This fall I had the pleasure of reviewing the MSR Access 2 tent. The first camping experience was in the desert near Moab, Utah with a client who had never camped before. Next I took the tent into the rugged Gore Range in Colorado on a five-day alpine climbing mission. Lastly I spent three nights in the tent on Longs Peak in Colorado in extremely rugged winter conditions.
As a full-time mountain guide for Colorado Mountain School I have spent years guiding and camping in many different environments and feel pretty savvy with pitching a tent. When I read the description of the MSR Access 2 tent stating that it is easy to set up I figured the best test was to have someone who has never camped before attempt the process of pitching the tent. My client from Italy had not only ever camped but had never even seen a tent before our camping 101 class. I gave him the tent without any instructions how to proceed, but he managed to put the tent up without any difficulties and kept saying “this is easy”. It helps that the stuff sack has very clear pictures depicting the process. Mission accomplished! For my client’s first night sleeping in a tent I let him explore the luxury of sleeping solo in there. He was so very pleased with how lightweight and packable the tent was and the comfort and roomie feeling inside that he is looking to get one for himself even if it is considered a two-person tent. It was fairly warm during our camping experience and in the desert heat it did ventilate sufficiently but not great. The mesh vents are pretty small but camping without the fly would be the preferred option when in warmer temperatures.
The next testing environment was at 11,000 feet in the Gore Range in Colorado, where I was teaching a beginning mountaineering course. I was sharing the tent with my co-instructor. The inside of the tent is very comfortable for two but there is not much extra room inside for gear storage. This is not of great concern as there are two vestibules that are large enough for backpack storage and for cooking. The latter was pretty important as it was cold and blustery and it did rain and snow pretty hard. The seams on the tent are factory tape sealed which is really nice as after market seam sealing never seems to work. One slight inconvenience is that the fly does not cover the tent body when the fly door is open thus allowing any precipitation to come straight inside the tent. There are two mesh pockets inside the tent big enough for storing small items (phone, headlamp, lip balm etc.) but they are not quite big enough for larger items such as socks and gloves. The tent is definitely designed for two people sleeping head to foot, a feature I do like as it gives each person their own space inside the tent. However, the sidewalls of the tent are not that steep so they may hit the sleeping bag of tall people down by the feet, something that can be quite annoying especially if using a down bag.
My final testing environment was spent on Longs Peak in Colorado at about 12,000 feet. I was guiding a client for four days working on expedition preparation for her upcoming Antarctica trip. We had the most rugged weather I have ever experienced in the mountains with single digit temperatures, heavy snow and winds up to 80 mph. Setting up the tent in the dark with high winds would have been a bit of a challenge for a solo person but with two people it wasn’t too bad. The fly completely covers the tent and it is easy to attach it to the tent body and to stake it down using the included super lightweight but sturdy stakes. The tent also comes with several additional guy lines that can be used for extra security. The winds were so intense on our journey we had to add four additional guy lines to secure the tent to shrubbery and boulders. The tent held up very well in the high winds and heavy snow. We did get a lot of condensation inside as the small mesh vents on the tent and the lack of vents on the fly did not seem sufficient.