Discerning backpackers look for a high-quality, lightweight, and durable tent. And from our experience with the latest 2019 MSR Hubba Hubba NX, it checks all of those boxes emphatically. Its high-end build is undoubtedly expensive at $450, 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 its new pole structure delivers solid performance in most 3-season conditions. Below we break down the Hubba Hubba's weight, livability and interior space, weather protection, ventilation, durability, and more. To see how the Hubba Hubba stacks up, see our article on the best backpacking tents.
The MSR Hubba Hubba NX is all about balance—a thoughtful design that hides its weight-saving measures very well. Its listed minimum weight of 3 pounds 8 ounces 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 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 usually 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.
Despite weighing 3.5 pounds, the Hubba Hubba's interior is not cramped even with two average-sized adults. A symmetrical floor and dual-hubbed pole design are 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 and all-around quality class, we’ve only found one model that can beat it: Nemo’s Dagger. The Nemo has a 3-inch-taller ceiling, longer floor—giving it 2 more square feet of area—and its pole structure stretches the walls to make the interior a bit more livable.
With new composite poles borrowed from their winter collection, a sturdy freestanding shape, and full-coverage rainfly, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX is a solid performer in wet and windy conditions. The Easton Syclone poles are one of the biggest changes for the 2019 Hubba Hubba, but we’ve already had a chance to test their performance on MSR’s 4-season Access and Remote tents. In short, the poles are designed to flex and return to their original shape—even in very strong gusts—rather than permanently bend or snap like an aluminum or carbon design. The layout itself has remained the same with 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.
Using the tent on an early-season trip into the Grand Canyon—complete with a heavy rain and wind storm—it performed flawlessly. The raised bathtub floor prevented any leaking, the poles worked as advertised, and the new waterproof coating on the rainfly (MSR claims it’s designed to last three times longer than a standard coating) shed moisture without issue. It’s worth noting that a new stitching style means that MSR has done away with seam taping, but in our experience, there were no areas of weakness. The pole and rainfly coating upgrades have increased the price by $50, but it’s hard to argue with their performance. We also had a Nemo Dagger on the trip, and while it held up nicely, we did have a little moisture build-up along the interior (for more information, see our in-depth Dagger review). Unlike the MSR Hubba Hubba NX, which has a full-coverage rainfly, the Nemo has small cutouts on both ends of the tent. And those single-wall sections became wet to the touch in the blowing, sideways rain that we experienced.
In addition to its excellent weather resistance, the MSR’s rainfly and vestibule deign is among our favorite on the market. 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. Our only complaint is this department is that the total vestibule space is on the small side at 17.5 square feet (Nemo’s Dagger is significantly larger at 22.8 sq. ft.).
Liberal use of mesh in the upper portion of the tent makes the MSR Hubba Hubba NX an effective ventilator. To further aid airflow, there are deployable vents at either end of the rainfly, which we’ve found effective for drawing out humid air in both cool and warm conditions. Their location lower down on the sides also means that you can open them in light rainfall without compromising the tent’s waterproofing. And as a bonus for including all of that mesh, stargazing is very good if you roll back the rainfly on a clear night (although some panels of solid nylon slightly obstruct your views).
For those unfamiliar with lightweight gear, the Hubba Hubba's fabrics may be concerning at first. The coated 30-denier floor and 20-denier rainfly undoubtedly are thin, but in the ultralight world, they’re reasonably tough. The floor is thicker and more substantial than the 20-denier nylon that you get with the popular Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, 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.
Regarding packed size, 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 storage sack that loads from one end and almost always requires precise packing. Instead, the 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 (for reference, the aforementioned Nemo Dagger 2P compresses to 6.5 x 19.5 inches). It’s one of those no-brainer ideas that make you wonder why very few others are using the same style.
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.
Other Capacities in the MSR Hubba NX Line
As has been the case for the past couple generations, the 2019 MSR Hubba line includes 1P (Hubba NX), 2P (the Hubba Hubba NX tested here), 3P (Mutha Hubba NX), and 4P (Papa Hubba NX) models. All four versions are top-quality options and include the new Easton Syclone poles and excellent balance of weight, space, durability, and weather protection. Prices have also increased for each capacity—topping out at $700 for the MSR Papa Hubba NX—but they all remain worthwhile investments for those that get out a lot.
What We Like
- One of our favorite combinations of interior space, price, durability, and packed weight.
- New composite pole structure and waterproof rainfly coating make it one of the most weather-resistant tents in its weight class.
- 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 2P is slightly lighter and roomier at a lower price.
- Its weight of 3 pounds 8 ounces is impressive given the build quality and feature set, but you certainly can go lighter.
- Pretty expensive at $450, and the upgraded, super-strong pole design may be overkill for many summer backpackers.
|MSR Hubba Hubba NX||$450||3 lbs. 8 oz.||30D||29 sq. ft.||39 in.||2||1P, 2P, 3P, 4P|
|Nemo Dagger 2P||$400||3 lbs. 5 oz.||30D||31.3 sq. ft.||42 in.||2||2P, 3P|
|Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2||$450||2 lbs. 12 oz.||20D||29 sq. ft.||40 in.||2||1P, 2P, 3P, 4P|
|Nemo Dragonfly 2P||$390||2 lbs. 10 oz.||20D||29 sq. ft.||41 in.||2||1P, 2P|
|REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus||$229||4 lbs. 14 oz.||70D||35.8 sq. ft.||44 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|
As one of the first backpacking tents to bridge a lightweight design and good interior space, the Hubba Hubba has a strong contingent of loyalists. There are, however, a growing number of competitors, including Nemo’s Dagger 2P. The Dagger was also updated for 2019 and offers similar durability with its 30-denier floor while getting the edge in weight and price by 3 ounces and $50 respectively. 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 more weather-resistant design and superior 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 price, weight, and livable space.
If you’re looking to trim weight to get under the 3-pound market, two solid options are the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 and new Nemo Dragonfly 2P. We consider these tents to be the next step in going ultralight: they’re slightly more compromised than the Hubba Hubba NX in terms of fabric durability and interior space (the Dragonfly in particular is noticeably smaller inside). As such, they lose some of the balance that makes the Hubba Hubba among our favorite overall backpacking tents. But their weight savings of 12 ounces for the Big Agnes and 14 ounces for the Nemo are not insignificant for those looking to cut down their base weight.
For most backpackers, price is the biggest obstacle in getting their hands on the Hubba Hubba NX. A nice option for short weekend trips is our favorite mid-range tent, the REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus, which comes in at a more wallet-friendly $229. The tent is well-made and very roomy inside, but it does compromise in weight. At nearly 5 pounds, the REI is too much for dedicated backpackers who like to move light and fast yet still want a stable, freestanding setup. In the end, if you are willing to make the investment, we think the Hubba Hubba is the whole package of weight, livability, and toughness.
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