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Hands-on Gear Review
MSR Hubba Hubba NX Review
Cons: Not very durable, a bit small for two people, not enough guy lines or stakes included, low quality stakes
Bottom line: A decent middle of the road backpacking tent for two.
After its makeover in 2014, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX was a top-of-the-line tent that was a competitor with the best. But during testing this spring and the spring before, we realized that it now scores as a middle-of-the-pack tent as new models are coming out that are lighter and more comfortable for backpacking. In the redesign, MSR trimmed a fair chunk of weight off the Hubba Hubba by using lightweight fabrics, mini zippers, and a thoughtful design. The new design was used to optimize space while keeping down the weight; however, these days, it is not the tent we're reaching for quite as often as some of the other contenders.
We think the Hubba Hubba NX is a good all-around backpacking tent that competes strongly with the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV in its weight and livability categories. It has two doors, excellent ventilation, and adequate space for a lightweight tent. It is not as durable as the Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT, and we believe it would not stand up to storms as well, but it is slightly less weight and less expensive. We like how compact it packs down (bonus points for the cinch-able stuff sack) and love that it has a floorless fast and light pitching feature that does not require buying or carrying a separate footprint.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Backpacking Tents of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Over the past year, the MSR Hubba Hubba has been knocked out of the lead in the running for top backpacking tents, becoming average. The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 has replaced it as one of the lighter tents we've tested this backpacking season, along with the Tarptent Double Rainbow and Big Agnes Fly Creek HV.
The Hubba NX is somewhat comfortable for its weight. The two-door design and airy ventilation make it feel like you have a decent amount of space. The interior floor space is slightly smaller than some of the other tents we've tested at 84 x 50 inches, and sometimes we felt like we were bumping butts with our tent-mate (or our face was in the side of the tent). On the flip side, the light color makes it feel bright inside, and the kickstand vents, mesh walls, and two vestibules give it lots of ventilation to make up for the small floor size.
The most livable tent in this review is the REI Half Dome 2 Plus with two doors and a huge interior (38.1 sq. ft.) — but it is also one of the heaviest tents at 5 lbs. 7 oz. The ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2 offers 37 square feet but weighs a hefty 5 lb. 13 oz.
The Hubba Hubba NX has two medium size pockets at either end, providing adequate storage. It is long enough to comfortably fit two 5'5" women with their gear at their heads and feet. It may present a problem for people over six feet, but luckily there are two vestibules for you to store your gear on either side.
Ease of Set-Up
The Hubba Hubba NX has a "hubbed" pole design, where all the poles are attached. Having them all attached makes them a bit unwieldy to handle, but once you figure out how they need to go, setup is pretty straightforward. We wish that MSR had included a few more stakes with this tent — there are not enough for the guy lines on each end. MSR also did not include enough guy line; the pieces included were short pieces for the ends of the tent, and no extra for the guy points on the doors.
The Hubba Hubba NX has two fast-and-light pitching options, one that requires you to purchase a footprint and a floor-less pitch option where no footprint is required. We love the fast-and-light pitch option with no footprint. We talk about why we're not crazy about footprints or "fast-pitching" with a footprint in our Buying Advice article.
The only other tents we tested where you can pitch the fly without the body or footprint is the Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT. Pitching the Hubba Hubba NX without a footprint requires some creativity with the stakes, and we're not sure how well it will hold up in the wind, but we are still stoked on this option's light weight and extra interior space. It allows this tent to be more versatile than The North Face Triarch and used in more situations.
The Hubba Hubba NX is one of the most adaptable tents we've tested. The various pitching modes with or without the fly, and the two fast-and-light pitch modes give you lots of options for how much you want to carry or if you want to see the stars at night. One limitation is that the Hubba Hubba NX's two-door design creates a large footprint size, so squeezing it into small tent pads can be tricky.
The Hubba Hubba held up well in an early season rain storm in the High Sierra, keeping its occupants dry, though there is some concern that the Hubba Hubba NX will not hold up well in moderate to high winds, at least with what is provided with your purchase. It comes with very little guy cord and not many guy points to batten down the hatches. The only guy points are very low on either end of the tent and half way up the vestibule doors. This means that there is a chance that in high winds the tent will get pushed right over. We suspect the Hubba is probably slightly stronger in high winds than the Marmot Catalyst 2 because it has that second hubbed pole end. It is certainly stronger than the Tarptent Double Rainbow and was bested by the NEMO Dagger 2, Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO, and The North Face Triarch.
The first time we used the Hubba Hubba NX, we noticed an annoying rubber on metal squeaking sound when the wind was blowing because the fly was taut to the poles. We only noticed this a couple of times, so it could have been because it was brand-squeaky-new. We also noticed this with the Kelty Salida 2.
The Hubba Hubba NX is more durable than an ultralight tent like the Tarptent Double Rainbow, but less durable than a heavier, more luxury camping tent like the REI Half Dome 2 Plus. MSR has sacrificed the durability of the old Hubba Hubba for a lighter weight tent, as is often the sacrifice with lightweight or ultralight gear. We have seen a Hubba Hubba NX tear in moderate winds when it was not properly guyed down. Site selection and proper setup are very important with this tent to prevent it from being damaged. See our Buying Advice Article for more info on site selection. The most durable in our fleet was the Hilleberg Anjan GT, Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO, NEMO Galaxi, and Marmot Catalyst 2.
Weight and Packed Size
The Hubba Hubba NX, Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 and Hilleberg Anjan 2 are the most livable tents for their weight. The Hubba Hubba NX's packed weight is 3 lbs 12 oz, and is pared down to 3 pounds 6 oz with just poles, body, and fly. Its fast-and-light pitch with just the poles and fly is lighter than the Anjan's, although we think it is less weather resistant than the Anjan's fast pitch mode. We really like the Hubba Hubba NX's stuff sack with a wide-mouth draw cord design and compression straps. You can also remove the poles and cinch down the stuff sack, making it very small. The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV, at 2 pounds 5.6 ounces, along with the Tarptent Double Rainbow, at 2 pounds 15 ounces, are cream of the crop for weight and packed size.
The main limitations of MSR's Hubba Hubba NX have to do with its two-door design and lack of guy points. We think that it's a Catch 22 that the Hubba Hubba NX needs to have its vestibule doors staked out properly to be as weather resistant as possible, but the doors make the tent's footprint large (and you are unable to pitch it in small spots).
If the tent had more and higher guy points, you might be able to tuck it into smaller places and still guy it down properly. Then it could withstand higher wind without having to stake out the vestibule doors. We encountered this problem twice, once with a friend's one-person version of the tent below Mount Whitney, where high winds resulted in a tear in the fly, and once in our two-person tent where we just couldn't pitch it properly in the space provided. This is unfortunate, because the two doors make this tent very comfortable and livable.
We like the Hubba Hubba NX for any kind of backpacking trip where you are trying to go light, but also will be spending some time in your tent. Long backpacking trips, like thru-hiking the John Muir Trail or climbing and camping for several days in the high alpine, are perfect applications for this tent. Although it is comfortable, tall people may prefer a slightly longer tent like the Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT or the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2. Weight is all relative, and some people reported that they would even carry this tent for just one person. We would not recommend this. (Once you go ultralight, you'll never go back.) If you're taking an extended solo backpacking trip, every ounce matters and we would recommend checking out our Ultralight shelters.
We think the Hubba Hubba NX is an okay value at $400. It is made of high-quality (but somewhat delicate) materials, but there are lighter and cheaper (or the equivalent price) tents out there, like the NEMO Dagger 2, or the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV - both Editors' Choice winners. Others include The North Face Triarch 2, Tarptent Double Rainbow, and the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV.
The MSR Hubba Hubba dropped in our rankings this year. Nothing has changed, but it's just getting left in the dust in terms of its space-to-weight ratio compared to other new models. We like its airy interior with lots of mesh and ventilation, as well as its fast-and-light pitch options. We are concerned about its weather resistance because of its lack of guy lines, and wish that MSR had included more guy cord and more, stronger stakes.
— Jessica Haist and Jess McGlothlin
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