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July 2017

A Tale of Two Tents - The Hubba Hubba vs the Rattlesnake

big agnes

It’s a useful thing having the independence that a reliable tent offers. It might come in handy for those vacations by the lake, giving you a fold-out sanctuary in case of bugs and inclement elements. Or you could use a tent to stay at a grassroots music festival! You know, just in case you need a safe place to get a break from those non-stop spontaneous dance parties.

This article is going to focus on the type of tents designed with the backcountry in mind. Specifically for those long distance adventures where packsize and weight are a concern. For that reason I’ve picked two top-of-the-line ultralight options to compare: the Rattlesnake 2p from Big Agnes and the Hubba Hubba NX from MSR! Why compare? Because my old tent was heavy as an elephant and still got me wet. While looking at new options I narrowed it down to these two, neck and neck at the head of the pack. I couldn’t see much of a difference based on the specs alone. So the next step was obvious: do a direct use based comparison.

[caption id="attachment_956" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Big Agnes Rattlesnake 2P Tent[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_957" align="aligncenter" width="500"] MSR Hubba Hubba 2P Tent[/caption]

To compare the tents, Blake (@exploreofcourse on instagram) spent two weeks with each traveling in various conditions. From 4 ft. of snow in Alder Flats to the incredibly dry desert-ish setting of Spence`s Bridge, he saw it all. And before you ask, yes, that does include countless nights spent under a puddle pretending to be the sky. The following opinions are solely those of the author.


These being two of the better 3 season 2 person tents on the market, there are some similarities that are worth noting. Both tents are:

  • Under 4.5 lbs
  • Compact in their stuff sacks
  • Quick to setup + teardown
  • Freestanding, which mean that the tents aren't reliant on the tension from stakes in the ground to remain up. This is helpful if you need to move your tent after it’s set up, or wanna turn it upright to shake out any debris that managed to sneak in. Sneaky debris.
  • Extremely breathable compared to cheaper options. I experienced zero condensation on the inside of the tent even in a humid storm
  • Spacious enough for two average sized humans to play a game of cards, wait out a storm, or get dressed
  • Weatherproof. Period. It’s no good if a shelter can’t live up to its name and protect you from the elements. Properly set up, these tents will both handle heavy winds or torrential rain


Big Agnes Rattlesnake 2P

  • Built in LED lights
  • Heavier at 3 lbs 9 oz / 1.62 kg
  • Green interior / Plum exterior
  • Sloped rectangular style
  • All mesh upper of inside layer

MSR Hubba Hubba

  • Fast and Easy Stuff Sack
  • Lighter at 3 lbs 7 oz / 1.54 kg
  • Red interior / Silver exterior
  • Symmetrical box layout
  • Opaque ceiling, mesh windows looking out but not up

There’s not much to separate these two. Going into this I expected the weight savings of the Hubba Hubba would prove to be the deciding factor. But after a couple nights of warm weather where I got the opportunity to remove the fly and fall asleep under a canopy of stars, the Rattlesnake really impressed me with its all mesh upper. Okay then, so we have a winner! But not so fast. The Hubba Hubba feels roomier inside. Not by much. I’d say they’re both tents I’d feel comfortable waiting out a storm in. But being lighter and offering more liveable space? That’s hard to ignore.


In the end the decision for me comes down to two things: innovations and expected environment.

MSR did something ingenious with their side opening compression sack. After using it I’m left wondering why every other tent maker hasn’t already copied this! I mean, come on, it’s simple and makes packing the tent quicker and the finished product smaller because of the compression straps. Lighter, bigger and smaller?! Wow. On the other hand Big Agnes’ innovative feature is their Mountain Glow. Despite my friend’s persistent teasing about the perceived uselessness of a “tent chandelier” I found the built in LED strips to be a bright idea! They effectively replaced any desire for a lantern inside the tent.

When it comes to intended environments there`s finally a point that offers a clear distinction between the two tents. The Rattlesnake seems, maybe unsurprisingly given the name, tailored to hot and arid climates. I can foresee many summer days where I'd be glad for the option to use the tent as a bug barrier without the fly. The Hubba Hubba on the other hand seems to be designed solely with being as forgiving in the rain as possible. I can see that extra bit of room being nice for when gear needs to be brought indoors, or wet jackets need to be wiggled out of. I realized this difference made even more sense when we factor in Big Agnes is from Colorado and MSR is based in Seattle!

Which you choose is ultimately up to you and the best advice I can give is to pick with your intended climate in mind. Until next time, happy trails folks

Written by Blake Rupert, a staff member at the Vancouver branch of Valhalla Pure Outfitters. He enjoys backpacking, trail running, tree climbing and cooking curry on camp stoves.