Ultra-Light: Innovative Design
The Nemo Hornet is a tent with a great reputation and with good reason. It is crazy-light for a two door, two vestibule, two-person tent. It weighs in at an impressive 2lbs 6oz trail weight (1lb 15oz “minimum weight” which I’ll discuss below).
As expected, there are compromises made to attain that weight. If you can live with them, this is a great option. At first glance, the Nemo Hornet appears to be everything you could hope for in an ultralight tent. Once you begin using it, the compromises that had to be made to attain the weight become evident. The peak interior height is below average for ultralight tents at 39 inches. Both of the vestibules are small but usable.
The Nemo Hornet uses a ripstop nylon fabric. The rain fly is silicon treated on the outside and polyurethane treated on the underside. The silicon treatment on the outside gives the Hornet extra weather protection and helps protect the super thin material used to keep the weight down. Nemo gives the Hornet a 1200mm hydrostatic head waterproof rating.
The 15D floor is the thinnest of all the tents I tested, so you would be wise to use a footprint to prolong the life of the tent. That of course adds weight though.
The Hornet is one light tent. It packs up crazy small and is something that can be thrown in your pack and hardly noticed. Setup is very easy and there is plenty of room for one person plus gear. Like many ultralight tents, it’s really tight for two people as noted below.
This tent performed flawlessly in the wind test with the poles maintaining the tent’s shape well. It also performed well in the rain and was bone dry after 12 straight hours of steady rain. The above photo was taken after the rain and shows the minimal affects the rain had on the Hornet. The outer layer of silicone does an excellent job of keeping moisture from soaking into the fabric, keeping sagging to a minimum.
Another cool feature is the light-diffusing pocket. Stick your headlamp in the pocket and it helps disperse the light throughout the tent.
The specs of the tent don’t really represent the usable interior space of the tent because of the angle of the walls. Ultralight tents are expected to be tight for two people of course, but with two average sized adults, you will be touching your tent buddy. I’m 5’11” and I had to pick between my head or feet touching a wall. If you are taller than 6 feet, you aren’t going to enjoy the usable length of this tent. Even though the specs show it as being 85 inches long, the angle of the walls really take away usable space from the Hornet.
This brings me to the next potential issue. The Hornet features a “cutaway rain fly” that does not go all the way to the ground and leaves that wall uncovered. This does increase airflow and keeps condensation down, makes that critical part of the shelter a single wall tent. To make matters worse, rain is shed from the fly directly onto this single wall portion, causing the wall to sag in. This further reduces the usable space. In short, you may experience, at a minimum, some condensation and/or have your head touch the wet, cold wall in rainy conditions.
The vestibules on the Hornet are the smallest of the tents I tested, but you do get two of them. They are big enough for a pack and boots, but it’s a tight fit. If vestibule size is something that is important to you, this might not be the best option.
Nemo’s website classifies the Hornet as “semi-freestanding”. While it does stand up without stakes, the slightest breeze will blow it over. Additionally, you have almost no usable interior space without staking it out, so count on the full weight on this tent to make a livable shelter rather than the “minimum weight.”
One last drawback to the Hornet is that there is no way to set this tent up in the rain without the inside getting wet. Some double wall tents offer a “fast fly” setup where you pitch the fly with the poles, then crawl under that shelter to set up the body of the tent. This one doesn’t offer that feature, so you are basically out of luck if you are forced to set this up in the rain. In dry climates, this isn’t a big deal. But, if you are in frequent rain showers, you might find yourself sleeping in a wet tent.
The Nemo Hornet is a an ultralight double wall tent that weighs just over 2lbs. It is a great option if you need a lightweight double wall shelter. If you are okay with the limitations of the design of the Hornet, this is a great tent. You will be hard pressed to find a double wall tent much lighter than this one!
Check out Backcountry Camp Part 1: Basics of Selecting a Tent to help you select the right tent.
Want to see how the Hornet stacks up against other tents we tested? Check out our full Backpacking Tent Review!