UOG Review - MSR Access Tents

Posted by Mark Richardson on Nov 13, 2017

MSR Access 1p - 4 Season Tent

MSR's Access tents are excellent - a four season tent weighing in at a shade over 1.3kg is a noteworthy achievement and I was delighted to have the opportunity to test one on a short excursion in Scotland during February. I was mightily impressed, the pole structure works amazingly well so the tent kept its basic shape despite strong gusty conditions.

The Access tents are part of MSR's Backcountry series introduced in 2017 and its claimed these tents let you 'spend comfortable days in the winter backcountry without hauling around heavy mountaineering tents. Warm, Light and Strong, they provide a robust homebase for mountain pursuits'.

Pole Structure - The Access tents have a wishbone hub at each end - similar to the Hubba series tents and many others - however this is strengthened by a transverse pole that attaches to the inner tent at ground level. The flysheet has four key guying points at the four points of the compass and the combination of the guys and pole configuration make it very stable. Sitting inside I found that when the wind blew the sides of the tent were pushed inward - but only as far as the side pole would allow - the side pole didn't move thus limiting the ability of the side panels to encroach on the inner tent.

The poles themselves are pretty technical too, made by Easton they are tougher than those used on other tents and designed to flex more easily so that the tent bends with the wind rather than breaks - I guess the wind I endured wasn't enough to get the tent really flexing - which is impressive in itself and suggests it can cope with a lot worse than I experienced.

The pole structure is a key feature of the Access tents and I think MSR are on to something.

Sizing - The Access 1P is 3cm shorter inside than the Hubba 1P but its 8cm wider and 13cm higher so it feels more spacious although if you're tall it won't feel particularly roomy. The porch is big enough to take a rucksack, boots and some kit while still leaving some ground space for getting in and out. The doorway on the inner tent only covers half the tent - I can understand why, the pole restricts access - but a fully opening door would make it easier to access gear in the porch area.

Other Stuff - The flysheet doesn't come as low to the ground as other four season tents - this wasn't a problem with wind but it did let a lot of spindrift into the porch area - by morning all the gear in there was covered in a layer of snow.

Some won't like that you can't pitch the flysheet first, especially as its a 4 season tent - however in my experience a tent that pitches quickly can be kept dry quite easily unless its absolutely heaving - when I would arguably wait for a lull.

There are two decent mesh pockets, one at either end of the inner tent - and there are fixings for an MSR Gear Loft in the centre, but this would restrict inner tent height. The inner is mainly fabric with a small mesh window in the door - this will add anything up to 5 degrees to the inner tent temperature compared with a mesh inner.

The Last Word - The Access Series tents are an excellent choice if you are looking for a lightweight tent that will go beyond three seasons yet still tip the scales in the ultralight category.

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