MSR’s Hubba Hubba NX Tent – Review

15 03 2015
msr hubba hubba nx,gear shed,camping,camping oregon

The Hubba Hubba NX with the Gear Shed

I’m the proud owner of a brand new Mountain Safety Research – MSR Hubba Hubba NX ultralightweight backpacking tent! With 27-year-low snowpack in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, I couldn’t wait to try out my new tent. I also bought the “Gear Shed” attachment for the tent. So, I headed up to Clear Lake near Mount Hood, Oregon to set up and sleep in my new tent.

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX is a super light two-person tent – only 3.7 pounds! But any tent I’m going to be pleased using has to be easy to set up and durable. And on warm summer nights I like to set up the tent without the fly. This allows for star gazing and cooler sleeping. But some tents have a very shallow “bathtub” around the bottom, allowing breezes to get through, and onlookers to see you when you’re dressing. I like tents where the “bathtub” is a bit higher.

As a backpacker and kayak camper, I also want a tent that’s easy to set up in the dark. No complicated setups. I also like tents with reflectors so at night I can shine a light on them and see it from far away. Gear vestibules are also super important. I want my shoes and gear to stay dry even if it’s outside my mosquito-lined sleeping area. For windy days tents need to be guyed out. There must be ways to secure the tent to the ground, so it doesn’t blow away.

So with these needs / wants in mind I set about testing and setting up the MSR Hubba Hubba NX. Unpacking it from the bag, I immediately noticed thoughtful touches. The bag kind of cinches up like a cradle. The bag has outside straps enabling it to be scrunched down like a compression sack.

I set out the tent footprint and then laid the tent on top of it. I staked out the corners. Right away I noticed a clever detail where the attachment of the tent to the stakes takes place. A sturdy cinchable strap-to-stake attachment point. Nice!

msr hubba hubba nx

The tent pole goes thu this grommet. But you can tighten the strap to the stake. Thoughtful!

I unpacked the tent frame. On the MSR Hubba Hubba NX there is only one frameset where all the pieces are connected via shock cord. It’s made of DAC Pressfit aluminum. Light and durable. But you need to be careful and deliberate about connecting. I fear splitting a pole end if I am in a hurry.

msr hubba hubba nxI laid the frame on top of the staked-out tent.

The next step is to connect all four corners and the top center piece to the frame. It’s a little challenging do do alone but with practice it will be easy.

msr hubba hubba nx

Frame connected and ready for clips

OK. So now, the next step will be snapping the clips to the frame.

It’s here I notice another thoughtful and durable touch.

The clips are shaped to fit snugly around the poles, but there is more. The load of the clip is spread between two attachment points on the tent. This reduces stress points on the stitching on the tent.

msr hubba hubba nxSo far, I’m delighted with the thoughtful, clever details of this tent. And all for 3.7 pounds! Next step is to connect the clips. Once done I’ll have the full volume of the inside.

msr hubba hubba nxThis is how nights under the stars will be. This is how I like things – there is a good view of the sky above, and ample ventilation – but the bathtub walls are high enough to shield occupants from wind and from onlookers.

Next, the fly. A fly should be able to keep rain out but also allow for ventilation – and especially bonus points are awarded for flies that can be unzipped without rain dripping into the tent.

msr hubba hubba nxVoila. with the fly attached, and the vestibules stakes out, there is actually a lot of acreage to store packs and shoes out of rain’s way. Two tent mates each have a vestibule and exit for themselves. Inside the tent, on each end, there are tent-wide gear pockets. Enough for most any backpacker’s needs. Up above, there are attachment points so you can sling strings – from which you can dry your stanky socks. Unfortunately two things are lacking – Firstly, a distinct shortage of attachment points for guy lines and secondly, no reflective piping.

But let’s say you have need for even more room. You have a disagreement with your tent mate. Or perhaps there is a 3rd soul needing a place to rest for the night. Or you’re car camping with executive camping gear and you’re needing extra storage space. For that, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX offers a solution: The Gear Shed.

The Gear Shed doubles the available storage space. Or can be used to accommodate another camper – or a Man’s Best Friend? If you have the MSR Gear Shed, you have options.

20150312_153922What’s the verdict? Well, although I love this tent and gear shed setup, it’s not 100% perfect. Somehow designers left out reflective materials. At night I bumped the corners more than once. And I have to wonder about its ability to hold up in the wind without lots of guy line attachment points. Still, I love the MSR Hubba Hubba NX and it’s a keeper. I can recommend it!

The “Teton Convergence” in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park Region

11 03 2015
grand teton national park,xc,cross country

Bluebird day! Cross country skiing with April below the Tetons!

I just spent a week skiing and visiting friends in the stunning region around Grand Teton National Park. This was a confluence of friends from different parts of my life. Friends from Portland were there to ski. But Dave Adams lives there and is a friend who moved there from Portland. Ed Parigian, a Boston housemate living in Park City, Utah, drove up. And Mary Woolen, a college friend who I’ve not seen since 1984 also lives there. Whilst my Portland friends stayed in a condo in Teton Village at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Ed and I stayed with Dave Adams on the Idaho side in Tetonia, Idaho.

We alpine skied, cross-country skied, looked at moose and reveled in the views. So beautiful!

mt moran,jackson hole national park

Mt Moran

The craggy Teton Range dominates every view, with 13,777ft Grand Teton soaring above it all. In an unusual geologic action, the Teton Range soared whilst the valley below dropped. Park literature says the vertical drop from the top of Grand Teton to the original valley floor exceeds 25,000 feet! Today, you won’t see that. This is because glaciers from several ice ages scoured material from the peaks and deposited it on the valley below. In the valley, it’s completely flat except for a few glacial morianes. A moraine is a pile of rock left over from the snout of a glacier. They can be hundreds of feet high. If you think of a glacier as a 5,000-ft high conveyor belt with the end depositing rocks and boulders, you have a moraine building machine. As the glacier retreats, it builds that moraine. Today, the flat valley floor is about 6,000-ft below Grand Teton.

dornan's jackson hole

View from Dornan’s Bar. An apres ski beverage at Dornan’s is a must!

It is 12 hours of almost non-stop driving from Portland, OR to get there. I arrived at Dave’s house late Saturday and after a meal at a local pub fell dead asleep. Sunday I headed up to Grand Targhee Ski Resort to meet the Portland folks.

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The base at Grand Targhee!

It had not snowed for weeks, but at least the weather was good. I had a great time skiing with Valerie and Scott as well as meeting everyone for beers at happy hour. And, the views were great. But with no new snow, and $120 lift tickets at Jackson Hole, I made up my mind the conditions did not merit spending a fortune on alpine skiing that week. Instead, I decided to cross country ski – mostly with April!

grand targhee

Valerie, Scott, Lisa and myself.

Monday and Tuesday I cross-country skied in Grand Teton National Park. Monday Valerie, April and I went up above Moran Junction near Jackson Lake and skied southward past Mt. Moran toward Grand Teton.

cross country skiing,grand teton national park Although I have cross country skied for years, I still consider myself a novice. It always seems I need to get used to it all over again. Of course you can “walk fast” in cross country gear. But there definitely is a rhythm you pick up – and when you get it, you can ski along fast and efficient for a long time. This day I finally got the rhythm after 90 minutes. The breathtaking views made me forget I was tiring.

Valerie and April at lunch

Valerie and April at lunch

Cross country skiing elevates your body temperature quickly, and we all found ourselves dropping layers. But it was still cold. When we stopped for lunch we had to add layers all over again, only to peel them off.

grand teton national park ansel adams

Famous Ansel Adams view

On the return we stopped by to see view of the bend in the Snake River made immortal when photographed by Ansel Adams. Gorgeous!

jenny lake trail,cross country skiing,grand teton national park

April along the Jenny Lake Trail

Tuesday April and I tackled the Jenny Lake trail. It’s mostly easy and flat with the Tetons right on top of you the whole time. The trail is well groomed – it’s actually a road in the summer. One side is for traditional cross country gear. The other is for skate skiing, snow shoeing and pets.

The rest of the crew tackled Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. This mountain is HARD. I have skied it several times. It has taken lives. It has areas with long cliffs, and on foggy days it’s possible to accidentally find one.

Lisa is Jackson Hole's newest victim!

Lisa is Jackson Hole’s newest victim!

And on this day, it claimed one of us! Lisa had been dealing with a problem knee cross country skiing Sunday at Grand Targhee, and took Monday off to rest. On the 3rd run Tuesday at Jackson Hole, the mountain struck just as a predator picks upon the frail. Somehow coming off a bump her leg broke just at the knee! She was done for the trip. The ski resort was very accommodating, refunding her three-day lift ticket. She even received a hand written note at home from the ski patrol! I admired her good attitude about everything.

Earlier in the day, April and I met up with Mary Woolen – a college friend I hadn’t seen since 1984! It was so nice to meet up again! I want to visit again next time I’m there.

Rod and Mary

Rod and Mary

The Teton region is famous for its wildlife. Bison, wolf, bighorn sheep, elk, bald eagle, moose, coyote and more are all here. We saw thousands of elk wintering out in the valley. And traveling to the cross country trails, we saw a bunch of moose! moose

They are unmistakeable and are incredibly big, standing 9 feet tall. When they want to, they can move swiftly!

Ed, Rod, Dave

Ed, Rod, Dave

Wednesday Ed was to arrive from Park City. So Thursday and Friday Dave, Ed and I visited and did some cross country skiing. We tried a different less-groomed trail near Jenny Lake, and also a really pretty railroad converted to trail over on the Idaho side. 2015-02-19 16.03.46

Snowfield and sky, Tetonia, Idaho.

Snowfield and sky, Tetonia, Idaho.

Another ex-Portlander is Ed’s very cute border collie Turbo! He joined us for our skiing.Turbo!

It was a good week and I made the best of the old snow by mostly cross country skiing. And so great to visit with long-lost friends Ed, Dave and Mary Woolen!

I’m going back.