What’s better than a lightweight, low-profile tent that’s burly enough to withstand the elements? One you can set up without moving your feet.
A new release for 2017, the Advance Pro 2 aims squarely at the alpinist or mountaineer chasing lofty goals on challenging and committed routes. We tested the tent on the North Ridge of Mount Baker in Washington … and during Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
The MSR Advance Pro 2 combines waterproof-breathable, single-wall construction, small form factor, and composite Easton Syclone poles to protect climbers from harsh conditions in a minimalist style. It reduces weight, complexity, and potential problems.
Altogether – tent body, stuff sack, poles, pole stuff sack, stakes, stake stuff sack, and all guylines – the tent has a verified weight of 3 pounds, 2.1 ounces. The “alpine kit” (tent body, attached guylines, and poles only) weighs 2 pounds, 11 ounces.
In short: The MSR Advance Pro 2 prioritizes protection from stormy conditions and ease of pitching in challenging situations over comfort. This addresses the core needs of many mountaineers.
Simple, Strong Design: MSR Advance Pro 2
The Advance Pro 2 uses 20d ripstop nylon and two-ply waterproof-breathable fabric rated to 1,000 mm on the tent body. The floor is 30d ripstop nylon, Durashield polyurethane-coated fabric rated to 3,000 mm. All seams are factory taped.
The compact floor size, 24 square feet, allows pitching in tight spaces. And the 38-cubic-foot interior volume with 44-inch peak height just fits two climbers. A single U-shaped door and two ceiling vents provide airflow.
A key feature of the Advance Pro 2 is the Easton Syclone pole system. The multidirectional aerospace-grade composite fibers create the most resilient pole ever produced by Easton Mountain Sports. They weigh the same and cost as much as aluminum poles but claim 80 percent greater durability in the wind and during flex testing. Plus, the Syclone poles have three to four times the elongation and strain-to-failure of Easton’s carbon tent poles.
Another nod to resiliency are three of the guy-out points on the sides and back of the tent. These guy-outs are polymer discs bonded to the interior of the tent body, distributing tensile forces over a large surface area. This means there are no seams to rip or fabric loops to fail.
MSR also designed the $550 Advance Pro 2 with an impressive setup feature. The tent’s hybrid pole sleeve and clip system allow a single climber to deploy the tent body from the pack and pitch it without moving their feet.
The video below demonstrates this in action.
This design proves invaluable for climbers perched on a narrow ledge. And it helps save the tent from crampon damage when taking them off on a snowy ascent isn’t an option.
Hurricane Test: MSR Advance Pro 2
I received this tent just as Hurricane Harvey was blasting the coast of Texas. By the time it blew north to my house, it was downgraded to a tropical storm but carried record-breaking rainfall and strong gusts – great conditions for the first test pitch of the tent.
The tent stayed up on my property for two days and two nights, receiving 10 inches of rainfall and gusts that were strong enough to down mature trees. The tent was fully guyed out, all 10 stakes and six guy lines at work. Though some stakes ripped out of the ground, the tent never structurally failed.
And while torrential rain never breached the tent body fabric, water did enter through capillary action via the door-mounted internal guying loops, which pierce the tent body to become outside guy-out loops. In my opinion, applying seam sealant to the outside portion of these nylon loops could potentially solve this issue.
Review MSR Advance Pro 2 on the Mountain
The tent then journeyed to Mount Baker for a five-day carry-over climb and training mission via the North Ridge. Other than 3 feet of fresh snow, the weather window provided mild alpine conditions ranging from rain in the forest to light snow and moderate winds up high.
Pitching was quick and simple. Although we avoided narrow ledges, the hybrid pole sleeve and clip system were still welcome. We used all the guy-outs just in case, and none of the attachments showed any sign of strain even with high line tension.
I appreciated the compact floor plan when looking for a tent site and stomping or digging out the pitching location. I am 6 feet tall, 165 pounds, and my partner is 5 feet 9 inches, 150 pounds. We both considered the floor space and interior volume adequate for alpine-style climbing.
The nearly vertical sidewalls and side guy-outs were necessary to make the compact floor plan workable. We left packs and gear outside but kept clothing, food, and water bottles inside. Even though objects (and people) touched each other, both of us slept soundly and even had room to hang items to dry.
With two bodies inside wind-proof walls, humidity was quite high. We opened both roof vents and cracked open the door when winds allowed. Condensation on the interior tent body surface was similar to other single-wall, two-person alpine tents I have used. Bumping the tent walls caused minor drips, but drips never fell on their own.
Impressions: MSR Advance Pro 2 Alpine Tent
Overall, my climbing partner, a well-seasoned IFMGA guide, and I proclaimed the MSR Advance Pro 2 to be our favorite two-person alpine tent. It emerged with no damage outside of a crampon piercing in the door – user error.
In fact, my partner – sponsored by another tent brand – vowed to figure out a way to make the Advance Pro 2 his go-to North Cascades tent.
If you’re looking for a high-alpine tent that stands up to the elements, takes up minimal space (and weight) in the pack, and sets up with ease, MSR Advance Pro 2 is my recommendation. At $550, it’s a decent investment but well below peak tent prices in the category.