Take a Hike in MSR’s Carbon Reflex 2 Ultralight Tent

I love winter and early spring adventures with the cooler temps and the rain that refreshes everything. It’s hard to get out the door but once you do, it feels amazing. On the other hand, summer and early fall is always welcome, with more daylight hours, more accessible trails and land, and less risky weather. Although I’m enjoying my long runs in the rain for now, I can’t wait to start backpacking season! The latest and greatest trend in backpacking is all things ultralight – minimal gear, counting grams, longer and faster miles, more ground covered and less…stuff.

I made the switch to an ultralight tent this last summer and it was a game changer. I went from a 7+ pound tent to just over 2 pounds and my legs and back were downright giddy after only a few miles. It’s amazing how gear technology has allowed something as crucial as shelter to become one of the lighter items in the backpack and MSR’s Carbon Reflex 2 is worth considering if you’re thinking of upgrading your 3 season tent, too.

The ‘2’ in the name refers to the number of people it’ll sleep. MSR also has a 1 or 3 option, as well as many other tents to compare, so decide your comfort level with your adventure buddies and make your tent selection.

This tent weighs an impressively light 2 lbs 3 oz in it’s packed state, with an 84″ length and an internal peak height of 34″, offering both a lightweight yet roomy floor area. Definitely know that going from a luxuriously spacious camping tent to an ultralight backpacking tent is a big change; your backpacks and boots (and pets, unless you get real cozy) will be too tight of a squeeze to bring inside, so make sure you do some measuring to make sure you’re getting the right fit, literally, for your use case. The idea here is that less is more and not everyone loves that!

Although this tent isn’t “freestanding” (that is, the base will need to be tautly staked out to maximize the usable space), it’s an easy setup. It only has two poles, made of carbon fiber poles; one across the length of the tent and a smaller one across the width.

The 2-person was smartly designed for two, with a door on each side, a vestibule on each side, and internal pockets on each side. No more “can you put this over by you” for the night or crawling over each other for the exit.

Another considerate detail of this tent, as you can see in the photo above, is the bit of red solid material that rises slightly off the ground before the mesh begins, “bathtub-style” they call it, offering a hint of protection from drafts or breeziness for a little more warmth.

I am excited to take this tent out all next season – be on the lookout for a more thorough review in a few months once it’s been put to use!

CompanyMountain Safety Research (MSR)

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Product: Carbon Reflex™ 2 Ultralight Tent ($549.95)

Details (from website):

  • Ultralight: Lightweight fabrics, Easton®* carbon fiber poles, and a zipper-free vestibule minimize weight. (Trademark owned by Easton® Technical Products)
  • Fast & Light Setup: Pitches with rainfly and optional footprint (sold separately) for versatility on lighter trips.
  • Ventilation: Micromesh canopy offers maximum ventilation and moisture control.
  • Weather Protection: DuraShield™ waterproof rainfly; Xtreme Shield™ waterproof floor.

More about MSR:

In 1969, Seattle engineer and lifelong mountaineer Larry Penberthy formed Mountain Safety Research as a one-man crusade dedicated to improving the safety of climbing equipment. The fuel behind Larry’s passionate fire was a simple belief that still drives our team today:


From that notion evolved a pioneering outdoor company whose innovations have revolutionized the way people experience the outdoors worldwide. Today, we’re a close-knit team still obsessed with designing the most reliable, high-performance gear possible, using our knowledge of engineering and science to find better solutions to the challenges of the mountains.

Thank you to MSR for providing us with a sample tent. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.

About Author

Bobi Jo has lived all over the midwest but moved to Portland in 2007 and now calls it home. She started casually running in 2012 and trained up for the "Run Like A Mother" 5k as her first proper event. She got a taste of the runner's high and is now a veteran ultrarunner. While running is her favorite sport, she is a "Jill of all trades, master of none" - her other hobbies include rock climbing, hiking, skiing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and traveling the world. On her elusive rest days, she is an avid bookworm and a Green Bay Packers fan.

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