Some say the Hoop's inner tent feels and looks like an air traffic control tower. Others say it's more like a submarine surfacing from the dark depths of the ocean. Solid nylon panels extend high up the walls and leave a thin mesh strip for ventilation and for spying on the outside world. The roof is also solid nylon. The tent is designed such that spindrift doesn't enter the inner tent, which is boxy in shape and provide a wonderful amount of space for hanging out. Our testers also found the Hoop's solid walls to be useful for camping in busy campgrounds because they add privacy and block light when used without the fly. This is a great feature that only three of the 24 tents tested have.
This is the best tent we've tested for tall people; it measures a wholesome 96 inches long and the vertical end walls maximize space at the ends. Unlike many lighter tents that have low angle walls, the Hoop gives you full use of every one of its 32-square-foot interior. Two vestibules total 19 square feet and provide more than enough covered space for shoes and a pack.
Gorgeous views from the MSR Hoop. The inner tent is all solid nylon except for a thin strip of mesh. Note the pocket in the roof.
The Hoop scores points for its mostly solid mesh walls and loses points for its large surface area and steep walls that catch wind like a sail. Even with the two optional end poles, the tent is not strong. The single primary pole provides minimal support and almost no structure for guying the tent out. There are only two mid panel guypoints! MSR's Hubba Hubba and Carbon Reflex 2 suffer from the same problem. The company aims for a "three-season plus" tent with the Hoop. We believe it's suitable for very light duty winter use — camping in protected areas with minimal risk of snow loading. The only advantage it adds over other similar tents is the solid walls. Tents that have two primary poles, such as the Nemo Losi, allow for four or more guy points and are considerably stronger. Two small vents help to compensate for doors that don't vent. More ventilation would be beneficial. Two pockets lie on opposite sides and two roof pockets provide more than adequate small item storage space.
MSR Hoop: the main pole supports two shorter top poles that make the walls steeper (adding interior space). Two removable end poles increase strength slightly and make it easier to pitch smaller rocky sites like the one here.
Weight and Packed Size
With stakes the Hoop weighs a substantial 83 ounces, or 5 lb 3 oz. Leaving the end poles at home saves 7 oz. Compared to the average tent tested here it does not pack small and we tested double wall tents that weight 50 oz less.
The Hoop receives a zero here (the highest score is 3) because it must be pitched in the exact same way every time, which can be a drawback for long distance hikers or anyone forced to camp in sites that don't allow an optimal pitch. The large inner tent and vestibules make big campsites mandatory.
Luxurious backpacking, remote basecamps, car camping.
The Hoop is a well-designed and constructed tent that competes with the $180 REI Half Dome 2. Sometimes the Hoop can be found for around $250, in which case it's a reasonable deal. Check out our Price versus Value Chart.
MSR Hoop as seen from the top of the Incredible Hulk (11,420). The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 and Black Diamond Firstlight are also visible (can you find them?).