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Nemo Tenshi Tent REVIEW

Two-person bomber tent constructed of eVENT - waterproof, very breathable, and now rarely available in tents.

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by Doug Johnson | 2005-08-02 03:00:00-06

Overview

Nemo Tenshi Tent REVIEW - 1
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.

In Brief

  • 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

Specifications

• 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
As supplied with stuff sacks, stakes, guylines, etc.

Backpacking Light scaleManufacturer claim
5 lb 15.5 oz (2.71 kg)*4 lb 14.4 oz (2.22 kg)

• Weight Minimum Package
Includes tent body and fly, minimum necessary stakes and guylines, no stuff sacks or extra hardware

Backpacking Light minimumManufacturer supplied minimum
Same as Manufacturer Minimum but with:
0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes, 0.004 oz/ft (0.37 g/m) Aircore Pro Dyneema guylines

5 stakes, 12 ft (3.7 m) guyline
5 stakes, 12 ft (3.7 m) guyline
5 lb 6.4 oz (2.45 kg)*5 lb 8.5 oz (2.51 kg)*
*Note: tent was tested with a heavier pre-production pole set

• Weight of Accessories

Condensation curtain (included)Insulated floor (optional)
3.9 oz (0.11 kg) 2 lb 13.9 oz (1.30 kg)

• Floor/ Vestibule Area

Floor area Vestibule area
28 ft2 (2.6 m2) n/a

• Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

0.35 ft2/oz

• Dimensions

inchescentimeters
Width47119
Length86218.5
Height45114

• Model Year

2005

• MSRP

$675.00 USD, (optional insulated floor $89 USD)

Usable Features / Ease of Use

Nemo Tenshi Tent REVIEW - 2
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.

Nemo Tenshi Tent REVIEW - 3
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.

Usable Space

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.

Wind Stability

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).

Storm Protection

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

Nemo Tenshi Tent REVIEW - 4
Three large vents include support rods, Velcro closures, and can be opened and closed from inside the tent through zippered access slots.

Nemo Tenshi Tent REVIEW - 5
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.

Insect Protection

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.

Durability

(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.

Nemo Tenshi Tent REVIEW - 6
Problems with internal welding have been addressed in production runs.

Nemo Tenshi Tent REVIEW - 7
Corner pockets will be sewn in production runs.

Nemo Tenshi Tent REVIEW - 8
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.

Value

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.

Citation

"Nemo Tenshi Tent REVIEW," by Doug Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/nemo_tenshi_tent_review.html, 2005-08-02 03:00:00-06.

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Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions?
Display Avatars
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John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
Thoughts on Unna on 08/24/2006 13:14:11 MDT Print View

Sorry, Tom. Haven't tried one, but one of the great virtues of the Akto, and the tunnel tents, is the vertical door on the inner. This feature really pays off in periods of prolonged damp. If the inner door is vertical, condensation is unlikely to fall through it on to your sleeping bag. And something I really like is being able to sit with the flysheet door open while rain falls. Tea in hand, warm sleeping bag and - I know it isn't very ultralite but - good book to read and I feel very snug watching the wet, grey world outside. I don't think you could open the flysheet door on the Unna or the Jannu during rain without getting the inner wet. However, I'm only looking at the pictures in the 2005 catalogue.

Donald Browning
(docdb) - M

Locale: SE USA
Re: Thoughts on Unna on 11/02/2006 11:13:12 MST Print View

The tenshi is no longer available in eVent.....sad.
Don

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 11/02/2006 12:16:03 MST Print View

These pictures say it all, for me.

before a storm on Mount Bakersheep mountain after a snowy night

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
I'm in the tent camp... on 11/02/2006 14:08:58 MST Print View

A few years ago I camped in Koke'e State Park, above Waimea Canyon on Kauai, and on New Years Eve the rain ultimately angled at about 80° to the ground with sustained winds of 30+mph. The wind direction shifted a good 90° halfway through the night. We were on sloped ground well away from the lowest point, but when we awoke even the slopes retained 2" of standing water.

In such conditions, a bathtub bottom tent made all the difference. With the wind shift, a freestander can just be unstaked, rotated, and re-staked. We were sleeping in a river - there was nowhere that wasn't! Groundsheets would have been overrun by the runoff.

So, all told, for me there's sometimes a benefit of even an UL tent in UF conditions, to speak nothing of the mental benefit/comfort, which is entirely more subjective. Now that rain's returned to us here in Northern California, this sure is a timely topic...

Fun to see everyone's varied opinions on this interesting topic!

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 11/02/2006 15:45:13 MST Print View

Gorgeous pics, David.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/03/2006 03:01:33 MST Print View

> In such conditions, a bathtub bottom tent made all the difference.

I remember once (VERY clearly) finally getting into the tent in a howling storm to find the bathtub floor floating about an inch off the ground. My wife was happily sitting on her Therm-a-Rest while the floor just sort of bounced.
The only problem was working out where to put the stove to cook dinner :-) I eventually put my (small scrap of 3-ply) stove base on our shoes all piled up - and cooked dinner. We stayed dry. The flood receded eventually.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/03/2006 03:15:23 MST Print View

So, Roger, you call that roughing it? Using a waterbed while on a trek!!!

Edited by pj on 11/03/2006 03:16:28 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/10/2006 23:20:55 MST Print View

Hi pj

> Using a waterbed while on a trek!!!
Well, actually, in this case I can plead not guilty to this monstrous charge!
We had dinner in the storm, but by the time we had finished dinner the storm had ceased and there was only thick fog. BUT: we had reached a known 4WD track, and it was 1.5 hr back to the car (end of a 5-day trip). The fog plus a full moon meant the ground was quite visible without a headlight. So we thought phooey, packed up the gear and the wet tent, and walked back to the car in the glowing fog. Got there about 8 pm, and went home - feeling very pleased with ourselves.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/11/2006 04:11:04 MST Print View

Roger, I admire the many treks you and your wife are able to take. I am genuinely looking forward to my own retirement when i can get out whenever the whim hits (and the wife permits! :)

Nikolas Andersen
(nsandersen) - MLife
Bathtub floors on 11/11/2006 06:17:02 MST Print View

How about a separate bathtub floor for tarps - have anyone seen one around? (My sewing skills are limited to trouser rips and reattaching buttons, so not quite sure about the DIY instructions at GossamerGear.)

John Glover
(jtg) - F
2 person bomber tents on 11/24/2006 16:40:29 MST Print View

Stephenson Warmlite beats all the others-lighter, more floor space, less condensation, easy set up , and great visibilty with side windows (and don't have to put on fly if it rains). Why is it so consistently ignored by BPL?

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: 2 person bomber tents on 11/24/2006 17:51:58 MST Print View

There are 6 Stephenson Warmlites listed in the gear guide, and a couple of forum references. Why not write a reader review? I think most readers here are interested in any gear that has advantages.

Have a great holiday,
MikeB

Edited by eaglemb on 11/24/2006 17:52:48 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/27/2006 02:13:23 MST Print View

Hi pj

> Roger, I admire the many treks you and your wife are able to take. I am genuinely looking forward to my own retirement when i can get out whenever the whim hits (and the wife permits! :)
BIG mistake - waiting until you retire! GO NOW! And take your wife with you.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Rogers right, PJ on 11/27/2006 06:13:11 MST Print View

PJ, about your retirement statement; IMO Roger's correct; if financially possible, get out there now for some day trips or an overnighter (forgive me if you regularly do so and I interpreted your posting wrongly).
I also spent years interpreting "critical flight data" (recalling your earlier post) for a company who shall remain nameless.. worked 4 years without one days vacation; only scheduled holidays. That time is just a vacuous hole in my memory banks.
Now I turn off the cellphone on the weekends and work a little harder M-F. Sorry to digress from the subject of this post.. but relating it back; some of my recent hiking memories worth repeating are when conditions were "ULTRA-FOUL" and I was testing new UL gear. You can't plan for adventure; it is what happens when things don't go according to plan. (paraphrasing someone else..)

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Rogers right, PJ on 11/27/2006 09:14:28 MST Print View

Roger & Brett,

Sound advice. Normally out often for short 1-3days and near daily fitness hikes with full UL pack - excepting this late spring through now (nada/nothing), with both a critical project at work coupled with some very unexpected recent personal developments and estate issues stemming from that which require a lot of my attention.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
Re: Other Hilleberg tents than Akto? on 12/29/2006 19:51:22 MST Print View

i used an unna for half a summer. it's well developed, palatial. extremely homey and dry, all which it well ought to be at 68 ounces and 400 bucks. also a bear to set up in a gentle breeze. real wind requires extreme care and planning (pre-guy out before erection... etc) it's nearly too much tent for one guy to handle. the poles are approx the length of a car. you gotta guy the pole corners in any wind at all, but then, even if you don't do the 5th rear panel guy, it seems to be quite secure thru squalls and gusts. i sat, just sat there in one spot for 4 days in steady drizzle thinking things out, and my down bag stayed perfect. there is no mentionable condesation even at sea level and freezing. i sewed in a large closable window, and this worked great.
verdict: flawless performance, but too big and heavy. ie .. nordic.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Hilleberg tents on 12/30/2006 10:29:53 MST Print View

During the 90s I led ski camping trips in Greenland, Spitsbergen, the Yukon and Lapland. We used Hilleberg Keron tunnel tents and they were superb, standing up to heavy snow and strong winds and being easy to pitch with mitts on in a blizzard. And back in 1992 I used a Nallo 2 for a walk the length of Norway and Sweden during a wet and windy summer. It performed excellently. Today I would take an Akto though - that tent didn't exist back then. Overall I've found Hilleberg tents superbly made, superbly designed and ideal for severe weather.

Jon McConachie
(hyker) - MLife

Locale: Sierra Nevada
EV2 on 06/15/2007 22:38:42 MDT Print View

One very nice aspect of the EV2 is the interior length. Very few tents have the length I need for my 6'5".

E C
(ofelas) - F

Locale: On the Edge
Re: Tunnel Tents on 09/15/2007 11:25:48 MDT Print View

Yup; I can attest to the stormproofness & bunker qualities of tunnel tents; I have one of the few Bibler Satellite Tunnel tents made, a great blend of usable space & lightness. Here it is pitched next to another Bibler for size comparision (a brand spanking new out of the sack 2 door Eldorado that I setup to seamseal).Satellite & Eldorado

Edited by ofelas on 09/15/2007 11:30:38 MDT.

James Waechter
(Weegie5)

Locale: Colorado Rockies
EV3 review? on 01/29/2009 14:59:44 MST Print View

From the Mountain Hardwear EV2 Review (which directs to this thread):

"It may not be a coincidence that a new Mountain Hardwear tent, the 'EV3,' uses a four-pole design. This upcoming tent is featured at the end of this review; we can't wait to get our hands on one."

What is the status of a review of the MH EV 3? This review is over three years old. Despite the delay, I'd still love to see a review of the EV 3. Any timeline for it?

Was it at ORWM last week? MH still has it on their website.

Edit: corrected quoted text

Edited by Weegie5 on 01/29/2009 18:52:40 MST.