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Photo credit: Luke Jarmey.

MSR FreeLite 2 Tent Review

19-Dec-18

Last updated: 15-Feb-19

By Luke Jarmey

Certainly not an everyday running item, there are however scenarios that call for a blooming light shelter in order to have a good night’s kip. Yes, for truly light and fast missions, a bivvy bag or tarp can sometimes sleepily suffice; but whether you’ll be out for the count is debatable.

Enter the ultralight tent category and this review of the MSR FreeLite 2.

We’ve chosen to test the 2-man version, as the weight increase is marginal over the one man, but the versatility gained is considerable. Plus, you can go particularly light by splitting the weight of the tent between two people.

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Features

  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Floor & Vestibule area: 2.7 + 1.62 sq m
  • Livable volume 850 + 410 L
  • Interior peak height: 0.91m
  • Poles: 1 Easton Syclone
  • Flysheet weighs: 418g
  • Inner weighs: 420g
  • Poles weigh: 326g
  • Pegs x10 weight: 98g
  • Total weight (minus bags): 1262g
  • Flysheet: 15D Nylon Ripstop 1200mm Xtreme Shield polyurethane & silicone
  • Inner Tent: 10D nylon micromesh
  • Floor: 15D Ripstop Nylon 1200mm Xtreme Shield polyurethane & DWR
  • MSR Needle Tent Stakes x10
  • RRP: £434.99

Pros: What’s good about the MSR FreeLite 2

Coming in at 1262g, the FreeLite 2 is light, but certainly not the lightest in its category. However relative to competitors, such as the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2, it’s a more comfortable design, with noticeably more interior space.

Featuring a rectangular rather than tapered design, there’s reasonably ample room for two people as long as they’re top to tail. If you know your tent partner well... side by side will certainly suffice.

Further boosting its multi person credentials are the two large doors, positioned on either side of the tent. Clambering over your tent mate to answer the call of nature is never ideal, so this is a great addition.

Storage wise, there’s a basic mesh pocket, which is great for headlamps etc.

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Condensation build up is managed reasonably well. This is mainly due to the fly sheet, which when pegged correctly, doesn’t sag and touch the inner tent wall. Another bonus of the dual door design, is that you can open them up at night and create a nice through draft in hot conditions.

Durability has been solid in my experience. I was initially sceptical due to the thin feel of the fabric, but after extended use it’s still rip free.

The FreeLite 2 originally came with alloy poles, but now comes as standard with composite jobbies. I’ve always preferred the slight weight increase of alloy as a trade off with having to be less careful.

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But in all fairness these poles have held up perfectly and really are incredibly light. They’re actually made by Easton, who absolutely know a thing or two about manufacturing composites…

Talking of poles, the overall set up is quick and easy, vital for a tent in the mountains. However, as you have to stake at least one of the ends, it’s a not true freestanding design.

To be honest though, the fact that it’s semi-freestanding doesn’t really bother me much. It’s a worthwhile weight trade off in my books.

I used this primarily in the mountains around Chamonix in some pretty wet and windy weather at times. When staked correctly, I never had a problem with water ingress or stability.

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Cons: What’s not so good about the MSR FreeLite 2

Whilst overall durability seems good. The tent floor is thin and I do expect this could be damaged easily if care isn’t taken on your choice of pitch spot. MSR do sell a footprint especially designed for the FreeLite 2, but it would have been nice to see this included as standard.

Without it, you are limited to pitching on soft ground.

Retailing at £434.99, it’s a touch more than the direct competition and therefore at the category’s upper end.

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Conclusion

I’ve been really impressed with the FreeLite 2. Though light, it’s not the absolute lightest 2-man tent on the market, but it strikes a wonderful balance between weight, comfort and usability.

MSR are well known for their tents and the heritage shines through. This is fantastic option for 2 person running trips in the mountains and beyond, when you want a reliable, comfortable and sturdy shelter.

Score  
Design 9/10
Features 8.5/10
Performance 8/10
Value 7.5/10

 

Other tents you may want to consider:

Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 - £379.99
Nemo Hornet 2P - £399.99
Alpkit Ordos 2 - £240

Have you tried the MSR FreeLite 2 tent? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.

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All images by Luke Jarmey except where stated.

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Review MSR FreeLite 2 Tent Review

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