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NEMO Hornet Elite 1 Ultralight Tent Review

NEMO Hornet Elite Tent Review

The NEMO Hornet Elite 1 Tent is an ultralight double-wall tent that only weighs 1 lb 7 oz. It’s ideal for solo backpacking or bikepacking trips when you need a shelter that packs up small, but provides better wind and weather protection than a bivy sack. Made with thin and lightweight (7 and 10 denier nylon) but conventional fabrics, I would recommend using a tent footprint with this tent to protect the floor from abrasion or pointy objects. There are limits to the durability of ultralight gear and this tent definitely pushes the envelope.

NEMO Hornet Elite 1 Person Tent

Ease of Setup
Weather Resistance
Packed Size

Ultralight but Comfortable

The NEMO Hornet Elite1 is a great ultralight double-wall backpacking tent for solo trips when light weight and low gear volume are priorities. Weighing just 1 lb 7 oz, the Hornet Elite 1 is mindbogglingly lightweight, but still fully featured and well ventilated for three-season use.

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Specs at a Glance

  • Weight (total): 23 oz
    • Fly: 7.0 oz
    • Inner Tent: 8.6 oz
    • Pole: 7.4 oz
  • Type: double-wall, not free-standing
  • Materials: Fly – 7D PeU Nylon Ripstop (1200 mm); Floor – 10D Sil/PeU Nylon Ripstop (1200 mm)
  • Inner tent dimensions (pitched): Head width – 40″; Foot width – 31″; Length – 87″; Peak height – 38″
  • Minimum stakes to pitch: 5, but using 6 really improves the ventilation.
  • Doors: 1

Inner Tent

Sized for one person, the Hornet Elite 1P comes with a single hubbed Y-pole that connects to the inner tent floor at three points, two on the corners of the “head” end and one in the middle of the “foot” end of the tent. While these three arms are enough to hold the up the inner tent, you still need to stake out the four corners of the inner tent to stretch out the corners and help shape the bathtub floor. I recommend staking the corners first (especially in wind), before inserting the pole, which connects to the inner tent with corner clips and plastic hooks on top.

A high bathtub floor provides excellent water and wind protection
A high bathtub floor provides excellent water and wind protection

The inner tent is sized for a one person but wide enough to hold a 72″ x 25″ sleeping pad. There’s one door, which opens into a side vestibule, which you’ll want to store your pack and extra gear to free up more space inside the inner tent. Cross ventilation is quite good provided that you fully stake out the rain fly and leave the door partially unzipped to help prevent internal condensation. A high bathtub floor protects you from cold breezes and helps extend the range of the tent so it can be used in cooler weather.

There are overhead gear loops on the ceiling to hang gear, a mesh pocket near the door, and one overhead pocket, which is designed to hold a headlamp in order to provide ambient light. This isn’t a tent to car camp or hang out in with your dog if you’re looking for a larger interior space, but for changing your clothes, sitting up inside, reading maps, and sleeping it’s just fine.

The inner tent floor is made with a 10 denier Sil/PeU Nylon Ripstop which held up fine when I tested it, but I’d still recommend using a footprint with the Hornet Elite 1. A 75 denier footprint is available for this tent that weighs 5.3 ounces, but you can do much better with a small 2 oz piece of clear plastic insulating window wrap, sized so it’s cut a bit smaller than the inner tent floor. Less expensive too.

The rain fly edges are cut high to channel air up the inner tent's side walls
The rain fly edges are cut high to channel air up the inner tent’s sidewalls

Rain Fly

The rain fly is a gossamer-thin 7 denier marigold-colored PeU Nylon Ripstop, but provides good privacy if you’re camped near others. It connects to the four staked corners of the inner tent and maximizes the utility of your tent stakes. The fly requires an additional two tent stakes to fully set up, one to stake out the front vestibule over the door and the other on the opposite side.

The front vestibule is large enough to store a backpack so you can retain easy access to gear at night without having it crowd the interior space, while toggles on the fly let you roll back both sides in good weather. The center zipper is protected against rain with an external storm flap, however, there’s relatively little lateral coverage near the top of the zipper to prevent you from getting drenched in heavy rain.

Vestibule storage is large enough for a multi-day backpack without blocking the front door
Vestibule storage is large enough for a multi-day backpack without blocking the front door

The edges of the rain fly are cut fairly high to channel air up the solid slanted sides walls of the inner tent while preventing splash-back. While the tent is surprisingly wind-worthy, extra guylines and guy out points are provided if you need to secure the tent in heavier weather.


The NEMO Hornet Elite 1 is a great ultralight double-wall backpacking tent for solo trips when light weight and low gear volume are priorities. It’s easy to set up and narrow enough to fit into tight spaces when you need to camp at wild, non-designated campsites, but provides far more comfort, weather, and insect protection than a bivy sack or tarp. Weighing just 1 lb 7 oz, the Hornet Elite 1 is mindbogglingly lightweight for a tent made with conventional fabrics, although it is on the pricy side. If cost is an issue, the regular NEMO Hornet 1 is nearly identical, but just 4 ounces heavier, more durable, and significantly less expensive.

Disclosure: NEMO provided the author with a sample tent for this review.

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  1. I wonder if that’s the tent Homemade Wanderlust borrowed when she went through WA finishing up her PCT last year.

  2. Philip- can the Hornet Elite 1 be pitched without the inner tent using only the rainfly, poles and stakes?

    • Nope. The connectors for the poles are on the inner tent.

    • I have a 2P (slightly larger for 2 people, but very nice for one) and no, you can’t set up just the fly. However, in a horrible downpour, I was able to pack up my gear and the inner tent and get it all into my pack before breaking down the fly and poles. Probably not a good idea to constantly jam the poles into the ground, but it worked. Was able to get the inner tent into the pack mostly dry and the pack sealed up before stuffing the fly and poles in the outer mesh pocket. Sure made pitching the tent easier the next night after the rain passed.

    • I was able to set up this tent in minutes just before a rainstorm and strong winds, it withstood everything well . I did however have aluminum snow tent stakes. Too small to stay in for 2 days yet strong enough to be safe and dry. Packs up easily and takes minimal space in backpack.

  3. Which would you take ona trip: this tent or Glossamer Gear “the one”?
    Thanks for all the great info over the years. This is my go-to place for info

    • Depends on the type of terrain, really. The One is a really nice tent, but it has a fairly large footprint and requires a big open space to pitch. The Hornet 1 is long and narrow, and better for wild wooded sites if you need to squeeze in between trees.

      Also depends on whether you use trekking poles. The One requires two trekking poles, the Hornet comes with its own. I actually plan to use the Hornet 1 for bikepacking for this very reason.

  4. A little off the topic, but do you have any opinions on or preference for clear plastic insulating window wrap vs 2 mil painters plastic assuming they would be used in the Appalachian mountains?

  5. Maybe I missed it but are the seams factory sealed?

    • Taped. I don’t usually even bother mentioning it because it’s the norm in these tents sold by big manufacturers.

      • Usually easier to point out when they are not. Tarptent comes to mind as one company that does not.

        I still go over all the seams and the tape edges with a sealant. Maybe I’m just old school, but I feel better knowing I did it.

  6. The price and weight is really close to a cuben fiber tent like the Yama Swiftline with sil floor (not an apples to apples comparison I know). Given the 1200mm rating of the fly I think I would rather have a cuben tent. What are your thoughts on this?

    • I think the bigger issue is tent footprint. I haven’t used the Swiftline, but I’ve visited Yama and seen them in the shop. They appear to have to need a big space to pitch so you can stake them out vs the Nemo Hornet Elite which is a narrow little thing that can fit anywhere. Ask yourself what your tentsites will look like. Are they wide open spaces? If they’re not, like forest sites (see tomorrow’s post), I’d get a narrow tent like this which is one step up from a bivy sack. I really wouldn’t worry about the waterproof rating all that much and it’s not a reason to buy a cuben tent instead. Tarptents have a 3000mm waterproof rating in silnylon.

      There’s nothing wrong with a cuben tent if you can afford it but most people buy them to save weight. Think about your “environmental conditions” and that will help you narrow down the list of tents to consider.

  7. I got the Copper Spur UL1 which weighs 2lbs2oz and you rated highly (on sale for$220!). What are your thoughts on comparison?

    • You got a great deal. Rejoice. I still love the Copper Spur UL 1. Nice little tent. I like that Copper Spur better because it’s more “freestanding” but it all depends on what your priorities are. Some people are obsessed with weight. I guess I’m more obsessed with saving money.

      • Ha I have REI’s version (QD1) about same weight 35oz paid $160 have looked for something lighter but keep coming back to my QD1. I have the older orange one with 2 straight poles no hubs.

  8. Great review Philip! I had the same experience with those billowed big side pockets on the 60L pack. Perfectly fine backpack but not earth shattering! Think your rating is spot on, btw. Not sure what that AHOLE is on about. Be well mate! Does he want you to give bad reviews for good products? Er why?

  9. I am looking for one of these however I have been using fly first all of my walking life this is the first inner first. Is the inner water resistance and easy to put up in the rain?

  10. It looks claustrophobic. I’d probably go with the 2-person version for solo hiking, which is just a bit heavier. Or some other brand, like the REI’s Quarter Dome SL 1, which is less than half the price.

  11. I purchased the Nemo Hornet Elite 1p last year and returned it after a 4 day back country hike in the rain. In cold rainy weather, the tent does not have enough interior room to bring a lot of gear indoors. The vestibule is relatively small. You need to crawl out on the same side as where your gear is stored. The tent is not very tall or wide. If you really need to save weight and volume, the tent is amazingly lightweight and compact. It is easy to set up under normal circumstances. The tent is not free standing, so it is challenging to pitch on Canadian Shield granite or on sandy beaches, especially in high winds. It is a good quality lightweight tent, but is better suited for smaller persons or hiking in good weather. The footprint is a must.

  12. Hopefully it is offered in moe subtlwfly shades.

  13. The Nemo Elite 1p great on being light weight packs small Terrible tent to use in tropical weather or humid Condensation condensation drip drip drip even with vestibules open the slant of the tent bug net interior allows for heavy dew to drip into tent everything’s damp ! I am not happy with this tent I expected better quality considering the price ! I give it a perfect score 10 on the weight
    and set up ! I give it a 2.5 on comfort ! Unless you use the Nemo Elite in a dry climate with no humidity you will not like this tent ! Not the tent for weather that’s has heavy dew in the mornings or overnigh or hot tropical weather. ! Everything will be damp and wet ! I wouldn’t recommend this tent for anyone over 5ft 10 in either !

    • You’d have the same experience with any tent in those conditions. The laws of thermodynamics don’t change with different tents. When there’s a temperature differential between the inside of the rain fly and the exterior, you’ll ALWAYS have internal condensation.

  14. Same. I’m actually here reading this because I already have the regular version of the 2p. But the 1p elite is on sale, and wouldn’t I like the option of the lighter pack?

    When I got the 2p green one and deliberated about 1p, my friend asked “which would you rather be stuck in during a downpour?”

    He was right. The 2p also has both side doors. Solo it’s great. I lay my pack and extra gear out one side and use the other to exit. And regardless of how I pitch it I have an exit on the good side. It’s really “just right” in terms of extra space for the weight.

    I’m sure if I bought this I’d still take my 2p! But I enjoy the camping side of backpacking. The Hornets are all pretty great in my book.

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