MSR Missing Link Tent
Name: Johanna Turner
Email address: immunity_idol@...
City, State, Country: Los Angeles, California, USA
Date: December 10, 2007
Backpacking Background: I have been hiking and backpacking since college. I have
recently gotten into canyoneering. I typically hike 8-12 miles (13-19 km) on a day hike
every weekend, and often once or twice during the week. I plan several backpacking trips
during the summer, which are generally two to five days in length. I also car camp many
times during the whole year. I consider myself an ultralight backpacker. My total pack
weight, including food, for 3 days is around 20 pounds (9 kg). The only terrain I don't hike
in is snow.
Manufacturer: Mountain Safety Research (MSR)
Year of Manufacture: 2005
Manufacturer URL: http://www.msrcorp.com/
Listed Weight: Minimum Weight: 3 lbs (1.36 kg)
Packaged Weight: 3lbs 7oz (1.56 kg)
*weight does not include trekking poles
Weight as delivered: Tent with stuff sack: 2lb 15 oz (1.3kg)
Stakes in stuff sack: 3.2 oz (91 grams)
Total weight as delivered: 3 lb, 2.2oz (1.42 kg)
Product Description: The MSR Missing Link is a two person, three season, single wall tent.
It is made of bright orange silicon coated ripstop nylon. It comes in a matching orange
stuff sack, with six small aluminum stakes. Trekking poles are typically used as the main
support, though any pole of the right length (or even sticks) can be used. I had some
carbon fiber poles made, since I don't use trekking poles. There is one door, and a large
awning. A strip of mesh runs along the top front and bottom rear of the tent. The door has
a mesh layer as well as a waterproof layer, which can be zipped or unzipped.
Field information: I have used this tent in many different locations, mostly in forest and
mountain areas of Southern California, in spring, summer, and fall, over a period of two
and a half years. These include:
Sequoia National Forest (open, flat, soft dirt terrain, with daytime temps averaging 75
degrees Fahrenheit (24 Celsius) for a high, and 40 degrees (4.4 Celsius) for the low).
Goddard Canyon, in Kings Canyon National Park (open, rocky terrain with winds of 10 to
30 mph (16 to 48 kph and temps averaging 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius)
for a high, and 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6.5 degrees Celsius) for the low).
Joshua Tree National Park (sharp gravel terrain with some light drizzle overnight, temps
averaging 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 Celsius) for a high, and 40 degrees (4.4 Celsius) for
My first experience pitching the tent, which was in Sequoia National Forest, revealed a few
things. The Missing Link saves weight by eliminating poles. This means it must be staked
out carefully and securely. It didn't take more than 5 minutes to get the tent up, but I
needed to adjust the stakes and tie line lengths quite a bit to get the tent nice and tight.
The instructions printed on the stuff sack were detailed and helpful. The aluminum stakes
are thin and small. They are easy to push into soft soil. If I placed a stake at one end, then
pulled on the tent to place a stake at the opposite end, I could pull the first stake right out
and have to start over. I have since worked out the science of it, and it now goes up
quickly. I usually find some good sized rocks to put on top of the stakes to keep them
secure. The length of the guy lines makes for a real tripping hazard, even with the
reflective cordage MSR provided. After a few near face plants, I decided to simply stay
away from the sides of the tent altogether. I also needed a large area to set up, since the
guy lines extend so far out.
I found that although the six stakes provided are enough to pitch the tent, eight stakes
would be ideal. I used some small sticks instead one to prop up the back flap, and
improve airflow, and another to stake out a rear guyline that pulls the back of the tent out,
creating more room inside.
The tent is very roomy inside. At 5'8" (172 cm), I have about a foot of usable room at both
my head and feet, where I can store shoes, my pack, or other items. The floor has a
trapezoid shape, so a second person would have less room. The floor length at the back
of the tent, near the door, is 11 ft (3.35 m) The floor length at the front of the tent is 6 ft
(1.83 m). The mesh door is large, and zips all the way down to the floor, giving a nice airy
feeling with a good view. Since there was no threat of rain, I didn't stake out the awning,
but instead folded it back over the top of the tent. This way, I didn't need to duck under it
to get in or out of the tent. I can also sit up with plenty of headroom, and imagined easily
sitting there playing cards with someone and being very comfortable. Changing clothes
inside is not a colossal struggle involving contortionist moves. There were a few
mosquitoes, and none got through the mesh to bother me inside.
The humidity on this trip was low, and with no rain, I didn't have to zip up the waterproof
nylon part of the door. Probably because of these two factors, I didn't get any
condensation inside. In the morning, I was in direct sun, and it quickly got too warm to be
Packing up was simple and fast. The Missing Link rolls right up to a nice compact size
larger than a Nalgene bottle, but smaller than a typical sleeping bag in a stuff sack.
California weather is so great, I've never been able to rigorously test the waterproofness of
my Missing Link in the field. It's an important part of any tent, so I set it up in the
backyard one day during a heavy winter rainstorm, and left it out there overnight. We got
about two inches (5 cm) of rain that day and night, and in the morning there were a few
drops of water in the corners of the tent, on the floor. I didn't do any seam sealing on my
own, so this was a test of how it performs straight from the factory. The tent had gotten a
little saggy from the constant pounding. They guy lines had stretched, as had the fabric of
I have had this tent in windy conditions with 30mph (48 kph) gusts, and it did fall over on
me a couple of times, until I found some nice heavy rocks to keep those little stakes in the
ground where they belong. Then the tent was tight enough that there wasn't a lot of
annoying flapping noise either. In windy conditions, it also helps to orient the sloped back
side of the tent toward the wind, rather than the flat front.
Summary: The MSR Missing Link is a comfortable, reliable tent for three season
backpacking. The extra care and finesse it takes to pitch it is an easy trade off for the
roominess and light weight. The thin fabric is surprisingly strong, and has survived several
trips on abrasive decomposed granite, sharp pine needles, and lots of tension on the
guylines, with no noticeable wear and tear. I like the design of this tent, and would
recommend it to backpackers who don't mind taking a few extra minutes of setup.