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Tarptent vs MSR
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John Ben
(aristotle_man) - F
Tarptent vs MSR on 07/19/2009 10:57:53 MDT Print View


I was wondering if people could tell me why there is so much hostility towards the MSR reflex tent? I think I might be misunderstanding something.

The MSR is:
2 lbs 13 oz

compared to the tarptent equivalent

The Scarp2:
3 lbs 3oz - 4 lbs 7oz (with crossing poles)

The double rainbow looks nice but that isnt a double walled tent right?

Are these the best/lightest double walled tents available right now?

Edited by aristotle_man on 07/19/2009 10:58:49 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Tarptent vs MSR on 07/19/2009 11:39:11 MDT Print View

Cost? Carbon fiber poles?

Ryan Teale
(monstertruck) - F

Locale: Almost Yosemite
Tarptent vs MSR on 07/19/2009 12:28:59 MDT Print View

I wouldn't say there is hostility. Many on here, including me, just prefer to support the cottage industries and help fund their ingenuity and entrepreneurship. Many may also just prefer "non-traditional" tents and shelters.

The packed size of the tent and all the poles may also play a role although the reflex and scarp are probably about equal in this regard.

MIchael MacCormac
tt v msr on 07/19/2009 12:47:24 MDT Print View

The TT rainbow ( and others at SMD and GG the one, montbell crescent)) are not quite single wall in the traditional sense- they are more like hybrids. Many prefer these for there lower weight & reasonable condensation management as oppossed to double wall and true single wall tents. Of, course, some conditions require a double wall.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

CR2 vs. Scarp2 on 07/19/2009 13:26:32 MDT Print View

As a Carbon Reflex 2 owner, I might be a bit biased but here's how I see the CR2 and Scarp2 stacking up:

CR2 advantages:
- 6oz lighter
- fabric won't burn (unlike SilNylon)
- Floor is much more waterproof (10,000mm vs 1000-2000mm I think)
- From a major manufacturer so you know they're still going to be around in a decade if you have a warranty issue.
- Don't need to seam seal the tent
- More headroom

Scarp 2 advantages:
- dual doors
- more interior room

I don't really see price as being a factor here. Sure the CR2 has a $500 MSRP vs. $325 but you can great deals on the CR2 since it's from a major manufacturer whereas you normally need to pay full retail for the Scarp 2. I got my CR2 on eBay for $355 including shipping and others have got them for just over $300.

The CR2 does have less floor area, but I still find it to be totally adequate for 2 and so does BPL who said so in their review. The CR2 has really good headroom thanks to the cross strut. The Scarp 2 has a higher peak interior height by a few inches but that's just in the center of the tent and then it gets lower towards the sides. Because the CR2 stays high right to the walls, you can actually stand up (hunched over of course) to do stuff like roll up your sleeping pad or load your pack....even with someone else in the tent.

The biggest selling point of the CR2 for me is the waterproofing. The floor is signficantly more waterproof than SilNylon (and probaby more durable too). The CR2 uses the same 10,000mm waterproof floor material that MSR uses in their other (heavier) tents.

Tarptents on the other hand are not only less waterproof, they also require you to seam seal the tent (I believe). This is an added cost and requires quite a bit of time plus it doesn't always work out that well....just check out that recent TT review by someone on this site (Rainbow 2 I think) that couldn't get it all sealed.

The 6 oz of weight savings is pretty significant too. That's 2/3rds of what a 3/4 length NeoAir weighs.

Basically, the Carbon Reflex 2 uses extremely light Carbon Fibre poles (and very few of them) to save weight so they can give you a tent with durable and highly waterproof fabrics. The Scarp 2 uses more poles and heavier ones, but then uses lighter fabrics (which I believe are less waterproof and durable) to save the weight. That's not to say the CR2 materials aren't light (the fly is darn light), they are just less of a compromise than SilNylon.

Edited by dandydan on 07/19/2009 17:47:08 MDT.

Tim Testa
(MichaelRedbeard) - F
Dan Nailed it... on 07/19/2009 17:27:46 MDT Print View

Alright to begin with I am pro MSR Carbon Reflex and just bought one two weeks ago. First things first, that $500 price tag! I agree with everyone, that is a ridiculous price to pay for any tent! In fact, if I had to pay $500 for it, Im not sure if I would have gotten it (I probably still would have because I like it so much, but it would not be an easy decision.) I would say that in order to have peace of mind, I wouldnt want to pay more than $400 for this tent. However, if you are like me, I got mine for $307. And as Dan mentioned he got his for $355. This is with tax, shipping, and everything. You just have to keep an eye out for some deals. Now that I have gotten mine for $307 I would never think twice about it or look back on the purchase with the doubt that maybe I shouldn't have bought it.

As mentioned, its fantastically light. We all know that though. The carbon poles seem extremely sturdy to me as well. I dont see them breaking unless you stepped on them or are a polluck that likes forcing things into places that do fit. However, thats another thing; the poles do not require a whole lot of tension to put them into the grommets, this is the main reason why I do not think anything will go wrong with them. As Dan as said, MSR warranties all of their stuff. Obviously wear and tear issues are not covered, but if a pole just so happens to break, it specifically states that they will be glad to replace them. So no worries in that regard.

Once again, Dan is correct with the durability and thickness of the bottom of the tent. It keeps things ultra waterproofed and may leave you feeling comfortable enough not to buy a footprint (while it will cost me in weight and I really don't think I need one, I still am going to a footprint to extend the life of my investment as best as possible.) Speaking of waterproofed, MSR has everything already seamed sealed for you. I believe Dan is correct in saying that the Scarp requires you do seam seal it yourself. Pft....If Im buying a $300 tent, I dont want to have to buy the extra supplies and go through the extra work of having to seam seal it myself. Others may not mind. Hell some may even love to do it on their own, because it reassures them that the seal it laid out in the manner that they would like it to be.

As far as the fabric not being flammable, I dont plan on cooking in the tent, so I dont really care about that. And then there is the extra headroom, I'm 5'7 so Im not one to speak on matters because it really doesnt make a difference to me.

The only complaint I have about the Carbon Reflex is that I wish the tent was maybe 4-6 inches wider. I know thats nothing, but I think if it had just that little extra space, it would be the all time perfect tent. However, it should be mentioned that two regular Prolite 4 Regular sized mattresses fit in there just fine!

The pros about the Scarp, dual doors. Whooop Deeee Doooo. Here is my opinion on matters at least from my own personal standpoint and sleeping patterns. I am not a heavy sleeping. I don't mind being eased awake when someone wants to ask me a quick question or when my girlfriend gets out of my bed at home to do something in the middle of the night or when the door squeeks open as she leaves. When all of these kinds of things happen, I take notice of them and then its lights out for me. I am not the type of person where if you wake me up, thats it Im up and cant go back to sleep. I just open my eyes quick and before you know it everything goes dark again. So enough said on that matter.

As far as the Scarp's extra room is concerned, that is the only thing that I think it beats the MSR on. As I have said the MSR would be perfect if it had a little extra room that the Scarp does. However, since this is the one and only things that catches my eyes about it, its not enough for me to ignore the many great things about the MSR. When going ultralight, sacrifics need to be made in order to go as light as possible. That being said, the only question that needs to be answered is what sacrifics are you willing to make and which ones are you not will to make? I can bare dealing with not being able to roll around at night as much as I would like to, because at the end of a long days hike, Ill probably be ready to sleep like a log. However, I know many people are not like me. In fact, I think 80% of the people on here and the ones I have come into contact with do not have "less tent space" on their "willing to sacrific" list. They of course make other sacrifics instead which is totally cool, to each their own.

Goodluck with whatever you decide. Weigh your options out and think about your "willing to sacrific list." Also let us know where you are leaning to and why. People ask questions on here all the time, but half the time we never get a follow up on their conclusions. I am interested to know which route you take and why you have taken it. Thanks.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Tarptent vs MSR on 07/19/2009 17:36:38 MDT Print View

That is why on a another thread I pointed out that people should get the tent they like. To some the extra door is important, others could not care less. Some have paid extra to get CF poles for their tent and love them , others have had repeated failures (not with the MSR...) with CF poles and would never use them again.
Bibler/Stephensons/SMD tents are not fire resistant either and you need to seam seal them, yet many like them (and some detest)
Some even stated that the would not buy a Neo mat (Thermarest) because they have had a bad experience with an MSR water filter (!) , the connection there is that both companies are own by Cascade Design. So many logical and or emotional reasons come into play.

Aaron Lastname
(Cloudveil9) - F
Bonkers on 07/19/2009 17:44:02 MDT Print View

The CR2 looks really cool...For a one person tent maybe. (And it would be very heavy for a one person tent...) All I know is that I would go bonkers with 29 square feet of interior space with another person = No way.

I do agree though that all tents, tarps, and shelters that you buy from any large manufacturers or cottage makers for that matter should be seam sealed when you get it, what's the point in sending me a "Waterproof" product I have to waterproof when I get it? That always kinda leaves me confused.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: Bonkers on 07/19/2009 18:18:24 MDT Print View

Quote Aaron: "All I know is that I would go bonkers with 29 square feet of interior space with another person = No way."

Couple things:

- In BPL's review they said: "Functionally, the floor area and vestibules are adequate for two people plus gear"

- All of the floor space is highly usable and spacious because the roof is high and wide. On some tents the area near the walls is almost un-usable as the roof slopes down but the CR2 has walls that are actually past vertical so even if it is 40" wide at the floor, it's probably 45" wide at head height.

- In the middle, my tent measures more like 42-43", not 40"

- My wife (who doesn't care about gear except to complain when something is wrong) has not even mentioned the tent feels small. She's spent several nights in it with me and the topic has never come up. She's 5'6" 125lbs and I'm 6'0" 160lbs.

- No one who has used this tent has said it's too small. The tent is plenty wide for two people and their mattresses. I don't know why you'd want more room. There is a foot of extra space to stow stuff at your head (or feet) plus both vestibules.


Ultralight backpacking is all about minimizing weight, reducing redundancy and streamlining your gear. What is the function of having a 2 person tent that is larger than the area two people need? Are we cushy car campers all of a sudden?

So many people are here are using bivy sacks, yet when a major manufacturer comes out with a tent that is efficiently fitted for the size of two people, some former ultralighters start trashing it as too small. If this was a Tarptent you guys would probably be extolling the small size as finally get rid of the unneeded floor space. I'm surprised that 40" x 72" isn't the standard size for ultralight tents. With an extra foot of length (84"), the CR2 still provides extra interior space for your dog or whatever.

It seems silly to buy a tent that is 6oz heavier just so you can have extra space. That's exactly the wrong direction we want to be headed. The CR2 has plenty of vestibule space for all your gear. The only exception I can see to this is for bigger guys.

Edited by dandydan on 07/19/2009 18:23:59 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Tarptent vs MSR on 07/19/2009 18:23:09 MDT Print View

Seam Sealing
For a start there are a lot more shelter than generally known that need to be seam sealed by the user. For example in a local forum ( one member was pointing out that it needs to be done with some Exped tents as well as some Macpac, neither advertise that...
There was a very lively debate at WB about this, including negative comments about the TT from users of SMD tents that also need to be done....
Anyway, HS explained that with silnylon you have to seal the tent after it is manufactured, essentially in the exact way one should do it at home. Now imagine having 20 or 30 tents up to seam seal, or in the case of Black Diamond (Epic) maybe several hundreds before they are shipped...
The way around this is to put a PU coating on the inside and tape them. But with that you have people that object paying the extra money, and of course it adds some weight. And occasionally the tape will peal (as it does in jackets) therefore needing seam sealing anyway.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Tarptent vs MSR on 07/19/2009 18:28:46 MDT Print View

IMO...the Scarp 2 compares more with the Hubba Hubba than the Carbon Reflex 2. Both have 2 doors and both have aluminum poles. If you took a door off the Scarp, gave it a carbon main pole, removed the top vents, etc. it would undoubtedly be lighter than the Carbon Reflex 2.

As to whether these are the best and lightest 2 person double walls, that's partially true. Big Sky also have very light 2 person double wall tents although they've had past problems.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Tarptent vs MSR on 07/19/2009 18:37:26 MDT Print View

The new "lightest" two person tent (double wall) is supposed to be the Vaude Scutum at 2.23 lbs . (as a benchmark...)
Not out yet.
You could also look at the Seedhouse SL2, about 3 lbs

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Tarptent vs MSR: Waterproofing seams? on 07/19/2009 18:49:24 MDT Print View

The question of proofing tent seams is an interesting. I suspect that makers advise it because they are then covered if the tent leaks. I don't proof seams until they leak. I'm still waiting to do so with my Hilleberg Akto, in which I've spent hundreds of nights, many of them very wet, and the Scarp I, which has been used for around 30 nights, many of them very wet too, is perfectly waterproof so far. Silicone nylon and the right seam construction make proofing seams unnecessary in my experience.

Ernie Elkins

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Tarptent vs MSR on 07/19/2009 18:49:40 MDT Print View

Let's go back to John's initial post:

"The MSR is:
2 lbs 13 oz

compared to the tarptent equivalent

The Scarp2:
3 lbs 3oz - 4 lbs 7oz (with crossing poles)"

IS the Scarp 2 the Tarptent equivalent to the Carbon Reflex 2? Both are 2-person tents, but, beyond that, they have very different feature sets and design philosophies (or so it seems to me). The Scarp 2 offers more conveniences (more room, two doors, etc.) and a great deal of versatility (it's suitable for 3 and 4-season usage). Are those things worth the added weight? Depends on your needs and Franco said.


Chris makes a good point about the Hubba Hubba being a more appropriate comparison to the Scarp 2. Nonetheless, comparing the Scarp 2 to the Hubba Hubba is still, to a certain degree, comparing apples to oranges. Comparisons can certainly be helpful, but I don't think it's fair to criticize the Scarp 2 because it has more room than is absolutely necessary or because it offers two doors. Nor is fair to criticize the Carbon Reflex 2 because it doesn't offer a lot of elbow room.

Edited by EarthDweller on 07/19/2009 19:01:22 MDT.

Aaron Lastname
(Cloudveil9) - F
Personal Choice on 07/19/2009 18:50:15 MDT Print View

I guess it all comes down to a personal choice. All I know is that for me, 29 square feet is way too small for me and another person...Not to mention me and another person and a dog (As Dan said) ...And not to mention me and and another person and a dog and gear. ;) - Maybe - for a weekend or a 5 day trip, but not for an extended amount of time.

And also I suppose it's another personal opinion that all shelters should come seam sealed...But I really don't have much sympathy toward a manufacturer who "Doesn't have enough time". Hire another person and pay them minimum wage a couple days a week if you have to. To me, I expect a fully waterproof shelter when I get it in the mail. (Unless it's a kit) That said, every shelter I've bought has come not seam sealed and I've bit the bullet and did it myself...I guess that's just how it is. I expect my sleeping bags to be stuffed with down and my backpacks to be fully sewn when they arrive as well, but again just me.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
was in the same boat on 07/19/2009 19:02:21 MDT Print View

I was in the same boat not too very long ago. I had it narrowed down to 3-4 tents (including the Scarp 2). I liked the MSR (got to play w/ one at REI in Seattle), but the price tag on the MSR was a huge hurdle. I stumbled on a thread by one of the above posters pointing out a great deal for the MSR and I jumped :)

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Tarptent vs MSR on 07/19/2009 19:04:06 MDT Print View

The single door entry of the MSR Reflex is a complete deal-breaker for me. I've actually never used a dual-door tent before in my life, but all of the single door tents I've used open at the *end* of the tent (near the head area). So both people have equal access to the door.

The idea of having a single door on the side seems ridiculous to me. My GF would shoot me if I bought a tent for us to share like that! One person has to climb over the other one to get out, which is annoying for both people. So even if I'm willing to put up with someone climbing over me during the night, my GF certainly isn't willing to be trapped on the opposite side!

It beats me why MSR didn't add another L shaped zipper to the other side. Seriously -- it would only add one or two ounces extra at most (there is already a vertical zipper in place) and add enormously to the usability of the tent. Is there a reason why they haven't done this? I bet they come out with a new two-door version next year.

The internal width of the tent is also a no-no as far as I'm concerned. 42-43 inches just doesn't cut it. Needs to be around 48-50 as a bare minimum as far as I'm concerned. And I'd prefer wider than that.

I came close to buying the Scarp 2 but eventually opted for the Big Sky Evolution 2P. Much more space than the MSR reflex, has dual doors, comes seam-sealed, weighs around 3lbs with aluminium poles (about 4oz less with carbon).

It's nice to see a big manufacturer like MSR pushing the boundaries with lightweight tents though. It's good for everyone and spurs on innovation across the board. The Reflex cuts a few too many corners for me though (doors and width!).

Cheers, A

Ernie Elkins

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Personal Choice on 07/19/2009 19:19:55 MDT Print View

"And also I suppose it's another personal opinion that all shelters should come seam sealed...But I really don't have much sympathy toward a manufacturer who 'Doesn't have enough time'."

Franco addressed the difficulties of seam sealing at the factory in his post above, and to reduce a complex issue to "doesn't have enough time" isn't really fair.

Tim Testa
(MichaelRedbeard) - F
Agree on many notes... on 07/19/2009 19:26:54 MDT Print View

“Ultralight backpacking is all about minimizing weight, reducing redundancy and streamlining your gear. What is the function of having a 2 person tent that is larger than the area two people need? Are we cushy car campers all of a sudden?”

Ha Ha Ha Ya you sissy girly girls Ha Ha Ha Just kidding of course =) He does have a point though, the goal of an ultra light backpacker is to get rid of as much weight as possibe, although I just thought about something...I will touch upon later though. In the mean time I actually wish they made the need smaller length wise. I mean really who cares about people that are Oh I dont know, just to throw out a number, 6ft 160lbs =) I am only playing of course. For large people like Dan, this is perfect, but Id be overwhelmed with joy if they had two versions short and scrawny and long and lengthy. That way I could say maybe another 3ozs.

Two others things about the tent though. Many will not like this, because most will say that the extra material adds weight, but I like the fact that the tent, poles, and fly slidding into the bag without having to force it in their after you've rolled it as tightly as possible.

Second, as far as keeping gear in the tent. I am going to have to disagree with Dan on this one. Well maybe/maybe not. If Dan means storing your backpack in the tent or any large items, I definitely disagree. However, I could see how a couple of small items could fit at the heels of your feet. In other words, something along the lines of a flashlight or something.

“IMO...the Scarp 2 compares more with the Hubba Hubba than the Carbon Reflex 2. Both have 2 doors and both have aluminum poles. If you took a door off the Scarp, gave it a carbon main pole, removed the top vents, etc. it would undoubtedly be lighter than the Carbon Reflex 2.”

Well put Chris.

Ok so heres the part where I want to rant a little bit. Im 27 years old. Basically at the fittest and primest part of my life. That being noted I began to focus on this fact. Now I love the idea of trying to go superlight and as bare as possible. That is completely awesome. However, I do like a couple of luxuries. The main one being a large therm-a-rest 24oz pillow. I know i don't need it, but I like knowing that I have a soft place to rest my head (instead of a glob of clothes rolled up in a sweatshirt or no pillow at all) at the end of a 20 mile hiking day.

So heres the thing when is light light enough. Well for me, at this time of my life, 20lbs is like a feather to me. Thats my goal and I dont want to go any heavier. Now of course I would love to go lighter, but not for "light's" sake. I want to go lighter because I like to boast about how light my pack is. Laugh at me if you will, but at least Im honest.

Its fun telling people that your going on a super long journey and then having them tell you, "Oh geezzz, well your probably going to have to carry 70-80lbs for a hike of that length." Of course you reply back and say, "No actually Ill only be carrying 20lbs." It opens the door for conversation. For me it gives me the chance to brag about something I enjoy doing, mainly being out doors as much as possible. And Ive read your guy's comments on hear too. You all enjoy sharing you knowledge and awesome pack weights. But backing to the person that Im talking to...For them it might give them some ideas behind why it might be worth giving hiking a shot. Maybe they always thought hiking had to be heavy and gruelsome.

So heres my point. First priority is figuring out what weight works for your body, cause honestly if Im carrying a 17lb packback as opposed to a 20lb one, Im not going to feel the difference. Now if were taking about a range of 25lbs as opposed to a 28lb backpack Id be able to feel it. To continue this point further if I have a 20lb bag and get it down to 14lbs, its not going to matter to me. Im a fit young male at my prime, the extra 6lbs is not going to make or break me when we get so low in weigh.

Anyways after you figure out what works for you, then you start calculating out your luxuries. If you luxuries fit into what weight works for your body type. Screw it, keep them if it makes you happy and comfortable. You derserve a couple of luxuries at the end of a long day. However, if they go outside of your weight zone, its time to start dumping them.

In the end, if you want to continue to dump weight. Then the only two reasons I could think of to do so would be to go as bare as possible and be jungle boy or to be able to mak fun goals for yourself to see how much weigh you can make you pack weight. I do it for the fun little goals. Going bare is fun and all, but at the end of a long week or months hike, I know its back to the real world so I think its alright to take a couple of bites and pieces of the world you left behind if you know you are going to returning to it.

Wow that was long and winded. Darn no one is probably going to read this now. Bummer, what a waste of a half hour, well I had fun chatting my own ears off =)

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Personal Choice on 07/19/2009 19:27:18 MDT Print View

Regarding seam-sealing... it's really a cost-saving factor. It takes time and space to seam-seal a tent, so by not doing it the manufacturer can offer the tent at a lower price.

Personally I'm prepared to pay extra for a factory-sealed tent because the one's I've sealed in the past have been a PITA (even though they have not been considered 'tricky' tents to seal).