The MSR Hubba Hubba is often cited as a best in class lightweight backpacking tent and, whilst it isn’t cheap, we think it’s fantastic.
Pros / Reasons to Buy
- Spacious feeling interior
- Very easy to pitch
- Packs down to a very small volume
Cons / Reasons to Avoid
- It’s pricey – especially in the UK
- Slightly fiddly zippers on fly sheet
- Printed pitching instructions could be clearer
We were very impressed by the MSR Hubba Hubba. It’s certainly far from the cheapest tent we reviewed, but it offers a great combo of spaciousness, quality build and light weight. The design shows many thoughtful elements and the tent is easy to pitch and break down too. If you can justify the cost, we don’t think the Hubba Hubba will disappoint! Taking all of this into consideration, we have no hesitation in saying the MSR Hubba Hubba is our top pick for best lightweight backpacking tent.
Compare to Similar Products
- Near Zero 2 Person Ultralight Backpacking Tent
- Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL
- Kelty Discovery Trail Backpacking Tent
Related content: 25 Best Small 2 Person Backpacking Tents of 2023
Analysis and Test Results
The MSR Hubba Hubba is very popular freestanding tent. The tent’s popularity is easy to understand: Whilst we’ve looked at plenty of other tents that beat the Hubba Hubba in specific aspects of it’s performance, when it comes to the complete picture, we think the Hubba Hubba strikes a fantastic balance between its characteristic and, to top it all off, we found the tent super easy to pitch and it packs down into a below average volume (which can help save weight in other areas of your kit). If you’re serious about lightweight backpacking, then we think the MSR Hubba Hubba certainly deserves your attention. Of course, all of this comes at a cost. The Hubba Hubba is a premium piece of equipment and this is reflected in its prices. An extra sting in this regard is that the UK price for this tent is especially high compared to what you’d pay in the US.
The raw numbers about a tent’s internal size don’t tell the full story in our opinion. How the manufacturer chooses to use these dimensions can make a massive difference and it’s possible for two tents with very similar dimensions to ‘feel’ very different in terms of roominess. This, of course, is a very personal interpretation and it’s something that can’t easily be expressed in a comparison table. Tents, and especially so lightweight backpacking tents – are always going to be cramped, however, we can say that we think the MSR Hubba Hubba feels spacious – at least relatively so. The symmetrical, i.e. not tapered, footprint and frame certainly help here. By making these design decisions, MSR have undoubtedly made the Hubba Hubba heavier than it could be, but we think these are an acceptable trade off as they allow the interior of the tent to feel considerably more roomy: It’s possible for two people to sit facing each other or to sleep head to toe without one of those people feeling cramped. The vestibule areas are not the largest in this round up, but they offer ample space for a large pack, boots, hiking poles etc. There’s also an entrance on either side which, as we’ve mentioned elsewhere – makes a difference if one occupant needs to take a late night toilet break. As you’d expect, there’s also plenty of storage pockets.
The MSR Hubba Hubba makes ample use of mesh – and we can image pitching just the inner tent on a balmy summer evening or if hiking out in the desert. However, most users will likely attach the rain fly at all times. This is, of course, made from a lightweight waterproof material and also offers ventilation ports to help when it’s both warm and raining.
The packed weight of the MSR Hubba Hubba is 1.4kg (3lb 7oz) and, of course, it’s possible to reduce this a bit if you don’t need to bring the waterproof fly, guy lines or stuff bag. Whilst it’s not the absolute lightest tent we’ve assessed, it sits very much at the lightweight end of the scale, and the lighter tents we have assessed typically either cost more or compromise on features. With the Hubba Hubba, we feel that a good balance has been struck between the key factors of weight, features and durability.
The MSR Hubba Hubba packs down to 46x15cm (18x6in), giving it one of the lower packed volumes of all the tents we assessed. As with weight, it’s not the absolute lowest, but it is definitely at the low end. The packed volume makes a big difference in terms of the size of backpack you need to carry the tent around, and the relatively small volume of the Hubba Hubba means you can potentially choose a smaller (and therefore lighter) pack for a given trip. This is a definite bonus and it goes to show that an individual item’s volume is an important factor to consider if you are trying to build the best all-round lightweight backpacking kit.
As with all of the tents in this round up, the MSR Hubba Hubba makes use of lightweight materials throughout. Some of these materials can feel very thin and delicate – especially so if you have memories of the hulking tents of yesteryear, but as with many kinds of outdoor apparel and equipment, these lightweight materials have an established reputation for durability. The Hubba Hubba certainly feels well made, and the fit and finish on the components all seemed good to us with the possible exception of the flysheet zippers. To be clear, these weren’t at all bad, but to us, they didn’t seem to be in line with the general quality of the rest of the tent. We were happy to see that MSR have stuck with metal grommet rings throughout to secure both the poles and flysheet to the tent body. Other manufacturers make use of plastic clip buckles here, but the grommets are both smaller and more durable – they won’t accidentally shatter if you step on one on a hard surface. MSR also provides at three year warranty plus a professional repair service.
Ease of Setup
Where we think the MSR Hubba Hubba impresses the most is in its ease of setup. We’ll get the negative points out of the way first: MSR’s own printed pitching instructions are fairly minimal, though they do have a tutorial video (and, thanks to the popularity of the Hubba Hubba, there are also plenty of third party videos out there covering this). Pitching a tent isn’t particularly difficult if you know what you’re doing, but if you’re new to camping, or only camp occasionally, setting up a tent can be a daunting prospect and the lack of clear instructions from most manufacturers does not help here! We were frustrated by a lack of certain details in MSR’s instructions and we think it’s one area where not just MSR, but many of their competitors too could improve. Now that we have the criticism out of the way, we can say that we found the Hubba Hubba very easy to set up – there’s a quality feel to the components used and the symmetrical design of the tent body (and therefore frame) simplifies the process. All of the tents we have assessed can be pitched by a single person, but in many cases, it’s helpful to have another set of hands to assist. This was not necessary at all with the Hubba Hubba and this easy of setup will surely be a bonus when you need to pitch the tent when tired or in poor weather.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should do a practice run or two with any new tent in a controlled environment before taking it out on the trail. You don’t want to be pitching a new tent for the first time as the light fades after a long day hiking!
At the time of writing, the MSR Hubba Hubba costs just over £479 in the UK… and $450 in America. Using the exchange rate at the time of writing, the UK price equates to $595! Even allowing for the fact that gear from US manufacturers almost always costs more in the UK than it does in America for a variety of valid reasons, that price premium is not going to sit well with many potential UK customers and it means that in the UK, the Hubba Hubba sits at a more premium level than it does Stateside. Despite all of this, and accepting that the Hubba Hubba commands a premium price, it’s UK price is still far from the most expensive of the tents we’ve assessed. Pricey as it may be, we got a sense of quality materials and workmanship from the Hubba Hubba and we don’t think the price is unreasonable. If you’re based in America, it becomes an even more attractive proposition.
We were very impressed by the MSR Hubba Hubba and, as such, it’s our top pick for best lightweight backpacking tent. There are other tents we looked out that could be said to beat out the Hubba Hubba in every one of its key specifications, but, when viewed together the Hubba Hubba seems to get the balance right. This is an expensive piece of kit, but if you can justify the costs or if you spend a lot time sleeping under the stars, we couldn’t think of a better tent to carry.
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