The MSR Nook 2-person, double-walled tent is spacious and quite lightweight, weighing 3 pounds, 3.7 ounces. With a built-in vestibule, it is suitable for 3+ season camping and backpacking with a built-in front vestibule to store gear, ample tie-downs to improve stability in high winds, and well-sized side vents to improve airflow and reduce internal condensation.
But the thing that sets the Nook from other two-person double-walled tents in its class is the fact that can be pitched in a free-standing mode using a trekking pole. While this doesn’t save much weight other than elimating a few tent stakes, it makes it easier to pitch the Nook on tent platforms, snow, frozen ground or picturesque camp sites where it’s difficult to insert tent stakes. This freestanding capability adds a lot of flexibility to the Nook making it a very attractive tent for people who want a lot of versatility and light weight.
The Nook is a double walled tent with a separate inner mesh tent and exterior rain fly, including a permanently attached front vestibule. The tent includes three tent poles: a short side-wall spreader bar, and two multi-segmented DAC Featherlite Green NSL aluminum poles that are attached (permanently) using a plastic connector. The rain fly is made with lightweight, 20 denier, 330T ripstop nylon coated with PU and silcone, while the inner tent has a bathtub style floor including fully taped seams, made out of 40 denier, 238T ripstop PU coated nylon that extends 10 inches up the sides to stop rain splash-back.
The total weight of the Nook (all components, sacks, stakes, etc) is 3 pounds 3.7 ounces although you can shave a few ounces by repacking the tent components loose in your pack or combining them in lighter weight sacks. Pitching the tent in freestanding mode with the vestibule doors rolled open can also help save another two ounces in stake weight, bringing the overall weight of the tent very close to 3 pounds even.
- Tent sack: 1.3 ounces
- Pole sack: 0.6 ounces
- Stake sack: 0.2 ounces
- Roof spreader ple: 0.7 ounces
- Multi-segemented front loop and ridgeline pole: 11.5 ounces
- 5 x stakes and pole repair segment: 2.0 ounces
- Trekking pole adapter: less than 1 gram
- Inner tent: 19.4 ounces
- Rain fly, incl. vestibule: 18 ounces
Pitching the Tent in Freestanding Mode
The documentation provided on the inside of the Nook stuff sack does not include instructions for pitching the tent in freestanding mode despite the fact that this is the feature that makes this such an outstanding tent! Since it’s not documented, I’ll walk you through the process here.
Lay out the inner tent on the ground and insert the front pole into the front corner grommets. If you are pitching the tent in freestanding mode, which is preferable on hard surfaces such as rock or tent platforms, there is no need to stake down the inner tent corners. If not, there are rope tie-outs at all of the corners, although the only corners you really need to stake out are the two in the rear, since the front of the tent is freestanding.
The poles for the front loop and the central ridgeline are connected forming a cross when opened. Insert the ends of the top pole into the front and rear ridgeline grommets, and then clip the inner tent to the two poles using plastic clips attached on the outside of the inner tent.
Insert the short roof spreader bar into its two side grommets on the top of the inner tent. Note that the bar goes over the center green pole, not under it. The spreader bar helps keep the sides of inner tent nice and vertical, increasing the usable volume inside, and reducing the transfer of any internal condensation to your sleeping bags.
Next, drape the rain fly over the inner tent, attaching the grommets on the front corners of the fly by sliding them under the inner tent’s grommet so the front pole passes through two grommets instead of one (below). This is easiest done when the rain fly is loose, before attaching the rear fly corners to the inner tent.
For the freestanding pitch, you need to loop a piece of velcro that has a grommet around a trekking pole. This tiny little tag is the only documentation included with the tent on how to set up the freestanding pitch! It’s also really easy to lose and should really be attached to the inner tent body on a permanent basis, even if it you decide to use tent stakes instead.
Attach the rear of the rain fly to the jakes feet connectors on the rear corners of the inner tent. Then wrap the velrco strip around the middle of a trekking pole and slip the grommet under the rear ridgeline pole
Next, loop the rope ties outs on the corners of the inner tent around the ends of the trekking poles and extend the pole until the back wall of the inner fly is taught and the side walls of the tent are perpendicular to the front and rear ends.
While using a trekking pole in the freestanding configuration eliminates the need for 2 tent stakes in the rear corners, you’ll still need 1 or 2 anchor points to keep the vestibule taught if you need to deploy it to shield against rain or high wind.
However, in milder conditions you’ll probably want to keep both of the vestibule doors open and rolled back, eliminating the need to use any stakes for the Nook and making it completely freestanding.
Ventilation and Internal Condensation
The internal ventilation in the Nook is quite good, especially considering the fact that it is double-walled tent. Besides the side vents which have long fabric spreaders sewn into the fly to keep them open, the vestibule has a zipper up the middle that lets you open it half or all the way to regulate how much wind blows into the front of the tent.
The exoskeleton formed by the tent poles, including the side wall spreader bar also provides good airflow between the inner and outer tent walls. The fly does not completely cover the high bathtub floor of the inner tent but forms an overhang to maintain airflow, even in the event of heavy rain.
Unfortunately some internal condensation still occurs, particularly in the back of the tent along the 2-3 inches of the inner tent which are not protected by the rain fly and have the worst ventilation. Here’s a photo of the condensation that formed inside the tent after a 1.5″ rainfall. I don’t consider this a showstopper, especially considering the volume of rain I slept through, but it is something to consider if you expect to be out in heavy rain day-after-day.
Internal Space and Comfort
The inside of the Nook provides plenty of living space for two sleepers with regular 25 inch wide sleeping pads, with plenty of space to sit up inside the tent due to the near vertical side walls. The best way to sleep in the tent is with your head facing the door since the back wall slopes down limiting headroom, while the front door is vertical. This also makes it easier to get out at night because you can pull yourself out of your sleeping bag and enter the vestibule area without having to step over your buddy.
Mesh pockets are provided in the front corners for securing glasses or other small objects and there are plenty of internal gear loops along the top of the ceiling to suspend lights or even a gear loft (not included.)
I’m very impressed with the MSR Nook, especially the ability to pitch it in freestanding mode without any stakes in milder weather when you don’t need to deploy the vestibule. There a lot of places where I camp or want to camp like tent platforms, rock ledges, and pristine sites with very loose soil, where the ability set up a tent without having to stake it down is a really useful feature. The addition of a front vestibule on such a lightweight tent is also a great capability because it means the tent can also be used in much harsher conditions such as heavy rain and high winds where you’d want to stake down the tent anyway for increased stability. At $400 retail, this is a pricey tent, but it’s flexibility in different conditions and light weight make it an attractive option for hikers and campers who want to buy a comfortable and versatile tent for one and two person adventures.
- Freestanding tent with use of a hiking pole
- Vertical walls mean more usable space and less condensation transfer
- Front vestibule keeps gear dry and out of the way
- Large ventilation space between fly and inner tent
- Side events can be propped open
- 4 season capable in moderate winter weather
- 10 tie out points for added stability in high wind
- Moss color blends well into forest and grasslands
- Documentation provided with tent is incomplete
- Short roof spreader pole is easy to misplace or lose in forest duff
- Trekking pole attachment should be integrated with inner tent and not an easy-to-lose add-on component
- Rear fly should be about 2 inches longer to cover back of inner tent
- Color: Moss
- Capacity: 2
- Packed Weight: 3 lbs 8 oz / 1590 g
- Floor Area 28 sq. ft / 2.6 sq. m
- Vestibule Area: 6 sq. ft / .56 sq. m
- Tent Volume: 48 cu. ft / 1359 liters
- Vestibule Volume: 9 cu. ft / 255 liters
- Interior Peak Height: 38 in / 96 cm
- Number of Doors: 1
- Freestanding: Yes
- Fly: 20 D X 330T ripstop nylon 66 1,000 mm Durashield™ polyurethane and silicone coated
- Canopy: 20 D nylon micromesh; 20 D X 330T ripstop nylon 66
- Floor: 40 D X 238T ripstop nylon 6 3,000 mm Durashield™ polyurethane
Disclosure: MSR provided Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) with a complementary MSR Nook for this review.
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