A few weeks ago I conducted a survey of the most popular tent for cycle touring.
I did this by sending out a ton of emails to people I knew had covered vast distances by bicycle, and seeing what they said. (Real-world experience wins over gear nerds on the internet, right?)
The results – a few hundred of them within the space of a few days – were conclusive. Cutting directly to the chase, by far and away the overall most popular tent to take along on a bike trip was this one:
The ‘Best’ Tent For Cycle Touring
This, of course, is the good old MSR Hubba Hubba. It’s a 2-person backpacking tent from US-based Cascade Designs, and it’s obvious why it’s become a top choice. Amongst other reasons:
- It provides tons of room for luggage and living space for a single occupant
- There’s space for ‘guests’ if need be
- It’s highly durable given the packed weight of under 2kg
- It’s happy in awful weather with the fly cinched up
- It excels in hot weather as a free-standing inner tent (with awesome views)
- It’s reasonably priced (especially compared to the equivalent Hilleberg)
- Cascade Designs have a very, very good reputation for top quality gear
- It’s a really natural shade of green for wild-camping.
In short, it features one of the best sets of design compromises you’ll find in a tent for a bike trip, and has proven to be happy dealing with pretty much anything you’d encounter on a long cycle tour.
There’s only one small problem with recommending it to future generations of adventurous cyclists:
They’ve been discontinued.
This is because the folk at MSR have decided to take this line of tents in a new direction. And – unfortunately for us – it’s not a particularly cycle-tour oriented direction.
Meet the MSR Hubba Hubba NX.
Now, when you’re spending a few hundred quid on a tent, you probably want to make sure it’s the right tent for the job.
For anyone doing a serious amount of wild-camping, that means being green if at all possible. The Hubba range have been through the spectrum over the years – first orange, then yellow, and finally (in 2011) a natural shade of foliage we were all rather happy with, thanks.
And now they’ve gone and changed it all over again, apparently because the colour of the ambient light inside the tent while you’re awake is more important than whether or not you’re spotted by passing landowners while you’re asleep.
They’ve also shaved about half a kilo off the weight with new space-age fabrics and things. For a cyclist for whom 500g either way is not an issue, this simply represents a potential 33% reduction in durability. Most of us cyclists want long-lasting over ultra-light in our gear.
Nobody’s going to blame Cascade Designs for pitching (sorry) the updated line of tents at the much larger and more lucrative ultralight backpacking crowd. It’s just a shame that a genuinely close-to-perfect cycle touring tent is vanishing as fast as you can say “stock clearance sale”. It was a tent I could recommend over and over, knowing it’d serve 99% of riders as well as any – no further thought required.
But this is the whimsical, media-driven and highly lucrative industry of outdoor equipment. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t compete with “new for this season”.
All is not lost. Obviously.
The Hubba HP series of MSR tents are staying the same, green canopy and all, and they’re actually more popular in Europe than the original Hubbas.
The only notable difference is an inner tent made of fabric rather than mesh, providing a bit more privacy and a bit more protection in bad weather, and better ventilation for the flysheet. They’re also a tiny bit lighter. In my view, the MSR Hubba Hubba HP is now the best all-round tent for a single cyclist anticipating a long stint of touring in Europe, or other temperate regions.
Here’s a few spots in the UK to get hold of a 2-person MSR Hubba Hubba HP:
- Amazon.co.uk* sell them via third-party sellers at discount prices.
- currently have them in stock.
- CheapTents.com do too.
You’ll also find MSR tents in many of the higher-end high street outdoor chains.
Don’t miss my detailed article on some of the other best tents for cycle touring. (Needless to say, there’s more out there than just MSR.)