To most 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 820 grams. 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 820 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 so 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.
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 800 grams with the added benefit of increased durability, the decision to go for the Elixir 2 should be easy enough.