really nice amount of airflow and further reducing any issues with condensation. The dis-assembly is a joy, easily managed by one person if needed, even with the wind giving you what-for!
So, what’s not to like? Well, for starters, the difference between the American market and European market versions are annoying (American versions currently get more robust Easton Syclone poles and tent pegs! We have wind too MSR!) along with the colourway and water repellent coating differences. If I had to really nag, I’d say the zips are a little on the small side and prone to catching fabric if you’re an absolute brut like me, which is scary with fabric so thin and light; and, just to put your mind at rest, you will definitely want to use a separate ground sheet to protect the inner a little.
But could it be argued that that these are very small prices to pay for such a well accomplished tent? Most definitely. If you’ve ever used a lesser tent in the past, you will instantaneously be able to appreciate the achievements that MSR have made for what is a very respectable price tag in an industry that gets ever more financially ambitious as the months go by.
All in all, this tent is definitely my new favourite purchase, and I’m looking forward to using it as much as possible as the pandemic starts to clear the way.
I’ve provided an affiliate link below to purchase this tent from MSR’s Amazon Store. Should you use it, I may be paid a small commission on your purchase with no cost to you!
Stay Safe and Tread Well.
• Optimized symmetrical geometry and non-tapered floor
• Large, easy-entry D-shaped StayDry™ door and vestibule
• Side entry zipper orientation
• Rainfly kickstand vent
• Adjustable rain fly (roll-up vestibule & stargazer view)
• Adjustable integrated stake-out loops
• Lightweight reflective guy-outs
• Durable high-tenacity nylon fabrics
• Reinforced Infinity bar tacks and lap-felled seams
• Durashield™-coated rainfly and bathtub-style floor
• Compression stuff sack with pull handle
MSR Hubba Hubba NX – 2 Man Tent – Available at Amazon