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Review: MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Backpacking Tent

A superbly spacious yet low weight and highly packable three-season backpacking tent.

It’s award-winning and a best seller, year after year. But does the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Backpacking Tent really step up to hype? Short answer: absolutely! If low weight, packability and liveability are your top priorities in a three-season backpacking tent then you’ll struggle to trump the superbly spacious design of the Hubba. It also happens to be constructed of high grade materials that, if looked after, will stand the test of time for years. For the long answer, read on and find out its few pitfalls as well as what I love the most about it.

MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Backpacking Tent: The stats

Weight:1.72 kg / 3.8lbs
Pack size:46 x 15 cm / 18 x 6 in
Material:Ripstop nylon and nylon micromesh
Seams:Taped seams (European version)
Poles:1 x DAC Featherlite NFL
Entrances:Two
Vestibules:Two

Features of the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Backpacking Tent

Outer rainfly

MRS Hubba Hubba TentThe outer rainfly fabric is constructed of 20D Ripstop nylon with 1200mm Durashield polyurethane and silicone. This is a waterproof coating that is applied to the exterior of the rainfly. Silicone is used instead of a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating as it provides some UV protection and is also more pliable and a little stronger than DWR.

Inner tent

MSR Inner TentThe inner section of the tent comprises 15D nylon micromesh panels over the top, sides and ends of the tent, 20D ripstop nylon side panels and 30D ripstop nylon 3000mm DuraShield polyurethane and DWR coated floor. This is a bathtub style floor.

Doors on outer rain fly

Tent door gutterTo prevent rain from dripping inside the tent when the doors are open, the StayDry doors feature built-in rain gutters to channel water away. These are surprisingly effective and an excellent, yet simple addition. The zippers of each external door extend down to the end of the tent instead of out to the side. Another easy to use design feature that prevents you from reaching very far outside of the inner tent to open up the rainfly.

Internal doors

Internal Tent doorsThe internal doors are large and feature D-shaped entry which opens up the whole tent very well. The doors have two zippers on them and can be rolled away and tied back when not in use.

Vents

Tent ventAt both ends of the tent there are kickstand rainfly vents to help reduce condensation and keep air flowing. They are secured in place (both open and closed) with a Velcro tab. Mesh panels on the inner tent align with the positions of the vents on the rainfly.

Hub-and-pole system

Tent pole hubTo ensure that sections of poles don’t go walkies, the whole pole system is joined together in a unified hub-and-pole system. Two hubs at each end direct poles down to the corners of the tent whilst a single shorter pole is attached across the middle of the spine to act as a lateral roof rafter. This pole creates the width and headroom internally. The poles are DAC Featherlite NFL; super lightweight poles that are strong enough to endure the demands of ultra lightweight backpacking.

Pole attachments

Tent pole stake outThe ends of the poles sit in small eyelets in the metal brackets at the corners of the inner tent. Attached to the brackets are webbing stake-out loops. These are colour coded to ensure that the outer rainfly is placed the right way round so that the doors align. The outer rainfly attaches to the corners by connecting a metal eyelet to the bottom of the pole, beneath the bracket.

Stake-out loops

Tent pegThe stake-out loops on the corners of the inner tent and on both sides of the rainfly comprise of simple webbing with a loop at one end that feeds through a buckle. This system means that the length of the stake-out loops are adjustable to the terrain but can also be tightened right in once the stakes are in place.

Internal storage

Tent pocketsThere is one long storage pocket at each end of the inner tent. This is made of the same mesh that the inner tent mesh panels are made of. It fits personal essentials such as headlamp, book, glasses, toiletries etc.

Carry case

Packed tent next to bagThe tent bag is really well designed. It’s essentially an elongated drawstring bag which means it opens up really wide to easily fit in the tent. There are two buckled straps on the outside of the bag to compress the whole tent down into an incredibly small package. MSR calls it an “ultra-compact compression stuff sack”. It also doubles as a good waterproof sitter when not in use!

Guy lines

Tent Guy lineThere are four lightweight guy lines on the tent. One at each end and one on each side. These are reflective at night and are secured in place with a simple fold over the knot mechanism.


MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Backpacking Tent review

In 2005, MSR created the first Hubba Hubba NX Backpacking Tent. Since then, it’s gone through a few improvements, won some awards and continues to be a best-seller, year after year. So what makes this lightweight tent stand out from the highly competitive backpacking tent market so much?

For me, it’s the liveability and spaciousness. It’s an incredibly well designed tent whether you take into account its low weight or not. But when you consider that the whole package weighs less that 2 litres of water (1.72 kg / 3.8lbs), not to mention how well it stands up to storms and foul weather, it’s really no surprise that it is a massively popular tent.

International versions of the Hubba Hubba NX

Before we go any further, it’s worth noting that the Hubba Hubba NX in this review is the current version available in Europe. However, the US version was updated in 2019 to include an even stronger pole system, sealed taped seams and a longer lasting waterproofing treatment. The equivalent of the updated US Hubba Hubba NX is available in Europe as the Hubba Shield. Though it’s a tricky one to get hold of!

Now that that’s cleared up, let’s get down to why the design and construction of this tent (almost) totally rocks!

Woman in MSR Hubba Hubba Tent

Liveability

As mentioned, one of the best things about this tent, for me, is how spacious and liveable it is. First up, I could never go back to a tent with only a single entrance and vestibule. Even if you’re using it for solo camping, having two entrances and vestibules is a game-changer in wet conditions. All your wet gear can stay out of the way in one vestibule whilst cooking etc can be done in the other. When sharing the tent with another person, a second entrance is even more crucial. The vestibule space is generous and relatively steep sided, thanks to the slightly overhanging top pole.

Secondly, and also thanks to that sneaky top pole, the head room inside the inner tent is vast. The symmetrical design means that it’s not tapered at one end, which I really like. This means that there’s plenty of space for two people to sit up at either end of the tent. And the highest point provides a cavernous 39 in / 1m of head room. This is enough for me to crouch in and change my trousers!

Next up is the amount of sleeping space available (213 x 127 cm / 84 x 50 in). This is plenty for two normal sized sleeping pads to fit in with a little extra space at the sides for clothing etc. But it also fits in a regular sleeping pad and the enormous, extra wide (30 inches!) Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Topo Luxe Sleeping Pad. I assumed this pad would only ever be used for solo camping in this tent. But no, it fits like a glove alongside its slimmer cousin, the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite.

MSR tent with doors open

To add to the feeling of spaciousness, the design of the large internal doors is an excellent feature. They zip right open and can be rolled right back to the sides and out of the way. With both doors open the inside space feels airy and bright. Plus, the rainfly zipper is placed to the end of the external opening (rather than right down the side). This makes it much easier to access from the inside of the tent and ensures that you don’t dripped on if it’s wet.

The internal storage options are a little disappointing, offering only two pockets, one at either end. That said, the pockets provide enough space to store a few personal items, and there are also gear loops in the ceiling for rigging up your own storage solutions and hanging wet socks and headlamps etc.

Ease of set up

The Hubba Hubba NX is fairly standard in terms of set up for a backpacking tent. The integrated cross pole is a good feature so as not to mislay it when setting up in a hurry. It’s also very appealing, living in rainy Cornwall, that the tent can be set up rainfly first. Doing it this way round isn’t as easy as doing the inner first. However, is does mean that the inner stays dry when trying to put it up in the rain.

Inside tent clips

Another option that makes this way of setting it up easier, is to buy the Hubba Hubba compatible footprint / groundsheet. This has the same style pole attachment points as the inner tent to enable the ends of poles to sit in the eyelets and give the poles structure. If you have the groundsheet, it means that for fast and light missions or in warmer weather, you can omit the inner tent altogether.

Weatherproofness

Like most lightweight tents of this style, the Hubba rainfly can be noisy in high winds. Not to the point where I question how long it will endure the storm for before it rips, kind of noisy. But enough to notice. The beauty of noticing this is that I’ve been awake to also notice how sturdy the frame is in said strong winds. Zero collapsing in, no matter how temporary. It just sounds worse than it is.

The European version of this model has factory sealed taped seams to prevent the water from seeping through the weakest parts of the rainfly. However, the North American version (pre-2019 update) doesn’t, and you’ll need to seal your own seams. Thankfully, the newer US version does have factory sealed seams. This is just something to be aware of as sealed seams really shouldn’t have to be done at home when you’re paying for a premium tent. Ensure that you check the model / version if you are planning on buying this tent.

Paddle board camping

Overall, this thing has endured pretty grim weather and has dealt with it very well. No seeping at the seams, no door drips breaching the internal chamber and no pooling of water on the rainfly. However, if you’re about to set the tent up in driving rain, you may want to consider whether you point one of the doors into the wind or one of the ends into the wind. Obviously, you’d ordinarily keep the doors facing away from the wind. However, the rainfly is slightly short at the ends, exposing some of the inner tent fabric below. In normal rainfall, this exposed fabric is perfectly waterproof. But as soon as the rain drives directly at this section, it’s only a matter of time before droplets of water start to seep through to the inside.

Tent rainfly

So far, these have only been droplets which, if you’re expecting, can be managed. However, I feel that MSR have tried to scrimp a few extra grams off the tent by shortening the rainfly, only for its performance to be compromised slightly in certain conditions.

Packability

Gosh, this thing packs down small! Having said that my favourite thing about the Hubba Hubba NX is its liveability, it’s really hard not to appreciate and love how packable it is.

This is not simply down to the size and low weight of the tent when folded up. It also owes its impressive diddiness to the design of the compression sack. As mentioned, the buckles on the bag enable the tent to be packed down really tightly. Plus, because it’s made of similar fabric to the the rainfly, the bag does a decent job at protecting the rest of the gear in my backpack from getting saturated if I pack it up wet. It fits rather nicely inside my 30 litre day pack, which I use for one-nighter hiking trips.

Packing tent into backpack

What I love the most about the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2

The overall liveability is great. But more specifically, I love how spacious it feels. I’ve spent the last few years enjoying the Big Agnes Copper Spur. Yet, despite the fact that the Hubba is only around 400g heavier, the extra space it provides seems relatively much greater.

I also really love how small this tent packs down.

What I don’t love so much about the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2

As mentioned, the coverage of the rainfly at the ends of the tent could be better. In bad conditions the knock-on effect of this is droplets of water on the inside of the inner tent.

I would also like to see I slightly different design with the door tie-backs so that the doors stay in place in the folded back positions. As it is, they get a bit flappy in the wind which slowly loosens them and then they start to fall away from the tie-backs. Perhaps two tie-back loops would solve this?


Man next to tent at night

Verdict

With two large vestibules at each entrance, a ton of headroom, wonderfully large doors and a surprisingly large sleeping area, you will struggle to find a more liveable backpacking tent than the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2. Constructed with high grade fabrics and materials to withstand high winds and rain, this mega packable tent is ideal for three-season backpacking, bikepacking and canoe or SUP camping, as well as winter missions in more moderate climates.

There are a couple of minor design flaws that should be weighed up, depending on the conditions you’ll predominantly be using this tent in. However, they’re certainly not deal-breakers. And as such, this excellent two-person tent gets two very big thumbs up from me!

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Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About the author

author-joey

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard, and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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