Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lightweight, easy to pitch, spacious, good-looking.
Cons: Not strong or stable, bad pockets, tiny stakes, no vents.
Best Uses: Lightweight backpacking and camping in shelter areas.
The MSR Hubba Hubba was revolutionary when it was first released, and it sparked a series of integrated hub pole designs, but has since been overshadowed by lighter tents that provide the same amount of space, weigh less, and are stronger. Compared to other tents we tested the Hubba Hubba is weak and ill suited to serious three-season storms. It's best for car camping and occasional backpacking trip in protected areas. This is one of our lowest rated tents.
Check out our complete Best Backpacking Tent Review to see how this tent compares to dozens of other tents we've tested.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The MSR Hubba Hubba is a simple, midweight, comfortable three-season tent. It was introduced in 2004 and kicked off a wave of "lightweight" two door tents that walk the line between car camping and backpacking tents. Its pole design uses a single pole with two metal hubs and looks like a giant X with a straight section between the two ends and a short cross pole in the middle. This simple single pole design is extremely easy to set up.
With the exception of a small solid nylon top panel (for strength) the tent walls are made entirely of mesh. The floor and fly material is a lightweight yet strong 40-denier ripstop nylon with a 1500mm Durashield polyurethane coating. MSR claims that this coating last up to four times longer than its predecessor. Two U-shaped doors curve from the top cross pole down to finish parallel to the ground. Inside, 29 sq. feet of floor space, 17.5 sq. feet of vestibule area, near vertical walls, and a 40 peak height give two people plenty of space for sleeping and hanging out. There are two mesh pockets, one on each end of the tent.
Although the Hubba Hubba is a well-designed, versatile, and attractive tent, it has a series of drawbacks that, when taken in aggregate, significantly reduce its functionality. First and foremost, the tent is not strong. Only the lower portion of the tent ends remains stable in wind. The top and sides catch wind and push the tent in very far. In several storms our testers had to sit up and support the tent with their arms to prevent it from breaking. The Hubba Hubba lacks adequate guy points; there are only two and both are on the ends of the tent. This leaves the entire middle and upper area unsupported. A lack of stability restricts the Hubba Hubba to well-protected areas, but even then its less storm worthy that all other tents tested here, excepting MSR's Carbon Reflex 2.
The Hubba Hubba weighs 4.5 pounds, which is heavy compared to the other tents we've tested. Today, 2.25 pounds per person is a lot to carry for a tent. In comparison, the lightest tent tested weighs 1 pound per person and ultralight tents weigh as little as four ounces per person.
Another drawback to the Hubba Hubba is its ventless rainfly. While it's adequate in length around the tents edges, the vestibule is higher off the ground than most other tents tested in this class. Consequently, dirt, sand, and snow are more apt to blow under the vestibule and through the mesh walls. Yes, this is a common problem with all mesh bodied tents, but we found the Hubba Hubba's shorter rainfly to be particularly good at letting the elements enter from below. Although the 2011 model increases the sill height around the ends to prevent splashback (rain entering at an angle and ricocheting into the mesh), we still prefer to see a slightly longer fly. Similarly, the Hubba Hubba's fly lacks vents. While some would argue that vents aren't necessary on a mesh-bodied tent, most other tents tested here have two vents and/or a rainfly that provide both ventilation and rain protection. The Hubba Hubba's straight vestibule zippers cant vent without inserting a pole and then rain will enter the vestibule. A lack of vents and a shorter fly make the Hubba Hubba less storm-proof and less versatile than other tents tested here. This drawback is relatively small compare to the tent's weak pole structure.
Another limitation is the Hubba Hubbas saggy pockets. These span the width of the tents ends, but are not taut. They store headlamps and other small items well, but cant handle heavier items such as a full water bottle or a book.
The Hubba Hubba includes MSR's Needle Stakes. These are lightweight but perform poorly when compared to the dozens of other stakes we've tested, including MSR's Carbon Core stakes. Consider upgrading to one of the stakes on the right side of this photo below.
Car camping and luxurious backpacking in sheltered areas.
The Hubba Hubba is a relatively poor value. We plot tent scores and prices in a Price versus Value Chart that illustrates how much bang each tent delivers per dollar.
Other versions and accessories
A $150 Gear Shed creates an extended vestibule (26sq. ft) that clips to the tent body and expands through one door to provide a very large covered space. This feature is useful for car camping and no other tent offers a similar accessory. We've found that this feature drips water where it joins the tent, which can be problematic if it pools and runs into your gear. Even so, this is an innovative accessory that's useful for car camping. Other accessories include a triangular gear loft ($22) and footprint ($55).
— Max Neale
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Most recent review: December 26, 2012
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