To outward appearances, these tents look identical. The latest models both sport the same colours and, without the writing on the tents, would be indistinguishable at first sight. However, get close to these tents when pitched or pick up the packed bags and you will notice a few differences:
The tents are identical in size but markedly different in weight. The Hubba Hubba NX comes in at 1.72 kg (3 lbs 13 oz) and the Elixir 2 at 2.64 kg (5 lbs 13 oz), a noticeable difference of 920 grams. NOTE: it has been pointed out in the comments that the actual weight difference between the tents + poles (i.e. the pack weight) is 720 grams, due to the fact that the Elixir 2 contains a 200g footprint which is also valued at $40 and must be purchased additionally for the Hubba Hubba. So, the weight difference without the footprint is actually less than I previously thought, which makes the Elixir 2 stand out as an even better option.
For all the ultralight packers out there, this may tip the balance in favour of the Hubba Hubba. But the weight is also a double-edged sword: being of identical size, the weight difference is in the pole construction and the fabric of the materials used to construct the fly and inner. Ignoring the poles for a minute, that means that the Hubba Hubba NX has saved a huge amount of weight by using thinner fabric. Thinner fabric of similar materials is less durable and the Hubba Hubba’s rainfly has some pretty thin fabric: 20D ripstop nylon to the Elixir’s 68D ripstop polyester. The D stands for denier and is a measure of how densely the material has been threaded; higher values will mean higher durability.
A similar picture on the inner material: 20D ripstop nylon on the Hubba Hubba NX to the 40D ripstop nylon on the Elixir 2. This isn’t a technicality either; a quick sweep of the web will yield lots of threads with people complaining about the thinness and poor durability of the latest iteration of the Hubba Hubba NX. It was mainly for this reason that we went with the Elixir 2. We are world bike tourers and durability is the last thing we want to be worrying about. If our tent fabric comes apart in the middle of nowhere after just a year of constant use, it is simply not fit for purpose. Not to mention, the 620 gram savings don’t just come at a cost of durability, it will dent your bank account as well.
We are very much budget travellers. We successfully cycled in Europe without money for over 6 weeks and before that attempted to make every penny go a long way. At 23 years old, I didn’t have a long time to save up money (at 20, Katie had even less!), so price comes into every purchasing decision. In some ways this is great; it forces us to really evaluate the necessity of every purchase and we do a lot of research when we buy anything, especially when it is something as vital to our comfort and survival as a tent.
In this case, it kind of ended up being a no-brainer, especially after the consideration of durability was taken into account. The Hubba Hubba NX has an RRP of $400 to the Elixir 2’s $250, a 60% price increase which could only be justified by the considerable weight savings and decrease in pack size. That wasn’t justification enough for us and we both agreed that the Elixir 2 would suit us well.
|Product:||MSR Elixir 2 (includes footprint)||MSR Hubba Hubba NX|
|Price (RRP)||$249.95 (USD)||$399.95 (USD) + $40 footprint|
|Weight||2.44 kg (5 lbs 6 oz) + 200g (7 oz) footprint||1.72 kg (3 lbs 13 oz)|
|Pack size|| 51 x 17 cm (20 x 7 in)||46 x 15 cm (18 x 6 in)|
|Number of poles||2x 7000 series aluminum||1x DAC Featherlite NFL|
|Rainfly fabric||68D ripstop polyester 1500mm polyurethane & DWR||20D ripstop nylon 1200mm Durashield™ polyurethane & silicone|
|Canopy fabric||40D ripstop nylon||20D ripstop nylon|
|Mesh fabric||20D nylon micromesh||15D nylon micromesh|
|Floor fabric||70 taffeta nylon 3000mm Durashield™ polyurethane & DWR||30D ripstop nylon 3000mm Durashield™ polyurethane & DWR|
A note on the footprint
Our purchase of the Elixir 2 included a ground footprint, which serves a couple of uses:
- MSR’s Fast & Light® pitch technology: using just a footprint and the rainfly, it is possible to pitch the MSR tent purely as a shelter. This setup is ideal for minimalist trips and those who simply need a shelter over their heads when they settle down at night. It reduces weight and pack-size by eliminating the need for the inner altogether. We rarely made use of this technology, but for those who make shorter expeditions, this could be a viable option when comfort isn’t number one priority.
- Less importantly, the footprint can be used as an underfloor tarpaulin which serves the purpose of increasing the lifetime of the floor fabric on your tent. If you find yourself often pitching on rocky and hard terrain, wear and tear on the floor fabric will be obvious and will lead to holes in the floor of the tent. A hole in the footprint (which can be replaced) is preferable to a hole in the floor of your tent.
Since the Hubba Hubba does not include a footprint, this is an added cost you will need to factor into your decision if you decide this is a feature you would like for your tent.
We have used and reviewed the MSR Elixir 2 extensively on our travels. We haven’t had our hands on the Hubba Hubba NX for anywhere near the same amount of time, so it would be unfair to make comment on the practicality and durability of the tent ourselves. However, given that the tents are so incredibly similar and differ only in fabric and pole construction, we feel confident making a comparison based solely on the biggest differences between these two tents: the weight and the price.
If weight is an absolutely serious concern for you, and saving some pack size would really make a difference to your trip, then the Hubba Hubba NX should be your tent of choice. If you, like us, are budget conscious and don’t mind lugging around an extra 720 grams with the benefit of increased durability, the decision to go for the Elixir 2 should be easy enough.