MSR Free Lite 2 Tent, Red
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- Ultralight: our lightest freestanding, full-featured backpacking tent for two
- Livability: generous floorplan fits 2 large camping pads and gear for two
- Easy access: two large doors for easy access
- Ventilation: micromesh canopy for maximum ventilation and moisture control
- Rain fly: 15D nylon Ripstop (No Suggestions) coated 1,200mm | canopy: 10D nylon micromesh | floor: 15D nylon Ripstop (No Suggestions) coated 1,500 mm
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When weight is a critical factor but livability also matters in your choice of a tent, our new free Lite tents-the lightest freestanding MSR tents available-are your ideal option for weekend backcountry trips or a two-week thru-hike. Our lightest freestanding double wall tents provide full protection without a big weight penalty. Large doors provide easy access to spacious interiors for comfort and convenience on longer backcountry trips. Micro mesh canopies offer maximum ventilation and moisture control along with bug-free protection.
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The vast majority of the time I use the Freelite 2 in an 'inner-only' setup, leaving off the outer rain fly/cover. At 50-inches of width and 36-inches of height, it makes for a really sweet bug shelter. Is it the lightest bug shelter of that size on the market, no, nor the least expensive, but sometimes there are advantages of slightly heavier and less expensive, and that is really where the MSR Freelite falls into the market spectrum.
Setup is fast and easy, even for a single person, even in light to moderate wind.
I do recommend using a groundsheet (either the one from msr for this shelter, or something else).
It comes with the MSR 'Needle' stakes, which are pretty good stakes and good enough for most situations. If you expect to go into places with really strong wind, just put some good size rocks over the stakes. You can also buy yourself the MSR 'Ground hog' stakes, which are the best stakes you can buy, but even they will need rocks over them in some situations.
The internal headroom of the Freelite 2 is pretty good. The "in your face when laying down" issue is not too big of an issue - slightly more vertical walls (available in other shelters MSR offers) always be nice, but trade offs have to be made.
The shelter has pockets on each side. Big enough for a small head torch and glasses, but on the smaller size if you are wanting them to hold your mammoth iphone(x)+ size phones at night.
MSR does classify this tent as their "lightest freestanding 2-person tent", yet it has stakes with it - so what gives you might be asking? Well, MSR pretty much takes the stance that every shelter should have stakes, they hold the shelter down in the wind, when you are not in them, after all. The inner shelter (netting) can be setup without stakes (sans the rain fly), and you can pick it up and move it around that way, but you are still going to want to use a couple of stakes to pull out the foot end of the shelter, in order to gain some extra room inside. And once you put on the rain fly, pretty much expect to have to use stakes.
The shelter has doors on both sides, which is nice, and pretty much expected in most 2-person shelters these days. They are a 'U-slanted' style zipper. A bit more than the standard J-style zipper, and angled in a slanted way, to follow the thread/sew lines. This does make them a bit harder to get out of than a standard J-style, or even inverted J-style zipper, because the top part of the zipper forces you to duck under it. Because of the design of the shelter there is really nothing else they could have done, so just something that is because of the way the shelter itself is designed.
The pole system is a single piece pole system. That makes me happy. I really do not like having multiple poles you have to put together. This, of course, leads to some of the design limitations (less vertical walls, stakes required for foot end, U-slanted zippers, etc) but it also results in the pole system being less weight. Again, a trade off.
I do like how MSR formed the solid fabric up around the sides at different heights. Other inners that I own have a set height for the solid fabric all the way around. MSR did a good job putting the fabric at different heights. Some areas to help when the fly is on, to help with fabric-hitting-fabric in heavy wind and having condensation splash through issues. Other spots to help protect you with rain/spindrift. And the lower area on the bottom of the zipper is high enough to be helpful and still call it a bathtub.
The 15D Nylon Ristop 1200mm PolySill fly fabric is pretty good. I would like to see them go with something lighter weight to try to help bring down the overall shelter weight down, but I think for the average weekend hiker, this was a very good choice for them to go with. The doors are designed in such a way that you can really tighten down the shelter if you need to. That is never a good thing to do, it just results in more condensation, but if you really need to, you can lock down this shelter pretty good. Those few times when I have used the shelter with the fly on, I used some sticks off the ground to raise the doors in more of a 'awning mode'. If you do it right, you can keep out most rain, and still allow massive airflow through the shelter to help keep condensation down to the absolutely minimum that is possible. (ps: i subscribe to the believe that your shelter exists to keep you dry, not warm - that is the job of your sleeping bag/quilt)
Pack volume. Here is my one maybe not so happy part of the shelter. The pack volume on this shelter just seems a bit big to me. Granted it has a dedicated pole system, but the inner+fly by themselves just seem to be (and is) larger than my other double wall shelters. The pack volume of the MSR Groundsheet is a bit much too - granted it is some burly fabric, but put all three together, and this shelter takes up a huge amount of pack volume, even for a double wall shelter. I find myself putting each piece (tarp/inner/groundsheet) into three different stuff sacks, just to help me pack my backpack in a manner that allows for better distribution.
All in all the Freelite 2 is an exceptional solo, fully enclosed, double wall, full size, shelter.
My biggest complaint comes with the rain fly. I have a very hard time attaching the rain fly so it fits. The two points on the fly that connect to the ends of the short upper pole on the top of the tent can barely stretch far enough - I'm afraid I'm going to rip the fly trying to connect them. And then it's a real struggle to connect the four corners as well, requiring a lot of pushing, pulling, adjusting tension, etc, to make it fit. And then after all that struggle, with everything tightened up as much as I could, the fly sagged enough above my feet so that when it rained the fly was touching the mesh of the tent. And then my final but not insignificant complaint about the fly is that only one side of each vestibule has the little hooks that allow you to fold up the side. So you can't hang in the tent with the vestibule wide open without having to rig up some special way to keep those doors open. Very annoying and simple fix from MSR.