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NEMO Hornet 2P Ultralight Tent Review

The Nemo Hornet 2P is an ultralight double-walled two person tent with two doors that weighs less than 2 pounds.
The Nemo Hornet 2P is an ultralight double-walled two person tent with two doors that weighs less than 2 pounds.

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's inner tent is suspended from a single hub and spoke pole
The Hornet’s inner tent is suspended from a single hub and spoke pole

Design

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.

The tent fly clips to the outside of the jakes foot corners at the rear of the tent, eliminating the need for a second stake to hold the fly
The tent fly clips to the outside of the jakes foot connectors at the rear of the tent, eliminating the need for an additional stake to hold the fly.

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).

The front corners are staked out using a guyline system that increases interior volume in the front corners of the inner tent. Pitching the rain fly uses the same tent stake
The front corners are staked out using a guyline system that increases interior volume in the front corners of the inner tent. Pitching the rain fly uses the same tent stake.

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.

Lineloc tensioners make it easy to adjust the vestibule and inside and outside cords on vestibule doors help avoid snags with the thin vestibule fabric
Line loc tensioners make it easy to adjust the vestibule and inside and outside cords on vestibule doors help avoid snags with the thin vestibule fabric.

Livability

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.

Dual doors and vestibules are a must-have in any two-person tent
Dual doors and vestibules are a must-have in any two-person tent

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
The head end of the Hornet 2P is wider than the foot. While snug, the interior space does not feel confined with extra space at the head and foot ends to store personal effects you want easy access to at night .JPG
The head end of the Hornet 2P is wider than the foot. While snug, the interior space does not feel confined, with extra space at the head and foot ends to store personal effects you want easy access to at night.

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.

While the tent width is snug, there's plenty of extra room at the head end of the tent along with large side pockets for each occupants. I speak from experience.
While the tent width is snug, there’s plenty of extra room at the head end of the tent along with large side pockets for each occupant. 

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.

Side vestibules are a bit narrow for storing high volume backpacks, which have a tendency to fall towards the inner tent and rest against the side wall.
Side vestibules are a bit narrow for storing high volume backpacks, which have a tendency to fall towards the inner tent and rest against the side wall.

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.

A high cut air vent helps provides excellent air flow through the tent
A high cut air vent helps provides excellent air flow through 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.

Lightweight Materials

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 catenary cut of the Hornet's rain fly helps reduce weight while improving internal air flow through the tent
The catenary cut of the Hornet’s rain fly helps reduce weight while improving internal air flow through the tent.

Recommendation

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.

Benefits like:

  • 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.

Likes

  • 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

Dislikes

  • 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

For complete manufacturer specs, visit the Hornet 2P product page at NEMO.com.

Disclosure: NEMO provided Philip Werner with a Hornet 2P tent for this review. 

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35 comments

  1. Great review and I like the tent except in two areas..Color, it just annoys my eyes so…and Price, I would pay $150.00 for it but not what the MSRP is suggesting and remember the MSRP is a suggestion….

    • That color works pretty well when the leaves come out. Bright green just blends right in.

      • I tried this tent over the winter while backpacking in the Presidentials. It did not hold up in the cold and windy weather. I was literally freezing and had to abandon the camp and head down. Would not recommend at all.

      • That about the most extreme environment you can imagine for a tent that’s not intended for the arctic conditions above treeline in the Whites and has little correlation to 3 season use. I couldn’t care less if anyone buys this tent or not, but your comparison is misleading for people who don’t realize how cold and windy it is during winter in New Hampshire’s Presidential Range.

      • The Nemo is a 3-season (at best) ultralight double-walled tent, with pretty minimal fly coverage. No way I’d want to use it in high wind winter conditions. 4-season 2-person double-walled tents are usually behemoths and really just 1 season, since you don’t want to carry it the other 3 seasons. I don’t really do winter backpacking, but if I did, I would go with a WPB bivy (and maybe a vapor barrier liner inside my quilt).

      • Like you said, you really don’t do winter backpacking. You’d probably change your mind if you did.

      • Paul Jaymes….how did the tent stand up in the wind?

    • Looks like Moosejaw has is it on sale for $278. Under $300 is a good price for an ultralight 2p tent, and actually I’m pretty impressed with the weight on the Nemo.

      I think the only way you could put together an ultralight “double-walled” 2p tent for close to $150 would be to buy separately ultralight tarp, mosquito net pyramid, and ground sheet.

      • Yeah, not really sure what Eddie S was talking about because finding an UL tent for $150 anywhere is no really reality. If you want a 4-5 lbs tent sure, $150 will get you there but in this category tents routinely cost $299 and up.

  2. Question for Philip. Your survey suggested many of us are moving towards quilts (I have) as UL backpackers. I only take a tent if snow/sleet is possible (4 season) or taking new hikers out. Otherwise, I prefer my bivy sack. It also seems like hammocks have really grown where allowed. How many UL backpackers are moving away from tents?

    • I think it’s hard to quantify because so many backpackers own multiple shelters and take different ones for different circumstances, seasons, etc.

      But I don’t really like the distinction between UL and non-UL hikers, to be honest. One, gear has gotten so much lighter than the distinction has lost some of its weight (pun), the entire notion of UL is meaningless because it doesn’t factor in consumables weight (who cares if you have a 10 pound gear list if you carry 15 pounds of consumables), what you bring on a trip should depend on your objectives and needs not some context-free notion of gear weight, and because most people lie about their gear weight anyway and leave their electronic appliances, wallets, prescriptions, keys, etc off their gear lists.

      • Hahahahaha, you speak the truth on us lying about true gear weight-it doesn’t count if it is in my pocket…right? :-)

        Thanks for quick response.

      • Sorry about the blast of cynicism. But that old-time UL religion has pretty much died out. People talk the talk, but rarely walk the walk. Everyone under a tarp has an inner nest now. I call it “Comfort Ultralight”. It’s ok to bring some luxuries again now that gear has gotten so lightweight. Heck, I do it too and enjoy it!

  3. Richard A Evans

    I own a Nemo Obi 1 Elite, purchased after your review, While compact and very light the mesh netting runs and sags at the blink of an eye. I doubt that I will ever purchase another Nemo product.

  4. I’d reject it on color alone–severe pain in the eyeballs!

    Any double-wall tent that requires setting up the inner tent first is going to get quite soggy inside if you have to set up or take down in the rain. (Been there, done that.) For a double-wall tent, I insist on having one in which the fly is set up first and taken down last–for example, the double wall tents from Tarptent.

  5. Well your review lured me to buy one Philip. I shall, or course, blame you if I don’t like it,

    • I’m reviewing a bunch of its competitors this spring (MSR Freelite, Mountain Hardware Ghost UL 2, etc.) and it’s still head and shoulders the best. Let me know how you like it when you take it out.

      • I will. I was going back and forth between the Hornet and the 2016 Carbon reflex 2, which are both on sale at various places through Memorial Day. The Hornet is only just over an oz heavier with what seem to be fewer compromises overall, especially as I’m aiming for a roomier one person rather than using it for 2.

      • I think you made a much better choice with the Hornet (which makes a luxurious 1 person tent). The airflow in the Hornet is much better and I suspect you’ll find the interior height much higher as well.

  6. I had Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 on order when I saw this review. I was able to cancel that order and get the two-person Hornet for around $40 less than the (also discounted) CS tent. Score! The main thing that swayed me was that this tent will likely be my only backpacking shelter for the foreseeable future, and even though my girlfriend isn’t coming along on the trips I have planned for the next couple of months, it would be nice to be able to bring her in the future. That plus fact that the Hornet is very slightly lighter and (I think) more compact — key because I carry a 35 liter pack. Anyway, I’ll let you know how I like after I’ve gotten it on the trail!

  7. Love that color, very nice tent.

  8. Richard A Evans

    Philip my apologies you are correct. You didn’t review the Nemo Obi 1 Elite. You reviewed the Nemo Obi 1. My bad. I mixed up your review of the Obi 1 and Backpacking Light’s review of the Elite. I still like the design of the tent just not the choice of materials.

  9. Couple of quick questions, Philip: do you have any advice for the best way to guy the tent out if the weather looks rough? It doesn’t come with much in the way of instructions. Also I assume bad weather is when you’d want to use the velcro strips on the fly to attach it more firmly to the poles? And lastly, the floor is (obviously — it’s a feature, not a bug) made out of pretty wispy seeming stuff. I’m sure it’s a lot tougher than it looks, but did you use a groundsheet with the tent?

  10. Philip: What do DAC and NFL stand for? I’m thinking I may get this tent. Thanks!

  11. I’m a proud owner of the hornet 2p ultra light tent. Although I’m not an easy sell, after lots of research and comparison between ul tents, I think, until now, I made the right choice for a mild tempeture environment. The tent’s been mounted only 5 time now and I have no complaints. The first time I did not tighten the rear guy strings and the inner and outter components were in contact causing excessive condensation inside. The best aspect for me is the weight, not causing me great concern for the addition of a foot-print which protects my ul sleeping pad. Tested in a light, yet constant rain with mild breezes, I had no leaks. But that said, I have yet to verify its performance under a hard rain and strong and gusty winds. I also like the space. Once I slept with my wife and there was adaquate room. The other times I slept alone. With little difference in weight between the 1 and 2 p tents, the 2 p was the better option.

  12. I tried the Hornet (at home, in the house) and returned it as I was concerned about the interior room. I’m sure I’m spoiled from using the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL-2 for many years. I planned to use the Hornet with my brother, not as a one person tent. When my wife and I layed inside the tent on neoair pads I was touching the inner tent with my head, feet and side. The narrow peak prevented us from both sitting up at once. Although the floor dimensions are not significantly different from the Copper Spur, the angle of the sides make the tent feel much smaller, especially if you are elevated on a thick pad. My other concern was that when the fly is open rain could fall vertically right into the tent as there is no cross pole holding the fly opening away from the side of the tent.

  13. Would you recommend this tent for 3 season use in the White mountains? It would probably see a 50/50 mix of dirt and tent platforms.

  14. Hi Philip: Would you recommend this tent for 6 feet people in rainy conditions? Thanks!

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