The MSR Fast Stash is a bold crossover shelter that offers all of the ventilation benefits of tarp camping with the comfort of a mainstream hiking tent. Based on a traditional flat tarp pitch tarp called an Adirondack Wind Shed (my favorite), the Fast Stash is a 2 person, 3 season shelter that enhances a bare bones tarp experience with an overhanging porch, large mesh windows, a bathtub floor, horizontal rain and privacy protection.
The Fast Stash is hybrid single wall shelter with extra front and side awnings that can be used for gear storage and which help protect the shelter from horizontal rain. When pitched, the entire shelter is fully integrated and sets up in one pass.
Fully packaged, the Fast Stash weighs 4 pounds 1 ounce (mfg weight), but it’s possible to the replace the included tent poles with trekking poles, reducing its weight by 12.2 ounces, down to a respectable 3 pounds 5.5 ounces (on the Section Hiker scale.) While that’s a bit heavy for one person backpacking, it’s a decent shelter weight for two people, especially if you’re the type of camper who likes to hike into an area, set up a base camp, and take day trips to nearby destinations.
- Tent body: 2 pounds 15 ounces
- Tent stuff sack: 1.6 ounces
- Two DAC aluminum tent poles, can be replaced by trekking poles: 12.2 ounces,
- Tent pole stuff sack: 0.5 ounces
- 10 J-stakes: 4.0 ounces
- Tent stake stuff sack: 0.4 ounces
Pitching the Tent
Pitching the fast stash is an easy process. Lay it on the ground and stake out the four corners. Next insert the front poles (or trekking poles) into the reinforced corners under the front awning, pull them forward so that the front wall or the shelter is vertical and the back wall slopes down at a 45 degree angle. Stake out the front guys to keep the front wall up and finally, stake out the side wings depending on your ventilation or gear storage requirements.
The side wings can be staked out in a variety of different ways or simply rolled up for maximum ventilation. For maximum warmth and protection stake out the wings so that they are flush with the side walls and cover the mesh, with the guy lines pointing forward.
Although the inside of the Fast Stash is quite spacious for two people, the setup of the interior is sub-optimal because there’s not enough space for two six foot adults to lie perpendicular to the door (although two shorter adults or children probably could.) Instead they must lie side by side, requiring the rear sleeper to climb over the front one at night if they need to get outside and pee.
The rear sleeper is also penalized in terms of head room because the back of the tarp slopes down steeply and they’ll find themselves staring into yellow fabric right in front of their eyes. It’s possible to mitigate this feeling of claustrophobia a bit by pulling the rear wall up and out, which can be achieved by guying it to a tree at the rear of the shelter.
A far better alternative would have been to make the Fast Stash a wider shelter, capable of fitting three adult sleepers with their heads oriented in front of the door. While that would have added considerably more material to the Fast Stash, lighter weight, non PU coated materials could have been used to keep the shelter weight down near three pounds.
Venting and Condensation System
In addition to the large side mesh panels. the Fast Stash has a mesh “transom” above the front door that runs the length of the tent and an outer mesh door, which can be left open or covered with an internal nylon sleeve.
Together, these options provide 270 degrees of venting and more than enough airflow to prevent the formation of internal condensation provided you don’t cook in the tent (not recommended or safe). Some care is still required to orient and guy the tarp, depending on the weather, so that breezes flow through it or are blocked by the back wall.
The MSR Fast Stash is a hybrid shelter that’s one or two steps up in terms of luxury from a tarp, providing additional gear storage, bug and rain protection, and venting/warmth options that you’d normally need to carry a much heavier tent to enjoy. That said, it’s a bit cumbersome for fast and light backpacking travel, but is a nice shelter option for hikers who plan to stay at a campground or the same campsite for a few days and want carry a lighter weight tent. Despite the slope of the rear wall, the tent feels extraordinarily spacious inside and is quite comfortable to sleep in or wait out the rain.
- Numerous ventilation options
- Large living and gear storage areas
- Great for base camp style camping and hiking trips
- Poor headroom or door access for rear sleeper
- Included tent stakes have poor holding power, replace with 8″ Easton tent stakes
- Poor stability in very windy conditions
- Capacity: 2 people + gear
- Livable volume: 82 cubic feet
- Floor + vestibule 36.5 square feet
- Interior height: 46 inches
- Fly: 30d x 246T ripstop nylon 66, PU and silicone coated
- Canopy: 20d nylon micromesh
- Floor: 40d x 238T ripstop nylon, PU coated
- Packed size: 20 x 6 in / 51 x 15 cm
- Interior sleeping area: 66 inches deep x 90 inches long
Disclosure: MSR provided Section Hiker (Philip Werner) with a complementary Fast Stash for testing and review.
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