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MSR Front Range Bug/Floor Insert

photo: MSR Front Range Bug/Floor Insert bug shelter

Use the Front Range Bug/Floor Insert alone for protection from bugs, or pair it with the separate Front Range Tarp Shelter for a complete shelter system. Like the tarp shelter, it can be set up easily with ski or trekking poles, or with a separate accessory pole.

The Front Range Bug/Floor Insert's body is made with highly breathable, 15D nylon micromesh and has a peak cone design at its apex to keep the fly off the mesh body. It has a single zippered door for entry. Its 30D ripstop nylon bathtub floor has MSR's Xtreme Shield waterproof coating for long-lasting weather protection.

Compatible with: MSR Front Range Tarp Shelter,

Specs

Price MSRP: $249.95
Current Retail: $249.95
Historic Range: $249.95
Minimum Weight .88 kg / 1 lb 15 oz
Floor Area 4.97 sq m / 53.5 sq ft
Livable Volume 2350 / 83 cu ft
Interior Peak Height 1.42 m / 56 in
Canopy 15D nylon micro-mesh
Floor 30D ripstop nylon 3000mm Xtreme Shield polyurethane and DWR

Reviews

1 review
5-star:   0
4-star:   1
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

This Bug/Floor insert is the companion piece to the MSR Front Range Tarp Shelter. Together, this highly ventilated shelter system is a spacious and extremely stable rig for two people (this product is not recommended as a standalone shelter). Highly wind and water resistant, this lightweight combo pitches with trekking poles/ski poles, or with the MSR Adjustable Pole accessory (sold separately). The insert is ideal for wet and/or buggy weather where tent footprint space is not extremely tight.

Pros

  • Superb combination with companion shelter
  • Excellent bathtub bottom, corner tensioning
  • Highly durable

Cons

  • Does not comfortably fit four people
  • Zippered entry only opens at one side

For those looking for a shelter system that has versatility and lots of livable space, look no further! MSR has a new member of the family, the Front Range Shelter. This Bug/Floor Insert easily works with the Front Range Ultralight Tarp Shelter, adding bug-proofing and additional weather resistance for the warm months of the year. 


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Mountain Safety Research (MSR) is one of the most widely recognized companies in the outdoor industry. This industry giant began in 1969, creating safety equipment for climbers in the Pacific Northwest. Over fifty years later, MSR has expanded their product range from tents to snowshoes, stoves, water treatment, cookware, and more. MSR is committed to "transforming lives through technology" with their Global Health division, with a goal "to empower communities with the tools that lead to greater health, independence, and quality of life."

 

 

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The Front Range Bug/Floor Insert, with the Tarp Shelter

Specifications:

  • MSRP: $249.95
  • Fabric: 30D ripstop nylon 3000 mm. Xtreme Shield polyurethane & DWR, 15D Nylon micro-mesh
  • Number of Doors: 1
  • Weight: 31 oz. 
  • Freestanding: No
  • Capacity: 4 per MSR, 2-3 adults realistically
  • Number of Stakes: 4
  • Poles: Uses 2 lashed ski/trekking poles (5' Accessory Pole not included, $39.95 USD)
  • Colors Available: Red only
  • Floor Area: 53.5 sq. ft.
  • Floor Dimensions: 88 x 88 in / 7'4" x 7'4"
  • Interior Peak Height: 56"

 

Features

The Bug/Floor Insert appropriately has few unnecessary features, like its ultralight shelter counterpart. Simplicity helps minimize weight, allowing the user to prioritize their mind on recreation, rather than a heavy backpack! 

MSR sells a Universal Footprint which not only reinforces the Bug/Floor Insert, but can also function as the floor with the shelter for four-season use. Adding this accessory could be considered counter-productive to ultralight design, however this is an additional option for those that wish to use the tarp without the Bug/Floor Insert. 

The Insert door only opens "stage left"—this may be a minor gripe, but the additional weight to sew in another zipper would be well worth it. Imagine four people cramming into a shelter, and only one person can get in and out without disturbing the other three…

This leads to the only other concern—MSR’s specs on capacity…

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Room, Storage, & Packability

This tent has absolutely marvelous livability, just simply not for four people, however. Four people with 20" sleeping pads leaves only 8" end-to-end width-wise. 

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Product tester pictured is 5'10" (Photo credit: D. Jankovic)
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Even without a sleeping bag, shelter contact is made.
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Capacity for four is only realistic in an emergency situation.

Regardless of specifications on how many adults a shelter can sleep, the consideration for storage is also not apparent…

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Four can sleep in a pinch, but with little livability. 
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This image shows two 20" wide sleeping pads.

All this being said, this shelter is palatial for two adults and a large dog. Three adults and the shelter quickly loses that ever-important livability!

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Even without the Insert, there's not much extra space in the shelter with Mtn. Dan and Fernie...

Two pockets are sewn into the tent body for storing miscellaneous items. 

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The Front Range Bug/Floor Insert packs down to a spectacular level considering the interior space.  

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Approximate packed size: 5"x12"

Setup & Stability

Once a suitable area for pitching is determined, setup for the Front Range is very easy. Pitching the shelter by itself can be fairly complicated, however with the Bug/Floor Insert, little geometry is needed for a great pitch. Further information can be found here.

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A simple sheet of polycryo suffices as an excellent lightweight groundcloth.
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After the four corners are staked, line tensioners make for a quick and perfect setup. 

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Once the corners are tight, the bath-tub style bottom is already set without even positioning the main support. 


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Trekking poles easily lash together to form the central support.

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Two lashing straps are included with both the Tarp and the Bug Insert.

Note: Setting trekking/ski poles to their maximum height allows for easy adjustment, minimizing the need to re-lash the poles together. For those who don’t use trekking poles, MSR sells an adjustable 5’ accessory pole

 
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Guylines have been added with an adjustable Taut-Line hitch.

Ventilation

The Front Range Insert has every bit of the excellent ventilation as the tarp shelter alone. MSR’s "Dry Inside" system works incredibly efficient—The "gap between fly and mesh prevents drips and boosts ventilation." The shelter, with and without the bathtub insert allows plenty of air exchange even with the main door zipper shut.  

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Plenty of room for air exchange

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Weather Resistance

MSR’s Front Range Bug/Floor Insert is primarily weather resistant only on the floor. This bathtub style floor will likely prevent water intrusion in the wildest of rainstorms. Future testing will continue, and this review will periodically be updated as the Insert gets more trail-time. 


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The center support has additional reinforcement for added durability.
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A reinforced, high denier patch prevents wear

In addition to the floor, the top support has a waterproof sleeve—this cone keeps the rainfly off the mesh to prevent drips from condensation.


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Construction & Durability

Like all products with the MSR logo, ample time and testing has gone into this product. This shelter system was built with long-lasting durability in mind, especially due to the pyramid nature of its design. All corners/stake-out points and the top pole sleeve are heavily reinforced.  

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MSR uses a very high quality no-see-um mesh.

The tent stakes (four included are needed for pitching) appear to be MSR's entry level stakes, upgrading to the MSR Groundhog is recommended. 

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The Appalachian Mountains put tent stakes to the test.

Conditions

The Front Range Bug/Floor Insert has been tested since March 2020 on a limited basis, due the COVID-19 pandemic.


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The shelter has been used for five overnights on the Appalachian Trail, a backyard overnight, and wind tests near home. Temperature has ranged from approximately 45°-90°F. Limited poor weather testing has occurred up to this point, other than light rain. Maximum winds tested were approximately 30+mph, without using additional stakes or guy lines. 

 

The Bug/Floor Insert makes this shelter system great for year-round use. When it is stormy or buggy, add the insert; when it is cold weather, just use the tarp!  For those who are looking for a versatile and spacious shelter system, the MSR Front Range Tarp Shelter and Bug/Floor Insert is quite simply a big winner in such a competitive market. This insert makes a substantial difference in not only bug-proofing a shelter, but also making a very weather-proof shelter that has great livability!

 

Many thanks to the people out at MSR for the opportunity to test the Front Range Bug/Floor Insert for the Trailspace Gear Review Corps!


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Experience

Ground sleeping with tarp systems is my preferred method of backpacking over the last 4-5 years. Many sizes and styles have been used, from the Hilleberg Tarp 5 to traditional rectangular sil-nylon tarps.

Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample for testing and review provided by MSR)

About the Author

Sean Van Cleve spends much of his free time as a backcountry guide in the mid-Atlantic USA. A certified Leave No Trace Trainer and Wilderness First Responder, Sean focuses on outdoor education with friends and clients alike. Whether it is recreational high-pointing, section hiking on the Appalachian Trail, or leading multi-day backcountry trips in West Virginia, practicing outdoor ethics is at the forefront of the experience—preserving the land for future generations. 

PhilNC

Nice. Looks great for two folks...a it tight for more like you said.


3 months ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Nice review, Sean!


2 months ago

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