Reviews You Can Rely On

MSR Elixir 2 Review

A hearty 2-person tent with thick fabric that performs well in high wind
MSR Elixir 2
Photo: Backcountry
Top Pick Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $250 List
Pros:  Very stable in wind, good privacy, durable
Cons:  Short, unusual pole configuration
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 27, 2020
  • Share this article:
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
67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 14
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Weight - 25% 6
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 8
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 5
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Packed Size - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The MSR Elixir 2 is a great tent to have on hand if you happen to encounter foul weather on your adventures. It earns an award for its overall stability and durability in wind and rain. Its unique pole structure provides extra rigidity and its myriad stake points and guy points ensure that you can anchor it securely. It also comes with an included footprint for extra ground protection. Though it lacks a couple of the comfort features that we prefer, this tent is for those who like to have peace of mind for when the weather turns nasty in the backcountry.

Compare to Similar Products

 
MSR Elixir 2
This Product
MSR Elixir 2
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $250 List$159 List
Check Price at REI
$139 List
Check Price at REI
$199.95 at Amazon$159 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
67
71
71
70
64
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Very stable in wind, good privacy, durableTwo side doors, easy to pitch, large vestibulesLots of headroom, large vestibule, easy to pitchLightweight, easy to pitchSetup with fly attached, flexible vestibule configuration, below average price
Cons Short, unusual pole configurationHeavy, not so stable in high windPoles pinch together under fly tensionSmall interior, single door and vestibuleSingle door, can't remove fly while keeping tent pitched
Bottom Line A hearty 2-person tent with thick fabric that performs well in high windThis basic tent is easy to set up and provides comfortable nights of camping on a budgetThis inexpensive tent is just a good as a 1P as it for twoA budget tent for those who want to minimize weight and don't mind sacrificing a fair bit of comfortThe unique design and really reasonable price of this tent have us finding new ways to enjoy it again and again
Rating Categories MSR Elixir 2 REI Co-op Passage 2 REI Co-op Passage 1 Big Agnes C Bar 2 Slumberjack Nightfa...
Comfort (25%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
7.0
Weight (25%)
6.0
6.0
6.0
9.0
5.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
5.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Packed Size (10%)
5.0
5.0
5.0
8.0
5.0
Specs MSR Elixir 2 REI Co-op Passage 2 REI Co-op Passage 1 Big Agnes C Bar 2 Slumberjack Nightfa...
Measured Packaged Weight 5.53 lbs 5.23 lbs 4.21 lbs 3.96 lbs 5.68 lbs
Floor Area 29 sq ft 31 sq ft 20 sq ft 28 sq ft 31.4 sq ft
Packed Size 20 x 7 in 8 x 18 in 7.5 x 17 in 6 x 19 in 6.5 x 21 in
Dimensions 84 x 50 in 88 x 52 in 88 x 36 in 86 x (52 x 42) x 41 in 85 x 52 x 39.5 in
Vestibule Area (Total) 24 sq ft 19 sq ft 9.5 sq ft 7 sq ft 9.3 sq ft
Peak Height 40 in 40 in 40 in 41 in 39.5 in
Number of Doors 1 2 1 1 1
Number of Poles 2 2 2 2 3
Pole Diameter 8.5 mm 8.5 mm 8.5 mm Not provided Not provided
Number of Pockets 4 2 1 3 2
Gear Loft No No No No No
Pole Material 7000 series aluminum Aluminum Aluminum DAC pressfit aluminum 7001 aluminum
Guy Points 4 4 4 7 4
Rain Fly Material 68D ripstop polyester 1500mm Polyurethane & DWR Polyester Polyester Polyester taffeta 68D polyester
Inner Tent Material 40D ripstop nylon & DWR Polyester Polyester Polyester & mesh 40D Polyester No-See-Um Mesh
Type Freestanding Freestanding Freestanding Freestanding Freestanding

Our Analysis and Test Results

Out of the bag, you can tell this tent is a little different. It proves to have above-average weather resistance and durability, which combine to offer a sturdy shelter in rough three-season conditions.

Performance Comparison


The innovative pole design and broad base of this tent make it a...
The innovative pole design and broad base of this tent make it a great budget option for nasty weather.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort


The MSR Elixir 2 is a mixed bag when it comes to comfort. It has double side doors that are facing in opposite directions so that sleepers cab lie head to toe. They aren't massive, so you can't roll in and out of them as easily as some other models, but they are easy to open with one hand. Each side also has a storage pocket at its head and a small overhead pocket for a headlamp. It's a small thing, but there aren't any pockets on the door sides, meaning that if you are lying down, you either have to reach over your head and go fishing for the item you want, or you have to sit up to grab something from the ceiling. Not a dealbreaker, but the little things may add up.


In terms of actual interior space, its symmetrical footprint is has a slightly-below-average for the category 50" width; however, for two people, we found that it is still plenty wide. Paired with a 40" peak height that extends through a large area of the canopy, having two people sit up at the same time is no problem. The real bummer is the 84" length. If you are 6 feet tall, this may sound like a lot of space, but by the time you have all of your gear in the tent and a sleeping pad and bag set up, you may find that either your head or feet are bumping up against one end or the other. What ends up happening then is that when you wake up in the morning, the foot of your sleeping bag is likely to be wet from absorbing condensation that collected on the tent wall.

Two sleeping setups fit fairly comfortably head-to-toe and the...
Two sleeping setups fit fairly comfortably head-to-toe and the flared corners at the peak height of the ceiling (top and bottom of image) add a little more headroom.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

This model also comes with substantial fabric paneling over the canopy, meaning that there is less mesh and a diminished view of the sky if the weather allows you to pitch without the fly. On the other hand, we like that this design provides significantly more privacy in a crowded campsite than almost any other model.

The triangular side doors aren't the largest that we have...
The triangular side doors aren't the largest that we have encountered, but they can be tied back if weather and bugs permit.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weather Resistance


We love this tent for its weather resistance. The two main poles cross each other at two points rather than most tents, which often just cross in the middle at a single point. This offers extra stability for the structure that serves it well in windy weather.


The other rarity that the Elixir 2 brings to the table is that each vestibule gets staked out at two different points, creating a trapezoid shape rather than the usual triangle. Similar to the poles, this provides more structure to the overall design; it makes the fly easier to tension properly, which means it is less likely to whip around in the wind. Incidentally, it also creates more usable storage space for packs and boots.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The tent comes with 12 stakes. It pitches in its most basic configuration with eight, which leaves you with four more to use either with the pre-attached guyline or at the head and foot of the fly (which has loops to attach more cord if you need additional stability). There are also two vents on the fly — one at each end. They have a kickstand that allows you to prop them open. They are positioned approximately above each sleeper's face to release condensation but to be honest; their effectiveness is somewhat limited by the amount of non-mesh fabric that checkers the canopy.

The tent canopy itself uses quite a bit of denser white polyester...
The tent canopy itself uses quite a bit of denser white polyester paneling which keeps the tent warmer than most other models that typically use much more mesh in the ceiling.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ease of Setup


It's on a paragon of simplicity, but with a couple of tries, one person can get this tent up in a reasonable 5-10 minutes. Staking out the tent and footprint is easy enough. The poles have two permanently attached hubs that connect them, making it difficult at first to understand how they could separate enough to reach the four corners of the tent. With a little finagling though, it becomes more apparent. The shorter cross pole then goes over the top very easily and intuitively.


The thing that makes it easier is that the two main poles are color-coded (one gray, one red), which match the colors of the webbing at the corners of the tent. The ends of the poles are also inscribed with words ('RED GROMMET') and an arrow to literally point you in the right direction. From there, the fly can be hooked as well and staked out. All in all, it is slightly trickier to pitch than the average tent.

The two main poles are permanently connected to each other and cross...
The two main poles are permanently connected to each other and cross at two hubs. One person can pitch this tent fairly easily once they get the hang of the unique pole structure.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Basic illustrations are also printed directly on the pole bag in...
Basic illustrations are also printed directly on the pole bag in case you need a reminder about how to pitch the tent.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Durability


The Elixir 2 is in it for the long run. It is one of just a small handful of models that comes with a footprint included. The tent itself is made from 70D nylon and the fly from just slightly thinner 68D polyester. The hardware is actually hardware — the metal grommets are super sturdy, and the hubs connecting the two main poles are also metal, which gives us much more confidence than the near-universal chunky plastic things that we see everywhere else.


The design also lends itself to increased durability; the less the fly whips and the tent warps in bad weather, the longer it will all last.

The included footprint (in gray) increases the lifespan of the tent...
The included footprint (in gray) increases the lifespan of the tent floor by protecting it from abrasive rocks, sand, or sticks.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The pivoting red hub connecting the two poles is low profile and is...
The pivoting red hub connecting the two poles is low profile and is one of the few that is made of metal instead of the plastic used in most other tents.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weight and Packed Size


This tent isn't the heaviest in this review, but it isn't for those looking to go ultralight either. Coming in at five pounds, eight ounces, it's a decent carry for two people. If you wanted to cut down on weight even more since it does come with a footprint, you could ditch the tent itself and 'fast-pitch' it — that is, just bring the footprint, fly, poles, and stakes.


Not surprisingly, the durability of the fabric also means that they take up quite a bit of space. Though the poles pack down surprisingly well and slide nicely down the side of a pack, the tent itself hogs some space in a pack.


This tent isn't especially light, but we do appreciate that the...
This tent isn't especially light, but we do appreciate that the poles collapse down into a uniform stack with no hubs or wonky segments sticking out. It just makes them easier to pack.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Value


For those who need a durable tent for the long haul, this model will provide substantial value. Though it is one of the more expensive models in a review meant to highlight budget options, you get what you pay for (in a good way). Its fabrics will stand up to hard use, and it will keep you protected, potentially when it matters most. We think that for the frequent weekend backpacker, it is well worth the modest additional investment.

Conclusion


The MSR Elixir 2 can handle nasty weather with the best of the bargain tents. Though it lacks just a couple of the comfort features that we admire in other models, it still earns an award because is does excel at stability and durability.

This tent performs well in poor weather and has enough headroom for...
This tent performs well in poor weather and has enough headroom for two.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch