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MSR Nook 2 Person Tent

MSR Nook on a Tent Platform
MSR Nook on a Tent Platform

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.

MSR Nook - Inner Tent
MSR Nook - Inner Tent

Components

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.

Inner Tent and Poles
Inner Tent and Poles

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.

Nook Setup - Position Top Pole
Nook Setup - Position Top Pole and Clip On

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.

Roof Spreader Bar
Roof Spreader Bar

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.

Pole passes through inner tent and rain fly grommets
Pole passes through inner tent and rain fly grommets

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.

Freestanding Pitch - Trekking Pole Adapter
Freestanding Pitch - Trekking Pole Adapter

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

Nook Trekking Pole Attachment
Wrap Trekking Pole Attachment around Trekking 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.

Nook Trekking Pole Setup
Nook Trekking Pole Setup (propped up on a stick)

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.

Front tie-outs on vestibule with dual line-locs
Front tie-outs on vestibule with dual line-loc tensioners

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.

Nook Vestibule
Nook Vestibule - 1/2 open - requires 1 stake

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.

Side Vents and Sewn-in Props to hold them open
Side Vents and Sewn-in Props to hold them open

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.

Inner Tent and Rain Fly Air Gap
Inner Tent and Rain Fly Air Gap (Vestibule rolled back)

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 Condensation at Rear of Tent
Internal Condensation at Rear of Tent

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.)

A palace for a single sleeper
A palace for a single sleeper

Recommendation

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.

Likes

  • 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

Dislikes

  • 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

Manufacturer Specifications

  • 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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9 comments

  1. “Rear fly should be about 2 inches longer to cover back of inner tent”
    The other good features with this tent dosn’t count when this dislike pops up.
    Also;
    Heavy rainfall with some wind, Wind in dry places combined with mesh innertent (dust),
    or snow and wind,, will make this tent a pretty bad companinon.

    Of course its possible to live with, but aren’t we all looking for the perfect tent?
    Freestanding is great!, but its usually in exposed placed you need this feature,
    and then once again the rearfly problem pops up again.

    I find it strange that MSR (who bild a lot of tents) didnt do it differently.
    Put in a zipper or something so one can choose between open or closed rearfly.
    (Like the Hilleberg Nallo, (not without dislikes either ;) )

    Otherwise, nice rewiev. As Always..

  2. Hey! Great review, thanks a lot!
    As I am considering to buy the nook, I got a little bit worried to read about those condensation issues you’ve experienced. Are you convinced that it wasn’t water penetrating the floor? Did you use a foot print?
    I had a tent with condensation on the inner side of the tent, which was disturbing yet could wipe the water with a towel, but when the ground gets wet, it defeats the purpose of a tent…
    Greatings from Germany,
    Martin

    • It was the perfectly normal condensation you’d expect in a double walled shelter on a rainy night, not a leaking floor.

      • Hi Philip,
        Thank you for your reply! I haven’t heard too much good about the PU-coatings for tent floors (in terms of durability vs. silicone based once). But it is a big relief to hear possitve feedback.
        Thanks again and happy hiking!

  3. I have a nook that I’ve been using for a couple of years. I found that the rainfly contacts the tent body on the rear and rear sides unless you guy out the fly using the provided loops. For the rear side guy lines, I use a stick or hiking pole between the loop and the stake to pull the fly up as well as out. Without this arrangement, there is always water on the inside of the fly, and thus in the tent where it contacts the fly.
    I found this to be a good 2-man tent, but you have to be friendly with the other person ;-). My (adult) son thought it was kind of tight.

    • Michael Jennings

      Hi Douglas are you saying propping the rear of the tent like in the above photo fixes the condensation problem. I was really thinking about getting a Nook but we have a lot of rain in NZ and i really want to stay dry as there is little opportunity to dry out once wet

      • Michael:

        I couldn’t find a picture “above” that shows the tent rigged like I was talking about. I have a picture of my tent with the extra line, but I don’t see a way to post it.
        The problem with the rain fly is that it contacts the inner tent in the back when you just stake down the tent. The rear doesn’t have a hoop-pole like the front, and the little spreader pole on top, and the tension in the fabric, is not sufficient to keep the fly up off the tent. So you have to use the 3 rear tie-out points to pull the fly away from the tent. I find the two on the rear-sides actually have to be pulled up; a line running directly to the ground, even a few feet out, does not pull the fabric away. So I run the guy lines up over hiking pole wrist straps or even just sticks so the fly is pulled up a little.
        With the tent rigged like this, (also using the rear guy line to pull the fly over the back edge of the inner tent as much as possible), I have not had any problem with water in the tent during a heavy rain.

  4. I’m fairly certain two 25inch pads would be too wide I believe they meant to say 20inch pads

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