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MSR Wind 2 holds up in windiest conditions

MSRP: $550

The name of this tent suggested to me that it was the one to have for this season’s climbing session in Patagonia’s notoriously windy Fitz Roy region. During my first outing, the gusty winds and generally stormy conditions were enough to force my partner and I to descend from three quarters of the way up Cerro Torre’s Compressor Route. Upon returning to camp on the Torre Glacier’s “Sandy Wash,” we were stoked to find the MSR Wind 2, standing as we left it, holding its own against the catabatic’s ripping down from the Hielo Sur (the Southern Ice cap).

A week or so later, we returned for more action, with weather even more marginal than before. Despite pitching the tent tightly between two large boulders for maximum protection, we experienced the windiest conditions we’ve ever encountered. Through the night, ferocious gusts constantly hammered the Wind 2 with us inside. Four out of the six 3 millimeter tie-down cords were shredded from abrasion against the rocks they were tied to. Sand and sleet constantly peppered the fly, boots, food bags, and any other items that were in the corners or side storage pockets were getting flung from one side to the other.

At times it seemed that the tent would either be lifted right off the ground or flattened with us and our gear inside, although quite impressively, neither occurred. Even with the wind flexing the side walls inward, there was ample space for a team of two and all their climbing gear to sit out the bad weather in comfort. The extra long vestibule sides tucked in nicely to seal the entrances, prevent the doorways from being dusted, and everything stored within the vestibules stayed dry, despite the puddles and streams that had appeared everywhere around us through the night. The small windows in the vestibules were just big enough to see the weather conditions outside, yet not too big to compromise privacy when pitched in busier camping areas. When waiting out the weather in the town of El Chalten – where the wind still abuses everything in its path – the Wind 2 served as my home and was very livable. Two people with expedition-size packs could easily make it work as a base-camp tent with everything stored inside or under the vestibules.

A number of other features also impressed me about the Wind 2. The ease and speed of set up and tear down due to its built-in fly and its asymmetrical shape and pole configuration. The continuous mesh pockets (about 14 feet total) around the inside was a crucial aspect that helped keep things organized. I thought that with the amount of floor space, three could easily sleep comfortably (I’ve slept three in much smaller tents before) if used on shorter adventures, and I’m sure I’ll be trying that out someday soon. Although it’s not the lightest two person tent I’ve ever used, at 7 pounds 14 ounces, it was certainly the strongest and the most spacious, and in my opinion the better choice for a base camp or extreme conditions tent over something smaller and lighter. Sometimes having the right gear is worth the weight, especially if waiting out the weather is part of the program. After its performance in Patagonia, I won’t hesitate to take it on my upcoming trips in the Canadian Rockies and the Alaska Range.