MSR tents tend to adopt insectoid geodesic shapes, but the Tindheim is something a little different. A more straightforward tunnel design, it looks comparatively staid and traditional; but that's no bad thing at all. In fact, I have fast grown to love this tent!
One of my favourite ever tents, back in the day, was a Macpac Minaret. Bought around a quarter of a century ago, this robust and spacious tunnel still sees service on my nephews' Woodcraft camps. The Tindheim is every bit as good, and I hope it'll be around in another 25 years. This tent comes in 2-person (£450) and 3-person (£550) versions. I've been using the former, which I'd guess will also be the more popular size.
With typically just two poles, tunnels have advantages in terms of simplicity and ease of pitching. They're good for space too, particularly headroom. The Tindheim is one of the roomiest 2-person backpacking tents I've used.
Pitched end-on to the wind this design can be surprisingly stable; and this tent takes the tunnel's reputation for robustness, and runs with it. With great build quality, absolutely loads of guylines for extra wind performance, and the ability to pitch inner and outer as one, this is a very sturdy weather-beating design that, in my opinion, has potential crossover from its official 3-season rating into winter, within reason.
Weight and packed size
Strong, stable, spacious. There has to be a catch and, you guessed it, this comes as weight and bulk. At an all-in weight of 2.94kg on my kitchen scales (MSR offer the slightly confusing 'minimum weight' of 2.48kg and a 'packaged weight' of 3.2kg) the 2-person Tindheim is no lightweight - and to that you can add, if you want to bring it, another 378g for the groundsheet-protecting footprint.
This is MSR's heaviest 2-person backpacking model, and a hefty old size in the stuff sack too. For extended trips or anything weight-critical I do think it'll be a bit much, even split between two people. Perhaps for these uses MSR might consider making a slightly smaller tunnel, using lighter materials. But if you're only out for a weekend, especially in questionable weather, then the sturdy Tindheim would come into its own. It'd be great as a livable and reliable basecamp on a climbing trip, too.
With a well-made feel, the Tindheim should better handle years of hard use than some lighter-weight opposition. Its 68D polyester fly, inner and groundsheet are all suitably durable. Adding the footprint would further prolong the floor's life. I wouldn't want the extra weight if backpacking, but for valley camping it makes sense.
Putting this thing up could hardly be simpler. With just two identical poles, there are no colour-coded confusions. Slide these into the robust pole sleeves on the outside of the fly, then simply peg out the four corners, and the basic pitch is done in minutes. Conveniently, the fly and inner go up together, which saves a lot of faff and proves very handy if it's windy and/or pouring. For use in the rainy UK, pitching all-in-one is a big advantage over an inner-first design. Since the inner is detachable you could I suppose erect just the fly, though in Scotland I suspect that would benefit midges more than users.
All tunnels require secure pegging at each end to stand upright, so if you're on stony ground you may need to improvise. While it needs an absolute minimum of four pegs, MSR provide a generous 14 - and you can end up using them all (and more) for the side pegging points and many guylines. Once it's staked out, the tension in the peg loops can be adjusted to tighten things up. The pegs are robust angled stakes, which have good holding power; while you need a rock to bang them in to avoid shredding your hand, they do come with cord loops for easy extraction. MSR have been lavish with their light and easily-adjusted guys too. As well as the six multi-point guylines that come pre-attached, they've included two optional extras. I don't think I've ever seen a 3-season backpacking tent with so many.
Packing it all away is a cinch too, thanks again to the fact that the inner and outer are in a one-er, and also to MSR's trademark wide-mouthed stuff sack, which loads very easily.
Room is one of the things the Tindheim does best. Most two-person backpacking tents are on the tight side - it's a price you'll tend to pay for counting the grams - but in the Tindheim two occupants could comfortably sit out bad weather without feeling crowded.
You get over 3m2 of floor space, and a very practical rectangular shape that's wide enough for two mats side by side with plenty to spare, and long enough, at around 2m, for taller adults. Headroom is similarly generous, and the symmetrical tunnel shape with its broad roof and steep side walls means lots of height throughout the tent and not just in a small patch under the apex as you may get with a less regular geometry. With a full height of around 1m, I can sit upright in comfort.
Six decent-sized mesh pockets make stuff organisation easy, even with two messy occupants, while wet gear can be hung to dry on the inbuilt washing line. Outside, the large porch has space for rucksacks and footwear, and serves as a practical cooking area if it's too wet or wild outside. The side entry to the vestibule is a good idea for windy conditions, making the porch more sheltered when you're pitched end-on to the wind (something you will generally want to do in a tunnel tent). It's not a huge door, and only one person is going to be able to use it at a time, but I don't really see that being an issue.
Some tents sacrifice a degree of weather performance in pursuit of a lower weight. The Tindheim is not among them. While you may not appreciate its bulk and heft when carting it up hills, the moment you pitch on a breezy site or the rain starts lashing down for hours, all will be forgiven. This thing is built to take on the weather in a way that lighter and more summery backpacking tents often aren't.
A tunnel is only as sound as its anchor points, but so long as you've got the stakes in well the Tindheim inspires confidence. The sheer number of guylines adds a lot of extra stability. When tightened up, guyed out, and pitched end-on to the wind direction the structure really is very robust. Having used it in squally spring weather I've found high wind and heavy rain no problem at all. Its steep side walls should shed snow quite readily too, though perhaps the unsupported roofline will be the limiting factor in that regard. Though it's officially 'only' a three-season model, I would be happy to use it in winter too, in the right conditions.
Adding to its performance in colder, windier weather, the inner of the Tindheim is largely fabric, a contrast to the highly-vented mostly-mesh (read:draughty) tents that usually seem to come out of North America. This will make it warmer for bridge season use up hills, but I suspect also comparatively stuffy if you're camping in a heatwave (rarely a concern where I live). You do get decent end vents though, so if there's some breeze outside then it ought to be possible to get a bit of through-flow. So far I've found ventilation fine, though I'll have to report back after the summer.
In a tent market that seems to go for funky shapes and ever-lighter materials, it's great to see MSR falling back on the solid, reliable tunnel idea, and very much making it their own. I imagine the 3-man alternative will have its fans, but I'd have loved to see a one-person version too. Perhaps there are lower size limits for a design like this.
From its spaciousness to its weather performance, there's a lot to like about the Tindheim 2. However its weight and bulky pack size are not among the attractions. Committed ultralight backpackers will probably want to look elsewhere, but if you want something sturdy and livable then you may well forgive a bit of heft. I know I do. In many respects this is the best 2-person tent I've used in ages.