|Rating:||8.5 / 10|
|Value for Money||1.7 / 2|
|Comfort||1.8 / 2|
|Weight||1.7 / 2|
|Durability||1.7 / 2|
|Versatility||1.6 / 2|
Last year I decided it was time for a new 2 person tent for when Gill and I head out bush together and as is my usual mode of operation, I spent many months doing research on line. Early on in the process I found myself leaning towards the MSR FreeLite 2 Ultralight Tent and ultimately this was what we ended up going with. After a delay in being able to have a good play with our new tent due to lockdown restrictions, we finally have used it enough to be able to provide this review.
For us this is our first MSR tent but as a brand I own a number of other MSR products including a large number of tent pegs and accessories. As a producer of tents and tent pegs, MSR is one of the best known brands worldwide. With over the nearly 50 years of operation, MSR has garnered a name for producing high quality equipment, in particular an extensive tent range.
As a generalisation MSR produces all equipment with quality and durability in mind first and foremost. This has meant in the past that MSR gear hasn’t always been the lightest or cheapest but that’s not a claim that they make. Probably the best known, and best selling tent model over the years, has been the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2P Tent. While the Huba Hubba is still in production MSR has started to expand the range and is now producing larger family camping tents as well as moving into the lightweight hiking range including with the FreeLite range.
The FreeLite is very obviously an MSR tent having the destinctive maroon and grey-white colouring that has been common to the range for many years (look for a greenish option in the coming year or so). In many respects what MSR has taken what its learnt from many years of proving the Hubba Hubba model and paired it back in the production of the FreeLite.
The dimensions of this tent, external and internal, at the base is almost identical to the Hubba Hubba but in stripping back the weight on this tent the following has occurred. Firstly, this is a semi free standing tent rather than a full free standing tent and it was a surprise to me that the tent pole is actually a composite carbon fibre construction. The tent pole is a single unit joined by shock cord so you never have to worry about loosing bits. The pole segments snap together very easily making it easy to assemble and fit into the three metal eyelets on the base of the tent inner. Other areas of weight saving occurs with the use of a 15 Denier outer and a 10 Denier inner mesh-polyester which is still robust but balances against lighter weight. There’s also reduction in tent height to 91 cm – I’m just over 188 cm and can comfortable sit up inside this tent.
The tent shape is dome shaped when you include the side vestibules which are large enough to store a full sized pack. While the external shape is a dome, the internal tent is rectangular in shape with internal dimension of 200 cm x 127 cm at each end which provides plenty of space. Even in a bulky sleeping bag at 188 cm (6’2”), I’m not pressing on the tent ends. The head room is also decent for the average – tallish person.
The internal tent has a mix of fly mesh as well as solid material so if you are using the tent without the fly you have a reasonable degree of privacy. One thing to note with the inner mesh is its black which I haven’t used before and provides a much clearer view out of the tent if you use it without the outer fly. One thing to note is that while many tent manufacturers make their tents with dedicated ‘head’ and ‘foot’ ends, MSR tents are usually rectangular inside meaning that you have extra space at the end your feet are at – if you don’t feel like sleeping both people at the same end, you have the ability to top and toe. This isn’t a problem if you’re hiking with a spouse but if you are sharing a tent with a friend and want a bit of space, you have it.
All up the full weight of this tent is 1.33 kg which for a two person tent is on the lighter end of the range.
Last but not least this tent comes with a full set of 11 pegs which is a breath of fresh air and while I am a strong believer in having a mixture of pegs to cater for all contingencies, it’s good that you’re not forced to buy extras.
The doors on the MSR FreeLite are the typical ‘D-shape’ that MSR favours. What this means is that it’s very easy to get in and out of the tent. I have always been a fan of the way that MSR does its doors.
Now let’s look at the negatives and really for me there really is only one and that’s price. The MSR FreeLite 2 has a RRP of AUD $1,219. While its sometimes available at a better price, this isn’t a cheap tent. However, it is a very high quality, durable tent with loads of features. This price is potentially going to rule it out for many hikers but from our perspective we’re strong believers in ‘you get what you pay for’. MSR is responsible for delivering many of the features that the cheap knock-off tents now copy. MSR also uses durable high quality materials that mean long after the cheap tents have died, this one will still be going.
Having now used this tent over a couple of months we’re very happy. The first time I used this tent I had to put it up in 30+ km per hour winds and while that created some challenges setup for us, the tent coped very well once it was up. It’s stable in harsh conditions, it’s comfortable and you can feel the quality. If I was using this on trails such as Larapinta in the Northern Territory which is very rocky, I’d be inclined to use a groundsheet but otherwise I’m happy with how it comes in the pack.
Normally at this stage I would indicate if this tent is worth purchasing but as we now own one this point is moot. If you’re after a very lightweight, very high quality two person tent that’s durable and compact then the MSR FreeLite is worth the investment. What it’s going to come down to is how often you are likely to use this tent and whether it’s in your budget or not. If all you ever do is camp a couple of days a year, look at cheaper options. If however you do a lot of camping, then this tent should definitely be in the mix.
For us this was a no brainer. Given the number of days we spend in a tent each year this tent won hands down and that’s why it’s now our go-to tent for 2 person hiking.
Disclosure: We may earn a small commission, at no additional expense to you, if you click through and make a purchase. Please note that our affiliations do not influence, in any way, the independence of our reviews. If we don’t like a product, you’ll hear about it from us!
If you have used the MSR FreeLite 2 Ultralight Tent or if you have questions, we’d like to hear from you. Post your comment or question below
AUD $1,219 RRP – keep an eye on the sales as this tent is sometimes available at a much cheaper price. Currently on sale for $833 as at 6/2/22
MSR also has a range of other tents both lighter and heavier than the FreeLite 2 Ultralight in a range of different capacities including
MSR FreeLite 2 Ultralight Tent
MSR FreeLite 2 with the door open
MSR FreeLite in bag 1
MSR FreeLite in bag 2
MSR FreeLite gear loft
MSR FreeLite tent pegs and bag
MSR FreeLite 2 dimensions
Tent peg in ground
Tim inside the tent showing the structure of the poles which are all in one single piece
Tent pole is one single fold down peice and is carbon structure
MSR FreeLite roof loop to hold various items
FreeLite 2 end view
Instructions for assembly
Pole in tent loop
FreeLite side 1
The MSR Freelite 2 person tent is fairly easy and intuitive to set up
This review was done with product supplied for testing by the Australian distributor of MSR