MSR Hubba Hubba Tent REVIEW

Double wall tent for two that weighs just over 4 lbs and has a unique pole hub system that makes it a breeze to pitch.

Print

by Doug Johnson | 2006-02-21 03:00:00-07

Overview

MSR Hubba Hubba Tent REVIEW - 1

The MSR Hubba Hubba uses a single pole hub system and a shorter center pole in a unique configuration for a super fast pitch and impressive usable space. At less than 4.5 pounds, this double wall tent is a spacious home in the field with good wind stability to boot. With the fly off, the large mesh panels offer some of the best views available in a tent. Further, the 2005 model improves on this great design with dual doors and vestibules as well as greater frame rigidity - and at a weight increase of just 2 ounces. If you are looking for a well rounded, lightweight, double wall tent, the MSR Hubba Hubba definitely deserves your attention.

What's Good

  • Brilliant pole/hub system makes set up a snap
  • Additional cross pole extends headroom, making this a very spacious tent
  • Mesh inner tent provides excellent views and is a comfortable escape from bugs
  • Durable materials hold up well to field abuse
  • At a minimum weight of 4 pounds 2 ounces (1.88 kg), it is a good compromise between weight, durability, and usable space

What's Not So Good

  • Single door is inconvenient for two (2005 model features dual doors)
  • Single vestibule is barely large enough for two people's gear (2005 model features dual vestibules)
  • Fly doesn't go to ground level, allowing for gusts to blow underneath and rain to splash the inner tent in the corners
  • Needle stakes, although tough, are painful to use

Specifications

  Year/Model

2004 MSR Hubba Hubba

  Style

Freestanding double wall tent with floor

  Fabrics

Floor: 70d 190T nylon, 5000 mm PU (polyurethane) coating; Body: 70d 190T nylon taffeta; Fly: 30d ripstop nylon with PU and silicone coating

  Pole Material

Aluminum - DAC Featherlite SL sectional pole (five sections with two aluminum hubs) and single cross pole

  Weight Full Package
As supplied by manufacturer with all included items

4 lb 6.9 oz (2.11 kg) measured weight; manufacturer's specification 4 lb 0 oz (1.80 kg)

  Weight Manufacturer Minimum
Includes minimum number of items needed to erect tent

4 lb 2.3 oz (1.88 kg) measured weight

  Weight Backpacking Light Minimum
Same as Manufacturer Minimum but with 0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes and 0.004 oz/ft (0.37 g/m) Spectra guylines

4 lb 1.7 oz (1.86 kg) measured weight

  Area

Floor area: 30 ft2 (2.8 m2) Vestibule area: 9.5 ft2 (0.9 m2)

  Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

0.46 ft2/oz

  Dimensions

Length: 86 in. (220 cm)
Width: 50 in. (130 cm)
Height: 42in. (110 cm)

  MSRP

$289

Performance

MSR Hubba Hubba Tent REVIEW - 2

MSR Hubba Hubba Tent REVIEW - 3

The single pole hub system of the MSR Hubba Hubba is extremely easy to use: extend the pole sections, slip the ends into the corner grommets, and attach the inner tent with plastic clips. A brilliant design.

The MSR Hubba Hubba features a pole hub system similar to that found in Big Agnes and Vaude tents. However, the configuration is unique with a side entrance instead of a narrower entrance at the end. This layout gives it the advantage of using a symmetrical pole (same size hub at each end) for super quick pitching. To set up the Hubba Hubba, you first extend the main pole system; pole sections slide into the aluminum hubs similar to how pole sections connect at the sleeves - quick and easy. Next, the pole unit is connected to grommets at each corner of the inner tent body. Twelve plastic snaps connect the mesh inner tent to the pole, erecting the tent. A floating cross pole is then inserted with two grommets and two plastic clips. (In the 2005 model, this pole is connected to the main pole with an aluminum swivel, increasing rigidity and ease of set up).

MSR Hubba Hubba Tent REVIEW - 4
A unique floating pole worked fine but wasn't as rigid as it could have been. (In the 2005 model, the pole is permanently attached at the center with a swivel.)

The fly attaches to the floating pole with a grommet on each side. It attaches to the tent body via a grommet at each corner and adjustable straps. A minimum of two stakes is required for proper fly tension, but a total of thirteen stakeout points are provided (four on the inner tent and nine on the fly). The MSR Hubba Hubba is one of the fastest double wall tents to pitch that I've used. With minimal practice, a basic taut pitch can be achieved in just a few minutes.

MSR Hubba Hubba Tent REVIEW - 5
During breaks on an especially buggy hike, we used the Hubba Hubba as a bug-free relaxation palace. The tent is very spacious inside and the views are stellar.

The inner tent of the Hubba Hubba is almost entirely mesh with only a small nylon panel on the top for reinforcement. While not as warm as a nylon inner tent, the all-mesh inner gives the best views of any double wall shelter I've seen. Further, the inner tent is exceedingly breathable, keeping the inner tent almost completely condensation free. What little moisture did condense in the tent was only on the small upper panel and this was very minimal. There is consistent air space between the fly and the inner tent, further helping with ventilation and condensation resistance. While there is no vent in the rain fly, it pitches about 4 inches above ground level, allowing breezes to enter the tent. In wet conditions, we did experience some condensation on the fly but not in our living space.

The 30 square feet of floor area makes for a comfortable living space for two hikers. Even a 6 foot 4 inch hiker was comfortable in this tent. The area to space ratio of 0.46 ft2/oz was right in the ballpark of other freestanding double wall tents in its class. For example, the Sierra Designs Lightning at 0.48 and the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 at 0.50 are only slightly better in this category. However, the Hubba Hubba blows these other tents away in the usable space category. The extra cross pole opens up the headroom and creates more-than-vertical sidewalls. This makes the tent much larger inside than its competitors. There was plenty of room for two hikers to sit up and play cards when waiting out a storm.

MSR Hubba Hubba Tent REVIEW - 6
Even with the doorway completely open, the tent is still covered. The single doorway made entrances and exits tough for two but the 2005 model features dual doors and vestibules - a serious improvement.

We tested the 2004 model, which has a single doorway and vestibule. The vestibule is large enough for a couple of medium sized packs and shoes - pretty average for a tent in this class. However, the second pole pushes the fly several inches past the tent floor, meaning that the inner tent is protected when the fly is opened during a downpour. The single side door means that you have to climb over your partner to get out of the tent, which was a nuisance at times. (The 2005 model features dual doors and vestibules with a reported weight increase of just 2 ounces - additions that dramatically improve the usability of the tent.)

MSR Hubba Hubba Tent REVIEW - 7
Large mesh pockets at each end provide excellent storage.

For interior organization, there is a huge mesh pocket at each end of the tent with enough space to fit several ditty bags, paperbacks, or items of clothing. The additional storage was a welcome change from the minimal pockets found in most lightweight tents. While the mesh fabric seems fragile, stuffing the pockets beyond capacity didn't cause any durability issues.

MSR Hubba Hubba Tent REVIEW - 8
The MSR Needle stakes are tough as nails but hard on the hands.

The Hubba Hubba comes with MSR Needle stakes. While I was completely unsuccessful in bending them, the sharp angles are hard on your hands. Despite this fact, they survived being pounded in with rocks and provide solid placements in even the rockiest locations. Personally, I prefer titanium skewers that are easier to place and remove. Kelty Triptease-style guylines with reflective sections were very tough and reflect like laser beams at night - very cool.

An optional footprint ($39.95) can be matched with the rain fly and poles to create a "tarp-shelter" that weighs a reported 3 pounds 1 ounce (1.4 kg), dropping a full pound off of the tent weight. This provides an option to save some weight and have a freestanding tarp when conditions allow.

MSR Hubba Hubba Tent REVIEW - 9
The MSR Hubba Hubba holds up well to storms, keeping out rain and showing a surprising lack of deflection in moderate winds.

When conditions turn stormy, the MSR Hubba Hubba holds its own but does show its three-season limits. The rain fly is fully taped and never leaked and the covered entryway keeps the interior dry when getting in and out of the tent. It is critical to stake out the front and rear of the tent to avoid rain splashing against the mesh inner walls. Despite a proper pitch, a windy two-day downpour caused some water to splash in on the corners, wetting gear in the corners of the tent. While this was a serious early winter storm and probably beyond the reasonable range of the tent, this problem could be avoided by extending the nylon floor a couple inches higher in the corners. During more reasonable rainstorms, though, we experienced no problems. Even when pitching the tent in muddy grass, the floor did not soak through.

With the flat triangular sides and broad roofline of the Hubba Hubba, I incorrectly assumed that the tent wouldn't hold up well when the winds picked up speed; I was pleased to find that the design works quite well in these conditions. Nine guyout points on the fly give very secure pitching options and the geometric shapes of the tent spilled wind surprisingly well. Even in gusts into the 40 mph range, the Hubba Hubba held up just fine.

After extensive field testing by a variety of different hikers, this tent has shown no durability issues. The only wear the tent shows is one small snag on the large stuff sack. All critical seams are reinforced and all seams are taped. This is a quality tent.

At $299.95, the MSR Hubba Hubba is in the ballpark of other tents in its class such as the Sierra Designs Lightning ($249) and the Big Agnes Seedhouse 2SL ($299). However, it offers an overall package that gives you a lot for your money. Good wind stability and storm protection, excellent usable space, the best views around, a competitive weight, and now featuring dual doors and vestibules...all these add up to an excellent value for a three-season, double wall tent.

What's Unique

The hub pole system, while used by a few other companies, is best applied in this symmetrical layout with a side entrance. It is fast to put up and doesn't limit door size. The cross pole extends headroom dramatically and also keeps the inner tent dry when the fly is open. Tent angles resist deflection in moderate winds and allow for a taut rain fly.

Recommendations for Improvement

My biggest problems with the tent have been addressed with the 2005 model changes. These include:

  • Single door is cramped for two people - current model now has two doors
  • Single vestibule is small for two people - current model has two vestibules
  • Floating pole system lowers ceiling height and limits frame rigidity - current model has a center pole that is permanently attached by an aluminum swivel
  • A weight increase of only 2 ounces (claimed) is well worth the increase in usability to this tent. Great job improving on a great design MSR!

However, the tent would also benefit from:

  • A slightly higher bathtub floor to protect from splashing rain, especially at the corners
  • A vent in the fly for increased ventilation during humid conditions

Citation

"MSR Hubba Hubba Tent REVIEW," by Doug Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/msr_hubba_hubba_tent_review.html, 2006-02-21 03:00:00-07.

Print