Backpacking partners are great. They give you somebody to talk to and to share experiences with, but mostly they give you somebody to share the weight of your camping load. Divvy-up food, and if you’re sleeping in the same tent, you can put the poles in one pack and the tent in another.
But I can’t always convince my wife to head to the backcountry with me, so I’ve been pretty pumped to try out Nemo Equipment’s new ultralight Hornet Elite 1P tent ($450), for a couple weeks. This is just a first look review, but the Hornet Elite is so light, and so good, it’s making me want to take even more solo trips.
First thing to know: This tent is through and through an ultralight tent. It weighs 1 pound, 14 ounces with all the stuff sacks, guylines, and stakes included. It’s about the size and weight of a healthy loaf of french bread when tightly rolled and put in its sack. It weighs almost nothing, but like most UL gear, it doesn’t feel like the kind of equipment you’ll hand down to your kids one day.
I’m on the tall side at 6’2″ and not particularly afraid of extra pack weight, so I typically use a two-person tent even when I’m by myself. I’ve often found one-person tents to be claustrophobic and flat-out too small for me—my feet or my head will end up pushing the side wall against the rainfly, bad news if it’s raining or super dew-y out.
That’s not a problem with the double-walled Nemo Hornet Elite. It’s long enough (though just barely) and has a surprising amount of head (38 inches vertical height) and floor (21 square feet) space. With the rain fly attached, you get seven square feet of vestibule space too, which is good, because, even though it’s roomy, it’s still a one-person tent, so your backpack ain’t fitting in there with you unless you’re using it as a pillow.
Setup is extremely quick. It’s semi-freestanding, if that’s a thing, with only one pole to make things even easier. The poles split into two for the head end of the tent (that’s the freestanding side) but the foot end gets just one pole support point, so you have to guy out and stake two lines to enlarge and support the footbox. Adding the rain fly actually increases the volume of the tent. Two little clips on each side of the rain fly, underneath the vestibule roof, attach to the inner wall of the tent, pulling the top of the tent out a bit wider. Most tents do that with a small extra pole on the tent’s roof, adding to setup time.
There are plenty of loops on the inner walls of the tent to hang lanterns, or to string a small line to dry clothes. You get a couple tiny mesh pockets too. The single door is plenty large enough to get in and out without contorting yourself into weird, cramp-causing shapes. The Nemo Tensor sleeping mat I’ve been using (76 x 25 inches) fits snugly on the tent’s floor.
Bottom line—this tent is easy to pitch, is featherlight, and offers plenty of room, even for six-foot-plus adults. It’s been my primary tent for a half-dozen nights so far with no issues whatsoever, even through a hail storm. My only gripe is that the Silnylon rainfly transfers moisture quicker than I’d like to the tent’s inner wall, but when setup properly, this isn’t really that much of an issue. Will report back on durability after a few months of testing, but so far, it’s a very impressive shelter.
Weight: 1 pound, 14 ounces max. 1 pound 7 ounces min.
Materials: 7D Sil/PU Nylon rainfly; 10D Sil / PU Nylon Ripstop floor
Interior height: 38″
Floor area: 87 x 40 inches