I found Mountain Safety Research tends to make impressive iterations of a product and stick with it. Most outdoor gear companies tend to gradually ruin their best products by constantly cutting costs and frugality, but they should take a page from MSR’s book.
That said, it’s a good idea to see what your peers are doing when you update your product. Redesigned for 2022, MSR’s Hubba Hubba NX Backpacking Tent could have had a few more minor changes to keep it from being obsolete in the growing competition.
fluttering in the wind
Hubba Hubba NX is available in one-, two- and three-person versions. I tested the two-person version and hiked in Texas’ Big Bend National Park for a week, hiking from frigid forested mountains to 95-degree deserts.
The MSR sheds 10 ounces (a considerable amount of weight) from the pre-2022 two-person Hubba Hubba NX.it only weighs 3 ounces now Large Agnes Copper Branch UL2 and lighter than 6.5 ounces Sea to Summit Telos TR2.MSR did this without reducing its interior’s 29-square-foot footprint, and new poles make the walls more vertical and feel more spacious. The Copper Spur is the same size and the Telos is nearly the same at 28 square feet.
Freestanding tents do not require stakes to be fully erected, and they can withstand high winds better than non-detached or semi-detached ones (which only require a few stakes). This came in handy in the desert, where sometimes the concrete-like desert floor wouldn’t allow me to drive the titanium spikes into the soil. For high winds, I’d pull out each rope and put a heavy rock on it, but on calm nights I just threw my gear into the tent to crush it down and go to sleep.
In the evening, some strong wind gusts hit the Hubba Hubba NX in the open desert, and the cool breeze rolled down the Chisos Mountains at dusk, sending a chill on the desert floor where I camped most of the night. I couldn’t determine the wind speed—to my great pleasure, there was no cell phone signal on the Dodson Trail—but the tent was securely fastened, with little to no ripple all night.
Most people only need a three-season tent, which is much cheaper and lighter than a four-season tent, and is really better for ultra-low temperatures, very high winds and snow. My coldest night in three seasons MSR was 40 degrees F, using a 20 degree Marmot sleeping bag on a closed cell foam sleeping pad and I have no complaints. It has a pop-up vent that you can close or leave open. The MSR is as ventilated and fresh as other premium tents, which means it never feels stuffy like cheaper tents can sometimes.
At 5’10” I can lie down in most ultralight tents with just a little gap between the tent walls and the end of the sleeping bag. The Hubba Hubba NX is far from the only tent that can drop a large mesh bag to the foot end of the tent, but it makes me uncomfortable every time I see it.
Ultralight tents require some sacrifices to save weight. MSR use 20 denier Ripstop nylon is used for tent floors and walls, and 10 denier polyester mesh is used for breathable parts of tent inner walls. A typical two-layer tent will use the same fabric for the semi-permeable inner wall and the more waterproof outer wall, but they will be heavier and thicker, such as 60 or 75 denier, and have larger zippers for easier work effortless .
On any ultralight gear, it’s important that the zipper works with minimal effort and doesn’t catch any fabric when unzipping and unzipping. Since the fabric is so thin, it is easier for a zipper to tear it. At the very least, you’ll be repairing your tent on your expensive shelter, and if that happens to you on your trip, there could be a few wet nights.
The two small zippers on the inner wall door of the MSR tent were not as smooth as I would have liked, so I had to push too hard. More force equals greater potential to tear the fabric, and even with a light touch, the zipper is easier to grab than the zippers on competing ultralight tents. Wacky hardware is a theme. Compared to other ultralight tents in this price range that tend to use the DAC’s poles, I had to use more force than usual to put the Easton Syclone tent poles together and separate them.
Put together some final thoughts
Hubba The Hubba NX is not a bad tent. In fact, it’s not even mediocre: it’s a good tent, but even if it points out the main aspects of good wind resistance, lightweight design and interior space, it falls down to the details: zippers, poles and pocket.This Large Agnes Copper Branch UL2 and Sea to Summit Telos TR2 Beat the $480 Hubba Hubba NX by wielding less fussy tent poles and zippers and more thoughtful interior pocket placement, and they don’t cost too much.
If all you need is a tent that you can drive to the campsite and hitchhike on a reserved site, then ditch the ultralight tent altogether and buy something cheaper and more durable, such as REI Cooperative Trail Lodge 2. But if your next adventure needs an ultralight tent and the Copper Spur and Telos are sold out, as has often been the case these days, the Hubba Hubba NX is a great option. For nearly $500, though, “fines” can be a tough pill to swallow.