The NEMO Hornet 2P Tent (MSRP $369) is a two person ultralight tent with two doors that weighs just 1 pound 14.3 ounces (on the SectionHiker scale), not including stuff sacks or tent stakes. Let that sink in for a moment. The NEMO Hornet 2P is lighter weight than many two person ultralight silnylon tents, so you can finally enjoy the advantages of a double-walled tent without a weight penalty (See Advantages of Lightweight Double-Walled Tents.)
The Hornet 2P is a semi-freestanding tent meaning that the inner tent hangs from an exoskeleton style hub and spoke pole using plastic clips. Setup is incredibly fast and simple. Simply spread out the inner tent, insert the pole into the connectors sewn to the floor, and then stake out the corners (yes, in that order). Then hang the inner tent from the pole using the plastic hooks provided.
Besides easy setup, the advantage of this pole architecture is that it creates a very large air gap between the inner tent and the rain fly, that improves internal airflow and eliminates internal condensation transfer onto your gear.
Once the inner tent is pitched, position the rain fly over it, connecting the rear corners to jakes feet connectors. Do the same for the front corners, which don’t have jakes feet, but simple string guylines that you slide over the same corner stakes you used to stake out the inner tent’s front corners (the Hornet 2P requires just 4 stakes to pitch in non-windy conditions).
Stake out the vestibules and tension the doors with line loc tensioners, like those found on most single-walled UL tents. The entire pitching process is remarkably quick and easy for one person to do while your partner takes care of other camping chores.
The most important feature in any two person tent is having two doors so you can get out of the tent at night without waking up your partner. NEMO does that one better by positioning the doors so that you can get in and out of them without having to move any packs or gear that you’ve already stored in the vestibule. Both doors and the vestibules above them can be rolled up and secured open using toggles, a nice touch that adds a lot of function without adding a lot of weight.
But the inner tent is tapered to be wider at the head where you need more room and slightly narrower at the feet. The tent sides are also slanted, A-frame style, with a high center point and sloping sides. While both of these design choices help shave weight off the tent, they do reduce its livability somewhat compared to heavier two person tents with vertical side walls and rectangular floors. These are the compromises NEMO chose to save weight. While they make the Hornet 2P a bit snug, the tent still doesn’t feel confining with two adults occupants.
The usable (measured) space inside of the tent is:
- 84 inches long
- 48 inches wide at the head end
- 40.5 inches wide at the foot end
- 36″ of height at the center peak
- 30″ of height above your head when lying in the tent
While two 20″ pads fit side by side in the tent, there’s not a lot of extra room along the sides of the tent. However, there is extra space at the head and foot ends of the tents where you can place personal possessions or store your shoes. Each occupant also has their own side pocket and there’s a large shared pocket at the head end on the back wall of the tent that provides even more internal storage.
When the Hornet 2P houses two adults, you’re going to want to store your backpacks in the side vestibules. While the vestibules are long enough so you can get out of the side doors without moving your gear, they’re a bit narrow for storing high-capacity backpacks that take up a lot of room and have a tendency to fall in toward the inner tent if you prefer to store them upright. It’s not a showstopper though.
Air circulation, another key livability variable, through the Hornet 2P is nothing short of fantastic, always an important consideration in a double-walled tent where internal condensation can build up when the rain fly is closed. In addition to the head-space between the rain fly and inner tent, air is channeled under the rain fly doors and through a high air vent at the head end of the tent.
If you position the tent so this air vent is pointed into the wind, you can increase air flow without opening the vestibule doors. The high rear wall of the inner tent helps break the force of the breeze, while still preserving interior warmth in cool weather. Many of NEMO’s tents feature this vent design and it’s a signature feature of the brand.
How did NEMO make a semi-freestanding, double-walled tent that weighs less than 2 pounds, you wonder? Material and fabric innovations have always been the key enabler for ultralight gear and the construction of the Hornet 2P is no exception. Most of the weight saving in this tent comes from using 10 denier silnylon/PU rain fly. (An earlier commercial version of this tent had a 7 denier rain fly, but NEMO upgraded it to a 10 denier fabric for better durability.) The Hornet 2P also uses a DAC Featherlite NFL hub and spoke pole, one of the lightest weight poles available today. Clever design, a NEMO trademark, is also a major factor.
The Nemo Hornet 2P ($369) ultralight double-walled tent weighs just 1 pound 14.3 ounces rivaling many two person single-walled ultralight tents in terms of weight and cost, something unheard of a few years ago. The Hornet 2P’s light weight also makes it possible to enjoy the many benefits of double-walled tents which have been overshadowed by weight concerns and pushed many backpackers to less comfortable single-walled shelters.
- Semi-freestanding, so you can pitch a tent in seconds without having to worry so much about staking and surface conditions (making setup virtually idiot-proof)
- Almost zero internal condensation transfer since the moisture is captured by the rain fly.
- Less drafty because they don’t have to be wind tunnels to combat internal condensation
- Ability to use many double walled tents in winter since they’re warmer, when you’d never use a single walled tent.
- Seam taped, so you don’t have to seam seal the tent with silicone and paint thinner in your basement.
- No need to carry trekking poles if you don’t use them.
Despite some of the volume and space compromises that NEMO made with the Hornet 2P to keep its weight below 2 pounds, I think this tent is an excellent option if you prefer double-walled tents over single-walled ones or want a lightweight tent for couples backpacking that is equally viable as a spacious one person tent.
It really is remarkable how lightweight two-person double-walled tents have become without completely sacrificing comfort and livability. The NEMO Hornet 2P is an outstanding example of the ultralight double-walled tents available and worth a close look if you’re looking to switch to a lighter weight backpacking tent.
- Under 2 pounds – very lightweight
- Fast and easy setup
- Excellent hardware: Jakes feet connectors, line loc tensioners, all zippers have inner and outer cordage to help prevent fabric snagging.
- Lightweight enough to be used a single person tent when hiking alone
- Excellent ventilation
- Limited headroom in the inner tent due to sloped side walls
- Tapered foot width limits use of wide sleeping pads
- Vestibules are narrow, making it hard to store a large backpack upright without it resting against the inner tent
Disclosure: NEMO provided Philip Werner with a Hornet 2P tent for this review.
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