User Review: MSR Missing Link
Design: tarp meets tent? not freestanding
Ease of Setup: practice once at home and its a breeze
Weight: 3 lbs 0 oz
Price Paid: $205
Bought this last summer as an experiment. Was captivated by the design and the thought of toting 3 pounds for a tent with this much head and leg room (I am 6' 5" and can sit straight up). I was concerned about having to take trekking poles on every trip so I had held off on buying this tent. One day in a gear shop they had a tent pole from a Mountain Hardwear Skyview 2 that had the last pole section bent. It was in the clearance bin for $1 and the lightbulb came on. I bought it, cut the elastic out (not needed as the pole is vertical) and now I use 2 full and one shortened pole for each end, adding only 2.5 oz to the weight instead of 1 lb 6 oz for trekking poles I rarely use.
Strengths are 1: incredible space to weight ratio. It is long enough for me at 6' 5" to sleep with gear in one corner at my feet and still put my arms above my head. Unheard of in backpacking tents. Since there is not a fully enclosed vestibule you can be assured that 2 people, all gear and my 75 lb. lab have all fit inside comfortably. Remember 3lbs for all of this space! Amazing as well is the packed size, my wife has bigger purses.
2. The awning/door combination. It's like having a front porch. I can't name another tent you can sit in and look out at a thunderstorm while staying dry. This awning avoids the common pitfall of water entering the tent upon entry/exit. If you are lucky enough to have a view at your site you and your hiking partner can sit side by side in the door and enjoy an unobstructed view. In the Tetons we watched a sunset in Alaska Basin peering out from under the rain clouds that was amazing. Entry is extremely easy even in stormy weather.
3. Ventilation: Not a strength you expect from a single wall tent but the huge mesh panel in the door is covered by the awning and can remain at least 1/2 open in any weather. Add the peak vent under the awning/front porch and the low vent on the back side to make this an excellent airy tent. In calm, humid conditions I do get some condensation under the peak but it is less than I have had on my double walls in similar conditions.
4. Price: At 220 suggested retail it is a screaming bargain.
5. Wet weather pitch: This tent avoids the common pitfall of getting your tent's insides all wet during set up in foul weather
My few "opportunities"
With two people the lower vent gets blocked by the person in the back of the tent, little effect though due to the screen door zipper panel being covered by the awning. This person also has little headroom.
With the door fully open, since it is "hinged" at the bottom it can get trampled into the dirt if not careful, a point to take note of in the wettest conditions. Open it "in" and all is well. And as all "side door" configurations, you must climb over your hiking partner if their bladder capacity exceeds yours and you are in the "back" side.
Also the guy lines for the awning can be a trip hazard on midnight nature calls. MSR uses reflective flecks in the lines for this though. Very thoughtful.
Lastly the stakes. In very soft soil I use other stakes. The MSR provided stakes are the lightest imaginable but not efficient in soft soils.
The few very minor complaints are quickly forgotten when you carry and live in this tent. It has very quickly become the tent I take everywhere, even replacing my Sierra designs lightyear for solo hikes. For the same weight as a solo tent it is a palace. Set it up in the store to be sure you will like the design. I know you will like the space and weight.