words & photography :: Todd Lawson.
Camping is one of the best things known to mankind. But without tents, there would be no camping, and without lightweight tents, there would be no backcountry camping. When I opened the box of new MSR Carbon Reflex Featherweight Tent, I initially thought they had shipped the wrong tent. A 3-person tent can’t be this light, can it? Oh yes it can. For those gram-counters out there, full packaged weight is 1.19kg —just slightly heavier than one litre of water.
The first test was a solo hiking trip into the Pemberton, B.C. backcountry. I could’ve gone with a small bivy sack or even a hammock, but jeopardizing a good night’s sleep wasn’t in the cards. You might as well spread out and let your body and brain get some rest. The tent fit easily into my pack and was thankfully quite intuitive to set up, with a single well-designed, colour-coded DAC carbon pole that clicks into place fast and easy.
A couple of other nice touches made my experience a little better. Note the ‘walled’ fabric corners, which provide more space inside the tent and prevent socks and things from hiding in the corners of the tent, only to be found months later. The Carbon Reflex is also a stargazer’s dream, with wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor mesh for sweeping views of the sky, and to keep out all of those alpine mosquitoes.
The second test was a moto-camping trip through southern B.C.’s beautiful Fraser Canyon.
As a couples’ tent, a double-wide mattress fits in here perfectly, with separate entryways so you don’t have to stumble over your partner to get outside to take a pee in the middle of the night. We had a pretty snug sleep all together on the double-wide, but three individual mattresses also fit inside perfectly.
The bad news: Perhaps the only ‘con’ of this tent is lack of interior space if three adults are heading on a multi-day backpacking trip. It would be pretty snug inside with bodies and other stuff, with not too much room for packs inside the small vestibules, but definitely doable.
But this tent is all about getting you out there into the wilderness no matter how far or how long. It’s light, it’s easy to set up and take down, and it’s easy to pack and carry. The good news: Now you can bring more Scotch.