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.
MSR Access 2 Review
Compare prices at 2 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
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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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Ian Nicholson