• Comfort 70% 70%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 90% 90%

Price: $599.95

Weight: 4lbs 1oz (1.84kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 29sqft

Vestibules: 2 (8.75 + 8.75sqft)

Number of Poles: 2

What We Like: 4-Season Construction with All-Season Versatility

What We Don’t: Venting for Warmer Nights

Sleeping outside in the winter is something many of us try to avoid. For those that choose this chilly pursuit, the only option is a 4-season tent, but what if you want to camp throughout the year? The MSR Access 2 tent is designed for winter warmth while still remaining light enough to be carried into the backcountry on a summer hike. It may not be strong enough as a tent on some extreme winter missions, but it will work perfectly as a ski touring home base. The interior space is roomy with dual doors and dual vestibules to open up the living space if needed. The price is steep, but if it can be your one tent quiver killer, it’s definitely worth it.

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Pros

4-Season Construction with All Season Versatility

Cons

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The MSR Access 2 is the only 4-season tent on our list, and the reason it makes it onto our list of backpacking tents is its lightweight construction. The Access has been designed with ski touring and mountaineering in mind, but it would definitely still work as a lightweight trekking tent if you are in a cooler climate. The Access series comes in 1-, 2-, and 3-person tent options.

Best Backpacking Tents: MSR Access 2 - Gear Hacker

Comfort

The MSR Access 2 has 29 square feet of interior space, which is plenty for two people to get comfortable. Unlike most lightweight tents, the MSR Access does not taper, so you could sleep head to toe with your partner for more shoulder space at night. The tent comes with exceptional headroom at 42 inches, which is great for taller campers to be able to both sit up fully and stretch out. Along each end of the ten, you’ll find large mesh pockets for keeping valuables off the ground, and along the top of the tent, there are three tie-in loops for a clothesline. The vestibules are big but not huge. They will fit a backpack and some other gear, but it will get “cozy” quickly.

 

The steep angle of the walls, which helps in shedding snow, can create a cramped space for two people who both want to sit up and prepare for the day. The smaller square footage will also keep campers close to the walls, which could result in condensation dripping onto sleeping pads and bags. The dual doors and vestibules do help to create more “living space” for storage and movement, but other expedition-oriented tents come with more livable space.

Best Backpacking Tents: MSR Access 2 - Gear Hacker

Ease of Setup

MSR uses the tried-and-true clips with their tent for setup. The carbon Easton Syclone poles are hubbed, lightweight, and durable. The rainfly has tensioners to improve setup and help keep snow from sliding off the tent. Other than having two poles, it has a very similar setup to the MSR Hubba Hubba and should be quite simple for anyone who has set up a tent before. We recommend you practice setting it up before heading into the backcountry if it’s a new tent. You wouldn’t want a surprise after hiking or skinning for several hours.  
Best Backpacking Tents: MSR Access 2 - Gear Hacker

Weatherproofing

As a 4-season tent, the MSR Access 2 has very little mesh along the tent body in order to retain heat on a cold night. The only mesh is at the top of the doors, which keeps the interior well insulated, but by the same token, this means that it will get steamy on warmer nights if this becomes your only tent. The rainfly does have double-zippers, so you can open the top zipper to improve airflow if it isn’t raining cats and dogs. The rainfly and floor of the tent both use MSR’s proprietary Xtreme Shield™ polyurethane. The fly has a silicone coating, and the floor of the tent has a durable water repellent (DWR) coating. Both of these coatings will keep moisture from sneaking into the tent in the traditional methods.

 

Best Backpacking Tents: MSR Access 2 - Gear Hacker

Durability

Durability is key for a 4-season tent. There is nothing worse than waking up in the middle of a snowstorm to a collapsed tent and then having to get out to deal with it. MSR has created a very durable tent to avoid that nasty-sounding situation. The Easton Syclone carbon poles are burly while being flexible enough to adjust and move as needed.

 

In the 4-season tent world, the Access is on the lighter side and less durable, and its strengths lie in its packability and lightweight design rather than its ruggedness. It’s practically perfect for adventures in the lower 48, but it’s less than ideal for certain, more ambitious objectives.

 

Weight

With a packed weight at just over four pounds (1.84kg), the Access is lighter than all of the budget tents on our list and heavier than the lightweight backpacking tents, which makes perfect sense. It is designed to be more robust and features more fabric than mesh so that it can remain warm in the winter months. It does have enough versatility that it could be used on a summer trip, but moisture management would become very key in warmer temperatures.  
Best Backpacking Tents: MSR Access 2 - Gear Hacker

The Bottom Line

The MSR Access 2 is the most versatile tent on our list. With a 4-season tent rating and a weight of 4 pounds, this tent could find itself on all sorts of trips and adventures without being too out of place. The livability is impressive even if it can get a bit of a moisture problem without adequate venting. It sits in an odd niche—whereas lighter tents won’t be as versatile, and stronger tents won’t be near the weight or packed size of the Access. So, if you are a camper who spends lots of nights outside no matter the season, this could very well be the tent for you. The price ($599.95) is steep, but if it is being used throughout the year and you like to be warm, it most certainly is worth it.

 

Best Backpacking Tents: MSR Access 2 - Gear Hacker

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We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!