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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > MSR Hoop tent > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

MSR Hoop Tent
By Raymond Estrella

October 11, 2011


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 51
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 215 lb (97.50 kg)

I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly UL, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.

The Product

Manufacturer: Mountain Safety Research, Inc. (MSR)
Web site:
Product: Hoop tent
Year manufactured: 2011
MSRP: $349.95 US
Size: 2-person
Packaged weight (complete) listed: 5 lb 7 oz (2.47 kg)
Actual weight: 5 lb 7.4 oz (2.48 kg)
Interior height listed: 44 in (112 cm)
Length listed: 96 in (244 cm)
Width listed: 52 in (132 cm)
Floor space listed (tent & vestibules): 32 + 18.75 sq ft (2.97+ 1.72 sq m)
Packed size listed: 18 x 7 in (46 x 17 cm) Verified accurate

Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty

The Hoop from MSR, while not the lightest tent I have used lately, is certainly the roomiest 2P tent I have used in the past decade. My biggest pads and bags fit with no touching or lying at an angle. And the room does not come at too big a weight hit as the Hoop is not a heavyweight by any means. Options to use it freestanding or not allow for more flexibility with weight too. Constructed to be pushed into shoulder season just adds value to this multi-faceted tent. Please read on for the details, and enjoy this shot of it at the Split Rock River in northern Minnesota.

Hoop drying out on Split Rock River

Product Description

The MSR Hoop Tent (hereafter called the Hoop or tent) is a mid-weight three+-season tent that the manufacture says "delivers an unlikely amount of space and protection for a tent of its weight" and is "perfect for taller campers and those who just want the most livable shelter possible".

It is the roomiest 2-person shelter in their Experience series of tents. Here is a picture of the separate components that make up the Hoop.

Parts out of the sack

The body of the hoop, which weighs 27 oz (765 g), is made of white 40D x 238T ripstop nylon 6, with 20D nylon mesh near the top of the walls. The bathtub floor is made of dark olive 40D x 238T ripstop nylon 6 that is 3000mm Durashield polyurethane (one side) and DWR (the other side) coated to keep water out.

The green rain fly, which weighs 30.3 oz (859 g), is made of 40D x 238T ripstop nylon 6 that has 1500mm Durashield polyurethane and silicone coatings.

The 9.5 mm green anodized DAC Pressfit main poles (used for all modes) weigh16.6 oz (471 g) and the 9.5 mm grey anodized DAC Pressfit end poles (used for freestanding mode) weigh 6.9 oz (196 g). They fit in the included 0.6 oz (17 g) dark olive nylon sack.

The tent came with 8 red anodized DAC J stakes that weigh 0.37 oz (10.5 g) each. The stakes are packed in a 0.3 oz (8.5 g) sack, along with a pole repair sleeve.

All of it fits into a nylon stuff sack that weighs 1.8 oz (51 g). The stuff sack has set-up instructions printed on an attached Tyvek sheet. Here is a shot of the Hoop packed and ready to go.

Parts in the sack

The Hoop sets up by laying the body out and staking the three points at each end. Then the 18-section shock-corded main pole, which is actually three poles connected to each other with DAC Swivel Hubs, is placed in the furthest end pole grommets. The two slightly pre-curved crossing poles attach to grommets at the top of the doors on each side. At this point the tent will stand on its own. The crossing pole geometry makes for some very steep side walls which translate into room to move around. The tent attaches to the poles by means of nylon clips. (My favorite way.)

Views of the Hoop

The two four-section grey-colored poles can be used to make the tent freestanding. They run from side to side at the ends and are strongly tensioned after running under the main pole. Once in place the tent can be picked up and moved or turned upside down to shake out debris as I often need to do. (I have no idea how it gets inů) It is possible to set the tent up in freestanding mode without staking (like if you were on deep sand or powder snow) but it is a bit difficult with just one person. While I used this tent for the majority of the time with my brother-in-law Dave, he never helped me, so please know it can be done. Thanks Dave. ;-)

The Hoop has huge square-D style doors that make entry/exit a breeze. Inside there is a gear pocket on each side at opposite corners as it is laid out for head-to-foot sleeping. (The doors are flipped for this too.) A couple of cool overhead mesh pockets are great for holding extra gear like hats and such.

The fly of the Hoop attaches to the body with six Fastex clips at the pole/stake points at ground level. The fly has a pair of excellent vestibules that are formed by pulling the vestibule doors out and away from the body and staking to one of the two the loops at the bottom of the doors. A straight double-ended zipper splits the vestibule down the center and allows access to the tent. By changing which side of the zipper is hooked to the stake the vestibule can be entered from the right or left sides. This is very nice in windy conditions.

The fly has grommets to let it be attached to the crossing poles which gives it a lot of extra strength. Plus there are numerous guy-out points on the fly to allow extra support for windy conditions.

Field Data

I have more room than you guys

I have used the Hoop for a total of 12 nights backpacking (and a couple camping trips) this year in California and Minnesota.

Three 3-day trips in California were all on the Pacific Crest Trail between Tehachapi and Kennedy Meadows. Temps ranged from a low of 19 F to a high of 80 F (-7 to 27 C). Other than some drizzle one morning the weather was great for all of the trips. Camps were all around 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1800 to 2100 m) elevation on the Sierra Nevada's typical rocky soil. The picture above was taken early one morning at Robin Bird Springs.

In Minnesota I took it on a four-day backpacking trip on the Superior Hiking Trail along Lake Superior's North Shore. This trip saw some rain, but mostly nice days with temps between 82 and 44 F (28 to 7 C). The trail varies in elevation from 600 to 1800 ft (180 to 550 m). Below is a shot of it in rain-preparedness mode at the Gooseberry River.

It was used on couple trips to Buffalo River State Park and to Paul Bunyan State Forest and Chippewa National Forest.

ready for rain on Gooseberry River


The Hoop tent has been a very nice change of pace for me. While my hiking life has seemed to focus so much on ever shrinking tent weights the room that I give up to achieve it has been quite missed at times. While I will share many 2P tents with one of my children most of them can't really fit two adults of my size comfortably. In fact if you read my tent reviews you will see that I usually use a 2P tent as a solo and sleep at an angle to keep from hitting the ends with my head or the foot of my sleeping bags or quilts.

The Hoop has plenty of room for me to stretch out. Plus it is wide enough for me to use my wide NeoAir pad and still has room for another, although we never had two larges at the same time in it. These days with so many people like me going to a light quilt on a wide pad the Hoop makes perfect sense.

And the weight is not all that bad. Minnesota has excellent ground for staking out tents. So there was no concern for me to leave the optional side poles (and pole storage sack) at home and cut the weight to just below 5 lb (2.27 kg).

I do really like the option of having it freestanding when needed though. Very rocky camp sites or in deep sand or snow is places I want to know my tent will stay up if I can't get good stake placement. Here is a shot of it freestanding in the high desert.

Just desert

MSR has followed a current trend back to using solid walls on the inner tents that I really like to see. (I have their Hubba Hubba HP which is made this way too.) The materials are getting down in weight to where they do not give up much to mesh, but offer so much more protection from blowing dirt, sand, and snow. The high mesh in the Hoop is optimally placed to allow great ventilation and air movement yet block the majority of wind-borne debris. I really like the fact that the solid nylon makes up the top (or roof) of the tent because this helped keep the tent from getting quite a bit of water in it while taking down in a storm.

One thing that surprised me was the lack of a high vent. While the vestibule doors may be unzipped from the top down to provide some draw I think a higher vent would make it circulate better.

I am happy to say that MSR's Pacific Northwest roots are well represented in the weather-handling ability of the Hoop. I got clobbered by a good thunderstorm near Lake Superior that the tent shrugged off with its robust waterproofing. The shape of the fly with its angled faces all around make it shed wind nicely. MSR calls this a 3+ season tent and I will have no hesitation to use this at the beginning of winter this year. Maybe even in the heart of it if no blizzards are forecast. Another thing I really like about the Hoop (and most of the new and updated tents from MSR) is the switch to a green colored fly. I had the Mutha Hubba for use with the kids and now have the Carbon Reflex 3 and just do not care for a yellow rain fly. (I wish I could buy just a new green fly for my Carbon Reflex 3.)

While I love leaving the rain fly off in good weather, often times I want to have it ready to go on quick if it looks like rain is on the way. By staking the vestibules out during set up it is easy to pop one end loose and fold it back over the tent, giving me fresh air and views of the night sky. When I hear the rain starting I just pull the fly back over and click the Fastex buckles in place. The Hoop is ready for rain in this picture on the banks of the Buffalo River.

down clothes instead of bag, hmmm

While the Hoop looks pretty big in the stuff sack I have found that by taking the poles out and carrying them separately the volume of the tent gets to about half the size of the stuff sack. This was very good near Lake Superior as it allowed me to squish it into a shape that fit in the top of my 46 L (2800 cu in) pack where I could get to it, or put it away, quickly during inclement weather.

While I don't have a ton of use with the Hoop yet (and none in winter) what I have had makes me pretty satisfied with it. I am sure that next time I have to test a short cramped 2P tent I will be pining for the roomy MSR Hoop. I leave with a picture of it at Golden Oak Spring on the Pacific Crest Trail.

I saw the spring, wheres the gold oak?

Ray Estrella
"I measure happiness with an altimeter"

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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