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MSR Carbon Reflex 1

- published May 2017

89

2017

RATINGS

Shoulder Room
8
Packability
9
Setup
7
Weatherproofness
8
Features
7
GEAR INSTITUTE RATING
89

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MSRP
LOW PRICE
$400.00
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THE GOOD

  • Second lightest in test set
  • Good vestibule area
  • Packs the smallest of the test set

THE BAD

  • Expensive
  • Low internal peak
  • Low floor space

THE VERDICT

The MSR Carbon Reflex 1 packs the smallest of all the tents tested in this set and is the second lightest by a narrow margin. The tent’s biggest drawback is its non-freestanding design, which can limit its applicability. 

FULL REVIEW

Shoulder Room
The MSR Carbon Reflex 1 loses some points in this category due to its commitment to being as light as possible while still having sturdy weather resistance. It has good vestibule area (7 square feet), but ties for the lowest peak (34 inches), and is near the bottom for total floor space (17 square feet). This tent is not meant to be a roomy glamping accessory, it is for moving lightly through the backcountry and getting through all the challenges that are faced while doing so. 

Packability
The Carbon Reflex packs down into a very small, tight cylinder, the smallest in this test set. It’s long, thin sack favors external storage over internal, but it’s small enough to fit anywhere. In both Trail Weight and Package Weight it is the second-lightest overall, behind the ZPacks Altaplex. The tent, pole, and stake bags all strike a good balance between lightness and toughness, and the first has a water-resistant flap that folds over the opening to protect the contents. 

Setup
First time setup for our tester took 4:00. The four corners of the body must be staked down before the poles go in, since it is not freestanding and relies on the tension between the fixed corners and the flexible carbon fiber pole. Rather than a (heavier) zipper, the fly is clasped with a series of velcro strips and a clip. A flap of waterproof material hangs over this joint and keeps the interior dry.  

Weatherproofness
This tent has the best wind profile among the non-freestanding tents, by far. The arc of the ridgeline is low, which doesn’t help with peak height, but allows this tent to withstand gusts that would blow others away. The corners of the body, which take much of the strain of wind, are reinforced and well-sewn. One area of concern are the plastic clips that connect the body to the pole, where light weight has been more of a focus than durability. 

Features
The Carbon Reflex 1 has a medium-sized cargo pocket on the inside of the tent body. The fabric of the bathtub floor strikes a good balance between being light and being durable enough to not tear every time you roll over in your sleeping bag. Besides the floor, the body of the tent is all mesh, which allows a good amount of ventilation. 

Additonal Product Specifications
Minimum Trail Weight: 1 lb 2 oz

Max / Packaged Weight: 1 lb 13 oz

Interior Floor Area: 17 sq ft

Vestibule Area: 7 sq ft

Peak Interior Height: 34 in

How We Tested It

The tents in this test were used throughout the spring of 2017, mostly on a multi-week mountaineering trip that began at Mount Shasta and ended on Mount Olympus and hit Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier in between. Testing also took place in the central Sierra Nevada. The length and intensity of the trip allowed a close look at the performance of each tent, with a strong appreciation of the consequences of that performance. 

For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our other tent testsbackpacking stove tests, and overnight backpack tests, along with other related hiking and camping gear tests.

The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.

About the Author

Scott Morris

Scott Morris

Scott Morris guides backpacking expeditions and hiking trips for Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. He is a writer, traveler, and runner. Scott tests backpacking equipment. 

Shop for the MSR Carbon Reflex 1

MSRP
LOW PRICE

$400.00
Support Gear Institute. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links above, a portion of the sale helps support this site.

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MSRP
LOW PRICE
$400.00
Support Gear Institute. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links above, a portion of the sale helps support this site.

RATINGS

Shoulder Room
8
Packability
9
Setup
7
Weatherproofness
8
Features
7
GEAR INSTITUTE RATING
89

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