The MSR Carbon Reflex 2 provides a large amount of space for its weight, but our tests show that it's not suitable for use in serious three-season storms. The large steep walls catch wind like a sail. But, in this case, the ship has a weak mast, which is the problem. Our test model was the only tent that broke when pitched side-by-side in a storm with other similar tents.See how the Carbon Reflex stacks up to other tents tested in our Backpacking Tent Review.
MSR Carbon Reflex 2 Review
Cons: Weakest tent tested, not suitable for three-season storms, unsupportive pockets.
Our Analysis and Test Results
MSR makes three two-door backpacking tents: the Hoop, Hubba Hubba, and Carbon Reflex 2. The Carbon Reflex provides roughly the same amount of livability as the Hubba Hubba while weighing less. It does this by simplifying the pole design and by using slightly lighter Easton carbon fiber poles. At 52 ounces, this is the lightest two door double wall tent we've tested. It provides a luxurious amount of space for two people to enter and exit, sit up, and hang out.
The Carbon Reflex's simplified pole design takes the already weak Hubba Hubba and makes it significantly weaker. We believe the Carbon reflex's pole design is the weakest of any tent tested. We pitched this tent side-by-side with two other similar tents in a late fall New England wind and rainstorm that knocked the Carbon Reflex over. Wind gusts of an unknown speed pushed in the front of the tent and snapped the primary pole, sending it through the fly. The pole broke at the aluminum section junction, not at the carbon section, which is consistent with other carbon poles that we've seen break (see photos above). The Carbon Reflex and Hubba Hubba have only two guy points. In comparison, most other tents have four to eight guypoints that significantly increase strength in high winds. No backpacking tent tested here has a particularly strong pole structure. All rely on guypoints to increase strength and stability. We believe the Carbon Reflex and the Hubba Hubba have neither strong pole structures nor enough guypoints. Our tests show that they are not suitable for use in serious three-season storms.
The Carbon Reflex suffers from another, less serious drawback: it has terribly unsupportive pockets. They're fine for lightweight items like a headlamp, but adding heavier things, like a book or water bottle, causes the tent walls to sag. This is a minor drawback but it's worth noting. Most other tents tested have more supportive pockets.
Lightweight car camping in protected sites.
The Carbon Reflex 2 is one of the most expensive tents tested. It's also one of our lowest rated tents. See our Price versus Value Chart to compare its value it to other tents tested.
MSR Carbon Reflex 1
- Cost - $400
- Packed weight - 2 pounds, 9 ounces
- One person version of the Carbon Reflex
- Lightweight, non-freestanding backpacking tent
- Crosses the barrier from ultralight to hyper light
MSR Carbon Reflex 3
- Cost - $650
- Packaged weight - 4 pounds 8 ounces
- Three person version of the Carbon Reflex
- 2 doors and 2 vestibules
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale