Nemo Hornet OSMO Tent Review by Rudolf Abraham
The Nemo Hornet OSMO is an ultra lightweight three-season tent – an excellent shelter which is easy to pitch, roomy inside, packs down small, is packed with nifty design features, and (the really important part) holds up well against the elements.
The Hornet uses Nemo’s OSMO™ fabric, a poly-nylon composite which is incredibly lightweight while boasting 4x better water repellency and 3x less stretch when wet, and is made from 100% recycled yarns. The floor is Bluesign certified. The Hornet comes in three sizes: 1-person, 2-person and 3-person. I have the 2-person – yes, I could have gone with the 1-person to save a bit of weight, but the extra space of the 2-person model made it a much more comfortable choice for me, with only a fractional increase in weight.
The 2-person Hornet weighs in at just 1.14kg (it’s possible to shed some of this by losing the stuff-sack and some of the pegs), making it one of the lightest three-season tents around. The floor size is 215cm x 130cm at the wide end, tapering to 108cm at the foot, and the peak height is 98cm which is enough to allow you to sit up comfortably inside. I’m quite tall (1.92m) and found it quite roomy inside. Packed size is a very respectable 32cm x 19cm x 8.5cm. There’s also a new ‘Elite’ version of the Hornet, which cuts the weight down even further, to an amazing 935g for the 2-person version (minimum weight 779g) or 812g (minimum 657g) for the 1-person.
Photo: Nemo Hornet in the Vercors (inner only, without the flysheet attached)
The Hornet pitches with a unified system of DAC Featherlite poles which radiate out from a hubbed intersection to meet the ground at three points, one at the foot, two at the head of the tent. The poles are extremely lightweight without compromising rigidity; they fold and unfold easily, and since they’re all attached, are extremely fast and unfiddly to set up. There’s also a very clever Flybar volumising pole, which clips to the main pole and does a good job of increasing internal volume, as do the triangulated reflective guy-outs at the foot of the tent and the guy-outs which attach the inner to the fly. There’s a good-sized vestibule area for storing gear.
It’s packed with other clever features including black mesh on the roof of the inner, which (if you’re not using the fly, obviously) becomes almost transparent at night and is great for stargazing, while white mesh is used on the sides of the inner (better for privacy). Throwing your headlamp in the Nightlight pocket inside the roof of the inner gives a nice diffused light inside the tent, and there are plenty of other pockets around to stash gear. Gatekeeper clips make it easy to tie the door open even with one hand.
The three-point pole structure means that it’s potentially a bit less steady in high winds (but then, it’s a lightweight three-season tent, not a four-season tent) – although having said that, mine coped perfectly well in very strong winds (see below). Also be aware that the fly rides quite high above the floor area, which while great for ventilation may or may not make the inner more vulnerable to rain (I have yet to use the Hornet is sufficiently horizontal driving rain to make a call on that one!).
I got the Nemo Hornet as I wanted something which was significantly lighter than my old Macpac Minaret tent, and also roomier (and lighter) than the Macpac Microlight (marketing used to refer to the latter as a 1- to 1½-person tent, but I always found it very cramped, too low to sit up in comfortably, and the sides of the inner are susceptible to sagging and making everything wet inside the tent, not to mention being 500g heavier than the Nemo Hornet – and no I’m really not sure how that half-a-person thing is supposed to work either). So I was really excited about trying out the Nemo Hornet OSMO.
Photo: Evening light on the Hauts Plateaux du Vercors
I took the Hornet to the Massif du Vercors, which stretch along the boundary between the Isère and Drône departments in southeast France, facing the Écrins, the Chartreuse and the Belledonne ranges, to try it out. I’d visited the northern part of the massif earlier in the year, but wanted to come back and hike through the much wilder southern part in the autumn. It was October, with glorious daytime temperatures, breathtaking autumn colours, and for much of the trip, beautifully clear skies – but cold nights (sometimes brutally so), and some pretty strong winds. The trip was planned around a mixture of nights in auberges and mountain cabins, along with wild camps.
The main test for the Hornet was a night on the edge of the Hauts Plateaux du Vercors – a great sprawling limestone plateau, which forms the largest terrestrial nature reserve (réserve naturelle) in France. It’s home to ibex, wolves and griffon vultures, not to mention a spectacular number of caves, and is simply one of the most breathtakingly beautiful parts of France I’ve ever hiked in (you can see some photos here). This particular camp was unintended – I was aiming for a hut, but had to change my planned route when the wind became too strong to cross a narrow and exposed ridge, resulting in an enormous detour, which left me with little choice but to pitch up once I reached flat ground and a slightly sheltered spot between the rather spectacular Pas des Bachassons and the Pas de la Selle. I pitched up in what I hoped was a slightly more sheltered area between low hills at around 1900m, then hurried off to make the most of the location by photographing evening light on the sheer cliffs of Mont-Aiguille.
I found the Hornet very straightforward to pitch, and I used the extra guy-outs as I was expecting it to be quite stormy. As predicted, the wind picked up more in the night, and (not predicted) shifted from the buffeting the foot of the tent to the side – but despite some really strong gusts the tent stood up perfectly well, and I woke up rested and dry to watch the early morning light creep across the surrounding landscape.
New Hampshire based brand Nemo (the name stands for New England Mountain Outfitters, in case you were wondering – with an added nod to Jules Verne) was launched in 2004, the brainchild of a ‘moment’ involving a storm and a badly designed bivvy on the side of Mt Washington. Aside from the incredibly well thought out designs in their gear, I appreciate their environmental credentials – PVC-free since the outset, they were a founding member of the Outdoor Industry Association’s Climate Action Corps. They began using upcycled manufacturing rejects and samples in some of their gear in 2006, their OSMO™ fabric uses 100% recycled yarns and is PFAS-free, and they launched the outdoor industry’s first Bluesign certified sleeping pad in 2022. Their Endless Promise program aims to keep as much gear out of landfill as possible, both by making better, longer-lasting gear in the first place and offering repairs and repurposing, but also by recycling used gear (not an easy feat given that most high-tech outdoor gear tends to use multiple yarns).
Find out more about the Nemo Hornet OSMO tent here.