Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review: MSR Fast Stash 2

**Review update here.**

The people at MSR sent me the Fast Stash 2 tent to review.

I've had it for a month or so and finally took it out last night for the first time.

The upshot:
  • Set up is a bit fussier than I'm used to, but once I figured it out, it'll be quicker next time.
  • It's huge. For two, it's adequate. For one, as a base camp tent, it's rad.
  • The sloping walls, combined with condensation, would make sleeping for two-- and staying dry --  a bit of a challenge.
  • Probably a better tent for hikers than for touring cyclists. But would make a great base camp tent.
  • Retail $300. Made in Taiwan.
Set up
There's a video on the MSR site that shows how to set it up. I watched a few weeks ago and probably should've watched it again before I set off last night. In the dark. In the rain. So, setting it up for the first time in the rainy dark was a tad frustrating. There are directions on the stuff sack.
See those poles? They won't stand up unless everything is tied down.
Especially in the wind. (Did I mention dark and rain?)

But one step in the directions is whacked. The tent is optimized to be set up with trekking poles. It comes with two light DAC poles for non-hikers. So, it's held up with these poles, then tied down with the guy lines.

The step that's crack-smoking is one where it says something like, "put the poles in, angle them towards the door to hold up the tent, then tie down the guys." It just doesn't stay up doing it that way without help. With help, I'm thinkning there would be no issues. Alone (in the dark rain), you gotta sort of tie it down, then wedge the poles in there.

Anyway -- a lot virtual ink here, but the net: I think after setting it up a couple times alone, or if I had help setting it up, it would be trivial.

For two, on a dry night, I think it would be fine. But it's a single wall tent. So on a rainy night, even where I put my head next to the side screen, in an attempt to not build condensation, the walls were dripping by morning. Given how the inside slopes, if you've got two in there, the person on the sloping wall is probably going to get pretty wet. So for two. Not so great.
Once that wall loads up with condensation, you don't want to be sleeping on it.
I like how tall the front of the tent is. And the door configuration is cool: you can sit with your butt in the tent, take off your shoes while their outside, and you get a bit of coverage over the door. Nice design.

For one: this would work great as a base camp. I'm looking forward to setting this up at the river next year and any National Forest trips we make. It's perfect for one-biker base-camper.

As a bike touring tent for two. I'd have to figure out that condensation thing before taking it on the road. If you did tour with it, you could have one cyclist take the poles and one take the tent to sort of break up the load. It's 4 pounds all up.
Loads of room.


Anonymous said...

Is the vestibule big enough to stash a bike under?

John Speare said...

Anon: there really isn't a vestibule. There's overhanging "roof line" along the front and sides. If your bike had a kickstand, or you could keep it from leaning into the tent, you could probably stash a bit of it under one of the side overhangs. I'll try that next time I set it up.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you could park your bike inside, if alone?

If you have to carry poles anyway, I'd rather takesomething like MSR's Hubba Hubba, or the 1 person Hubba plus a piece of plastic if I need to cover gear. My bike can get wet. Lots of clever designs now give headroom across the tent. REI has cheaper, good knockoffs of the Hubba designs.

I can see the advantage of using hiking poles for nonbike trips though.