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Review by Fiona McIntosh
Camping by Iceberg Lake at the base of Mount Whitney a few years back, I wandered over to check out an interesting shelter. The lightweight tent was held up by trekking poles. Clever, I thought, why bother taking tent poles if you can double up?
So I was intrigued to try out MSR’s Flylite, which works on exactly that principle. Weighing only 710 grams, this single-shell tent is ideal for hikers or mountaineers wanting to go fast and light. Vertical walls, a high ceiling, and a decent floor area make it surprisingly spacious for two people and their bags (apparently it offers the greatest volume-to-weight ratio of all MSR tents) and the large front door, which has a good-sized awning with side wings to protect that area from the rain, makes access easy.
While the Flylite is a great shelter for moderate weather conditions – or if you want privacy or protection from mozzies and the like – it has its limitations. I can see why it’s ideal for iconic long distance hikes like the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail, but I wouldn’t want to be in one in a storm!
Pitching it with two people is easy. Set your trekking poles to 1.15 metres (they need to be that length or adjustable) and slot them into the reinforced front corners and holes in the peg loops at the bottom. The rear of the tent is held up with a small tent pole, but because there’s no internal structure to it, I found the process a bit tricky on my own. And if you’re on very rocky ground, the difficulty of placing the pegs where you want them compounds the problem. Because it needs to be secured using several guy ropes, the Flylite is better suited to meadows and areas where there are established tent platforms than small mountain perches.
All of that said, I’m impressed. This is an effective two-person tent that takes up about the same space as a Nalgene bottle and weighs less than a decent bivvy bag. If you hike with trekking poles, it’s a winner.