MSR FreeLite 2 Tent | Review - Outdoors Magic

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MSR FreeLite 2 Tent | Review

A very liveable two-person backpacking shelter that delivers amazing internal space for minimal weight

Why We Chose The MSR FreeLite 2 Tent: Ultralight, double skin design, twin doors and porch areas.

MSR has established an enviable reputation for building fantastic backpacking tents. The brand’s perennially popular Hubba series is a common sight on the trail and in the hills, much loved by lightweight backpackers and wild campers alike.

However, if you’re looking for a two-person tent that’s even lighter than the MSR Hubba Hubba, MSR also offers the FreeLite 2. Designed for ultralight adventures of all descriptions, this tent is all about maximum space-to-weight, without compromising too much in terms of overall protection or durability. That makes it a good choice for extended trips. Or, as the brand puts it: “The FreeLite keeps your pack light when you have tons of other gear to carry”.

Who Is The MSR FreeLite 2 Tent For?

This tent is roomy when pitched but light and compact when packed, whilst also offering reasonable protection and durability for life on the trail. We reckon it’d be a good choice for challenging but well-trodden long-distance trails like the Pennine Way.


The flysheet is 15D ripstop nylon, coated on both sides with MSR’s proprietary Durashield PU, and finished with taped seams. In terms of waterproofing, the Hydrostatic Head rating is 1,200mm.

The inner is almost entirely made from 10D polyester micro mesh, with a bathtub groundsheet made of the same material as the rainfly (again 1,200mm HH). The mesh inner keeps the tent weight down while ensuring excellent condensation control. Its only potential drawback is that it can feel a little draughty in colder conditions.

OM editor Will pitching the Freelite 2 on Rannoch Moor. Photos: Mike Drummond

The poles are high-quality aluminium alloy DAC NFL, measuring 8.7mm in diameter. The tent is supplied with lightweight pegs and guylines, plus a stuff sack.

You might notice that MSR’s fabrics have a lower Hydrostatic Head rating than many rival tent manufacturers. Though that might be a concern for some, remember that there’s more to waterproofing than lab stats and numbers alone. Put it this way – we’ve tested many MSR tents over the years here at OM, and have found that in real world scenarios most of their tents seem to stand up to wet weather just as well as any other.

Those 15D fabrics are very thin though – especially that groundsheet. We’d recommend using a footprint, which is good advice to help protect and prolong the life of any tent, but it’s especially important with the FreeLite series.

MSR pegs from the FreeLite 2 Tent, chosen for our Outdoor 100.


When packed, this tent is impressively light and packable. Admittedly, there are even lighter tents (MSR’s featherweight Carbon Reflex is one example) but those are mostly designed for shorter fastpacking-style trips. In contrast, the Freelite is (just) burly enough to cope with multi-week adventures, particularly since it uses a double wall design rather than gossamer thin, single-skin fabric like most tarp-style shelters.

“The tent has steep walls and a clever overhead spreader bar to increase internal volume.”

It’s impressively roomy too. You get good headroom and a rectangular inner footprint with good length and decent width throughout. In addition, twin porches give plenty of room to stash rucksacks and muddy boots, as well as providing a cooking area in poor weather. The tent has steep walls and a clever overhead spreader bar to increase internal volume. It does lack some home comforts, like inner storage pockets, for example. But there are hanging tabs inside if you wanted to rig up a drying line or hang a tent lantern. We also liked the clever door design, since the angled doorway means that the two zippers always meet in the same place – no fumbling around for them at 3am when you want to get out for a wee.

It pitches inner first, which makes for quick and easy set-up, though of course this design is less practical in rainy weather. On the other hand, it does mean the mesh inner can be used as a standalone bug shelter, ideal for warmer and milder nights, where you might be more worried about midges and mosquitoes than monsoons. The inner also ensures plenty of airflow, minimising condensation. The fly also provides good all-round coverage except at one end of the tent, where only a single fabric portion of the inner guards against water ingress.

Ultimately, we’d class it as a two-to-three season model, at least for UK use. Basically, if you take it into the hills, be careful to pitch in more sheltered spots rather than exposed mountainsides or windswept summits.


This is an extremely lightweight double-wall tent designed for up to two people. It tips the scales at just over a kilo, so effectively your shelter is costing you just 500g per person. That ought to satisfy even the most demanding ultralight backpackers, especially when you consider that this type of tent offers more protection than a single-skinned tarp or shelter, without any condensation issues to contend with.

In fact, it’s so light that despite being a two-person tent, it also makes a viable option for solo backpackers – particularly taller or larger adventurers who need a little more room to stretch out. Similarly, if you like a roomy tent with twin entrances and two porches, this is a compelling choice that offers significantly more liveability than many rivals.

We sent the tent off to gear reviewer Paul Messner. Here’s his video run through, including a demonstration of a nifty way to pitch this without the inner tent.

MSR Freelite 2

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2022/23
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