Last Updated: March 16, 2022

MSR Elixir 2 Review (A Worthy Backpacker)

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MSR Elixir 2

The MSR Elixir 2 backpacking tent strikes a unique balance between fantastic livability, thoughtful design, and affordability. It's super durable, it will keep you safe when the bad weather hits, and the set-up couldn't be easier. Its spacious interior sets it apart from other tents in its category, and it's full of extra features that we love. View Latest Deal

Mountain Safety Research, known as MSR, manufactures a range of top-notch outdoor equipment. Founded by outdoor enthusiasts with a love of nature, MSR is dedicated to producing safe, durable, and reliable gear so that customers can enjoy products that will last them a lifetime and so that global resources won’t be wasted on replacements.

This means that you can expect any MSR product to stand up to the test of time, including those at the lower end of the price spectrum.

MSR produces various tents designed specifically for backpacking that come with a range of price tags and, in this review, we’re going to focus on one of their entry-level tents, the MSR Elixir 2. This 2-person tent may lack a high-end price tag but, as we’ll see, it certainly isn’t lacking in high-end features.

Here, we explore how well the Elixir 2 performs in some key areas, and give it an overall rating and verdict so that you can decide if this is the backpacking tent for you.

Pros

  • Dual doors and vestibules
  • Stargazing mesh roof panels
  • Steep walls increase interior space
  • Color-coded set-up system
  • Footprint and stuff sack included

Cons

  • Not an ultralightweight tent
  • Waterproof coatings will eventually need replacing
  • Only suitable for 3 seasons

Product Rating

94Overall Rating
Materials and Durability
9/10
Weather Resistance
9/10
Convenience
9/10
Livability
10/10
Value for Money
10/10

Product Information

  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Seasons: 3
  • Minimum Weight: 5 lbs / 2.24 kg
  • Packaged Weight: 6 lbs / 2.77 kg
  • Interior Peak Height: 40 in / 102 cm
  • Floor Dimensions: 84 x 50 in / 213 x 127 cm
  • Floor Area: 29 sq. ft / 2.69 sq. m
  • Vestibule Area: 24 sq. ft / 2.22 sq. m
  • Tent Volume: 45 cu. Ft / 1274 liters
  • Vestibule Volume: 708 liters / 25 cu. ft
  • Pole Number: 2
  • Pole Type: 8.5mm Aluminum
  • Packed Size: 20 x 7 in / 51 x 17 cm
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • Number of Vestibules: 2
  • Rainfly Fabric: 68D ripstop polyester 1500mm Polyurethane & DWR
  • Canopy Fabric: 40D ripstop nylon & DWR
  • Mesh Type: 20D polyester micromesh
  • Floor Fabric: 70D taffeta nylon, 3000mm Durashield Polyurethane & DWR
  • Freestanding? Yes
  • Footprint included? Yes

Materials and Durability

MSR Elixir 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent

In backpacking tents, there’s often a trade-off between weight and durability, as heavier materials tend to last longer in the field.

The MSR Elixir 2 has been designed primarily as a backpacking tent and, although it isn’t super lightweight, it’s certainly not heavy either. So, what is the Elixir really made of? And is durable enough to be worth the extra weight?

The rainfly itself is made of durable 68D polyester that’s resistant to rips and abrasions, plus it’s been treated with 1500mm polyurethane and durable water repellent (DWR). The canopy itself is slightly thinner and is conducted from 40D nylon, which is again tear-resistant. The floor is reinforced with 70D taffeta nylon, treated with 3000mm Durasheild polyurethane and DWR.

These materials are thicker than those used in ultralightweight tents, such as the MSR Hubba Hubba NX, which means that they are slightly heavier but on the plus side they’re also more durable.

The poles themselves are made of thick (8.5mm) aluminum, which is renowned for its lightweight and durability. The layout of the poles themselves provides an extremely robust structure, making the tent incredibly durable when set up.

So, does the Elixir 2 get the balance of weight and durability right? We think it’s done a pretty good job. The materials are more durable than those used for ultralightweight models, yet they’re thin enough to keep the weight down. Plus, if you’re worried about the floor not being thick enough, this tent comes with an included footprint for added protection, so it really should last you a while.

Weather Resistance

MSR Elixir 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent

The MSR Elixir 2 is a 3-season tent, but can it really brave the elements out there in the wilderness?

Water Resistance

Both the rainfly and the floor of the Elixir 2 have been treated with a polyurethane (plastic) coating and a DWR, making them resistant to 1500mm and 3000mm of water, respectively. Contextually, fabrics are generally considered waterproof if they can provide protection against 1500mm of water, so you’re safe with the Elixir 2.

Notably, the fabrics have been treated to become waterproof but aren’t actually waterproof. This means that, eventually, the coatings will need to be replenished to maintain the waterproof properties of the material.

Integrated rain-gutters across the door entries are an innovative mechanism that MSR uses to further protect you from water – they steer the water away from you and down the rainfly rather than letting it accumulate above your head and drop on you when you unzip the door, yay.

Wind Resistance

But what about wind? There’s nothing worse, especially in small tents than concaving walls and collapsing poles. Fortunately, the Hubba Hubba NX has been designed to stand up to the strongest of winds. The Syclone pole we’ve already mentioned is not only super strong, but it’s also flexible too.

This means that the pole can bend in the wind without breaking and return to the original position when the wind drops.

The tent itself is freestanding and, as we mentioned earlier has a robust design, with a unique pole configuration (two longer poles that cross and a smaller roof pole in the center) that provides great wind resistance.

Ventilation

As much as we want to keep the bad weather out, we also want to let the hot air out on those warmer evenings. We love the two kickstand vents in the rainfly that line up with mesh panels on the interior tent to allow for smooth airflow. Plus, mesh panels on the roof make another exit point for warm air.

Finally, you can even fold the rainfly halfway back if you want to maximize ventilation but want to be ready to spring into action and whip it down as soon as you hear a raindrop.

Despite these precautions, some condensation does tend to accumulate on the roof of this tent; however, the clever placement of fabric panels on the canopy roof manages to stop those pesky droplets from landing on you in the morning.

Convenience

MSR Elixir 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent

All good backpacking tents need to be portable – they shouldn’t break your back and they should fit in or on your pack. They also need to be easy to set up, seeing as you’ll be putting your tent up and packing it down regularly while you’re on the trail. So how does the MSR Elixir 2 perform in the convenience department?

Weight

Let’s face it, the Elixir 2 is by no means ultralight. Weighing in at 6 lbs when packed, you might struggle to carry this tent on your back alongside all your other gear for the weekend. Having said that, it’s not super heavy either, particularly for a 2-person tent.

If you split the weight between you by carrying different parts, then you should have no problem carrying this tent as a pair. Just make sure you’re up to the challenge if you’re a solo backpacker wanting some space.

Dimensions

When all is packed away, the Elixir 2 forms a 7 x 20-inch bundle that fits easily into its stuff sack thanks to the wide mouth. Just bear in mind that if you plan on carrying the tent as a pair, you might want to invest in an extra stuff sack so one can carry the fly and one can carry the inner tent.

Set-Up

There’s nothing worse than puzzling over confusing instructions while trying to pith up in the rain. Fortunately, one of the best things about the Elixir 2 is its ease of set-up. The two main poles cross over, pop into their swivels, and are held in place by color-coded clips, while the third pole has an obvious spot at the top. The rainfly also has clips with colors that correspond to the pole bases – simple!

Furthermore, if you want to shed some weight or a few minutes off the (already short) set-up time, why not try the Fast & Light option? This involves skipping the interior tent and making use of just the rainfly and included footprint, and it reduces the weight to just 3 lbs 9 oz.

Livability

MSR Elixir 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent

Okay, so the Elixir 2 is durable and convenient, but does it feel homey? Absolutely!

We mentioned the mesh on the roof for ventilation, but what we didn’t mention was that it doubles up as a skylight for stargazing on dry evenings. There are also integrated gear lofts to keep you organized, plus zipper pulls that glow in the dark to help you move around at night. The near-vertical walls and dual vestibules make the interior nice and spacious, even with two people inside.

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the homey feel of this backpacking tent.

Value For Money

MSR Elixir 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent

The Elixir 2 is one of MSR’s most affordable 2-person backpacking tents, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in quality or extra features.

With an included footprint, durable yet light materials, and some thoughtful extra touches, we just can’t believe that this tent doesn’t cost more.

Rating

With a rating of 94, the MSR Elixir 2 has performed extremely well against our rating system. It lost a mark each in the materials and weather resistance departments as the waterproof coatings will need replenishing eventually, and another mark for convenience because it’s a little on the heavy side…. but overall we were very impressed with this tent.

Verdict

Would we recommend the MSR Elixir 2 overall? Of course!

Plenty of interior space, dual vestibules, durable and weather-resistant materials… all at a very reasonable price. The only thing holding this tent back from top marks is its weight, which is a little heavy for one to carry. But remember, you can always split the load between two, or try out the Light & Fast option.

Overall, you get a lot of bang for your buck with this tent, and with MSR’s solid reputation, you can be sure it won’t let you down. This really is one of the best, affordable, 2-person backpacking tents around.

MSR Elixir 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent
388 Reviews
MSR Elixir 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent
  • Unique pole geometry optimizes headroom and fits two mats; adaptable rainfly allows for excellent views
  • Built-in gear lofts and glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls enhance livability