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Review: MSR FlyLite Minimalist Backpacking Tent

posted by gumptiongear October 5, 2016 0 comments


Lightweight, spacious, and versatile, the MSR FlyLite 2-Person Minimalist Backpacking Tent features a unique design coupled with MSR weight-saving technologies to offer ounce-counters, speed trekkers, and back country explorers a lightweight full-protection shelter.

On Performance and Design…
Perhaps the true beauty of backpacking lies within its simplicity. By in large, backpacking is an uncomplicated existence – a reduction of life to its most essential needs: food, water, and shelter. You carry only what you need, and you need only what you carry. And yet, few things can suck the joy out of a back country adventure faster than a bulky and burdensome tent that weighs you down.


Enter the MSR FlyLite 2-Person Trekking Pole Shelter. This full-protection shelter stands as an impressive re-imagining of non-freestanding tent design that requires just two trekking poles, two guy cords and a lightweight aluminum pole to get set up.  Weighing in at a meager 1 lb 9 oz, and packing down to a mere 18 x 6-inches, the FlyLite beautifully caters to minimalist backcountry missions where speed and efficiency are a priority.


Saving weight with a single-wall design, the fly is composed of a 10D ripstop nylon, which is treated with MSR’s Durashield PU coating for increased protection from unruly mountain weather. Fully taped seams and reinforced stress points prevent water from working its way into your inner sanctum of peace and security. At the same time, it provides impressive protection from winds that run through camp like an enemy combatant.


Now let’s talk about livability. For a good many years many of us in the backpacking world were forced to choose between comfort and a lightweight design. But this minimalist shelter proves that those two ideals need not be mutually exclusive. With vertical walls and ample head and elbow room, this shelter offers a full 29 square feet of interior space, and the greatest volume-to-weight ratio of all MSR tents.


It will definitely sleep two, but there’s no doubt that we started to experience some minor ruminations of claustrophobia when our two six-footers were sharing the space. But for soloists, or those that just like extra room, the FlyLite legitimately provides cavernous space for you and your gear.

Notes from the Field…
Once you’ve gotten over the learning curve on the setup, you’ll realize just how clever the FlyLite’s design truly is. After you stake down the four corners, and erect the tent utilizing your trekking poles, the FlyLite’s guylines and stake out cords are easily adjustable to fine-tune a perfect setup. The design also provides a large front awning with side wings which not only help keep you dry but create an exterior “gear closest”. Mesh side windows along with a mesh vent in the back keep the inside of the tent well ventilated, ensuring that you avoid long nights full of excessive condensation (a pitfall of many single-wall designed tents).MSR

In our time with the tent, the one downside is an overall lack of visibility. The largest window to your outside world is a large front door. But whether you’re keeping out bugs or the weather, the reality is that the front door will spend most of your adventure time zipped up. Much like the side wings extend down and over the side mesh windows, the front awning also partially blocks your view out of the front mesh panel. But let’s be honest, you aren’t looking for a view when you’re catching some z’s, and in our opinion, the lack of visibility is a minor trade off for a shelter this light.

Bottom Line…
Ready to forever eliminate the burden of a heavy tent from your back? The MSR FlyLite is ready for the full range of 3-season conditions without weighing you down or cramping your space.

*Gumption Gear Review received the items featured in this review from MSR at no cost and receives no monetary compensation for this or any related review. The items featured were provided solely in return for our honest views and opinions.

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