MSR Elixir 2 Review
Cons: Short, unusual pole configuration
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MSR Elixir 2
|Price||$250 List||$139 List|
Check Price at REI
Check Price at REI
|$159 List||$200 List|
|Pros||Very stable in wind, good privacy, durable||Lots of headroom, large vestibule, easy to pitch||Two side doors, easy to pitch, large vestibules||Headroom, large tent doors, ventilation||Lightweight, easy to pitch|
|Cons||Short, unusual pole configuration||Poles pinch together under fly tension||Heavy, not so stable in high wind||Heavy, unsteady in high wind, cheap stakes||Small interior, single door and vestibule|
|Bottom Line||A stout and sturdy tent with a unique pole design||This tent carries over its best features to the 1P version||A straightforward tent with good comfort features||This tent offers a lot of headroom, comfort, and ventilation||This tent is cramped quarters for two people but will keep your load light if you are on a budget|
|Rating Categories||MSR Elixir 2||REI Co-op Passage 1||REI Co-op Passage 2||The North Face Stormbreak 2||Big Agnes C Bar 2|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Ease Of Set Up (10%)|
|Packed Size (10%)|
|Specs||MSR Elixir 2||REI Co-op Passage 1||REI Co-op Passage 2||The North Face...||Big Agnes C Bar 2|
|Measured Packaged Weight||5.53 lbs||4.21 lbs||5.23 lbs||5.89 lbs||3.96 lbs|
|Floor Area||29 sq ft||20 sq ft||31 sq ft||30.5 sq ft||28 sq ft|
|Packed Size||20 x 7 in||7.5 x 17 in||18 x 8 in||7 x 22 in||6 x 19 in|
|Dimensions||84 x 50 in||88 x 36 in||88 x 52 in||87 x 50 x 43 in||86 x (52 x 42) x 41 in|
|Vestibule Area (Total)||24 sq ft||9.5 sq ft||19 sq ft||19 sq ft||7 sq ft|
|Peak Height||40 in||40 in||40 in||43 in||41 in|
|Number of Doors||1||1||2||2||1|
|Number of Poles||2||2||2||4||2|
|Pole Diameter||8.5 mm||8.5 mm||8.5 mm||Not provided||Not provided|
|Number of Pockets||4||1||2||4||3|
|Pole Material||7000 series aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum||DAC pressfit aluminum|
|Rain Fly Material||68D ripstop polyester 1500mm Polyurethane & DWR||Polyester||Polyester||68D lightweight polyester taffeta, 1200 mm PU||Polyester taffeta|
|Inner Tent Material||40D ripstop nylon & DWR||Polyester||Polyester||68D polyester taffeta, 1500 mm PU coating||Polyester & mesh|
|Type||Freestanding||Freestanding||Freestanding||Two door, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch