For this year’s cycle tour I took a new tent, the MSR Hubba Hubba Shield. A lightweight 2 person tent with vestibules/porches both sides meaning panniers could be kept on one side allowing you to get in and out of the other side. Although cycling alone, a 2 person tent provides a degree on comfort for extended trips without adding massively to the weight or packed size. The additional space is really appreciated when you get weather bound somewhere spending longer in the tent.
1st few days using the tent I loved it, great size, light, easy to pitch. There was some water leaks along the seams in rain but nothing too horrible and I never got convinced about pitching inner first. But overall I liked it.
But after a week’s use I started noticing that the cross poles were taking on a permanent bend or rather a kink at the ends of the inner sleeve on the top swivel where the cross poll is attached to the main pole. What was more worrying is that it was both tubes either side of the swivel. One tube with a problem may be a faulty tube but both tubes going suggested a design issue.
Over the following week this bend/kink got progressively worse to the point where I fitted my emergency repair tube to the worse side – it almost would not go on because the kink was so bad. I had lost confidence in the tent. There was no way it was going to last for my tour. It needed to be sorted whilst I was still in countries with reasonable next day delivery services.
So I called the retailer, e-mailed them some photos & drawings and explained my loss of confidence given how both tubes were developing a bend/kink. The retailer fully appreciated my concerns and my situation and got straight on to the manufacturer.
Then a few days later a crack noise and one side had broken.
The manufacturer (MSR) had decided they would do only the minimum legal requirement and swap out broken pole section(s). I felt this would just mean that in a few weeks time I’d be phoning the retailer again as the replacement poles were bending.
There are several variants of the MSR Hubba Hubba tent, the most common being the NX with alloy poles. The Hubba Hubba Shield is a new model with composite poles and I suspected the issue related to the pole materials and design. And being a new design I was particularly surprised that the manufacturer was not a bit more concerned and a bit more helpful.
I needed a solution and wondered about paying the difference and upgrading to a Hilleberg tent. Manufacturer stuck to their minimum legal obligation but the retailer appreciated the situation and went above and beyond any reasonable expectation and immediately agreed to ship me a new Hilleberg next day delivery (UK to Germany), I’d send them back the broken MSR Hubba Hubba and I’d just pay the difference in the tent cost. I could not have asked for more from the retailer and I would have expected better from the manufacturer.
When packing the broken MSR for return to the retailer I took off the emergency repair tube. It had been virtually impossible to get on due to the bend/kink. But taking it off after the poles had been stress free for a few days was easy. It made me wonder if it was the daily use for several weeks that meant the poles could not spring back. Maybe use the tent for an occasional weekends and the time spent packed up in a cupboard would allow the poles to recover. Maybe it was just the every day use for weeks that brought out the problem.
|MSR (manufacturer)||0 out of 10|
|Ultralight Outdoor Gear (retailer)||11 out of 10|
When touring and camping for extended periods kit is bound to fail – “not if but when”. You guard against this as much as possible be getting what you believe is quality kit but that just reduces the probability. It’s going to happen at some point. So the tent failure did anger or scare me; it was just something that needed to be dealt with.
However, last year my MSR Pocket Rocket gas stove failed (rather dangerously), this year my MSR tent which has made me question how well MSR kit can be expected to last. And occasional weekend and probably OK but it is expensive stuff and should be at the more reliable end of the scale and should it fail you expect a bit more help from the manufacturer. Maybe, for a premium priced product it was the manufacturer’s legal minimum unhelpful response that is most disappointing and the above and beyond help of Ultralight Outdoor Gear that is most reassuring.