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MSR Carbon Reflex 2: Lightness Without Compromise

I've been testing the MSR Carbon Reflex 2 tent on weekend backpacking and camping trips the past few months, and it's performed brilliantly. It's ultra light, weighing in at a mere three pounds, easy to set up, and comfortable for two!

Made mostly of a 20D mesh nylon (that doesn't let bugs through and breathes well on hot nights), the MSR Carbon Reflex 2 tent has a floor made of 40D ripstop nylon 3000mm DuraShield TM polyurethane with a DWR finish and strong but light carbon poles. On a recent hike in the Tetons, I was happy to find out how well this little three-season tent performs.

I found a place to pitch the MSR Carbon Reflex 2 tent under the shade of a White Bark Pine (thanks to the tent's small footprint) just before it started to rain. It rained steadily for a few hours, and the Durashield floor (and rain fly) proved to be totally bombproof, keeping us bone dry all night. By us I mean me + my husband; we were able to fit two Therm-a-rest pads side by side and sleep comfortably in this feather-light tent. (MSR also makes a footprint for this tent out of a similar, even tougher material that can be paired with the rain fly as a shelter when bug protection isn't an issue.) After several weekends of use, the bottom of the MSR Carbon Reflex 2 tent showed no signs of use. (See tent in use!)

Setting up the tent is super easy; the directions are sewn into the tent's stuff sack. Ingenious! I rolled in to a campsite at City of Rocks, Idaho late one evening for a weekend of camping and climbing and had to set up the tent in the quickly fading light. I staked out the four corners, inserted the one and a half poles, raised the body of the tent, and attached the rain fly in under five minutes, with plenty of time left over to help my friend figure out her tent. When the wind kicked up during the night, I got up, cinched down the corners, and was grateful for how steady the MSR Carbon Reflex 2 tent felt in the gusty wind.

The MSR Carbon Reflex 2 tent really shines on backcountry endeavors. What makes it stand apart from other small, lightweight tents I've used in the past is how comfortable it is for two people. I also appreciate that the tent has two doors with vestibules so each camper can enter and exit the tent without crawling over the other. The vestibules also provide dry space for our packs and shoes.

One very minor gripe about this tent: both flaps for each vestibule share one stake, so getting in and out of the tent requires an extra step. I usually keep one flap rolled up, or just bring extra stakes.

Details

Colors: available in Moss Green/Grey

Weight: 3 pound; 3 lbs 8 oz with stuff stack. Available in various sizes (i.e. Reflex 1, 3, etc.)

Bottom Line: A miraculously lightweight, full-featured, easy-to-use tent perfect for fast and light backpacking and camping.--L.S. (July 2012)

BUY ONLINE: $499, on sale for $375 at Backcountry.com, $382.44 at Amazon.com.

Manufacturer's Site: www.cascadedesigns.com /msr

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.