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MSR Access 2 Review

This ski and summer mountaineering focused design isn't quite burly enough for full on expedition use but is perfect for any other trip you can dream up.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $600 List | $449.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Versatile, lightweight, double wall design works far better in rain than single wall models, handles condensation well, big vestibules, easy to pitch
Cons:  Isn't as strong as other 4-season models, offers a good but not excellent packed size
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 1, 2019
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 20
  • Weight - 27% 8
  • Weather/Storm Resistance - 25% 7
  • Livability - 18% 7
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 9
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Versatility - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The MSR Access 2 is one of the few 4-season tents that is geared for multi-day ski touring and more shoulder season mountaineering adventures. MSR focuses on versatility and moisture management and keeps the weight to a minimum. The Access's double-wall design works well mid-winter when dealing with moderate snow loads and colder temps but also performs far better than nearly all of its single wall competitors in damp, spring time conditions.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
MSR Access 2
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   
Price $449.96 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$699.95 at Amazon
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$990 List$524.96 at Backcountry
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$678.09 at Amazon
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Pros Versatile, lightweight, double wall design works far better in rain than single wall models, handles condensation well, big vestibules, easy to pitchBomber, great durability, compact footprint, lighter than average weight, fantastic overall balance of strength, weight, and livability, best two pole model to get rained or stormed on in, ample guy pointsStormworthy, highly resistant to snow loading, pitches quick from outside, great ventilation, multiple setup configurationsIncluded removable vestibule, ventilation system, innovative anchor point, robust, external poles clips are quick and easy to set upExtremely strong, spacious, bomber three-point self equalizing guylines, tight flap-free pitch
Cons Isn't as strong as other 4-season models, offers a good but not excellent packed sizePoor ventilation, slightly tricky setup, insufficient guylines includedZippers are small and slightly harder to grab, less headroom than other modelsHeavy, ventilation system is sweet but the canopy fabric itself is not as breathable as other models, okay internal dimensions, average priceBulky for a single wall tent, low ceiling height considering the floor space and weight, harder than average to set up, so-so ventilation, expensive, no vestibule
Bottom Line This ski and summer mountaineering focused design isn't quite burly enough for full on expedition use but is perfect for any other trip you can dream up.All-around uses are this model's forte, but it's still robust enough for when the weather turns gnar.Built for the worst conditions but still light and packable enough to consider for summer mountaineering.A solid, lightweight model that offers more versatility than a majority of other 2-pole bivy-style shelters.Easily among the most bomber tents in this review; extreme storm protection at a respectable weight and its ToddTex ePTFE single-wall fabric handled moisture and condensation better than any other single wall model.
Rating Categories MSR Access 2 Black Diamond Eldorado Hilleberg Jannu Nemo Tenshi Black Diamond Fitzroy
Weight (27%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
5
Weather Storm Resistance (25%)
10
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7
10
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9
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10
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8
10
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10
Livability (18%)
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7
10
0
7
10
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7
10
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6
10
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8
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
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9
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0
9
10
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5
Durability (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
10
Versatility (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
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0
8
10
0
6
10
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6
Specs MSR Access 2 Black Diamond... Hilleberg Jannu Nemo Tenshi Black Diamond...
Minimum Weight (only tent & poles) 3.80 lbs 4.5 lbs 6.17 lbs 3.9 lbs (no vestibule) 6.28 lbs
Floor Dimensions (inches) 84 x 50 in. 87" x 51 in. 93" x 57 in. 85.1 x 48.1in 93" x 60 in.
Peak Height (inches) 42 in. 43 in. 40 in. 42.6 in 40 in.
Measured Weight (tent, stakes, guylines, pole bag) 4.1 lbs 4.9 lbs 6.87 lbs 5.88 lbs 7.06 lbs
Type Double Wall Single Wall Double Wall Single Wall Single Wall
Packed Size (inches) 18 x 6 in 7" x 19 in. 6" x 20 in. 16.2 x 9.1in 9" x 19 in.
Floor Area (sq ft.) 29 sq ft. 31 sq. ft. 34.5 sq. ft. 28.4 sq ft 36 sq. ft.
Vestibule Area (sq ft.) 17.5 sq. ft. 9 sq. ft. (optional) 13 sq. ft. 10.5 sq ft 9 sq. ft. (optional)
Space-Weight Ratio (inches) 0.38 in. 0.31 in. 0.31 in.
Number of Doors 2 1 1 1 2
Number of Poles 2 2 3 3 4
Pole Diameter (mm) 9.3 8 mm 9 mm 8.84 mm 8 mm
Number of Pockets Side: 2 Ceiling: 0 Side: 4 Ceiling: 0 Side: 4 Ceiling: 0 Side: 2 Ceiling: 1 Side: 4 Ceiling: 0
Pole Material Easton Syclone Easton Aluminum 7075-E9 DAC Featherlite NSL Green aluminum DAC Featherlite Easton Aluminum 7075-E9
Rainfly Fabric 20D nylon ripstop 3 layer ToddTex Kerlon 1200 3 layer ToddTex
Floor Fabric 30D nylon ripstop Unknown 70D PU coated nylon 40D OSMO waterproof/breathable nylon ripstop Unknown

Our Analysis and Test Results

The MSR Access 2 fills an underserved niche in the world of 4-season shelters. Its double-wall design allows it to handle condensation and damp weather far better than most single wall models, but it's still light and comfortable. The Access strikes an excellent balance between our metrics and offers enough weather protection and versatility for the types of trips most people are going on.

Performance Comparison


All of our testers were impressed by the tremendous versatility that this tent provided while being one of the lightest double-wall tents we tested.
All of our testers were impressed by the tremendous versatility that this tent provided while being one of the lightest double-wall tents we tested.

Ease of Set-Up


The Access is one of the easiest to set up and is likely the quickest double wall model to pitch. It basically expands on MSR's mega-popular Hubba Hubba design and uses only two poles. There's one primary pole with Y-junctions on each end and a third pole arcing over the middle.

Showing the simple but effective pole clips as well as the pole-hub that is featured on each end of this tent. We found this design to be a reasonable balance or weight and strength and made pitching the tent quicker as there was only one pole to deal with.
Showing the simple but effective pole clips as well as the pole-hub that is featured on each end of this tent. We found this design to be a reasonable balance or weight and strength and made pitching the tent quicker as there was only one pole to deal with.

They slip into metal eyelets at the base of the tent and are held in place by plastic buckles. Our review team found these plastic buckles far easier and quicker than pole sleeves, particularly if it was windy. Once the body was assembled, the fly proved easy to clip on, and utilizes the same buckles as the poles.

The pole attaches to the base of the body via basic albeit strong clips. The fly also has metal tabs which are very similar to the one in the photo (and attaches the fly to the body and poles). This is design simple  easy to use  and effective.
The pole attaches to the base of the body via basic albeit strong clips. The fly also has metal tabs which are very similar to the one in the photo (and attaches the fly to the body and poles). This is design simple, easy to use, and effective.

Weather/Storm Resistance


The Access 2 is decent for moderate winds and some snow loading but isn't near as wind-resistant as the Black Diamond Eldorado or Hilliberg Jannu. While it doesn't perform quite as well in strong winds and heavy snow loads as many of the single wall tents in our review, it offers adequate performance in damp or rainy conditions. This is thanks to its double wall-design with light interior fabric, which handles moisture and condensation far better. Thus, it's more likely to keep its inhabitants dry on incredibly rainy trips.

The Access is a solid 4-season tent that handles moderate snow loading and wind well. It keeps its inhabitants incredibly dry  something we appreciated on spring ski-mountaineering traverses. While it is a great option for summertime mountaineering  spring ski trips and lower elevation snow camping  we wouldn't bring it to Antarctica or on Denali.
The Access is a solid 4-season tent that handles moderate snow loading and wind well. It keeps its inhabitants incredibly dry, something we appreciated on spring ski-mountaineering traverses. While it is a great option for summertime mountaineering, spring ski trips and lower elevation snow camping, we wouldn't bring it to Antarctica or on Denali.

While we don't think it is an excellent tent for Denali, we do think its more than adequate for most alpine camping in the lower 48 and non-extreme above treeline environments in Canada. We'd also consider it for lower elevation expeditions to places like Alaska Ruth Rorge, but other tents will offer better performance in this realm.

This tent is super quick and easy to pitch and uses a hub-system on its poles and clips to hold them in place. This system is advantageous while pitching it in the wind  as is minimizes the chances of the poles being bent or broken  a common problem with models that use pole sleeves.
This tent is super quick and easy to pitch and uses a hub-system on its poles and clips to hold them in place. This system is advantageous while pitching it in the wind, as is minimizes the chances of the poles being bent or broken, a common problem with models that use pole sleeves.

Livability


This is one of the main reasons you buy this tent, and it is easily one of the more livable tents for its weight, livability referring to how nice it is to spend time inside it. The Access offers a surprising amount of interior space and feels far bigger than its stated 29 square feet of internal floor space.

The 42" peak height is nice and felt roomier than most other models. However  because of its steep roofline (which is what enabled it to shed snow so well)  it wasn't nearly as comfortable if both people wanted to sit up at the same time while getting ready in the morning or playing cards.
The 42" peak height is nice and felt roomier than most other models. However, because of its steep roofline (which is what enabled it to shed snow so well), it wasn't nearly as comfortable if both people wanted to sit up at the same time while getting ready in the morning or playing cards.

It felt more spacious than most of the ultralight two-pole single wall models, and its two large vestibules made dealing with everything easier on stormier days. While it didn't provide a ton in the way of ventilation (just two small mesh panels on the body of the tent), the lightweight fabric and double wall design handles condensation well.

Despite being the lightest double-wall tent in our review  it features a fair amount of internal space - 30.3 square feet; this is more than nearly all the other four pound and below tents  including both single and double wall models. As you can see from the photo  it can fit two full-sized pads  with even a little room to spare.
Despite being the lightest double-wall tent in our review, it features a fair amount of internal space - 30.3 square feet; this is more than nearly all the other four pound and below tents, including both single and double wall models. As you can see from the photo, it can fit two full-sized pads, with even a little room to spare.

Durability


The Access 2's fly isn't meant to be exposed to the alpine sun for months at a time, and this type of exposure to intense UV can affect the degradation of the tent. However, the Access 2 is not meant for this type of application, and we'd gladly take the weight savings instead of leaving it pitched for months at a time in the direct sunlight.

Its floor and fly fabric are constructed with a lower denier (AKA is thinner) which makes the tent lighter but less durable overall. This is something that we feel shouldn't be a pitfall for the types of trips this tent is meant to be used on and is easily worth it for the decrease in weight and packed volume.

Showing the body of the Access 2 without the fly on. This double-wall design allows it to handle  warmer  wetter conditions far better than most single wall models.
Showing the body of the Access 2 without the fly on. This double-wall design allows it to handle, warmer, wetter conditions far better than most single wall models.

Versatility


The Access is quite versatile across 3-season and more moderate 3-season use. It's one of the better performing models for more traditional 3-season backpacking use, thanks to its low weight, packed size, and ability to handle condensation relatively well.

The Access provides a high amount of value  as it performs well across a wide range of conditions (with the exception of fairly extreme alpine environments).
The Access provides a high amount of value, as it performs well across a wide range of conditions (with the exception of fairly extreme alpine environments).

Weight


With a packed weight of slightly under four pounds, the Access is one of the lighter models we tested. It offers a fantastic balance of versatility-to-weight and is nearly half the weight of many double-wall models. When it comes to weight, the bottom line is it's possible to buy a lighter tent, but you can't get a light tent that you'd want to hang out in for as long as this one.

The Access provides a high level of livability for the weight  and is stormworthy  especially for summertime or spring trips  where wetness and fierce condensation can be an issue.
The Access provides a high level of livability for the weight, and is stormworthy, especially for summertime or spring trips, where wetness and fierce condensation can be an issue.

Value


From a price perspective, the Access is in the middle of the road. While not nearly as bomber in stormier conditions as other tents with a double-wall design, the Access is, in most cases, far smaller and more compact. It is similar in price or even slightly cheaper than many single-wall models, but does give up some of the stormworthiness or packability benefits.

At just a hair over four pounds for its true packed weight  the Access 2 impressed us as one of the lightest double-wall models we tested. While light  it doesn't give up anything for its versatility and compresses smaller than a number of single-wall options.
At just a hair over four pounds for its true packed weight, the Access 2 impressed us as one of the lightest double-wall models we tested. While light, it doesn't give up anything for its versatility and compresses smaller than a number of single-wall options.

Conclusion


The MSR Access 2 is a unique all-season shelter, but it fits the needs of several rather large user groups. It isn't necessarily the strongest or the lightest, but is more than adequate for the majority of trips you'll want to take it on. It excels on ski mountaineering trips, where its low weight and minimal packed size are significant.

MSR built this tent for multi-day ski mountaineering trips which it works fantastically for keeping condensation to a minimum. It offers good vestibule space and is light and compressible. While we think this tent is fantastic for multi-day ski trips  it's also a great option for summertime mountaineering objectives and modest snow camping trips.
MSR built this tent for multi-day ski mountaineering trips which it works fantastically for keeping condensation to a minimum. It offers good vestibule space and is light and compressible. While we think this tent is fantastic for multi-day ski trips, it's also a great option for summertime mountaineering objectives and modest snow camping trips.


Ian Nicholson