Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lightest two-door double wall tent.
Cons: Shortest tent tested, Jake's Feet are less reliable than grommets, single wall ends are more prone to condensation and make it so you can't pitch with fly, poles, and footprint in rain, other lighter tents have better ventilation.
Best Uses: Three-season trips with two skinny people that are less than 5' 9" tall.
At 3 lb. 9 oz. the Nemo Obi 2 is the lightest two-door double wall tent we've tested. It saves weight with a small inner tent that's cozy for two people and by using a single waterproof wall at the ends. Our testers appreciate the Obi's two vestibules but found the tent to be among the least comfortable we've tested for those approaching or over six feet tall.
See how the Obi compares to other tents in our Best Backpacking Tent Review.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Obi's two door design makes backcountry travel with a double wall tent more comfortable than single front entrance tents. Being able to enter and exit through your own door is less disruptive to your adventure partner than single entrance tents. It's also nicer to have your own vestibule space. The Obi's 40" peak height lets you sit up in the front and the pole design provides slightly more support than tents with three ground level pole connections.
Nemo lists the Obi's width as 50 in., which we measured as the width of the front exterior. The interior width is 48 in. at the widest point, 42 in. at the shoulder area, and 40 in. at the foot. There's enough space inside for two 20 in. wide pads with a couple of inches to spare on the sides at by the front of the tent and on extra space at the foot. Our testers' most significant complaint with the Obi was its length. The interior measures 80 in. from the center front to the center rear. This wouldn't be too bad except the bottom front of the tent is made with a single waterproof fabric that's prone to condensation. One of our 5 ft. 8 in. tall testers said that she wouldn't want to be one inch taller. In a lofted sleeping bag the author, at 6 ft. 1 in. tall, touches both ends simultaneously, which forces him to curl up in order to not get wet in the rain.
The Obi's two vestibules are roughly as small as many other lightweight tents and provide enough space to cover a pair of shoes and a small pack. One side pocket and ceiling pocket make it easier to find a headlamp at night. Clips attach the inner tent to the outer tent to increase interior volume. The two small vents at the top of the door may help slightly to combat condensation.
The Obi's double wall construction provides protection from all of the elements. As mentioned above, the shorter interior length and single wall ends make it relatively easy to get the bottom of a sleeping bag wet when it's raining. The Obi has wonderfully high waterproof side walls everywhere except on the doors. But splashback doesn't discriminate. One tester reported that in heavy rain on compact soil dirty splashback hit the mesh door and water seeped into the tent. Expanding the waterproof wall to include the bottom of the door could help to address this problem.
The Obi's thin low profile design helps it to shed wind. Our testers pitched the Obi and Losi side-by-side in a fierce High Sierra thunderstorm that blew the larger Losi away. The Obi's small size is a considerable advantage in serious three-season storms. Two other female testers (5' 5" and 5' 7" tall) hiked the length of the John Muir trail with the Obi and found that the tent held up well to the winds and one thunderstorm on their trip.
Weight and Packed Size
The Obi weighs just under 57 oz., or 3 lb. 9 oz., with stakes. In comparison, the lightest double wall tent tested weighs 24 ounces or 42 percent less than the Obi. The Obi comes with an alpine style stuff sack that separates the inner and outer tents from the pole, a design that we see more often with four-season single wall tents like the Mountain Hardwear Direkt2 and Black Diamond Firstlight. It's very good at compressing the tent body. Some companies such as Hilleberg and Warmlite argue that tents last longer when rolled up around the poles, but, as far as we know, there's little evidence to support that theory.
The Obi is one of several tents that receive a score of zero in this category. The tent can be "fast-pitched" with the poles, fly, and an optional footprint, but for reasons stated in our Buying Advice Article we do not believe this is a viable setup for backpacking. Plus, the gaping hole on the Obi's front end would let wind and rain in. Therefore, it must be pitched in the exact same way every time, which can be a drawback for long distance hikers or anyone forced to camp in sites that don't allow an optimal pitch.
The Obi lacks a clip at the vestibule door. Adding one would help to relieve stress on the vestibule zipper. We don't believe that the Obi's use of DAC Jake's Feet on the four corners results in a net benefit. These are slightly easier to use but not as reliable as traditional grommets. See the photos below for details. It's also important to note that Nemo is the only company that we know of that allows you to swap out the bottom part of the Jake's Feet. This could be useful if one was to break, but we still prefer grommets.
The clip that connects the inner tent to the outer tent lies high up on the inner tent wall (at the corner of the waterproof fabric and mesh). In high winds we found that this reduces tension on the inner wall and can make it flap around violently in the wind and smack you in the face if you're daring to go close enough. Other tents that have the same feature put the clip lower on the wall, which we prefer.
There's only one Velcro closure to connect the fly to the inner tent. Adding many more would greatly increase the Obi's strength in high winds because the outer tent needs to connect to the poles. The strongest tents tested here use continuous sleeves to connect the poles to either the inner or outer tent. Adding more closures, would make the system stronger. Nemo uses lots of excellent closures on its Tenshi tent (a bomber single wall shelter winter climbing). Using the same closures on the Obi would further increase its ability to handle three-season storms.
Lightweight backpacking with people that are around or less than 5' 8" tall.
The Obi is one of the most expensive tents tested in this category. We plot retail prices and our scores for each tent in a Price versus Value Chart.
The Nemo Obi 1, $320, is the one person version of this tent. It weighs 3 pounds 3 ounces and features side entrances.
The Nemo Losi 2, $320, offers car campers and occasional backpackers a wonderfully spacious tent for three-season adventures.
Use the Nemo Obi 2 Footprint, $40, to add longevity to your tent.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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Most recent review: January 12, 2014
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