MSR Hubba Hubba

Date of Review: October 28, 2007
Reviewer: Wes Kisting
Product: MSR Hubba Hubba
Cost: $299.95
Construction: Sil-tarp fabric, no-see-um netting, polyester floor (4'2" W x 7'0" L), DAC aluminum pole, reflective guy lines
Manufacturer: Moutain Safety Research (MSR)
Testing Conditions: all typical camping conditions: calm, windy, warm, cold, and stormy weather
Familiarity: one year
Best Suited For: space-and-weight-conscious expeditioners who want superb two-person shelter in a compact package
anyone who wants a high-quality, quick-setting two-person shelter ideal for star-gazing or warm climates
Quick Rating: Q9 - V8 - U9    What do these numbers mean?

Room to Live

MSR Hubba Hubba

There is plenty to love about the MSR Hubba Hubba. Weighing in at approximately 4 pounds, it offers 29 square feet of interior living space, plus an additional 17.5 square feet of vestibule space. These dimensions may sound typical for a light, 2-person tent, but the Hubba Hubba sets itself apart with its superb pole and ceiling design, which offers outstanding headroom and minimally-sloped walls throughout the entire tent. Unlike most tents of this size or weight, you don't have to sit in the middle of the tent to sit up comfortably. On the contrary, campers up to 6'1" tall can sit up comfortably at either end of the tent, with enough space between them to lay out dinner, playing cards, a chessboard, or a large map.

When it's time to sleep, pairs of campers will be delighted to find that the Hubba Hubba is wide enough to accommodate two full-size sleeping pads with six inches of width to spare. That may sound like little, but it's just enough to eliminate the uncomfortable "packed in like sardines" feeling that plagues tents in this size range. So, too, there are enough extra inches at the head and foot of the tent to stow small equipment, and a mesh organizer pocket at the head of the tent provides easy access to an alarm clock, flashlight, or snack bars in the dark. Meanwhile, doors on both sides of the tent make it possible for two campers to come and go without climbing over each other.

In short, this is one of the only 2-person shelters in this (ultralight) weight range which I could share with someone other than my spouse without feeling awkwardly "close." Of course, on solo expeditions, the Hubba Hubba will feel luxuriously spacious for a single camper, with plenty of space to sprawl out, stow equipment, or sit up and read.

Room to Breathe (and See)

MSR Hubba Hubba

A major reason for the impressive one- or two-person livability of this shelter is its 360-degree mesh construction. With the exception of the bathtub-style floor and a small panel of rip-stop nylon in the ceiling, the tent body is constructed entirely of no-see-um mesh netting. This feature not only makes the Hubba Hubba ideal for star-gazing, sunrise-viewing, or warm-climate camping, but also ensures sufficient ventilation to keep odors to a minimum. That may sound like a minor concern to some, but anyone who has spent a long day of paddling in a neoprene wetsuit will know precisely why the Hubba Hubba's impressive ventilation is a desirable (some might say "mandatory") feature.

MSR Hubba Hubba

More impressive still, even with its rainfly attached, the Hubba Hubba maintains superb visibility and ventilation—a rarity among tents in this range. A peaked vestibule outside each door ensures good rain protection. The partial pole across the ceiling holds the fly away from the tent body just enough to keep out a gentle downward rain even with the rainflaps tied fully open (using the convenient sewn-on toggles). Since either half of each vestible can be staked out separately, you can configure the rainfly to deflect or scoop in the breeze, as desired. This is one of the most convenient rainfly designs I've seen.

Easy Single-Pole Set-Up

MSR Hubba Hubba

Perhaps the most unusual feature of the Hubba Hubba is its single-pole design. A bundle of shock-corded aluminum pole-segments and "hubs" joins together quickly into a single-pole structure with split legs at each end and a partial cross-member in the middle. To set it up, you assemble the segments, slip the divided feet into grommets at each of the four corners of the tent, and clip the rest of the body to the structure using the durable plastic clips. The resulting exoskeleton is nearly as rigid as some of the best two-pole designs on the market. Better yet, because there are no sleeves to feed the poles through, the Hubba Hubba can be set up in as little as 45 seconds.

One terrific advantage of the Hubba Hubba's single-pole exoskeleton is that the rainfly can be setup first; consequently, the tent body can be pitched dry even in the midst of a pouring rain. Simply lay out the tent body on the ground with the rainfly draped over you like a poncho. Beneath the protective shelter of the rainfly, fit the pole ends in the grommets on the tent floor and on the rainfly. Then, you can raise and clip the tent body to the poles at your leisure, safe and dry under a taut rainfly. In fact, if you purchase the separate Hubba Hubba footprint ($39.95), you can set up the rainfly before ever unpacking the tent body from dry storage, but the footprint is not really necessary if you follow the procedure described above.

One other, small benefit of the single-pole design pertains to pitching the tent at night: With only one pole, it is possible to assemble the structure and set up the tent by "feel" alone—even in perfect darkness. There is no need to fumble with color-coded or differently-sized poles, nor any hassles with snagging pole sleeves. Everything fits together intuitively and easily, even if your flashlight or your fire goes out.

Final Comments

With its superb ventilation and visibility, its single-pole convenience, its clever rainfly, and its spacious interior, the Hubba Hubba has become my tent of choice for one- or two-person expeditions. Although it offers less interior space than my former shelter-of-choice, the MSR Missing Link, its ample headroom makes it feel just as livable, but without the extra hassles involved with single-wall, tension-dependent shelters like the Missing Link. No other tent in this size and weight range offers such a superb blend of livability, versatility, comfort, and convenience.

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© 2007, Wesley Kisting


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