Nemo Hornet Elite 1p (1 lb, 13 oz., $450, nemoequipment.com)

It is a matter of perspective. All tents are a compromise between weight, durability, space and dryness. From the perspective of other ultralight tents, the Nemo Hornet Elite 1p is incredibly light, yet also very small, especially in regard to livability because the top is much narrower than the bottom. It’s not a tent in which to hang out, change cloths with ease, or cook in the vestibule without contortions. From the perspective of a bivy sack the Nemo Hornet Elite 1p is incredibly large, easy to get in and out of, drier and about the same weight. From that perspective, it’s a miracle.

Without the rain fly it, matches the Outdoor Research Bug Bivy in weight: one pound. As sleeping pads have gotten thicker this is great news because, with a 3” thick pad, the mosquito netting on the Bug Bivy is often in contact with the body, allowing mosquitos to bite through if you’re sleeping without a cover in hot weather. It’s also nice to not wiggle out of a bivy when nature calls in the night.

Its high quality no-see-em mosquito netting is not prone to “running” like the lower quality netting used in too many tents.

Now for that rain fly. With a full two wall design, the condensation stays outside the mosquito netting, and while the steep wall angles limit shoulder space while sitting up, the condensation goes to the ground instead of dripping into the shelter. It’s possible to do multi-day trips using the Nemo Hornet Elite and keep all your sleeping gear completely dry. All the single wall—or double/single wall hybrid tents—have issues with condensation, which inevitably makes its way to the sleeping bag and pad. That’s a compromise for wet multi-day trips. Even in the heaviest of storms we never had rain pool on the fly.

As a freestanding tent, the setup is straightforward. At the end of a long day this is welcome, and less time will be spent trying to find a perfect spot compared to non-freestanding tents.

It’s not your grandfathers tent, nor will it be your grandsons. There is a trade-off for the light weight, and that is durability. There is no way around it; the fabric is thin. I’m gentle with my gear yet only expect the Hornet to last a couple seasons. On multi-day runs I typically eschew ground cloths, but I consider one to be mandatory with this tent. That’s not only to protect the bottom of the tent, but the sleeping pad as well. The fabric is too thin to offer any form of puncture prevention.

Overall, we’re very impressed with the Nemo Hornet Elite 1p. Super light, super dry. That light weight comes at a cost, and only you can judge if the compromises are worth it for your intended use.


Read more in-depth reviews from Darin McQuoid:

Water Filters | Down Jackets | Sleeping Bags | Sleeping Pads