Discerning backpackers look for a high quality, lightweight, and durable tent. And from our experience with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX, it checks all of those boxes emphatically. In doing so, the Hubba Hubba proves better than almost any other backpacking tent that going light does not have to come with serious sacrifices. Its high-end build is undoubtedly expensive at $400, and it may not be worth it for the casual backpacker, but the extra money gets you a sub-4 pound weight, decently roomy interior, and solid performance in most 3-season conditions. Below we break down the Hubba Hubba's interior space, weight, weather protection, ventilation, durability, and more. To see how the Hubba Hubba stacks up, see our article on the best backpacking tents.
Design and Performance
The MSR Hubba Hubba NX is all about balance—a thoughtful design that hides its weight saving measures very well. Despite weighing 3 pounds 7 ounces, the interior is not cramped even with two average-sized adults. A symmetrical floor is a big help here: whereas some manufacturers like Big Agnes with their Copper Spur or Tiger Wall models cut weight with slanted walls that taper in at the feet, MSR kept the interior open and spacious. This leaves the option for two backpackers to sleep head to foot to maximize shoulder room and comfort. Among tents in its weight range, only the Nemo Dagger does this well at maximizing livable space.
As mentioned above, the MSR Hubba Hubba has a minimum weight of 3 pounds 7 ounces. This puts it squarely in the popular lightweight category, which includes models like the Nemo Dagger 2P and REI Co-op Quarter Dome 2 (both weigh 3 pounds 5 ounces). You can go lighter with Big Agnes’ Copper Spur HV UL2 (2 pounds 12 ounces) or their brand-new Tiger Wall (2 pounds 3 ounces), but those designs use thinner fabrics and compromise interior space at the foot end of the tent. Thru-hikers and those that often camp solo might prefer a tent like the Tiger Wall, but we think MSR has done a great job combining interior space and long-lasting materials at a reasonable weight.
The Hubba Hubba's included stuff bag is simply one of our favorite designs on the market. The large opening is much easier to stuff than a run-of-the-mill stuff sack that loads from one end and almost always requires precise packing. This stuff bag is forgiving enough to accept even the most novice attempts, and the compression straps let you cinch it down easily to a compact 6 x 18 inch size to fit into a pack. It’s one of those no-brainer ideas that make you wonder why very few others are using the same style.
With a strong freestanding pole design and full coverage rainfly, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX is a solid performer in wet and windy conditions. The pole structure is a single-hubbed unit running the spine of the tent before splitting at both ends. At the center is a ridge pole that opens up the interior by creating vertical sidewalls and increases structural rigidity for cross winds. When properly staked and guyed out with the rainfly on, the tent can take on tough conditions, with some folks evem bringing it up to Alaska in the mild weather months. Using it in places ranging from Canyonlands National Park to the North Cascades, we've found that it's not as tough as a Hilleberg, but it’s far more capable of handling true 3-season conditions than our favorite budget option, the REI Half Dome 2 Plus.
It’s clear MSR went to great lengths thinking through the little details, and one example is their rainfly and vestibule design. To start, accessing the tent requires far less gymnastics than a typical backpacking model because the vestibule zips from the side (rather than the center), which creates a large D-shaped opening. Further, a built-in gutter system means that water will run down the side of the rainfly when unzipped—and not onto your head. The fly also can fold its way into a number of configurations, including being rolled back halfway into stargazing mode or from the sides to make for great vistas out either door. Should the rain move in while the tent is in any setup, it’s a simple process to get it back and ready to hunker down.
Liberal use of mesh in the upper portion of the tent makes the Hubba Hubba NX a standout in terms of ventilation. MSR also built in vents at either end of the rainfly, which we’ve found to draw out humid air effectively in both cool and warm conditions. And, as a bonus for including all of that mesh, stargazing is tremendous if you roll back the rainfly on a clear night.
For those unfamiliar with lightweight gear, the Hubba Hubba's fabrics may be concerning at first. The coated 30D floor and 20D rain fly undoubtedly are thin, but in the ultralight world, they’re reasonably tough. The floor is thicker and more substantial than the 20D nylon that you get with the popular Big Agnes Copper Spur, for example, and we've had zero issues with tears or excessive wear during our testing. Additionally, we know of many Hubba Hubba (and the newer Hubba Hubba NX) tents that are going strong after years of extensive use.
Set up and Take Down
The freestanding structure, symmetrical design, and single-hubbed pole makes setting up the Hubba Hubba NX completely painless. It’s even easy for one person to do it—just lay out the tent, put together the pole sections, place the poles into the corners, and clip everything into place. One (small) downside of all of the mesh along the top of the tent is that you need to set it up quickly in a rainstorm to keep it from getting too wet inside. That’s when it’s nice to have a tent that has the rainfly and tent body connected, like Hilleberg’s Niak (see our in-depth review).
What We Like
- One of our favorite combinations of interior space, price, durability, and packed weight.
- MSR’s reputation for standing behind their products.
- Rainfly and vestibule design works well: there’s good ventilation and water doesn’t drip down when you zip open the vestibule.
What We Don’t
- The Nemo Dagger is slightly lighter and roomier at the same price.
- 3 pounds 7 ounces is impressive given the build quality and feature set, but you certainly can go lighter.
- This may be nitpicking, but 6 stakes simply isn't enough to set up the tent in a good storm, so it's necessary to purchase extras.
|MSR Hubba Hubba NX||$400||3 lbs. 7 oz.||30D||29 sq. ft.||39 in.||2||1P, 2P, 3P, 4P|
|Nemo Dagger 2P||$400||3 lbs. 5 oz.||30D||31 sq. ft.||42 in.||2||2P, 3P|
|Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2||$450||2 lbs. 12 oz.||20D||29 sq. ft.||42 in.||2||1P, 2P, 3P, 4P|
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2||$400||2 lbs. 3 oz.||15D||28 sq. ft.||39 in.||2||2P, 3P|
|REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus||$229||4 lbs. 14 oz.||70D||35.8 sq. ft.||44 in.||2||1P, 2P, 3P, 4P|
As one of the first tents to bridge a super lightweight design and good interior space, the Hubba Hubba has created a strong contingent of loyalists. There are, however, a growing number of competitors. One of our favorites is the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2. We consider the Copper Spur to be the next step in going ultralight: it’s slightly more compromised than the Hubba Hubba NX in terms of fabric durability and interior space (the foot end tapers). As such, it loses some of the balance that makes the Hubba Hubba among our favorite overall backpacking tents, but an 11-ounce savings is not insignificant.
In 2018, the Hubba Hubba’s closest competitor is the Nemo Dagger 2P. The Dagger costs the same, is just as durable with its 30-denier floor fabric and mesh tent body, but has the edge in weight by 2 ounces. Further, the Nemo’s interior is a little more spacious with 2 additional square feet of floor area and a similar pole design. Where the MSR has the edge is its ventilation system, which we’ve found does a better job moving air through the tent. And the clincher may be availability: we've often seen the Dagger out of stock even in the heart of the backpacking season. If they’re both available, however, we give the Dagger the slight advantage based on its weight and livable space.
For most backpackers, price is the biggest obstacle in getting their hands on the Hubba Hubba NX. A nice option for weekend warriors is our favorite budget tent, the REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus, which comes in at a more wallet-friendly $229. But the Half Dome is significantly heavier at nearly 5 pounds. As such, dedicated backpackers who like to move light and fast yet still want a stable, freestanding setup will be very pleased with the MSR. For the whole package of weight, livability, and toughness, we think the Hubba Hubba is one of the best backpacking tents currently on the market.
If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed on Switchback Travel, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write about outdoor gear. Thanks and we appreciate your support!
Depending on the seller, most products ship free in the United States on orders of $50 or more. International shipping availability and rates vary by seller. The pricing information on this page is updated hourly but we are not responsible for inaccuracies.