The Nemo Tenshi is a super-breathable and well ventilated bomber tent.
The Nemo Tenshi tent does the best job of avoiding condensation of any tent I've used. With waterproof and highly breathable eVENT fabric (much more breathable than Gore-Tex or other laminate fabrics), three vents, and a rear window with bug screen, I experienced extremely minimal, to no, condensation in winter conditions. A removable "condensation curtain" helps further by limiting all condensation to a small area and directing it to a vent. A retractable awning also allows you to leave the door partially unzipped for extra ventilation and effectively protects your gear when entering the tent. At 45 inches tall (114 cm), the Tenshi allows for significant airflow and usable living space.
All of these extras come at the price of weight. Although the Nemo Tenshi tent is only 1 inch wider and 4 inches longer than the discontinued Integral Designs eVENT MK1Lite, it weighs over 2 pounds more. Further, it is taller than several comparable tents, making its side walls steeper and more susceptible to deflection during high winds. That said, the Nemo Tenshi survived being pitched on a ridge top with wind gusts over 70 mph - where I was unable to walk without being blown over - with only minimal damage. Pressure vents in the awning allowed it to remain open all night without damage, proving that it's tough enough for a mountaineering tent. This is a versatile tent that can take serious weather.
Note: General Electric purchased eVENT and now restricts its use in tents due to flammability considerations. Integral Designs and other manufacturers no longer use eVENT in their tents. The Nemo Equipment Tenshi tent is among a rare few tents that are still constructed of eVENT.
- Waterproof and highly breathable eVENT fabric
- Three vents, a rear window, and a door with retractable awning allow excellent ventilation
- Innovative "condensation curtain" focuses condensation in a small area and directs it toward the front vent, and is removable
- The retractable awning can be easily stowed and pressure vents release air gusts
- At around 5.5 pounds, the Tenshi isn't the lightest single wall tent, but extra features add to its versatility
- Usable space is improved by extra height (3 to 6 inches taller than some comparable tents) and steep side walls, at the cost of increased side deflection in high winds
- Optional insulated floor is bulky and heavy (2 lb 13.9 oz), but may be useful to some
• Tent Type
|Single wall with floor|
• Fabric Description
|Shell: eVENT fabric; vents and awning: Dimension-Polyant VX02; floor: PU coated 70D Nylon|
• Pole Material
|DAC Featherlite Aluminum poles (tent was tested with a heavier pre-production pole set)|
• Weight Full Package
• Weight Minimum Package
• Weight of Accessories
• Floor/ Vestibule Area
• Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio
• Model Year
|$675.00 USD, (optional insulated floor $89 USD)|
Usable Features / Ease of Use
The retractable awning uses one pole and is easily stowed.
Setting up the Tenshi is very easy. Like other single wall wedge designs, the poles are set up outside the tent, slipped inside, and flexed into their corner spots. Pole tips are placed into the corner grommets. Velcro tabs are then attached to fix the poles in place. A minimum of five stakes is recommended to achieve the maximum stability and floor space (one at each corner and two for the side guy outs). When conditions were very windy, I was able to set up the tent from inside. However, the Velcro tabs are rather narrow, making them more difficult to attach than on similar tents.
The tent material is eVENT, a fully waterproof material that is far more breathable than comparable Gore-Tex or other laminate fabrics. The Nemo Tenshi is among a rare few tents that are still constructed of eVENT. Dimension-Polyant VX02 fabric is used for increased strength in the canopy and external vent flaps; I have seen this fabric used in several products through the years and it has worked very well.
A unique feature of the Tenshi is the retractable awning. My test sample awning sets up with one pole that is a very tight fit and takes a great deal of shoving to slide into the Velcro attachment. I've been assured that this difficulty has been addressed in the production models. The awning features pressure vents that are designed to release pressure during high winds. I found these vents to be extremely effective during a night of high winds when I had the awning deployed. Further, the guy out on the end of the awning added additional stability at the front of the tent.
A rear window is lined with bug mesh and provides cross ventilation and an extra look at the surroundings. This can also be used as a second door in an emergency but isn't designed to be used regularly. I found it be unneeded in most situations but in warm weather, the cross ventilation was a nice change from most bomber tents, which tend to be pretty stuffy in these conditions.
An optional closed-cell EVA foam floor mates with the Tenshi floor, creating a fully insulated base. The floor weighs 2 pounds 13.9 ounces and costs an additional $89. It is extremely bulky and I never used it in the field, although it may be a useful option for some people.
A rear window with bug netting provides cross ventilation and additional views.
Weight / Sizing
All of the extra features of the Nemo Tenshi are nice but they come at the price of additional weight. These extras, such as the rear window, three top vents, awning, additional height, and condensation curtain (3.9 oz extra), contribute quite a bit of the 5.5 pound weight of the Tenshi. I would like to see a pared-down version of the tent available.
Compared to the other bomber tents in our review suite, the Nemo Tenshi floor area to weight ratio of 0.35 ft2/oz is close to the Mountain Hardware EV2 (0.36), and lower than the Crux X2 Storm (0.44) but these other tents are much more stable three and four pole designs. The Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme, with an area to weight ratio of 0.52 ft2/oz, has nearly one and a half times the area per ounce, but sacrifices living space. Still, the Tenshi could easily lose weight and retain its size.
When compared to similar tents, the Nemo Tenshi has a taller ceiling height:
- 45 inches: Nemo Tenshi
- 42 inches: Bibler I Tent
- 41 inches: Outdoor Designs Summit Raider
- 39 inches: Integral Designs MK1 XL
This extra height increases the steepness of the walls and the usable space of the tent. This Nemo Tenshi is comfortable for two people to sleep or sit up in, although there isn't much room left over for gear.
Unlike the Bibler I Tent or Integral Designs MK1 XL, there is no optional full vestibule for the Nemo Tenshi.
Camped on a ridge in the North Cascades last winter, I had this tent in the most serious winds I've ever experienced. Wind gusts that were approximately 70 mph made it impossible to move around camp without crawling. I used all seven of the Tenshi guylines and laid in the darkness, hoping that the tent wouldn't blow off the mountain or disintegrate. It didn't, and I was happy to wake up in safety. The Nemo Tenshi can survive serious winds and proved that it is a true bomber tent.
However, these high winds also revealed some problems in the design. While the steep sidewalls increased usable space, they also increased side deflection. Although the side guy outs did a good job of counteracting this, they tensioned the upper portion of the wall much more than the lower section, causing the lower sidewalls to flap in even moderate gusts. Further, having the upper portion of the tent more rigid made the tent unable to "spill" side gusts like some other two-pole tents that lean over slightly to release pressure. The consequence was extra stress on the seams, resulting in several internal Velcro pole attachments coming loose through the night and one ripping free of the tent wall (see Durability below).
The steep sidewalls helped the Nemo Tenshi to effectively shed snow and rain. During heavy snowfall, keeping the upper vents closed was important because they acted to flatten the roof and cause snow to pile up.
In heavy Washington rains, the Tenshi shed water easily and the eVENT fabric proved to be completely waterproof. When sitting out bad weather, the sufficient usable space and yellow walls made things a bit more comfortable and cheery. We often had to drag our gear inside the tent - a vestibule would be a really nice option to keep wet gear outside the living area.
Ventilation / Condensation Resistance
Three large vents include support rods, Velcro closures, and can be opened and closed from inside the tent through zippered access slots.
The condensation curtain keeps any condensation in a small area, directing it to a front vent. The curtain drapes loosely across the body and is easily removable with Velcro attachments.
There is no such thing as a 100% condensation-free fabric. Given subzero conditions, sealed vents, and high levels of humidity and warmth inside a tent, condensation can occur with any fabric. The beauty of eVENT, though, is that the range of conditions in which condensation will not occur (or will be minimal) is much broader than Tegral-Tex (Integral Designs), Todd-Tex (Bibler), Epic (Black Diamond), and even Gore-Tex (Outdoor Designs). With all the vents sealed in conditions well below freezing, the condensation I experienced was extremely minimal. With the three vents open or the door or rear window cracked, I never experienced any condensation at all. I was stunned by the performance of the eVENT fabric.
The Tenshi has three vents that close with Velcro and prop open with small support rods. The side vents have small internal zippers that allow you to reach outside to adjust the vents without leaving the tent. With a bit of a stretch, I could also reach the front vent. This feature was very useful during storm conditions, especially because the awning prevented reaching out the door.
If that wasn't enough, the Nemo Tenshi also includes a removable "condensation curtain." This curtain attaches to the sidewalls with Velcro strips and drapes across the chests of the sleepers, trapping moisture in a small portion of the tent and directing it toward an upper vent. When used with the door cracked under the protective awning, specific high/low venting can be achieved. This is a brilliant design that would be well worth the extra 3.9 ounces in subzero conditions. This is a well thought-out innovation that would be especially effective in tents made of less breathable fabrics. However, with the excellent breathability and ventilation of the Tenshi, I found it to be overkill in most situations.
It's rare that a mountaineering tent would be found in bug-infested areas below the treeline. However, living with the Tenshi in these situations would be quite comfortable. It has a large door, rear window, and three vents that are all backed with mosquito netting. As temperatures rise, the eVENT fabric would also help to keep things comfortable. This is a very versatile bomber tent.
(Before commenting on durability, it is important to note that the tent tested was a pre-production model and came with a detailed outline of problems already addressed before the first production run. Flaws found that were addressed in this outline have been indicated.)
During the night of high winds described in the Wind Stability section, the poles were stressed out of the internal Velcro attachments on several occasions. During one of these events, the attachment partially tore from the inner tent wall. Improvements in internal welding are intended to address this problem in production runs.
Another potential durability issue was corner pockets that came loose from the sidewalls. With the resulting gaps, a pole could easily slide behind the pocket and come against the weaker eVENT fabric. Nemo is sewing these corners in production runs to address this possibility.
Problems with internal welding have been addressed in production runs.
Corner pockets will be sewn in production runs.
Using shorter, or elastic, cord would be more secure for roll-up doors.
The only other flaw I found in the tent was door tie-up cords that were too long. Shorter cords or those made of elastic would keep rolled doors and windows closed more securely.
At $675, the Nemo Tenshi is in the upper end of high-end bomber tents but is also made of more expensive (and rare for tents) eVENT fabric. (In fact, the only other eVENT tent that is currently on the market is the Exped Polaris, which retails for $619.) Considering the versatility and amazing condensation-resistance of the Tenshi, the price is reasonable.
However, when you consider that for less money you can pick up a Bibler I Tent or an Integral Designs MK1 XL with the optional vestibule, the decision becomes less obvious. If you're looking for the ultimate in fabrics, though, you'll be hard pressed to beat eVENT, and in today's market, that leaves few options. With the Nemo Tenshi, you'll have a versatile design that you'll enjoy for years to come.
Recommendations for Improvement
The Nemo Tenshi is a well thought-out design with many innovative features. It is well-built and will last many seasons of winter and mountaineering use. However, there are some changes that could improve this design:
- I'd like to see a pared-down version without the rear window, canopy, condensation curtain, vent zippers, and front vent. This would not only cut weight, but costs as well, and most of the time I wouldn't miss the extras.
- An optional vestibule would increase overall usable space by providing a place to put gear and to cook. This would improve the tent's usability in the winter.
- The cords for door closures need to be shorter or made of different materials.
- Lowering the ceiling height a few inches would improve wind stability with a minimal loss of usable space.
- Lower the side guy outs a few inches. This would put more even tension on the sides of the tent and would reduce flapping and stress.
- Increase the length of the internal Velcro pole attachments so they would take more force to come loose during high winds.