Monday, June 30, 2014

MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent - gear review

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX (the NX stands for Next Generation) is marketed as offering a number of significant improvements over the previous model of Hubba Hubba. As someone familiar with the old version, and with its strengths and weaknesses, I was intrigued to see how MSR had tweaked the design.
The main faults I found with the old version were its lack of structural integrity – due to the pole design, the bulk of the tent's stability was based on the two side peg placements – and the chance of the fly touching the inner at each end when wet or windy. These concerns have been either fixed or, at the very least, improved.
First up improvement is the weight. With a minimum weight of 1.54kg – including tent, rainfly and poles only – this is around 10% lighter than the older model. This is pretty light for a two person, non single skin, three season tent.
While a weight reduction can sometimes mean the tent is less durable or waterproof, this doesn't seem to be the case here. Fabric specifications indicate that the tent is reasonably waterproof and, if an extra groundsheet is used, quite durable, especially for the weight.
The NX also has several new features and design tweaks that make it more comfortable and more weather resistant – benefits that, together with the weight savings, combine for a vastly improved tent.
The waterproof portion of the inner sidewalls are now higher and have a short solid nylon panel that helps to block dirt and wind. The distance from the inner tent to the outer tent has also been increased at the ends, enhancing ventilation while reducing the probability that the outer tent will touch the inner tent wall when wet. There is a guypoint here for extra tensioning if required in strong winds.
I like that the vestibule doors have been redesigned for easier entry, and a new guypoint increases overall tent stability and weather resistance. The tent also now has a vent at each end, and has slightly more space inside. There are some other smaller design details, like the grommets and pole clips, that have been redesigned to save weight seemingly without reducing strength. All in all, the NX appears to offer quite an improvement over the older Hubba Hubba.
My only concern, however, remains. The double star, single pole set up is quite complicated. I would hate for the bungy cord inside to break – trying to work out how or where to fix it will not be easy. Complicated pole structures are more likely to fail than simple pole structures. The pole of the Hubba Hubba is like a huge TV aerial that takes some wrestling to get into position, and I wonder about its integrity in a storm.
Other than that, this is a pretty good tent.