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?
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Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: 2 person bomber tents on 01/29/2009 15:57:53 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?

I suspect the biggest reason is that Stephenson's are unwilling to provide demo tents for review.

The Warmlite is solid in the wind IF staked very tautly (and re-staked as it cools and sags), and IF the wind is coming from only one direction. But I did not find it was a nice place to hang out in a storm...too much condensation and the rain/snow pouring into the tent whenever you open the vestibule makes for a wet existence. The Nallo2 is the best lightweight tent I've used in these conditions (MacPac tunnels the best if I disregard weight). Although it also needs solid staking, at least with the Nallo2 there are also side guy-outs to cope with changing wind directions, a breathable inner to keep the condensation at bay, a covered vestibule entry to keep rain/snow out, a bathtub floor, and insect mesh on the inner door to help with venting (and insect control!).

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 01/29/2009 16:19:41 MST Print View

Stephenson's Warmlite did provide a 2X for review and this was included in the State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008), which was published last November. I agree with Alison's comments - the Warmlite is stable when staked correctly but the lack of a vestibule and the door opening over the groundsheet means it's not as easy to live in during a storm than a tent like the Nallo 2.

T. Sedlak
(busotti) - F
Stephenson's, Hilleberg, Big Sky, Tarptent on 08/18/2009 12:49:25 MDT Print View

I have slept in a variety of tents including Stephenson’s (Warmlite 2R), Hilleberg (Jannu), Big Sky (Evolution), and Tarptent (Squall 2). Here are some thoughts for those interested.

The most bomber and well constructed is the Hilleberg. The weight on these tents is the higher end of the spectrum, but a Hilleberg is what I want for potentially serious weather. As the inner and outer tents are attached you can set up in a storm and still keep the inside dry. They are very warm and the ventilation is not the greatest. There is condensation but not extreme. The big bathtub floor is very waterproof. The vestibule is handy. You can fully open/close the vents from inside. Definitely not a warm weather tent (too warm), and I would not recommend Hilleberg if you camp in warm weather (65-70 degrees F or higher). I tried out an Unna, too; very spacious for one, but no formal vestibule (you can improvise one by detatching an inner tent corner). Unna ventilation is not great for warm weather and bugs. Some of the Hillebergs use pole clips (Jannu) and some pole sleeves (Unna). I found the clips much easier to deal with.

Stephenson’s Warmlite 2RS. This is an ingenious design that has many clever aspects I haven’t seen elsewhere. For instance the inner and outer zippers are staggered such that the outer zipper serves as a rain flap for the inner. The poles are pre-bent so as to give better strength (so obvious, but so few tents do this). It is huge for the weight, fully bugproof. The optional windows give great ventilation and the tent is warm when all sealed up. It is not quite fully double walled. The front and back ends are single walled and prone to condensation. I weathered a severe 14 hour rainstorm in this and water did come through the silnylon floor through hydrostatic pressure, but this was an extreme circumstance (I wasn’t on fully flat ground and pooling under the tent occurred). The vestibule is extremely small (boots only), but the inside is gigantic. The outer tent window has to be zipped closed from the outside, an inconvenience for unexpected rain. There is a photo gallery of a guy who solo climbed Denali using a Warmlite. Overall an extremely versatile tent. (http://www.terragalleria.com/mountain/info/ice/mk2.html). Also: http://www.terragalleria.com/mountain/mountain-area.mckinley.html

The tarptent is the lightest, but I would not use this if I were concerned about severe weather. I am not a big fan of all the tinkering needed to get this set up with an optimal pitch. Spindrift or rain with a bit of wind could be a problem as the mesh on the tent sides are a little exposed. For most circumstances this is a great choice (warm summer weather).

The Big Sky tents are great all around. I used mine for the entire John Muir Trail. The fly is not attached and set up in a storm would get the inner tent wet (the inner is basically all mesh on top). Easy and REPRODUCIBLE set up are strong pluses, as is the light weight. Severe rain or mountain weather might be a little dicey, but for general backpacking this is a great choice. The very small vestibules won’t keep much out of the rain except something the size of boots or a small pack.

Overall, there is no perfect tent for every circumstance. Everyone is different in where they draw their own personal line for tradeoffs, such as lighter weight at the expense of a miserable, wet night.