Survival Gear Review: MSR Backyard Barn

MSR Tent Review, Survival Gear Tent Review, MSR Stormking Tent, Survival Tent, TEOTWAWKI Tent, SHTF Tent

In the event that you and your family have to leave your primary domicile on short notice, we continue to look for the ideal bug out shelter.  We recently looked at the large family shelter by Mountain Safety Research (MSR) called the Backyard Barn.  A tent that lives up to it’s name.

By the team

About the Tent:

(From the Manufacturer) Unique in its class, the Backcountry Barn shelter’s single-wall construction affords amazingly Survival Tentspacious protection for up to five people in a relatively small package.  Its easy-pitching, hooped design offers standing head clearance from end-to-end for most, and steep sidewalls expand livable space to its maximum potential. An included, detachable floor lets you adapt the interior for anything from covering a picnic table or storing group gear, to sleeping quarters or a remote race check-point/aid station.

Easy Set-up: Straightforward design keeps set-up uncommonly easy for Survival Tent Survival Geara tent of this size. Big and Livable: 74-in. (1.9 m) center height end-to-end and large windows at front and rear with awnings allow great ventilation in any weather. Stable: Advanced design and multiple guy points add security in windy conditions. Smart: Detachable, waterproof bathtub floor allows customized use of interior spaces. Compact: Advanced, single-wall design packs-down to the size of many 3-person tents.

Additional Features: (8) mesh pockets, (3) internal lantern hooks, (1) door and two large windows for maximum ventilation, multiple guy-out points, front and rear awnings.

Color Moss Green/Gray
Capacity 4-5
Minimum Weight 12 lbs 12 oz / 6650 g
Packed Weight 15 lbs 8 oz / 7030 g
Body weight 9 lbs 8 oz / 4318 g
Frame weight    5 lbs 2 oz / 2333 g
Floor Area 75 sq. ft / 7 sq. m
Tent Volume 346 cu. ft / 9797 liters
Interior Peak Height 74 in / 188 cm
Packed Size 28 x 12 in / 71 x 30 cm
Number of Doors 1
Freestanding yes
Number of Poles 5 DAC
Number of Stakes 8
Fly Fabric 40D ripstop nylon 1500mm Durashield TM Polyurethane & Silicone
Mesh Type 20D nylon no-see-um mesh
Floor Fabric 70 taffeta nylon 3000mm Durashield TM polyurethane & DWR
Country of Origin Made in Taiwan

First Thoughts:

My first thought after reading the manufacturer’s description is, this tent is anything but easy to set up.  I wouldn’t put it down survival tentas a hard tent to set up but it is not easy especially by yourself.  I have put the Backyard Barn up about 5 times by myself and it can be frustrating to say the least, with two people it is a breeze.  After a few times you get the hang of it so keep that in mind if you decide to invest in this tent as a family shelter.

The color.  I love the color of the tent.  Although it is not camouflage, this tent is hard to detect in the treeline with it’s moss green color and a hint of grey.  With a small amount of camo netting, this tent would disappear.  With most tents these days you will find splashes of orange, yellow, and red.  It is nice to have a tent that does not scream, “Hey, we are over here.”

The floor.  There is no floor in this tent.  You have a foot print that acts as a floor for this tent but it is not a true floored tent, I Survival Tentguess that is why they call it a barn.  I would prefer to have a full floor but I understand why they did it this way.  They wanted this tent to be versatile as an aid station, mess tent, staging tent, sleeping quarters, etc.  So you can configure the Backyard Barn with or without the floor.  With the rain fly, the tent, the foot print, and the poles you can see why the Backyard Barn comes in a small duffel bag.

Quality.  If you don’t know or haven’t heard of MSR, I can assure you they are synonymous with quality mountaineering gear.  They make high end camping gear used in some of the most hostile environments on earth and no, you will not find MSR for sale at China-Mart.  They also have a tactical line manufactured in the United States for our troops (Cascade Design Gov).  They are not cheap but you know the old saying, “Buy cheap, buy twice.”  With MSR you won’t be buying twice.


We tested the Backyard Barn on two different occasions under different conditions with varied results.  We tried to break this tent and almost succeeded.

1st Test: We took the Backyard Barn on an extended excursion up to the continental divide near James Peak in Rocky Mountains viaSurvival Tent pack animals (we camped close to 11,500 ft).  Weighing close to 15 lbs, the Backyard Barn is not the ideal tent for a bug out bag but if it is carried in a truck, ATV, or on the back of a pack animal, the extra weight would not be a factor.  The first time we set up the Backyard Barn it was in light winds and was not bad with two people.  Because we were on the divide which is known for high winds, we decided to use all eight stakes and place heavy rocks over the stakes as an extra precaution to keep the tent staked down.  With a high profile, any winds are a concern with this tent.  Inside:  The tent was huge. We slept 2 adults, 2 kids, 2 dogs and had room to spare for our gear, no complaints here.  With the steep sidewalls of the tent, standing inside was not a problem.  On the third night, we had sustained winds of 50 to 60 mph and paid the price for having a high profile tent.  We came away from that storm with bent tent poles and took a beating all night but the tent held.  Again, the Backyard Barn is not called the Mountain Barn for a good reason.  It is not the ideal mountaineering tent but we decided to test it to the extreme and it passed.  With that said, I would not take it up to the continental divide again.

2nd Test: At a camp site closer to 9,000 ft in Colorado we had better luck and betterSurvival Tent weather.  This time putting the tent up with one person was a little more challenging.  With two different types of supporting poles, it was nice to have them color coated to cut down on confusion.  It is also nice that the have the “Tent” set up instructions sewn into the tent’s carrying bag, it makes them hard to lose and handy when there are questions.  Including time to stake down the tent and place the floor down, it took around 7 minutes to set up the tent.  Again the tent is huge (75 square ft), you can move around in it very comfortably.  Even with bent poles from Test #1, the tent was sturdy and impressive.  There is no doubt that MSR makes quality stuff and I appreciated the RipStop nylon material from which the tent is made, limiting the potential damage of a rip in the tent.

Best advice, use all 8 stakes when putting this tent up.  If you choose not to and you encounter a storm, you might live to regret it.


The MSR Backyard Barn is a quality made structure with a huge amount of room.  We put two large slumberjack cots in the tent and had room to spare.  Are we in love with this tent?  No, but we can Survival Tentsee its usefulness and versatility.  We have decided to use the Backyard Barn as our kitchen tent this year during elk season so stay tuned.  Due to the profile of the Backyard Barn, you have to stake it down or it will take off on you.  If your family resembles a squad of Marines, this tent might just be your size.

All photos by Team

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Pineslayer June 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Thanks for the review, cool tent. I live around James Peak, doesn't get much windier. Seems like a really good utilitarian unit. I recommend camping lower when possible :)


Doc Montana June 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Interesting option. Portable longterm shelters are something to keep an eye on. Many years ago there was a push to make lightweight base camp tents that held half a dozen people while maintaining the same geometric structural integrity to be considered serious four-season tents. Of course they came with a serious four-digit price tag as well.

The floorless concept is common in high altitude practices but not always welcome. Ditching the floor opens some new opportunities while, of course, closing others. In the spirit of this blog, the Barn is a great asset to be aware of. But being only 7kg of poles, nylon and zippers, one must get going on rebuilding civilization. I doubt this barn would last through a year of constant use and UV exposure.

A side note here is the color. Many out there in survival land are concerned with the camo side of things, but the business end of a tent is actually the inside. The bright yellow and orange tents, while sore thumbs on the visualscape, are actually much more psychologically rich and encouraging then greens, browns, and dark reds. Just as a pair of yellow shooting glasses turns a dreary overcast day into a bright spring morning (well, sort of), yellow fabric will make the interior seem more alive and friendly. It's not usually a concern for a day or two, but mountaineers "trapped" in their tents felt the effects of psychologically oppressive colors as the days and weeks rolled on.

BTW, MSR is Mountain Safety Research.


Forge_Survival June 4, 2013 at 9:22 am

Good catch, I was thinking that but wrote something else. Not sure why.


wally June 4, 2013 at 9:13 am

good review thanks!


Terry June 5, 2013 at 8:17 am

I haven't tried out this tent but I must say it's a bit pricey based on all that is out there. The fact that it has no floor does nothing for me either. However, thank you to Survival Cache for the review.


anonymous dude June 7, 2013 at 10:15 am

I like the 'floorless' design, the floor takes a real beating when living in the tent over the long term. If you don't want to constantly remove and put on footwear when going out, this makes sense to me. Primitive houses share this trait, a hard earthern floor became the norm.

Actually, building this on an elevated platform makes even more sense. Many 19th century log cabins had hatched compartments in the floor for storage, and a platform gives you this ability, as well as keeping water / snow / mud and other nasty stuff out of reach of tent walls. A bit noiser, but far more comfortable in my opinion.

Still, you need a screened tent house. There are times you will want to be outside and the screen netted covered shelter is worth having.


Garrett June 20, 2013 at 11:20 am

Great review, thanks. I am looking for a large family tent since we have a baby and need space to setup a pack-n-play crib


Razvan November 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Wow, this is really a good barn. I like the beds! Great idea, finally, I can sleep in the woods!


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