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MSR Nook Review

   

Backpacking Tents

  • Currently 4.1/5
Overall avg rating 4.1 of 5 based on 6 reviews. Most recent review: July 11, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $300 - $400 | Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Reasonably lightweight, space to sit up inside, two supportive pockets, above average static strength.
Cons:  Heavy for the amount of space, small vestibule.
Best Uses:  Spacious backpacking.
User Rating:     
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  • 5
 (4.2 of 5) based on 5 reviews
Recommendations:  80% of reviewers (4/5) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Cascade Designs
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ December 20, 2012  
Overview
The Nook is our highest rated tent from MSR. It's comfortable, reasonably strong, made of good quality materials, and has a series of well designed features. Although the Nook does above average in our ratings we don't believe this type of tent delivers top performance for either car camping (it has a tiny vestibule) or for backpacking (it weighs 3.5 lb). Other pole designs offer either more space or lower weight, and a few are lighter and more comfortable. Even so, the tent performs well; one our testers slept in it for three straight months while building trails in remote high elevation areas of Yosemite National Park.

See how the Nook compares to the dozens of other tents we've tested in our Backpacking Tent Review.

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  • Photos
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Livability
The MSR Nook makes the traditional Y-shaped pole design more comfortable. It uses a unique design that has two cross poles that run perpendicular to the primary pole and serve to increase interior volume. The Nook has a 38-inch peak height, which is about average for the 24 tents tested, but the beauty of the second pole is it maintains that peak height farther into the tent, creating more space for sitting upright. After the Hilleberg Anjan, this is the second most comfortable single entrance tent we've tested.

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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Regular and XLite Women's in the MSR Nook tent.
Credit: Max Neale
Weather Resistance
We believe the Nook is MSR's strongest three-season tent. Unlike the Hubba Hubba, Carbon Reflex 2, and Hoop, the Nook has a smaller and more aerodynamic design and many more guy points that help to support the tent in high winds. It's the company's only tent that we feel secure in during serious three-season storms. The waterproof floor extends up the walls enough to stop splashback and solid nylon panels extend four inches up from there to block additional splashback or spindrift, and make the tent warmer. The rest of the walls are mesh, which, when combined with two side vents, help to combat condensation better than the average tent tested here.

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The MSR Nook. Note the slim, aerodynamic design and the numerous guypoints. We believe this is MSR's strongest three-season tent. None of the guypoints are guyed out in this photo.
Credit: Max Neale
Weight and Packed Size
The Nook weighs 52 ounces or 3 lb. 8 oz. It's on the heavier side for serious backpacking but is light enough for many shorter duration trips.

Limitations
The Nook walks the thin and sometimes awkward line between a backpacking tent and a car camping tent. Its features are well designed, but it suffers from "category drawback." That is, this type of tent excels at neither car camping nor backpacking. In general our testers prefer to use a much lighter and smaller tent for backpacking and a much larger and heavier tent for car camping. The Nook's vestibule is a tiny six-square-foot pointy bit that's much smaller than the average tent we've tested. The vestibule is more of a gesture than it is functional. Thus, the tent performs poorly at car camping or basecamping; a slightly heavier tent offers more comfort. And for backpacking, other tents are more spacious for their weight. Nonetheless, the tent is very good compared to the global market and does reasonably well in our ratings, which pit the best tents on the market against each other.

Adaptability
The Nook can be fast-pitched with the fly, poles, and an optional footprint. But, for reasons stated in our Backpacking Tent Buying Advice, we don't recommend fast-pitching. The tent is not adaptable to environmental variation. It much be pitched in the same way every time regardless of the weather or the campsite.

Best Application
Semi-spacious backpacking.

Value
At $400 the Nook ranks among the more expensive tents we've tested. Check out our Price versus Value Chart to see how it compares to other tents performance and price.

Accessories
The Nook Gear Shed adds storage space to the Nook tent. A Nook Footprint is available for separate purchase.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: July 11, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.2)

80% of 5 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
6 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (3)
4 star: 33%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 17%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 5 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Jul 11, 2014 - 03:11pm
oregonbackpacker · Backpacker · Portland, OR
I've had this tent for three seasons now, and, while I have a few nits, overall, I've been very happy with it.

First the nits: 1) The tent is semi free standing, but to have a comfortable well ventilated night, you really do need to stake out the fly to keep it off of the tent. 2) Properly staking out the fly also requires a couple more stakes and additional line compared to what is included in the set up. 3) The tent is heavier than ultra light alternatives. 4) The vestibule and areas under the tent are useable but cramped for protecting a backpack.

What I like: 1) The tent, properly staked, can handle a lot of wind. I've been comfortable in gusty thunder storms and the tent has held up fine while my neighbor's tent collapsed repeatedly. 2) The tent has walls that go up several inches: this is really nice where wind might kick up sand or snow or rain under the fly. 3) For two people it is fairly spacious and comfortable with plenty of room to sit up.

So basically, this is a durable, sturdy, lightweight (though not ultra-light) and comfortable tent that requires some minor tradeoffs in terms of exterior storage and convenience of set up. While not a four season tent, its best suited for backpacks into areas with windy (and potentially rainy/snowy) conditions.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jun 21, 2014 - 08:11am
Soz · Other · Victoria, Australia
A disappointment.

I work as an outdoor instructor taking students on school camp. I have used, bought and borrowed many tents including sierra designs, see to summit, one planet, msr and black diamond and I am particularly disappointing with this tent.

This tent has approximately 80 nights out in the field and I am looking at replacing it.


PRO'S

-Enough room to sit up in

-Good size for one person

-Reasonably light weight

CON'S

-The floor leaked the first time it was used on flat ground (while footprint was on back order). Tent was set up on dry ground with rain over night. Friends with much older tents remained dry.

-Footprint is not the same size as floor / fly of the tent and so its difficult to equalize the tension.

-Tent has to be guy roped out ALL the time otherwise there is not enough ventilation in the tent and I end up getting soaked everytime.

-Tent is loose and there is not much room for your feet unless it is roped out --> if it rains and it is not roped out expect to have puddles of water in your tent.

-Poor inner zips, there is no way to get tension off the zip. Zip has now busted and no longer tracks properly

-Cross over pole does not site straight over the width of the tent despite the velcro

-Small vestibule.

-Does not handle well if the wind shifts in the night and blows from the side of the tent - despite having ropes attached. On many occasions its felt like my tent was going to bend in half.
  • Poor finishing where the zip attaches to the tent there is and has always been loose threading / fraying


Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Nov 9, 2013 - 01:14pm
James Moore · Backpacker · Florida
I up graded my tent for a November 2013 section hike on the A.T. and I am thankful that I did! I was very happy with the quality and the ease of set up. MSR knocked this one out of the park. It held up well in high winds near mountain peaks. I also like the green rain fly it blends well with the surroundings and does not scream "hey you, I am over here". I have an orange sleeping bag to signal if needed.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Oct 26, 2013 - 01:40pm
svstone3 · Backpacker
This is a very durable and well made backcountry tent for its weight. It is small as most backcountry tents are. I've camped in snow, rain, and high winds (35+ mph) with no problems in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming . It does need to be guyed out properly though. Yes, I too wish it came more stakes and guy line. One should practice setting it up before taking it on a trip. It is bomber once you know how to guy it out. I've yet to have any issues with the fly contacting the tent wall excepting in some very high winds. I wish the was a guy out point where the vent spacer rod thingy is on the fly. The fly doesn't come all the to the ground but the bathtub floor extends above the lower edge of the fly so this hasn't been an issue relative to the conditions I've encounter so far. I've no problems with condensation so far. The trick is in the guying out of the tent. It packs up small. Light but not the lightest tent out there. This is not an ultralight tent but it is light considering how durable it is. The extra weight should translate into great durability. It is more weather resistant and aerodynamic than many other tents and should last longer under bad conditions that most other ultralight and lightweight tent. So far I have been very pleased with this tent and think it should hold up to years of use with proper care, maintenance, and storage.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Feb 27, 2013 - 09:36am
tRad · Climber · Birmingham
So, first off, I'm not sure why this tent is so low on the list. I would directly relate this to the Mountain Hardwear Mega UL 2. (I realize they are only differentiated by 2 points).

I disagree with the comments about utilizing this as an in between car camping tent/back packing tent. If you are going car camping, why would you bring something small? I can pack this guy down to the size of a number 3 soccer ball with a compression sack.

Also, as far as waterproof goes, I can personally attest to the successes in a torrential driving rain with 30+ mph winds. Stayed dry.

I realize that I haven't used most of the other tents listed, but the Nook is made of really bomber materials, and is still super light, and is cheaper than the Mtn Hardwear!

When doing my research before I bought the tent, I got down into the deniers of the fly, body, and floor. I was willing to sacrifice the extra ounces for proven MSR durability.

I would seriously consider this guy before you pull the trigger on the mountain hardwear or the fly creeks. (btw, the fly creek entrance will get you soaked inside and out if its raining and you need to pee in the night).

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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MSR Nook
Credit: MSR
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