Gear Review – MSR Hubba Hubba Tent
Welcome to my first ever gear review. To kick things off I’m going to give an assessment of my tent; the MSR Hubba Hubba. Just to make things clear, I bought this tent myself and all opinions are my own. I will mainly be reviewing the tent for the purpose I have been using it, bike touring, but a lot of the points will be relevant to other likely uses, primarily hiking.
There are a lot of positives to this tent. It is light at just 1.4 kg and packs down into a very compact size. With a bit of practice you can get it to pack down considerably smaller than the bag supplied which makes it very easy to stow and strap onto a bike rack. It is also incredibly easy to assemble. The pole system is all interconnected so it simply snaps together and attaches to the inner mesh part of the tent. The fly sheet is then thrown over and clipped onto this and pegged down. Very quick and easy. One criticism I would have is that it is hard to assemble in the rain without soaking the inner sleeping section. I think I have worked out a method involving a lot of clambering around inside but I feel there must be an easier way.
The tent has so far stood up very well to everything Australia and a little bit of New Zealand has had to throw at it. From battering winds on Nullarbor cliff tops to torrential storms in hot and humid New South Wales it has remained weather proof. The pitching technique to best aid performance in the wind takes a little perfecting but this is certainly an aspect I have been very pleased with. The set up of the tent with a completely sealed inner mesh section and a separate fly has also been very well thought out. The mesh has proven to be totally insect proof so far which has been a welcome relief at several mosquito infested spots that I have stopped. A quick dive in, zip up and check with a torch has meant that I have been able to sleep in complete peace without fear of being bitten to death. It has also resisted many moths, large spiders and even a frog! It can also be pitched without the fly sheet or with it pulled back which has been excellent on hot, dry nights or when I have been remote and wanting to sleep under the stars. The dull green colour is also ideal for bike touring. There have been occasions where I have wanted to camp inconspicuously just off the road, mainly through lack of a better place to stay. Trying to pick out a green tent among the bush would seem to be quite difficult and I have had no problems with disturbances this far. It is worth noting, that the latest generation of MSR tents are silver, so it might be worthwhile trying to get hold of a previous model if wanting to use it for a similar purpose.
There have been a couple of minor drawbacks and mishaps to note. Firstly, I managed to snap one of the tent pegs. I think I probably have to take most of the blame for this seeing as I was trying to pitch on very hard ground and using a rock to knock in the pegs. The design however, does have an inherent weak point that seems to make snapping a distinct possibility. Another problem was that one of the pieces of elastic within the poles has snapped. It has certainly been used a lot though so some wear and tear is probably inevitable. It is just slightly annoying to try and fix! My final and main criticism is the lack of venting. The issue mainly arises on cold and damp nights. If it is too cold or rain is forecast, the doors can’t be left open overnight. It is then very difficult to get enough air in to prevent a large amount of condensation building up on the inside of the fly. This means the tent often has to be packed away damp. I assume the lack of built in vents is to ensure that the tent remains watertight in extreme conditions. This I understand, especially as it is primarily marketed as a top end backcountry tent to handle all seasons. With the benefit of hindsight however, it would probably be something I would look for in future. I have seen plenty of other similar models with vents as standard.
Overall, I think the MSR Hubba Hubba has been an excellent purchase for my trip. It has kept me and all my belongings dry when necessary and other than a few minor issues I have no real complaints. The quality of the materials (elastic excepted) appears to be excellent and I have completely grown to view it as my home. It is toward the higher end of the price range but it would appear so far that you get what you pay for. For occasional use or a shorter trip, there are probably other, cheaper options. But for a long expedition where you don’t want to worry about major replacements or repairs and staying dry is by far the biggest consideration, I would highly recommend this tent.