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.
- Elite Mountain Supplies 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.)
45 replies on “Last Chance To Buy The Most Popular Cycle-Touring Tent On The Planet”
Hello and thank you everyone for all the comments/opinions. We are planning our cycling tour back to Australia from Europe and possibly going to Africa first. After much reading and indecision between the NX and HP we bought the MSR Mutha Hubba NX. We are also happy to read about the numerous positive reviews on MSR customer service!
Yesterday we put it up and it’s very huge! On our first trip we used the Vango Banshee 3P which is a very good design perfect for short trips or within area where you can easily buy another tent if need it, but for us it lacks of durability. We also think they could have design the footprint a bit bigger and better. I have few questions:
• Does the rain fly has to feel very tight? Because to me it somehow feels like they made it a bit too small and it will snap easily.. or is it because it is new and it will stretch a bit after using the tent several times?
• The rain fly does not go all the way to the bottom. Would the tent get wet if under a heavy downpour?
• This tent is very high! Would this not affect the hiding possibility for wild camping? Any experience?
• Is it really possible to use this tent completely freestanding? On our point of view it really need to be a bit pegged down to stand…
Now the NX exists in green, what do you think about it then?
I have been coveting this tent since 1st reading about it here on your website. When I saw this article about discontinuation I shuddered, told a friend via email (whom I geeked out with about this tent a few months back), then received a message from him 10 minutes later…telling me he’d bought one (ol’boy makes a lot more money than me) as soon as he read the article.
I was saddened that I could only find them for what was still beyond what I could justify spending unexpectedly, then I found a deal on REI’s clearance.
I’m no ardent supporter of REI but for less then 250$ you can get the Hubba Hubba WITH the additional gear shed attachment.
Both in green.
2013 Closeout Clearance.
I ordered one immediately and I am excited to get this in time for Spring/Summer camping.
If you want this tent and you’re on a budget, and you’re in the US (maybe even N. America at large? Not familiar enough with REI’s reach) this is a sweet deal.
Hope all is well on your Iran trip Tom!
VauDe Taurus-UL2p good also.You ovned Vaude Hogan Ul2, right? (Its my humble opinion) I have sleeping in Hubba Hubba only once. The secret lies in details. Check out this article about Finding the perfect tent for Bicycle Touring.
I haven’t read enough to answer my own question, but bumped into this bit and wanted to ask:
How did you deal with a wet tent on a wet morning? I have a very beloved bibler ahwahnee, which I go to great lengths to not pack wet, at all.
It has a fuzzy (on the inside) breathable fabric which will get mildewy if packed wet for lofng.
Just wondering how standard nylon deals with staying wet if one can’t manage to dry out in the morn.
I will sleep under bridges, etc as much as possible to avoid wrecking it.
Excellent tent, in any case. Freestanding, supreme headroom, green, gorgeous, and a snap to use. On my second one. Costs about 550 USD.
I love what I have read by you so far, diving in now. I tour all summer in europe annually, 5000 miles last trip, all wild camping. Heaven!
We use compression sacs for just about everything including our tent, fly and footprint. It’s truly amazing how small it all becomes!
I was interested in the Hubba Hubba a couple years back, but at over $300, I could not justify it. Under $250 is much better.
Instead, I bought a REI Half Dome 2. It was on sale for an incredible $119 including the Footprint (Yes, I went to a Black Friday Sale.. only for this tent;)
No complaints other than it being a little bit bulky packed down. Plenty of space for 2. It is solidly made (some ultra lites, like Big Agnes, just seem less robust). The door flaps down a little odd, it might be 1–2 lbs more than I would prefer, but it is a NICE tent… and even for $175 retail, it is a GREAT deal. I also like that if there is an issue, REI will take it back. WIN.
Agreed — REI’s Quarter Dome series are also held in high regard. You’re right that ultralight definitely isn’t always best for touring. Thanks for your contribution!
As soon as I saw the Amazon UK link for this tent I checked it and the price was £230, but thought i’d just leave it a day or two and then buy it today, but now the price has rocketed to £430 and there’s only one left. Drat…I knew I should have bought it there and then…i’m not paying that price now. Think i’ll stick with the Nasty Eurohike Tamar Tent I purchased from Millets last year and then buy a new one when on the European leg of my cycle trip.
Here’s someones 2012 review of the tent…
I’ve used this tent for a summer mini cycle tour around Aberdeenshire in repeated nights of rain and it does the job, but I would not feel happy about it on a much longer cycle trip.
Thanks for the Hubba Hubba link anyhow Tom.
Sorry to hear about that! Guess they are selling out fast! I bet the Eurohike will be absolutely fine 🙂
Totally agree with Lars. I used to think, have I set this thing up correctly, as surely there must be a few more inches of fly to sit closer to the ground.
Good article Tom.
I’ve looked at the new Hubbas and I’m with you Tom. In fact, and despite claims to the contrary, they may be less weather resistant than the old version (eg the fly seems to be cut to high — I felt the old Hubba could have done with an inch or two more material all the way around…). We have an old Hubba which is a great summer tent, but we are using another MSR tent for touring which is an improvement over the old Hubba, called the Hoop. It’s a little lighter, has vents, the fly is broader carrying rain farther from the tent, it’s also roomier in hight (I’m 6′ 3″ so that’s a nice feature), length, and best of all width (we can fit two thermo rests side by side without overlap!). Unfortunately, I think it’s being discontinued too (in North America at least). Lars
The Hoop is still going to be available in Europe. I’d be interested to try one.
wouldn’t be better if we could choose between the two colours?
Yes it would. Some other manufacturers do allow you to choose!
By the way I know the tent is called Hubba Hubba but for some inexplicable reason I can’t help calling it Hubba Bubba! Nice design, either way!
First of all Tom, brilliant idea to put the info out there so that anyone wanting this tent can nab one if they are lucky before they disappear. Much as I hate the British expression “pants” ( and I AM British!) I have to agree with others here that white, as a color for a tent, is indeed pants! (Whatever that means.)
I can well understand why green is the color for lots of bike campers but here’s my thoughts on why my tent is Red and not green, even though I travel with a bike and camp. I’ll keep it simple.
1) Green or Camo makes it quite possible that you might be mistaken in certain parts of the world for military personnel and subsequently shot at. Yes, this can happen, just as hunters mistakenly shoot people in the woods thinking they are a deer. Small possibility? Yes, but not one I want to take on a round the world tour in certain areas.
2) In the worst case situation of being stuck in the tent for several days because of illness or bad weather, I find greens to be a bit depressing actually especially when it is cold. A bright yellow, red or orange INTERIOR has quite a psychological effect on keeping me cheerful. Not something to be underestimated. Really.
3) Pitched in an unfamiliar area in foggy or mountain areas, or in snow even at lower elevations, a red tent is easier to locate when you return to camp. You can get lost in fog or dim light in the woods, even in summer in coastal areas that look like easy terrain.
4) If you pitch late in the evening and pack up early morning, it doesn’t matter if your tent is red or green. In the dark anyway.
I can hear everyone now. ” i still want green for stealth camping”.
But stealth camping isn’t a priority for everyone. And Tom..if they are landowners and you are camping on their land and trying not to be seen then you are rather deliberately trespassing aren’t you? or were you joking? I do certainly appreciate that there are situations where stealth might be desirable, but I rarely need to resort to going under the radar since as you yourself have said, people are generally rather nice really. And do you really want to be run over by a farmer’s 4WD vehicle in the middle of the night because the driver ( who owns the land ) didn’t know you were there and didn’t see your tent in the dark? I generally prefer to be visible.
Green is good but it’s interesting to think about it from a different perspective.
Too bad that MSR haven’t appreciated the fact that they have a lot of customers with bikes who value that green color. It’s like everything these days. New isn’t also improved.
By the way, which Hilleberg do you consider to be the equivalent of the Hubba Bubba?
Good as this tent appears to be, there are pretty good reasons why the Hillebergs are more expensive, including being able to put them up in the rain in minutes without the interior getting wet, the strength of the fabric, wind resistance much higher than Hubba, double wall etc.
The downside being weight, but on the back of a rack and a long, long tour ahead it’s nice to have that one luxury of a more sturdy and roomier tent when you are far from home, at least for me.
In very cold miserable conditions, mine, a 2 person design. is just big enough to put my touring bike INSIDE and protected from the weather with still plenty of room for me.
Nice reply Steve. I would add though that red is one of the best colours at night as it’s in the same light spectrum as the DARK… it’ll appear as black! Unless you have a torch in it, with white LIGHT, then it’ll be RED again. MaGic (un-stealth) BeaCoN!
I’ve never stealth camped on any livestock field, as it’s not the livestock you need to worry about, it’ll be the not-so-friendly farmers DoG that WILL find you first! Stealth camping is not about doing something illegal, it’s about ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ philosophy.
Don’t change what’s not-broken please. Green Hubba Hubba all the way!
K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid)
Interesting comment. I can see where you’re coming from on some points; others not so much.
1. Disagree. If there are gunmen around who’d sooner shoot at a tent than ask you what you’re doing, you’re camping in the wrong place. Most tents of this kind are clearly ‘camping’ tents, not military shelters. DPM tents are rare enough to be ignored as a realistic choice.
2. This is personal preference and unlikely to sway the majority. If I was ill, I’d find a hotel. If the weather was bad enough to keep me indoors, I’d push on until I found a building to be indoors in!
3. I can’t imagine these scenarios realistically applying on a bike tour. Back-country trekking, yes. Cycle touring, no.
4. True. But you won’t always want to do that, especially in midsummer where you might only get 3–4 hours of real darkness.
As far as camping on ‘owned’ land goes, this article should explain my standpoint on that 🙂
Surely a green tent in the headlights of a 4WD vehicle will be as obvious as a tent of any other colour?
You’re right that stealth camping is not a priority for everyone. But it very likely is for the kind of people looking to spend £200+ on a tent for cycle touring!
I’ve never used a Hilleberg, so can’t comment from experience, but the Allak is Hilleberg’s lightweight 2‑person freestanding tent. You’ll be pleased to know it comes in red 🙂
The only reason I would recommend a Hilleberg is for durability. You can put up the Hubba without the interior getting wet by pitching the fly and footprint first; it’s double walled too; and it’s perfectly stable in strong winds. If in doubt you can simply find a more sheltered pitch, which is all about how you use the tent, rather than its design. The MSR is approximately a third of the price of the equivalent Hilleberg. You could happily cycle across Europe on the savings.
In general I think it makes sense to choose a tent for its strengths in the range of conditions you’d expect to be reasonably normal on a tour. In this respect it’s durability, livability, suitability for a broad range of pitching options, and how much peace of mind you’d get when wild-camping near the road. I would not recommend someone choose a tent for its strengths in extreme or unusual circumstances which are rare by definition — including pitching in snow, fog and military-controlled areas, and when for some reason you’re confined to a tent for several days running.
Thanks again for contributing to the debate — the points are interesting ones and they clearly make sense for the kind of trips you do, which is the only justification any gear decision needs! Just for the sake of context, though, I don’t usually bother writing anything about gear, and when I do I make sure it’s general advice that can be extrapolated from as broadly as possible, rather than ‘the way I like to do things’. You are most welcome to disagree entirely 🙂
All valid points Tom though I would say that on the few times I got sick ( serious food poisoning ) I became too weak to stay on my feet and go looking for a hotel so curling up in my tent was the best I could do! That’s the time it would be nice to he traveling with a partner or buddy. Aha! Didn’t realise the Hubba Hubba was double walled . That’s pretty good for the price. I like to think of my tent as a home away from home when I’m on the road but that’s just me. That said the MSR looks like it would be more than comfortable for most people.
Fair enough. When you’re ill and alone I don’t think there’s much a tent could do to cheer you up — it’s one of the worst things to go through on a long trip.
Well, after procrastinating for ages I have just had delivered a HH HP from Outdoorgear and have just put it up in the lounge.…..and it is enormous. It is going to be a very luxurious tent for 1 this summer. Some nice touches, like a gear loft which will be handy.
I imagine there may be issues with the square ends hitting the inner in windy conditions — may consider pegging the centre out.
Notice that Outdoorgear have cheekily put up the price from £315 — £350 since Sunday.
January sales ending unfortunately!
Never had issues in the wind, but a guyline always helps.
I went with a 2011 macpac Macrolight after comparing it with a Hubba Hubba — almost exactly the same but a bit hardier, in my opinion. And cheaper.
Nice find — how has it stood up to touring use?
Glad I purchased a Hubba Hubba last year now. One question, what is the consensus on whether you ‘need’ the footprint/ground sheet?
Is it worth having or is it a very expensive (£30) tarp?
IMHO all footprints are very expensive tarps! For long-term use some kind of extra protection is a good idea. It doesn’t need to be the original footprint unless you want the convenience of it being the right size already and attaching to the poles when you pitch the tent. Otherwise a cheap plastic tarp cut to size will do the same thing.
Kinda what I thought!
Am I right in assuming I just want to make sure that the tarp is smaller than the tent, so it doesn’t catch the rain and funnel it under the tent?
It’s only function is to put an additional barrier between the ground and the tent to prevent abrasions and cuts to the base of the tent?
Yes, that’s right. Cutting it slightly more trim than the floor itself is a good idea for the reasons you mention.
That’s pants! Keep it green and simple, it’s not rocket science!
The HP is white on the inner, so that’s pants too! Numnuts!
I don’t mind the inner’s colour as long as the fly is green. If I’m only using the inner, it’s probably hot enough that there’s less greenery around anyway…
But, if humid, and wishing to stealth/bush camp, the HP will be a stinker with its closed (not meshed sides) and plenty of ‘here I am’?
My Mutha Hubba HP has mesh panels on each side, and the roof is mesh too. Ventilates very well. In really hot/humid weather I think stinking is a given! Even mesh traps a certain amount of air. In my experience you really need a bit of breeze to cool things off.
Fare comment Tom.
I’ll still standby, white is pants!
Well — they all went quickly!
Sorry I meant through Blacks on Topcashback.
Alternatively, use the direct link in the article to support my blog 😉
6.3% cash back through Topcashback.
Been using the 1 man version, the Hubba for a few years, and it serves me very well. It packs small and is quick and easy to set up. My only complaint is mine has the burnt orange color. When I read yours was green I gave some thought to moving to the Hubba Hubba. The ability to stealth camp must be lost on tent makers. My last one was day-glo yellow.
Also, I had some Christmas Amazon money to spend and I just received the Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook, by Stephen Lord. My oh my, if that book weighed what its worth, I would need stronger panniers, heheheh. Thanks for the tip!
Safe travels in Iran, keep the words coming.
The Hubbas were all orange pre-2010, then yellow, then green as of 2011. I’ve got the 1‑person Hubba that you have, just green as I got it in 2012.
The Handbook is fantastic, right? 🙂
That’s a great setup for a tent Tom;) I use something similar, so if you guys can’t get your hands on the MSR tent anymore, check out Exped Mira 2 tent. It’s pretty much identical.
It certainly looks it. All it lacks is the MSR’s reputation. Would be interesting to see how they match up in the real world.
Thanks Tom, I have just treated myself to one of these bad boys for my 12 month expedition around South and Central America later in the year — a worthy purchase I feel.
Thanks for the heads up on the where the deals were and the extra 5% off at Blacks 😀 and keep up the great work with the site.
No worries at all — I’m sure it’ll serve you very well. Enjoy!