Field Notes: We pitched this tent in a few different scenarios over the testing trip, ranging from canyon flats to riverbeds. Each time, testers were impressed by the sleek single-pole design, expansive vestibules and relatively spacious livability.
Pros: When Active Junky gear testers popped open the climbing rope bag-style stuff sack and unleashed this MSR tent, there was a murmur of delight. “It’s smaller than the Hubba Hubba,” noted two of our testers who work for the National Park Service. While working for Olympic National Park, these two female gear testers relied exclusively on MSR’s sturdy, lightweight and bombproof Hubba Hubba for weeks on end in relentless PNW rain. Obviously, they were stoked when a smaller, lighter version of their beloved backcountry shelter came to Lite.
MSR didn’t disappoint. While a few ounces heavier than the Mountain Hardwear Ghost and less livable than the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 (four inches shorter ceiling height and more tapered at the ends of the tent), the FreeLite 2 was one tester’s favorite because of the vestibules, bomber construction and performance in inclement weather.
Cons: While scraping through a canyon with the FreeLite 2 strapped to the outside of her pack, one disappointed tester reported the stuff sack was shredded in several places by encroaching sandstone walls. Despite stuff sack trauma, we didn’t question the actual tent’s durability. Nervous backpackers should snag a footprint to dramatically reduce abrasion concerns.
Favorite Feature: The vestibules were almost as big as those of Big Agnes Copper UL2 (17.5 square feet versus 18), but sleeker and less noisy when properly staked. Basic internal organizer pockets, a smart and easy-to-synch stuff sack and one of the fastest single-pole setups tested made it tougher to pick a favorite feature.
Tester Quote: “This tent has the perfect ratio of livability to weight for me. At the weight level, I wouldn’t hesitate to bring this tent on a solo trip. That said, bunking with a partner is relatively painless vis a vis the Ghost UL2. The low, angular design of this MSR tent helps it stand up to heavy rain and wind. Plus, for how light it is, the vestibules are unreal.”
Bottom Line: Striking the balance between weight and livability
- 15D nylon ripstop fly and floor
- Durashield PU coating (1200mm)
- 7000-series aluminum pole
- Two doors and vestibules
- 2lb 7oz minimum weight
- Fast pitch option
- Venting micro mesh canopy
- Vestibule Space: 14 sq ft
- Interior Height: 38 in
- Floor Dimensions: 50 x 84 in
- Floor Space: 29 sq ft
- Fast-pitch Weight: 2 lb
- Trail Weight: 2 lb 7 oz
- Packed Weight: 3 lb
Materials: [fly] 15D nylon ripstop, Durashield PU coating (1200mm), [canopy] 10D nylon micromesh, [floor] 15D nylon ripstop, Durshield PU coating (1200mm)