When backpacking, it’s important to consider a tent’s weight. At just 904g the FlyLite is the lightest full shelter MSR has ever made, and it promises enough space for two campers to sleep comfily.
The FlyLite was designed for hikers on routes such as the Pacific Crest Trail in the USA, but it may be useful for UK walkers who are prepared to travel light when the weather is favourable.
The manufacturer’s stated weight for this tent is 710g, but the sample supplied including all stuffsacks tipped the scales at 904g, which when you consider this is a two-person tent is still only 452g per person. The weight saving is achieved by firstly utilising a pair of trekking poles that a camper has been using during the day. Also this is just a single-skin design with quite a lot of mesh. So there are compromises even before you get this on the hill.
The MSR FlyLite comes in a stuffsack measuring just 34x13cm and includes a short two-section pole for the rear, some pegs and some guy lines. Pitching is quite easy as you simply peg out the four corners, insert the rear pole, then raise the front by inserting a pair of trekking poles either side of the entrance. Guy lines complete the pitch. The sample only included seven pegs but the production model comes with nine. There were two spare guy lines, but I’d like to have had an additional pair as the tent was quite unstable on the hillside. The alternative is to pitch this in a very sheltered area where the supplied guy lines and pegs will be adequate.
There is no porch, so entry is via the one door, which opens the whole front end of the tent to give access to an extremely cavernous interior. The headroom is very impressive at 112cm, and you can easily sit up inside; and as the walls are near-vertical two people have plenty of room towards the front. The MSR FlyLite is also very wide at 140cm, and long enough at 208cm.
There are mesh panels on the sides and at the foot, but you may still get condensation. It is also important to note that the outer has a hydrostatic head figure of only 1200mm – so it is potentially not as durably waterproof as some heavier tents in the MSR range, which boast higher figures (although the proof will only come with time and will depend greatly on the quality of the UV inhibitors as much as the actual waterproof coating itself).
Flysheet 10d ripstop nylon, PU- and silicone-coated with 1200mm hydrostatic head
Groundsheet 20d ripstop nylon, PU- and silicone-coated with 1200mm hydrostatic head
Poles one rear pole supplied (plus a pair of trekking poles not included)
Internal dimensions (LxWxH) 208x140x112cm
Packed size 34x13cm
The MSR FlyLite is certainly light, and if pitched in a relatively sheltered area and if you don’t expect the worst weather then it is ideal for two. But in more challenging conditions many UK-based mountain hikers will find value in using a heavier shelter with porches and generally greater weather protection.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine May 2015