MSR FREELITE 2 Ultralight Tent review

Editor: Cory McLaughlin

Just the Facts:
The MSR FREELITE 2 Ultralight Tent facts:
New for 2016: Our lightest freestanding 2-person tent.
Designed to lighten your pack load on multiday and weekend backcountry trips, the Freelite 2 saves you time and energy to pursue your outdoor activities. Whether you’re planning to pedal the Kokopelli Trail or climb a favorite route on an overnight backpacking trip, this ultralight, fully-featured double-wall tent lets you to perform at your highest level. Its unified freestanding frame sets up quickly and offers a roomy interior, lots of ventilation and two large doors for easy access—all the comfort, without all the weight.
Color Red
Capacity 2
Fast & Light® Minimum Weight w/ footprint 2 lbs / 900 g
Minimum Weight 2 lbs 6 oz / 1.08 kg
Packed Weight 2 lbs 12 oz / 1.25 kg
Floor Area 29 sq. ft / 2.7 sq. m
Vestibule Area 17.5 sq. ft / 1.62 sq. m
Tent Volume 30 cu. ft / 850 liters
Vestibule Volume 14.5 cu. ft / 410 liters
Interior Peak Height 36 in / 91 cm
Packed Size 18 x 6 in / 46 x 15 cm
Number of Doors 2
Freestanding yes
Number of Poles 1 Aluminum 7000 Series
Number of Stakes 10 MSR Needle
Also Included 4 guy cords, 4 aluminum cord adjusters
Rainfly Fabric 15D Nylon Ristop 1200mm Durashield™ polyurethane & silicone
Mesh Type 10D polyester micro-mesh
Floor Fabric 15D Ripstop Nylon 1200mm Durashield™ polyurethane & DWR
Country of Origin Imported

msr freelight 1

Video Review: coming soon

My Story:
Shed hunting has become one of my most favorite pastimes. It is an awesome way to get out into the wilds and enjoy all it has to offer. For those who may be confused about what shed hunting is let me help you out. Deer, elk, and moose lose their antlers each year. The spring time is the ideal time to get out and look for those shed antlers. In this world of repurposing nearly everything, it only makes sense to collect these discarded antlers and use them to make things like lamps, cribbage boards, chew toys, or anything else your wife finds on Pintrest. Sorry, just a little joke for the married guys.
Shed hunting is a blast but it is not easy, not by a long shot. If you wish to find the dropped antlers of some of your favorite ungulates you will have to go into the areas in which they live. For the hardcore shed hunters this often times turns into an overnight or multi day excursion. For those of you who backpack often the idea of saving weight is nothing new. Saving weight is important for any and all types of backpacking but it is especially important when you plan or hope to come out heavier than you went in. These trips that turn into overnighters paired with the unforgiving and even more unpredictable spring weather create a serious demand for a top notch shelter. This is where the MSR Freelite 2 comes into play.
The Freelite 2 is the lightest freestanding tent that MSR makes. It comes in at only 2 Lbs 12 Oz as only the tent and just over 3 LBSs with the footprint. In the Fast and Light configuration it could be as light as 2 pounds. What this means is that you have a tent that weighs in as a whole package at just about 1.5 pounds per person and that is a number that just about anybody can live with. Sure, you can find lighter tarps and tents out there but what they lack the Freelite does not. What is that you ask? It is simple really. They lack the ability to stand freely. So with the tarp/tents if your guy line come loose in a spring thunderstorm your tent/tarp is going to become nothing more than a suffocating blanket. The Freelite 2 has a single light weight 7000 series aluminum pole that insures that it will remain standing even if a guy line comes loose. You can even use a trekking pole for base support when the ground is too hard for stakes.
When packing into areas I always try and find the best possible spot to set my tent. Sometimes it is for comfort and sometimes it is for functionality. During a recent trip my overnight spot was for the latter. I started by staking out the Freelite 2’s footprint.

msr freelight 2

I wanted to find a place that would provide an area to glass the distant hills from my tent. I know the sky looks great in these pictures but a very wet and black cloud was approaching. I wanted to have the ability to glass from the protection of the tent in the event that it was to storm.
Setting up the Freelight 2 is a breeze as you could see from the video review. Here is an image of the tent without the fly. The black mesh provides great protection against insects, and you can see the single aluminum pole which runs the full length of the tent. The tent body attaches to this pole with simple plastic clips. I would have loved the chance to sleep like this and see the stars but my fear of rain outweighed my astronomy aspiration.

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After I attached the rainfly it was time to unpack my gear and get set for the rest of the evening. The Freelite 2 is advertised as a 2 person shelter and will work as such. It will be very tight quarters but what you lose in space you gain in weight savings. The left and right zippers allow for access on either side of the tent. This allows for entering and exiting without having to crawl over the top of each other. When the fly is attached you will notice two gear vestibules on each side of the tent. The vestibules are capable of stowing nearly every standard sized pack and gear.

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The above glamor shot shows me sitting in the Freelight two fishing out my spotting scope and tripod from my pack. As you can see the rainfly is rolled on one side and the vestibule space is visible to the left of my pack. Once I was set up I had to do a little bit of glassing to make sure everything was good to go.

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Here is a view of my ¾ sleeping pad laid out in the Freelite 2. You can see that there is room for one more but it proves to be a very comfortable tent for just a single person. While it is advertised as a two person shelter I could see larger people finding this to be a bit uncomfortable. I am 5’ 9’’ tall of medium build and could easily share with somebody of my same stature with relative comfort.

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After camp was set I decided to sit back and have a cup of tea and relax. It is a peaceful feeling to have reliable gear. When you are in the wilds with nothing on your mind it is nice to keep it that way. Nothing is worse than going into the hills to relax only to have the stress of gear failure ruin the tranquility of fresh mountain air and the absence of the daily grind.

msr freelight review
msr freelight review

The Freelite two is a fantastic lightweight option for 3 season backpackers or back country hunters. This was my third trip out with this great tent and I really have to say that I was impressed. It has found a spot on my “Keep It” shelf and will be my companion on many more outdoor adventures. MSR has a reputation for making some of the best backcountry gear in the industry and the Freelite 2 is sure to add to their already amazing reputation. Make sure to follow the link at the top of this review to the video review portion. The video offers a bit more on the technical features of this awesome tent. Great job MSR!

Find it Here:

What could be done better?
This is a very difficult thing as there are areas that I would like to see changed but it would add weight. In the ultralight world sometimes you have to make sacrifice in order to maintain the ultralight designation. Size is one of those things that I think could be adjusted as this tent is pretty tight. The problem is that increased size adds weight. So, yes, I would like to see this tent about 4-6 inches wider but not at the cost of a quarter to half a pound. The material on this tent seems to be of the same high quality as other comparable tents and should prove to have a long life assuming there is no neglect or extreme circumstances. The only area that I would really like to see improvement on is the pole. I would like to see it fold down a bit smaller. The folded down pole dictates the length of the tent while packed and I would like to see it just a bit smaller. Really, in the end this is a simply fantastic tent an I’m sure it will put a smile on your face.

This is a great tent for backpacking and backcountry. I give this tent 5 stars as it truly is going to be one of my regular backpacking tents.

  • Functionality
  • Value
  • Ergonomics
  • Durability