The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

MSR Reflex 2 UL Review

An expensive double-wall dedicated pole tent with limited living space but great desert applications.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $550 List | $329.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Great in the wind, good airflow, great floor protection, bug netting, no trekking poles needed
Cons:  Expensive, fabric sags in weather, little living space for two, clasp on vestibule is annoying
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 29, 2019
  • 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
54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#19 of 19
  • Livability - 30% 5
  • Weight - 25% 4
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 6
  • Adaptability - 10% 6
  • Ease of Set-Up - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The MSR Reflex 2 is a double-wall dedicated pole tent that shines when exposed to super windy ridges. It features a removable fly that drapes over a mesh interior tent; you can choose to take the fly with or not, giving you choices on how much you carry. The reflected weight includes all parts that you need to get out on the trail. While we didn't mind sleeping in this tent and found it super cozy with two people, the liveability features just aren't up to snuff. One stand-out feature is the Velcro-clasp vestibule that doesn't use any zippers. While annoying to clasp together, its an excellent option for those who will be camping in lots of sand as sand can ravage normal zippers. Overall, this is far from our favorite tent with its lack-luster value and performance, but if it sets off sirens in your heart, it'll provide all the protection you need.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
MSR Reflex 2 UL
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $329.99 at Amazon$600 List$700 List$300 List$535 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
100
0
54
100
0
81
100
0
80
100
0
75
100
0
74
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 Great in the wind, good airflow, great floor protection, bug netting, no trekking poles neededAmazingly light, four-sided weather protection, ample space for two, double doorsGreat weather protection, lightweight, adaptableRoomy, easy to setup, fully enclosed, affordableUnder a pound, bombproof dyneema construction, ultralight stakes included
Cons Expensive, fabric sags in weather, little living space for two, clasp on vestibule is annoyingExpensive, doesn’t include necessary stakesExpensiveHeavier, design not quite as wind stable as double vestibule optionsExpensive, single pole set-up takes a little practice
Bottom Line An expensive double-wall dedicated pole tent with limited living space but great desert applications.Ample space and exceptional performance in all metrics makes this our favorite ultralight shelter.This is the shelter you want when waiting out a storm.An affordable fully enclosed single person shelter that we love.Our favorite ultralight shelter for strictly solo adventures.
Rating Categories MSR Reflex 2 UL ZPacks Duplex Flex Upgrade Tarptent StratoSpire Li Gossamer Gear The One Tarptent Aeon Li
Livability (30%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
Weight (25%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
9
Weather Resistance (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
7
Adaptability (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
4
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
6
Specs MSR Reflex 2 UL ZPacks Duplex Flex... Tarptent... Gossamer Gear The... Tarptent Aeon Li
Type Double wall pole tent Single wall tent w/ sewn in bug mesh and floor Single wall tent w/ removable floor and bug netting Single wall tent w/ sewn in bug mesh and floor Single wall tent w/ sewn in bug mesh and floor
Weight with all components 2.4 lbs 1.8 lbs 1.60 lbs 1.68 lbs 1.09 lbs
Measured Weight of All Included Shelter Parts Total: 2 lb. 0.6 oz., Tent: 12.85 oz., Poles: 5.85 oz., Fly: 10 oz., Stakes: 3 oz., Sacks: 1.3 oz Total: 1 lb. 5 oz Tent: 19.7 oz, Guy lines and clips: 1.2 oz, Stuff sack: .3 oz. (Flex upgrade: 11oz) Total: 1 lb.10 oz, Floor and bug net: 11.5 oz, Fly: 14.1 oz Total: 1 lb. 6 oz., Tent: 1 lb. 5.1 oz., Extra tie outs: 0.5 oz., Stuff sack: 0.4 oz., Optional aluminum poles: 5.7 oz. Total: 1 lb. 1 oz., Tent with Bathtub floor and bug net: 15.8 oz., Stakes: 1.7 oz.
Stakes Included? Yes No Yes No Yes
Poles Needed for Set-up? No Yes w/o flex kit
No w/ flex kit
Yes Yes Yes
Capacity 2 person 2 person 2 person 1 person 1 person
Max Floor Dimensions (inches) 50.4" x 84" 45" x 90" 86" x 45" 88" x 34" 88" x 30"
Peak Height (inches) 36" 48" 45" 46" 47"
Fabric 7D nylon ripstop .51 oz/sqyd DCF Fabric Dyneema Composite Fabrics 7D high tenacity nylon-blended sil/pu coating Dyneema Composite Fabrics
Packed Size (inches) 17" x 5" 7" x 13" 16" x 4" 6" x 9" 14" x 4"
Floor Area 29 sq ft 28.13 sq ft 26.88 sq ft 19.55 sq ft 18.3 sq ft
Doors 2 2 2 1 1
Interior Pockets 2 2 2 1 1
Number of Poles 2 Easton carbon ION 4 2 trekking poles 2 trekking poles 1 trekking pole
Number of Tie Outs 11 8 8 10 7
1-person version? Yes - Carbon Reflex 1 No No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Reflex 2 offers a double-wall dedicated pole construction that holds its shape in the wind. While it functions fine as any tent should (especially one that is ultralight), it doesn't offer much living space and has a few quirky (and annoying) features that take a little getting used to. The high price tag doesn't warrant the performance it offers with other options with better performance for a lower cost.

Performance Comparison


A low-profile tent best used while exploring in the desert.
A low-profile tent best used while exploring in the desert.

Livability


We had high hopes for this double-wall 2-person tent with an alleged 29 square feet of space. Made with an interior mesh design with a removable rain tarp and two vestibules, it offers good protection for insects but not a whole lot of room for two people.

The bathtub floor and bug netting provide great protection  but there is limited space for two people to sleep shoulder-shoulder.
The bathtub floor and bug netting provide great protection, but there is limited space for two people to sleep shoulder-shoulder.

The interior is just wide enough that two people can sleep shoulder to shoulder or to cuddle comfortably, but they can't sleep head-to-toe. The vestibule enclosure is also interesting. Unlike other tents with a zippered rain tarp, this one uses clasps. While an interesting idea with great functionality for sandy environments (zippers break when exposed to lots of sand), the door always seems to sag.

A look at the relative space provided by the vestibule which offers enough for some gear and will allow you to cook if needed. We love that there are two of these!
A look at the relative space provided by the vestibule which offers enough for some gear and will allow you to cook if needed. We love that there are two of these!

We also needed to use both hands to clasp it, which resulted in us actually crawling out on our belly many nights to reach it — a huge pain. The vestibule area is large enough to maybe boil some water and cool if you were stuck inside of it, but you'd be left laying down while doing so.

The clasp used to keep the tenth together  in conjunction with velcro (no zipper on the vestibule. It did okay in weather but was a real pitch to undo and put back together.
The clasp used to keep the tenth together, in conjunction with velcro (no zipper on the vestibule. It did okay in weather but was a real pitch to undo and put back together.

The headroom is also pretty unlikeable. While a 5"7 women could sit up in the tent with her head touching the mesh, two 6" men both found themselves doing ab crunches while putting on clothing as they couldn't sit up at all. Sure, this might result in a sweet six-pack, but after hiking all day, you might want to sit up without having to work for it.


Condensation from our breath wasn't really a problem when the outer vestibule was set-up correctly. Given that it is a full mesh interior with vestibules and has a latching (not a zipper) device, breathability and airflow are pretty good.

Weight


This tent comes with everything you need to get out on the trail. As a dedicated pole-construction, you don't need a set of trekking poles that could lighten your load. With all components, stuff sacks, and everything included, you're looking at about 2 pounds 6 ounces of carrying weight on your back. The profile of both the sack and poles (which can be put together) is quite long and sausage-like, with a 17" length and 5" width or radius.

A larger carry profile will warrant either a larger pack or using a different stuff sack that compresses.
A larger carry profile will warrant either a larger pack or using a different stuff sack that compresses.

Weather Protection


While on a camping trip in the Gunnison Gorge, a torrential downpour came. Being in the sandy drainage, the packraft we were using to travel down the Gunnison River got completely buried in mud from a mini mudslide. This tent has raised floors around the perimeter of the tent. While the storm blew, we stayed fast asleep. No mud entered the tent at the bottom, thanks to the terrific floor.

We appreciate the bathtub floor and bug netting that offers great protection. We also love the low profile that does amazing work shedding high winds.
We appreciate the bathtub floor and bug netting that offers great protection. We also love the low profile that does amazing work shedding high winds.

The rainfly is constructed out of 7D nylon ripstop fabric used in its construction is quite water-resistant and doesn't allow moisture in your tent. However, during days when we had our tent incredibly tight before going to sleep, we woke up to the fabric sagging against the mesh as the Nylon has absorbed some of the water. Our sleeping bags got inherently wet, as we didn't realize it was storming out.

Unfortunately  the rainfly sags when wet  making the mesh of our tent totally wet after a rainy night. When you pitch it out before a rainstorm  be sure it's super tight. Also  know you'll have to adjust it through the night if the rains really start to pour.
Unfortunately, the rainfly sags when wet, making the mesh of our tent totally wet after a rainy night. When you pitch it out before a rainstorm, be sure it's super tight. Also, know you'll have to adjust it through the night if the rains really start to pour.

From these experiences, we are happy to say this tent is decent in bad weather but does require some adjustments. Seeing that both times our testers were in storms and didn't wake up, this tent is quiet in storms and holds up its shape impeccably! Its profile is super low to the ground, shedding wind exceptionally well.

Adaptability


With its pole-based design, this tent can basically be set up wherever it's flat, and you can sink pegs into the ground. The only really removable part of the tent is the rainfly. If you know it's going to be nice weather with no rain, it'll keep you well-protected. As a result of its interior mesh design, it's best suited for use through three-seasons, with the winter being our least recommended time.

A look at the tethering construction. The provided tent pegs aren't very strong (one cracked when hammering it with a rock)  the guy lines are pretty easy to adjust. Make sure to bring an extra peg or two if you know you're heading into rock country.
A look at the tethering construction. The provided tent pegs aren't very strong (one cracked when hammering it with a rock), the guy lines are pretty easy to adjust. Make sure to bring an extra peg or two if you know you're heading into rock country.

Set-Up


The first time we set this tent up, it took under five minutes without having to consult the instructions. It has a two-pole set-up, which is very easy to figure out. To set it up, simply start by pegging out all the edges of the interior tent; then add the small pole that increases the width of the tent. Then add the large structural pole. The pole inserts are super durable, while the tensioners on the side make it very easy to adjust.

The t-pole construction is super easy to set-up. Just make sure you place the shorter pole underneath the main structural pole.
The t-pole construction is super easy to set-up. Just make sure you place the shorter pole underneath the main structural pole.

Make sure you do not set up this tent with the small pole overtop the larger structural pole. This can snap that small pole in half.

Value


With just a straight-up Nylon construction and a couple of carbon poles, while this double-construction tent is quite functional, it's also ridiculously expensive. If you're trying to save money, take a look at our Best Buy options; one is a dedicated pole-based tent. Those that will find the value in this product are those seeking shelter for the desert, without a zippered vestibule, and can stand up to pretty big winds.

Conclusion


The MSR Reflex 2 is a decent ultralight tent that pales in comparison to other competitors. While it does well in high winds and offers average rain protection for a Nylon tent, it's not one you'd want to live in for long periods. Light in its construction with a dedicated pole architecture, this is best for those seeking a great tent for the desert (no zippers on the vestibules), warm weather, or windy trips.

While this tent is lightweight and a double-pole construction  there are few reasons to choose it over over competitors. It definitely gets the job done  but its expensive and impractical for many reasons.
While this tent is lightweight and a double-pole construction, there are few reasons to choose it over over competitors. It definitely gets the job done, but its expensive and impractical for many reasons.


Amber King