MSR Carbon Reflex 2 Review

Our Verdict

The MSR Carbon Reflex 2 is a serious contender for a lightweight, two-person tent. The semi-freestanding tent is quite easy to set up. Its upper netting provides more than enough protection during summer nights to allow you to stargaze without the rainfly. However, just like any tent that prioritizes weight over other aspects, it sacrifices a bit on interior space. At 29 square feet of floor space, it will be cozy for two people.

Specs

MSR Carbon Reflex 2
Packed Weight 2 lbs. 3 oz.
Floor Area 29 square feet
Packed Size 5 x 17 inches
Dimensions 84 x 50 inches
Peak Height 34 inches
Number of Doors 2
Number of Poles2
Rain Fly Material 7-denier ripstop nylon
Inner Tent Material 10-denier nylon micromesh
Price Range$$$$
2P version on Amazon
1P version on Amazon

Review

The Carbon Reflex 2 is a decent choice for a lightweight tent. If you are concerned about your pack weight, then this tent is a great choice for that. It provides above-average livability and comfort if you are using it solo, but you may need to sacrifice a bit of space if you are with someone.

Comfort

The MSR Carbon Reflex 2 surprisingly provides double-wall protection even at only two pounds and three ounces. It is designed for hikers and backpackers who like to travel with ultralight packs. It provides protection that a tarp can offer.

The tent provides 84 inches by 50 inches of interior space, which is a bit tight for two average-sized people. We think that it functions well as a one-person tent with more than enough space for your gear inside.

However, if you do decide to use it with someone, the additional vestibule doors provide an additional 14 square feet in total. They can house your pack and your boots to free up valuable space inside.

The canopy is made of 10-denier nylon micro mesh, which facilitates breathability. It effectively keeps out bugs while providing ventilation. This makes the tent a great choice for summer adventures as you have a clear view of the night sky without the fear of critters getting inside the tent.

The side doors are wide, which makes getting in and out easy. This is essential, especially if you are using the tent with someone. The zippers are smooth without any snagging.

As with any ultra-lightweight tent, there are some sacrifices to be made. Aside from the interior space that can be snug for two people, the height only tops at 34 inches. This is relatively low compared to other two-person tents, which makes sitting up a bit challenging.

While the mesh doors are large, the vestibule doors are just about 18 inches tall. It will require you to crawl on your hands and knees during entry or exit.

Ease of Setup

Even with two poles, the Carbon Reflex 2 is relatively easy to set up even by yourself. It uses two Easton carbon fiber poles. The longer pole runs the entire length of the tent, while the shorter one serves as a spreader for the rainfly and the upper mesh.

The tent body can be spread out and secured by stakes easily. There are metal eyelets at both ends where the long pole easily attaches. After you hook the upper mesh, just fasten the second pole, and the tent will stand on its own.

If you want to put on the rainfly, the guyline tensioners are straightforward to use. They are simple to loop over the stake and tighten. The stakes are colored red, which makes them easy to spot on the ground.

Weather Resistance

The rainfly is made of 7 Denier ripstop nylon, which is a loosely woven fabric to allow the tent to breathe. It is strong enough to protect you during rainy days.

However, condensation tends to build up on the inner side of the rainfly. This causes the fabric to sag and sticks to the mesh. On a particularly rainy day, you will experience a few drops inside the tent due to the moisture build-up.

The floor was crafted using 15-denier ripstop nylon, which prevents leakage. It will help you stay dry, especially when the ground starts to soak. We still recommend buying a footprint for extra protection.

The tent uses MSR’s Xtreme Shield System, which is precision-stitch technology that makes the seams durable. It also can last up to three times compared to standard waterproofing coatings. But, it is recommended that you seal the seams yourself if you are anticipating extreme conditions.

Durability

Durability is where the Carbon Reflex 2 shows its weaknesses. And, the overall design of the tent does not help, especially during windy days. While it is branded as a three-season tent, it will not hold up against bad weather conditions.

The longer Easton carbon pole is susceptible to breakage. When the tent is exposed to heavy rains or strong gusts of wind, the pole snaps at its aluminum junction. However, the two guy points help stabilize the tent to prevent this from happening.

Weight and Packed Size

The MSR Carbon Reflex 2 definitely highlights its strength when it comes to weight and packed size. It can even rival other one-person tents at barely more than two pounds when it comes to weight.

Additionally, it packs down well at just 5 inches by 17 inches. The two tent poles also fit easily inside the stuff sack. This leaves a lot of room for your other gear inside your pack.

pros
What we liked
  • The MSR Carbon Reflex is a lightweight tent that provides decent protection and comfort for two people.
  • Its packability makes it a great choice for backpackers who value space and weight.
  • While it is a decent two-person tent, it provides more than enough space when used solo.
  • The vestibules are great for storing gears, packs, and other camping stuff if used by two people.
  • The mesh canopy provides protection while maximizing breathability, especially during summer days.
cons
What we didn't like
  • While the rainfly repels water, it sags after a long rain and makes contact with the mesh.
  • The height of the vestibules is relatively low.
  • The rainfly’s seams require sealing to prevent leakage.
  • The longer pole may break during extremely heavy rains or windy conditions.