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MSR Hubba Hubba Review

   

Backpacking Tents

  • Currently 3.6/5
Overall avg rating 3.6 of 5 based on 15 reviews. Most recent review: July 29, 2014
Street Price:   $300
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.
User Rating:     
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 (3.7 of 5) based on 14 reviews
Recommendations:  67% of reviewers (8/12) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   MSR
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ December 23, 2012  
Overview
This product has been discontinued and replaced with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX.

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

Likes
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.

Click to enlarge
The MSR Hubba Hubba after a dusting of snow. Maple Canyon, Utah.
Credit: Max Neale
Dislikes
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.

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Tent stakes,: MSR Cyclone (35g),Toughstake (33g), MSR Snowstake (22g), DAC Y (14g), Easton Nano Nail (9g), DAC V (11g), MSR Mini Groundhog (9g), Hilleberg Tri-peg (8g), Vargo 6.5" Titanium (8g), MSR Carbon Core (5.5g), Easton Full Metal Jacket (5.5g).
Credit: Max Neale
Click to enlarge
The Hubba Hubba's saggy pockets. Two gloves nearly topple out!
Credit: Max Neale
Best Application
Car camping and luxurious backpacking in sheltered areas.

Value
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
MSR Hubba NX - for 1 person
MSR Mutha Hubba NX - for 3 people
MSR Papa Hubba NX - for 4 people

Accessories
A $170 MSR Hubba 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 MSR Hubba Hubba NX HP Footprint ($40).

Click to enlarge
Find the Hubba Hubba and REI Half Dome.
Credit: Max Neale

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: July 29, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (3.7)

67% of 12 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
12 Total Ratings
5 star: 33%  (4)
4 star: 25%  (3)
3 star: 17%  (2)
2 star: 25%  (3)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 14 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Mar 24, 2011 - 05:34am
Realist · Climber · Victoria Australia
I used this tent for 6 months non stop living for work in Cameroon, we did a geotechnical survey of a new rail system there and camped the whole time.

There are a good points with the tent, ease to set up, quick, relatively light, plenty of space and waterproof. We had jungle wet season to contend with and I never got wet.

The downfalls are, when the fly is tight (Heat) it is VERY easy to rip, the pole repair kit is poor, pegs are weak and the storage areas sag too much.

Overall I would use it again but it would need some modifications before I bought it.

If you want dry and windproof well worth the money.

Dave

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jul 29, 2014 - 11:45am
cbbnc · Backpacker · NC
I bought a Hubba Hubba from REI in 2006, functionally, it has been a great tent, but over the past couple of years, it has begun to leak, first in a strong rain, and now in light rain. The tent leaks badly enough that I would not rely on it for a backpacking trip where it might rain.

Inspection shows that the seam tape on the rainfly is de-laminating, otherwise the tent is in fine shape.

I returned the tent to REI to discuss how to fix the leaking problem.

They told me there is no way to re-tape the fly seams and there is not a way to replace only the fly. Therefore there is no way to 'fix' the tent; the only solution to remedy the leaking is to replace the tent!

Eventually they summoned the store manager that told me silicon-treated tents like the Hubba Hubba all delaminate and leak and are not expected to last more than eight years, this is not a defect of the tent, but instead the tent is 'worn out' and at the end of its functional life.

I've used the tent a good bit (probably 30-40 trips over the past 8 years), and I've always taken good care of the tent, meaning I dry it after every use and store is in a dark, cool closet, loosely packed between uses. Other than the failing fly tape, it show no signs of meaningful wear and tear.

You might be OK with a tent with a functional life of eight years, but as someone who has owned many tents over the last forty years, this feels very short to me. Understand going in that this very light, functional tent has a relatively short functional life.

An additional note: The REI employees took me through a good-cop/bad-cop routine in which they refused to acknowledge that this tent should be replaced based upon bad workmanship; instead they told me that I 'grandfathered in' on their old policy of satisfaction guaranteed with no time limit, they made it clear that next time, they would invoke their new policy of satisfaction guaranteed within one year of purchase. If they expect their tents to fail after six to eight years, I feel REI should set that expectation when you purchase the tent, not when you return it.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 28, 2013 - 08:43am
Deano · South Australia
I've been using my Hubba Hubba (06 model) tent over the last 6 odd years and am very happy with it's performance. This is a 3 season tent. Have been through several windy storms with constant rain there was no leaking or pole problems, in these conditions the tent sides do press inwards but I've experienced no failures. It's times like this I was glad I bought the 2 person version not the 1 person. There's plenty of undercover room for packs, boots etc under the fly. I would like a bit less mesh in the inner which the new HP version has. Several reviews have highlighted the fly becoming sticky and unpleasant which I also experienced, and led to the seam sealing to fail. However on returning to retailer and sending off for warranty, even though the warranty had expired, the fly sheet was replaced with no fuss or hassles with a new green (which I prefer) 2011 model, mine was the bright orange version. I am very happy with that result and service. A new instruction sheet was included which is slightly different to the original in the storage procedure. It now states to store tent outside of the stuff sack, the same as you would a sleeping bag. Also included was a letter which reads…

Sticky coatings or hydrolysis is a storage related issue and not a fault of the product. Your customer needs to change their storage practices.
Please note that all Fast and Light tents are Ultralight High Performance tents and are made of materials that require different care due to their Ultralight nature.
Dual coated flysheet fabrics require constant airing as the PU coating isn't able to breath as well as a single coated flysheet and the moisture even from humidity is able to be caught in the PU coating if not stored correctly.
Please get your customer to read the included copy of new instructions and follow them carefully to maintain longevity of your tent. Extra to the instructions, with owners situated in hot and humid climates are to store the flysheet hanging with the silicon coating (outer) touching allowing the PU coating to breath 100% of the time.
Please store the flysheet dry and loose out of the stuff sack in a mesh sleeping bag storage sack and every 2 months hang out and air tent to prevent this from happening again…

The Hubba Hubba's general durability is good, I've experienced no problems with the poles, pegs (my tent came with aluminium pegs with a square cross section) have proved strong even in stony or hard soils, the tent and flysheet fabrics have not ripped in any way, all sown seams are still solid, the tent bag (which is quite generous) is solid and the fabric has withstood walking though scrub while strapped to the outside of my backpack. Even though the floor feels thin it has held up well with no leaks or rips, only a mouse has chewed through.
Being tall I found the MSR Hubba and the Hubba Hubba one of the few tents long enough to lay out straight without my head or feet touching the inner tent fabric and also enough head room to sit up straight inside. other tents I've had to lay diagonally and still touched each end. Zippers have been problem free. I have added a pegging cord to the loops sown to the base of flysheet ends which I think helps stability a little and helps to keep fabric tighter.
I do find condensation builds up on cold still nights but it has not caused me any major problem. The internal pockets are a bit floppy if you store larger heavier items, as pointed out in other reviews. By attaching the pocket mesh to the inner tent mesh in the centre, thus creating two pockets, helps this.
The Hubba Hubba is easy and quick to set up by one person.
Inside there are 8 small (red) loops ideal for hanging damp items to dry either with safety pins or over a piece of cord. You could attach a roof shelf to the 4 loops at the top.

Should I start winter snow/ alpine camping I would find a 4 season tent for those conditions.
Over all I'm very happy with this tent and will continue to use it for years to come.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 2, 2013 - 08:17pm
ilvbp · Backpacker · phx, az
I love this tent. I have two hubba hubbas and two hubbas. I backpack three seasons in the arizona desert and high country. I am simply amazed at the editor's review and I am wondering if he had the wrong tent or hates MSR, just kidding. His review is very informative yet strangely brutal and inconsistent with my own hands on many years experience with the tent. I have used the Hubba Hubba for seven years and have no problem with the tent. I have been in severe storms and when the wind started up i tighten the guy lines. When the wind got really bad I added two more. Once tighten down the tent did not collapse inward or feel like breaking. it shed water just fine. It shed the wind pretty well also. It feels very tough. I have endured Arizona monsoons with no problem. This tent is highly functional, easy to set up, two door and two vestibule kick butt for gear storage and easy entrance and the massive amount of no-see-um mesh is great for ventilation and starry nights. Tents with a single front entrance are not very functional…you have limited space for gear and you have to walk over the gear to get in. Even more awkward with two people. Condensation can be high sometimes but it doesn't enter the tent and drys quick. As far as durability goes…Arizona is full of sharp things and rough rocks. I have never had to repair any of my tents and I have my four kids using them over the years. The freestanding design is great. Before packing away the tent a person can lift it in the air tilt it sideways and dump the dust, dirt and the occasional bug out very easy. You can also move it if you find that that you need a better spot. This tents sets up fast even in the hard rain. If you drape the fly over your self covering you and the tent from the rain. You can set the tent up without stakes while it is raining with very minimal water getting in. The only thing I can agree with on the editors review is the sagging mesh pockets…but if you store small things they are ok. Like any gear you need to learn it to maximize its performance, i suspect the editors review may be impacted by the limited use of the tent. This is a great and very tested tent. without the footprint and bag it is four pounds. Your tent needs to be a balance of overall functionality, enjoyment and weight. Two people asleep, one wants to get up early and make the fire, in the hubba hubba that person can with out disturbing the other, no climbing over people and gear to get out. Your boots and backpack are conveniently on your own side. You are up and the other still asleep…this is worth 10, 12 , 16 extra ounces. Two pound tents are great for weight saving but often lack convenience, gear storage and flexibility and everyone who backpacks knows this…you sacrifice convenience and comfort for weight savings. My goal is lightweight but comfortable. My pack base weight is 20 to 22pounds and my trail head weight is 30 to 33lbs: food, water, etc. This is a very good and tested tent and light enough with the right pack weight design. Also nowadays you can get it for a great price. I highly recommend this tent for lightweight comfortable backpacking.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 2, 2013 - 05:45pm
love the woods · Mountain Biker · Richmond, VA.
I was in the most torrential rain and lightning storm with the Hubba hubba in the Dolly Sods area of West Va. and we woke up with water flowing under the tent creating a "water bed" like effect. We donned our rain gear, picked up the tent with our pads and bags in it still and moved it to higher ground. Nothing got wet, nothing. I love this tent, I would consider it bulletproof. It has held up in pretty heavy winds. Even though it feels fragile, I have not found it to be so. The only reason I give it four stars instead of five is that I agree the mesh pockets are too "floppy". I made my own gear loft out of a fishing net for the peak and that worked really well.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Oct 20, 2012 - 09:50pm
ElleBeck · Kayaker · Penticton, BC
I purchased this tent about 4 years ago and I really like it. It does the trick for fair weather / 3 season camping. I am very cautious about setting it up in sheltered conditions - I don't exactly trust it to take great care of me in heavy rain or winds and usually supplement it's stability with a tarp or well placed trees. I like the fact that it packs pretty small and is pretty light weight. The carry bag is fairly thin and somewhat junky so I tend to compress it in a dry bag for kayaking, and keep the poles separate.
Overall, the tent has done me well the past few years, given that I keep it's use within it's intended purpose - sheltered light weight camping.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Oct 8, 2012 - 10:34am
hcho · Climber · -
I've used this tent for countless nights in alpine and desert environments since 2008, and I'd buy it again without hesitation, even though I'd opt for the new model with less bugnetting on the inner tent. Even in heavy rainstorms, I slept well. Sub-freezing temps, cooking in the vestibule, two people with multi-day backpacking gear etc., strong winds in Joshua Tree NP, this tent took it all, and without damage. I've slightly bent one tent peg, and the pole connection right under the rubber thingy at the dome of the tent is slowly cracking, but that's due to abuse on my end. Five stars. Recommended the tent to a friend some years ago who's out canoeing a lot, and he loves it too.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 22, 2012 - 04:41pm
philip sanford · Seattle
My Hubba Hubba was one with a faulty rain fly. Due to what MSR calls a bad batch of fabric, the rain fly was about as waterproof as cheese clothe. That can happen. Anyone can make a mistake. The real problem is the response I got from MSR, and REI. Problem number one is that no one made any effort to let customers be aware of the problem. I asked MSR what they did to notify customers of the problem. They told me they did nothing. Not even a posting on their own web site. So I take the thing into a bit of elevation and it rains. I spend the night with my down bag soaking up water and watching the temperature drop. When I get home I google Hubba Hubba rainfly and of course there are all kinds of people who have had the same experience. Nonetheless MSR cannot see its way to include within all its self praised customer service a need to make sure customers know about the problem and do not do what I did. These experts, these industry leading experts in outdoor gear can't see a connection between a non effective rainfly and hypothermia. To make matters worse I go hopping mad over to their warranty office to give them their tent back and the person I am met by says he does not like my tone and tells me to just leave. I guess I am not supposed to be angry at my brush with hypothermia. Everything about my experience makes their self congratulatory web site a joke. I will not patronize a business that puts its own pecuniary interests ahead of my safety. We need to be able to rely upon these products. I bought a shelter, not a a set of drapes.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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Jul 28, 2012 - 07:07pm
 
Chris McNamara · Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab
OutdoorGearLab Member Question:
Thanks for thorough and excellent reviews!

I have read your review of the MSR Hubba Hubba, and fully appreciate the reasons for your not liking it. However, there seems to be no review of any of the newer Hubba HP tents, nor the MSR Hoop or Holler which are similar to the new Hubbas but still available in the US (assuming availability is the reason for not reviewing the them).

It seems that MSR has addressed at least some of the issues you mention, and it would be very interesting to read your updated opinion.

Thanks!

OutdoorGearLab Review Editor Max Neale Responds:
The Hoop and Nook are part of our backpacking tent review update, which should be live within the next month or so. MSR has made some improvements with its newer tents. Stay tuned for the update.
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   Mar 25, 2012 - 11:10am
Phil · Backpacker · Montana
I bought the new version of this tent with improved fly and am very happy with it. I have taken it with me on month long trips in the Beartooth wilderness to weekend fishing trips along Georgias Chattooga river. First unless you pitch it on jagged stone it will not rip, especially if you use a footprint. Second, my hubba hubba has seen some nasty wind, rain and snow without ever being compromised. I'm not sure about the previous version of this tent but mine sheds water like a duck and I usually have it pitched by the time everyone else is still putting their poles together. It's true and tried, which is why I bought it in the first place.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 29, 2011 - 08:06pm
le_bruce · Climber · Oakland, CA
I own a similar build, but one-person. Pro is how light it is. Neg's include weak/easy to rip fabric, chemical coat on fly has degraded to some kind of sticky, stinking film after a few years.

Wouldn't buy from this mfr again.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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Sep 29, 2011 - 12:30pm
 
bmacd · Climber · 100% Canadian
I broke the poles just joining them together. Fabric has ripped in several places. Leaked like a sieve one night.

But worst of all the fabric is coated with a chemical compound which is now off gassing VOC's of some sort.

Way too fragile a tent and now it's up for sale

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Mar 2, 2011 - 02:57pm
portlandclimber · Climber
i got mine for about $220 and am really happy with it. its no basecamp tent, but you dont buy it because it is! it packs down into half its sack, or better still- two small drybags and the pole bundled. this tent has also survived some strong winds and horrendous torrential rain in Grindlewald without any problems whatsoever. i love my tent- its even got a name.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 22, 2012 - 04:50pm
philip sanford · Seattle
And Mr. Macnamara needs to read my review. You tell me why anyone should buy products from a high end out door gear supplier when they are so clearly willing to consciously compromise the health and safety of their customers just to avoid the expense or bad press of making sure people know they can't rely upon the product. I have read their web site thoroughly, including their section on the origins of the company, their mind set, their commitment to customer service, blah blah blah. But it seems to me very clear they long ago lost whatever soul the founders may have had. When you put out a rain fly that is known to be water permeable, then say nothing and let customers find out the hard way, its time to start making barbed wire and stop playing with other people's comfort and safety.
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The 2011 MSR Hubba Hubba. New fabric and a new color.
Credit: Max Neale
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