Big Agnes Blacktail Hotel 2

A tent and a bicycle in a park

Garry’s latest acquisition to his kit is the Big Agnes Blacktail Hotel 2, a lightweight three-season two-person tent. And although he’s only taken it on a few trips, it’s already becoming his go-to tent when heading off on his bicycle. Over the years, Garry’s had several tents, some good, some not-so-good. But the Big Agnes Blacktail Hotel 2 is one of the better ones.

It reminds Garry of the first tent he used when he first started cycle touring, the MSR Velo. It should have been the design MSR stuck with, but that’s a different story, which you can read about here.

The Big Agnes

Garry has one or two reservations about the Big Agnes Blacktail Hotel 2. The materials seem a little less superior to some of his other tents. And the zips don’t fill him with confidence that they will last. But time will tell on those. The pegs that came with the tent were cheap and nasty and were discarded immediately, replaced with Groundhog pegs. The top vents on the tent are also a bit of a concern. And Garry’s not too sure how good they would be at keeping out rain in a strong wind.

The inner tent walls are predominantly mesh, which might be a problem when the temperature drops. And there is a significant gap between the sides of the outer tent and the ground. But that, along with the upper vents, allows for plenty of ventilation. Keeping condensation down to a minimum.

It sounds like Garry isn’t too impressed with the tent, but nothing could be further from the truth. Garry loves its roominess and excellent headroom. The large vestibule allows Garry to store all his gear inside the tent. The vestibule also allows Garry to cook in if it’s wet. And if it’s been a wet ride, he can change out of his wet gear without getting the inner tent wet.

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Hilleberg Staika

Tent forest

The Hilleberg Staika Garry’s latest tent. After all the problems with leaks and breakages Garry has experienced with his MSR Hubba Tour, he decided to buy another tent, yes, another one! Some people like to buy shoes or clothes, Garry likes to buy tents!

After a little research and looking at different brands of tents, Garry decided to go for the Hilleberg Staika. He already owned a Hilleberg, the Nammantj 2Gt. Which despite being a good tent, doesn’t suit Garry’s needs. It’s not free-standing, and being a tunnel tent isn’t as versatile.

Looking at the Staika on paper it ticked all the boxes for Garry, it was free-standing and had two decent sized vestibules. It was a bit heavier than his MSR at 4kg but what’s a bit of extra weight, if the tents right. There was nothing else to do, but buy one!

YouTube Video


After several trips using the Hilleberg, Garry found it didn’t suit him quite as much as he had hoped. There’s nothing wrong with the tent at all, It’s a brilliant tent! Well made and will stand up to a lot of abuse. And if there’s a storm blowing Garry knows which tent he would like to be in! But what on paper looks good, in reality, doesn’t always work out! And the only way to see if a tent is any good is to try it out! Although granted, it’s an expensive way to find out! But as was said earlier, Garry likes to buy tents!

The search for the perfect tent goes on!

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MSR Hubba Tour 2

MSR Hubba Tour 2 bag


The MSR Hubba Tour 2 is one of MSR’s new tents for 2017, and it reminds Garry a lot of his old MSR “Velo” it’s what Garry has been searching for ever since his old MSR “Velo” simply wore out!

MSR Hubba Tour 2
MSR Hubba Tour 2

Garry see’s this new MSR Hubba Tour 2 as an updated version of the old MSR Velo with some significant improvements!

One major improvement is the ability to pitch the tent with the inner tent attached allowing the inner tent to stay dry even in the heaviest of downpours!

It must also be one of the lightest tents for its size weighing in at only 2.74 kilos.

The exoskeleton pole system on the MSR Hubba Tour 2
The exoskeleton pole system

The setup of the tent is also swift with MSR’s exoskeleton pole system, although Garry’s still not convinced of the longevity of these (time will tell!)

Pitching the tent is a case of pegging out the four corners assembling the exoskeleton poles, inserting the poles into the four corners, clipping the flysheet to the poles, assemble the single pole for the vestibule, inserting that into its sleeve and peg out, that’s the basic setup complete!

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Because of the Hubba Tour 2’s lightweight, everything feels a bit delicate, the guy ropes are just like pieces of string, and the flysheet is very thin! So, to test the tent out Garry set off to the Isle of Wight for the night fully loaded as if he was going away on tour.

Thorn bike all ready and loaded to go away
All ready and packed to go away

It was a rather blustery day with the wind blowing at a steady 22 mph. Once at the campsite Garry was unable to find a sheltered pitch and was forced to camp in a rather exposed pitch at the top of a hill!

Setting the tent up in the wind wasn’t a problem, and as Garry has already said it is a quick setup. Because it was so windy, Garry put out all the guy ropes to add stability which as we all know you’re meant to do each time you camp, but do we if moving pitch each night?

Inside The Tent

Once the tent was up Garry unloaded his bike and found that there was plenty of room for both him and all his panniers.

Inside the MSR Hubba Tour 2
Plenty of room inside for both gear and people

Having the large vestibule means that if it has been raining and all your gear is wet, you can put everything in the lobby and keep the inner tent completely dry. It also allows you to get out of wet gear before entering the inner tent. It also provides somewhere to cook if the weather is a bit inclement outside, providing there is plenty of ventilation of course!

Cooking inside the MSR Hubba Tour 2
Cooking inside in inclement weather

The inner tent is an ample size with good headroom, and the two doors provide each person with an entrance, or if the wind changes direction in the night the other door can be used.

As This is the two-man version there is loads of room; however, for two people, it could be a bit cosy! (But as we all know if your cycle touring it’s always best to have a two-man tent for one and a three-person tent for two)

On the night, Garry was trying out the tent for the first time the wind got up and was gusting at more than 30 mph, but the MSR Hubba Tour withstood this and was unscathed in the morning, although Garry didn’t get too much sleep, at least the tent was ok!

MSR Hubba Tour 2
The MSR the morning after

In summary the MSR Hubba Tour 2 suits all the requirements of a cycle tourist! It has a fast setup, which can be setup while raining and still maintain a dry inner tent. There’s plenty of room to store panniers and bags. It has a square footprint which from experience is better for wild camping as it enables you to tuck away out of site more easily and it’s very light!
Now that Garry has found the MSR Hubba Tour 2 he’s looking forward to more adventure cycling and cycle touring in the coming months!

Now that Garry has found the MSR Hubba Tour 2 he’s looking forward to more adventure cycling and cycle touring in the coming months!

Read Garry’s latest review of the MSR Hubba Tour 2.

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MSR Hubba Hubba HP

MSR Hubba Hubba HP with gear shed

Garry’s original tent used for cycle touring was the MSR Velo. But after sitting on the back of Garry’s bike for more than five years, being packed away wet and sometimes left for a few days, it finally wore out!

At the time of replacing it, Garry was umming and ahhing as to what to replace his old tent with as they no longer made that model! In the end, Garry went for the Hilleberg Nammatj 2 GT a two-person tunnel tent.

After several tours with the Hilleberg Garry started to miss his old MSR Velo. He missed its free-standing ability, the fact that it took a relatively small area to pitch in and it could also be pitched on rocky surfaces as there is very little need for pegging down a free-standing tent!

After returning home from his tour of Spain where most of the campsites were gravel, Garry decided that he needed a free-standing tent once more! So, he started to look around at various brands to see what new tents were on the market.

Garry started to look at the MSR Hubba Hubba HP. This tent was around when he brought the Hilleberge but dismissed it as he thought it was quite a lot of phaffing around! Having to put four parts together, the footprint, the inner tent, the vestibule, and the flysheet! However, he was now willing to give it a go.

In early August 2015, Garry purchased the MSR Hubba Hubba HP. His initial thoughts on it were how light it weighed at a mere 1.93kg as opposed to the Hilleberg which weighs in at 3.7kg. The setup was as he thought not as straightforward as the Hilleberg! The single pole system was a bit annoying, and the longevity of the poles could be a problem! They just snap together on their own which could lead to cracks and ultimately break.

The set up as before with Garry’s old MSR Velo was that you had to put the inner tent up first then attach the fly over the top. A nice new feature with this tent is that if the weather is bad and its raining, you can put the fly up first then attach the inner tent afterwards. A big improvement on the old Velo as it was always a pain setting up in the rain! However, you can’t attach the vestibule with this setup. To attach the vestibule, you must put the inner tent up first, attach the vestibule then attach the fly.

The MSR Hubba Hubba HP set up in Garry’s garden

After setting the tent up several times in his garden so he could get a feel for it, Garry decided that the only real test was to try it out in the field (if you’ll pardon the pun!) so off he set on a small tour to Somerset.

On Garry’s first night’s camp, he decided to try the tent out without using the vestibule, just to see how he got on with the smaller tent. It was a real struggle he had to use both vestibules for his panniers, and even then, there wasn’t enough room he had to have some of them inside the tent! Which is not too much of a problem when it’s dry, however when it’s wet I’m not so sure you would want wet bags inside the inner tent!

Garry found the doors to be very annoying! They open from the centre and are always hanging down and getting in the way you can’t just open them and throw them over the side of the tent you have to tie them back each time! Which is fine if your inside and want to look out, but if you just want to get something out quickly, they are a real pain.

Cooking was also not that easy! Garry usually likes to sit inside the tent with the stove outside or if the weathers a bit inclement move it in slightly, this is not an option in the Hubba Hubba! Garry found the inner tent too low on the opening, so he was unable to sit inside and cook! He could have moved the cooker a bit nearer to the tent and sat further inside, but then there was the worry that the cooker was a little bit too close to the tent!

Packing the tent away in the morning was a bit of a phaff! The poles were a pain and with cold hands unclipping the inner tent from the poles was awkward!

Tent in a field
Garry’s second campsite

On the second night’s camp Garry decided to put the tent up with the vestibule attached, again he had the problem with the pole just snapping together on its own which he finds rather disconcerting!

The correct setup is to lay the footprint out with the inner tent on top attach the poles and clip the inner tent to the poles then clip on the vestibule and cover with the rain fly. But after trying the tent out at home, Garry found it more useful to have the footprint in the vestibule. You don’t have that damp grass on the inside of the tent then, and it also affords itself to somewhere else to sit out of the wind. However, despite there now being plenty of room for gear, there is very little headroom! Garry found it impossible to sit up in the vestibule, although the inner tent has loads of headroom!

There are also one or two doubts as to how weatherproof the whole thing would be! The point at which the vestibule attaches to the tent and is then covered by the fly seems to sag down a bit, and possibly if the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, could blow up and under here!

On subsequent nights of the tour, Garry continued to put the full setup up but found out that he just couldn’t get on with it!

Tent with luggage
Getting ready to pack away in the morning

In summery it’s not a bad tent, it’s just not very well suited to Garry’s needs! It would be more beneficial if Garry was able to go hiking again, or if he was to go on a tour where he wasn’t expecting to camp very much but wanted to carry a tent just in case he found himself unable to find any accommodation! For the tours when he intends camping for most of the time he’ll stick with the Hilleberg!

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