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MSR Advance Pro Review

Perfect for trips where weight and packed volume are at a premium
MSR Advance Pro
Credit: MSR
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $626 List | $625.95 at Amazon
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
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 12
  • Weight - 27% 10.0
  • Weather/Storm Resistance - 25% 7.0
  • Livability - 18% 3.0
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 10.0
  • Durability - 10% 8.0
  • Versatility - 10% 3.0

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 Best Buy Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $626 List
$625.95 at Amazon
Check Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$600.00 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$690 List$449 List
$449.00 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Bomber, light and compact, small footprint lets it be pitched anywhereVersatile, lightweight, double wall design works far better in rain than single wall models, handles condensation well, big vestibules, easy to pitchLots of headroom, long internal length, lightweight, versatile, easy to pitch, handles condensation well, water resistantSuper strong, livable design, above average versatility, great pockets, reflective Kevlar guylines with camming adjustersLightweight for a double wall tent, inexpensive, easy set-up, interior fabric handles condensation well, longer-than-average dimensions make this a better option for taller people
Cons No bug netting, not very breathable, only 24 square feet of interior spaceIsn't as strong as other 4-season models, offers a good but not excellent packed sizeNot strong enough for expedition use in the greater rangesNot as light as other models, pole sleeves aren't as quick to set up, more care must be taken while pitching the tentVestibule is tiny, fine for most four-season applications but one of the least bomber 3-pole designs in our review, only one door
Bottom Line Perfect for trips where weight and packed volume are at a premiumThe ski and summer mountaineering focused design perfect for almost any trip you can dream upLight, roomy, and versatile for modest four season conditionsA popular pick among climbing circles, this model performs well and won't entirely break the bankA solid 4-season shelter at an excellent price, great for summertime mountaineering or winter camping near treeline
Rating Categories MSR Advance Pro MSR Access 2 Mountain Hardwear O... The North Face Moun... REI Arete ASL 2
Weight (27%)
10.0
8.0
7.0
3.0
6.0
Weather/Storm Resistance (25%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Livability (18%)
3.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Ease of Set-up (10%)
10.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Versatility (10%)
3.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Specs MSR Advance Pro MSR Access 2 Mountain Hardwear O... The North Face Moun... REI Arete ASL 2
Minimum Weight (only tent, fly & poles) 2.88 lbs 3.80 lbs 4.8 lbs 7.87 lbs 5.31 lbs
Floor Dimensions 82" x 42 in 84 x 50 in 83" x 50 in 86" x 54 in 88" x 60 in
Peak Height 44 in 42 in 41.5 in 41 in 40 in
Measured Weight, with tent, stakes, guylines, pole bag 3.22 lbs 4.1 lbs 5.25 lbs 8.5 lbs 5.87 lbs
Type Single Wall Double Wall Double Wall Double Wall Double Wall
Packed Size 6" x 18 in 18 x 6 in 7" x 24 in 7" x 24 in 6" x 20 in
Floor Area 24 sq ft 29 sq ft 30.6 sq ft 32 sq ft 32.5 sq ft
Vestibule Area 0 sq ft 17.5 sq ft 13.1 sq ft 11 sq ft 9.1 sq ft
Number of Doors 1 2 2 2 1
Number of Poles 1 2 3 5 4
Pole Diameter 9.3 mm 9.3 mm 9 mm 9.5 - 13 mm 9 mm
Number of Pockets Side: 2 Ceiling: 0 Side: 2 Ceiling: 0 Side: 2 Ceiling: 1 Side: 6 Ceiling: 2 Side: 2 Ceiling: 0
Pole Material Easton Syclone Easton Syclone DAC Featherlight NSL DAC Featherlite NSL DAC Featherlite NSL aluminum
Rainfly Fabric 20D ripstop nylon 2 ply breathable 1000mm 20D nylon ripstop 30D Nylon Ripstop 2000mm 75D PU coated polyester Coated ripstop nylon
Floor Fabric 30D ripstop nylon 3000mm Durashield polyurethane & DWR 30D nylon ripstop 30D Nylon Ripstop 4,000mm 70D PU coated nylon Coated nylon taffeta

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.


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.

MSR Advance Pro 4 season tent - 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.
Credit: 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.

MSR Advance Pro 4 season tent - 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.
Credit: 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.

MSR Advance Pro 4 season tent - 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.
Credit: 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.

MSR Advance Pro 4 season 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.
Credit: 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.

MSR Advance Pro 4 season tent - 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.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

MSR Advance Pro 4 season tent - 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.
Credit: 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.

MSR Advance Pro 4 season tent - 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.
Credit: 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.


MSR Advance Pro 4 season tent - 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.
Credit: 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.

MSR Advance Pro 4 season tent - 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.
Credit: 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.

MSR Advance Pro 4 season tent - 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.
Credit: 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.

MSR Advance Pro 4 season tent - 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.
Credit: 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.

MSR Advance Pro 4 season tent - 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.
Credit: 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
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