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MSR Advance Pro Review

Perfect for trips where weight and packed volume are at a premium
MSR Advance Pro
Photo: MSR
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $550 List | $549.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Bomber, light and compact, small footprint lets it be pitched anywhere
Cons:  No bug netting, not very breathable, only 24 square feet of interior space
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 1, 2019
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 14
  • Weight - 27% 10
  • Weather/Storm Resistance - 25% 7
  • Livability - 18% 3
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 10
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Versatility - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The MSR Advance Pro is designed for one purpose: to protect you from the elements at night without weighing you down during the day. It's one of the lightest models we tested and performs exceptionally in moderate to strong winds. It isn't incredibly versatile and doesn't feature a bug net door, giving us poor breathability in wet conditions or at lower elevations. It has a small interior space but is bomber. It's our Top Pick for Lightweight Alpine climbing, as it excels for big ascents in the mountains, where every ounce counts.

Product Updated

MSR udpated this tent since our test period. Details below.

March 2020

Compare to Similar Products

 
MSR Advance Pro
This Product
MSR Advance Pro
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $549.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$730 List$600 List$700 List$659.95 at Backcountry
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Bomber, light and compact, small footprint lets it be pitched anywhereBomber, great durability, compact footprint, lighter than average weight, fantastic balance of strength, weight, and livability, ample guy pointsVersatile, lightweight, double wall design works far better in rain than single wall models, handles condensation well, big vestibules, easy to pitchIncluded removable vestibule, ventilation system, innovative anchor point, robust, external poles clips are quick and easy to set upInclued hooped vestibule, lightweight, excellent ventilation, good headroom, compressible, robust
Cons No bug netting, not very breathable, only 24 square feet of interior spacePoor ventilation, slightly tricky setup, insufficient guylines includedIsn't as strong as other 4-season models, offers a good but not excellent packed sizeHeavy, ventilation system is sweet but the canopy fabric itself is not as breathable as other models, okay internal dimensions, average priceExterior fabric isn't as breathable as other models and absorbed moisture, guylines are light duty
Bottom Line Provides shelter and doesn't weigh you down, but isn't ideal for hanging out inAn excellent all-around option, this tent strikes a great balance of weight, strength, packed size, and stormworthinessOffers a tremendous amount of versatility and the ability to keep its inhabitants dryA versatile and solid option an optional removable vestibuleA versatile bivy-style tent that is packed full of features
Rating Categories MSR Advance Pro Black Diamond Eldorado MSR Access 2 Nemo Tenshi Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT
Weight (27%)
10
7
8
8
9
Weather Storm Resistance (25%)
7
9
7
8
6
Livability (18%)
3
7
7
6
6
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
10
7
9
9
10
Durability (10%)
8
10
7
7
7
Versatility (10%)
3
7
9
6
5
Specs MSR Advance Pro Black Diamond... MSR Access 2 Nemo Tenshi Assault 2...
Minimum Weight (only tent & poles) 2.88 lbs 4.5 lbs 3.80 lbs 3.9 lbs (no vestibule) 3.24 lbs
Floor Dimensions 82" x 42 in. 87" x 51 in. 84 x 50 in. 85.1 x 48.1in. 82" x 45 in.
Peak Height 44 in. 43 in. 42 in. 42.6 in. 42 in.
Measured Weight (tent, stakes, guylines, pole bag) 3.22 lbs 4.9 lbs 4.1 lbs 5.88 lbs 3.62 lbs
Type Single Wall Single Wall Double Wall Single Wall Single Wall
Packed Size 6" x 18 in. 7" x 19 in. 18 x 6 in. 16.2 x 9.1 in. 7" x 22 in.
Floor Area 24 sq. ft. 31 sq. ft. 29 sq ft. 28.4 sq ft. 27.3 sq. ft.
Vestibule Area 0 sq. ft. 9 sq. ft. (optional) 17.5 sq. ft. 10.5 sq ft. 10 sq. ft.
Number of Doors 1 1 2 1 1.5
Number of Poles 1 2 2 3 3
Pole Diameter 9.3 mm 8 mm 9.3 mm 8.84 mm 9 mm
Number of Pockets Side: 2 Ceiling: 0 Side: 4 Ceiling: 0 Side: 2 Ceiling: 0 Side: 2 Ceiling: 1 Side: 2 Ceiling: 0
Pole Material Easton Syclone Easton Aluminum 7075-E9 Easton Syclone Aluminum DAC Featherlite DAC Featherlite aluminum
Rainfly Fabric 20D ripstop nylon 2 ply breathable 1000mm 3 layer ToddTex 20D nylon ripstop 40-denier ripstop nylon 50D DryWall durable ripstop polyester
Floor Fabric 30D ripstop nylon 3000mm Durashield polyurethane & DWR Unknown 30D nylon ripstop 40D OSMO waterproof/breathable nylon ripstop 40D ripstop nylon, 3000 mm PU coating, silicone water-resistant finish

Our Analysis and Test Results

Advance Pro Updates


Since our test cycle with this Top Pick winner, MSR has tweaked the design a bit. There are now side vents, which can be see in the first photo, below. The second photo shows the model we tested.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Since we haven't tested the model with the updated vents, the review below still tells our account of the previous version.

Hands-On Review of the Advance Pro


The MSR Advance Pro is a bomb-proof bivy tent with a minimal-weight focused design. It's one of the lightest tents in our review and has the smallest interior floor plan, with only 24 square feet in which to lay down. There are not a lot of extras, such as a bug mesh screen on the door.

The Advance Pro is our new Top Pick for the Best Bivy Tent. It is...
The Advance Pro is our new Top Pick for the Best Bivy Tent. It is one of the lightest and most compressible models in our review.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Ease of Set-up


The Advance Pro is the easiest bivy-style tent to set up in our review.


Unlike most 2-3 pole single wall tents, you don't have to crawl inside the tent to set it up. You won't find yourself battling to find pieces of Velcro or plastic twist-ties as the tent blows around in your face.

The Advance Pro was one of the easiest models to pitch in the 3.5...
The Advance Pro was one of the easiest models to pitch in the 3.5 pound category. We did not have to crawl inside it to pitch.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Instead, simply unfold the poles that are pre-attached in the center, slide one half of each pole into pole sleeves and then clip three plastic tabs to hold the pole in place. Not only was this set-up quick-and-easy, but it was also bomber.

In the previous photo, you can see the pole clips on the front of...
In the previous photo, you can see the pole clips on the front of the tent, and in this photo, you can see the external pole sleeves highlighted by their red fabric.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Weather and Storm Resistance


This is one of the most stormworthy 2-pole models in our review. If we were expecting to get blasted by strong winds or heavy snow, then this is the bivy tent we'd lean toward.


The Advance Pro has two poles that cross in an "X," a design that's fairly typical of lightweight bivy tents; in this case, they are always connected using a hubbed design, which adds a great deal of structural integrity. The fabric is pretty robust for a sub three pound tent.

The Advanced Pro gets a ton of its strength from its Easton Syclone...
The Advanced Pro gets a ton of its strength from its Easton Syclone composite material poles, which were easily the strongest among bivy-style tents.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

The Advance Pro has six guylines that are reinforced where they attach to the tent, far more so than with other sub four pound models. There is also a seventh reinforced tie-in point, where an additional guyline (or the rope) can be attached to both the tent and the intersection of the poles, adding a tremendous amount of strength.

All of the guy-points are nicely reinforced. The center ones (shown...
All of the guy-points are nicely reinforced. The center ones (shown in the photo here), are crucial to maintaining strength and minimize flapping. On most models, they are the most common to tear out, leaving your tent weak and exposed; this is not the case here thanks to the way MSR designed them, reinforcing them from the inside.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

In addition to the guylines, the Advance Pro also sports a...
In addition to the guylines, the Advance Pro also sports a reinforced tie-in point at the apex of the tent where you could use your rope or other materials to tie it down if the weather turns grim.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Weight and Packed Size


With a minimum weight of two pounds 14 ounces, (just the tent itself and nothing else) and a packed weight of three pounds three ounces (packed weight is tent plus guylines, pole bag, and stakes) the Advance Pro is one of the lightest in our review.


The Advance Pro keeps the weight low but maintains its status as one of the most stormworthy tents in our review because of a few factors. It was the only model with two carbon fiber poles that permanently intersect at the peak of the tent. It also has no mesh door and has the smallest floor area.

The Advance Pro offers 24 square feet of living space, one of the...
The Advance Pro offers 24 square feet of living space, one of the smallest in our review.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Livability and Comfort


At only 24 sq ft of interior floor space, the Advance Pro has the least amount of square footage of any tent in our review. If you are 5'10 or taller, both your head and feet will touch the walls all the time.


There is no mesh bug screen on this tent, which is nice to have in...
There is no mesh bug screen on this tent, which is nice to have in buggy weather. The fabric on this tent is also not particularly breathable, meaning you want to sleep with the door open when the weather and bugs allow.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

While small in square footage, MSR didn't just cut off the length, which our taller testers appreciated. There is only one small vent for ventilation, and the fabric was only okay for breathability. Even with the door left halfway open in the humid air of the North Cascades, we'd see condensation develop with two folks sleeping inside.

The Advance Pro with two 6'1" people sleeping in it. It's a little...
The Advance Pro with two 6'1" people sleeping in it. It's a little tight (to say the least) and with the door zipped closed, their heads and feet touch at both ends.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Durability


The Advance Pro earned a relatively high score for durability. All of its components are solidly made; however, when going so light, you sacrifice a bit on long-term wear, and this tent may not last as long as the beefier 4 season tents in this review.


Adaptability and Versatility


The Advance Pro is not a particularly versatile tent; instead, it offers a very focused design toward creating a strong and weather-resistant design with minimal weight and packed volume. This leaves little room for compromise.


This tent breathes poorly in the rain, features no bug netting, and would be a bummer to hang out in for any length of time.

The Advance Pro's biggest disadvantage is its breathability. There's...
The Advance Pro's biggest disadvantage is its breathability. There's no bug-netting and only one tiny vent, which won't do much if you're forced to sleep with the front door closed.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

It is best used as an alpine, mountaineering, or ski touring tent, where its minimal weight and packed size, combined with its stormworthy design, will be appreciated.

The Advance Pro has a focused design; while it doesn't work great...
The Advance Pro has a focused design; while it doesn't work great for a broad spectrum of applications, it's ideal any time you might need a lightweight and compact shelter that can still withstand the elements. Its tiny footprint lets it be pitched anywhere two people stand a chance of laying down.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Value


The Advance Pro is in line with other similarly designed bivy tents. It's an excellent value for how much storm protection you get for the weight.

The Advance Pro isn't particularly versatile but is fantastic at...
The Advance Pro isn't particularly versatile but is fantastic at what it is designed to do, which is to be as light and compact as possible while still offering top-notch storm protection.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Conclusion


The MSR Advance Pro is fantastic at what it's designed for - to provide a stormworthy place to sleep while weighing you down as little as possible during the day. It's one of the lightest models in our review, but it's one of the most storm-resistant and weather-proof of the sub-3.5 pound models. It isn't versatile and doesn't even have a bug mesh door, nor is it comfortable to hang out in, but it is light, and it is bomber.

Ian Nicholson