NEMO has given this year's Tenshi an external pole configuration and some new colors. It still retails for the same $700 price tag. See a comparison of this years tent, left, next to the version we tested, right.
- External Poles — NEMO has placed the poles of the updated tent on the outside, a design intended for easier setup during extreme weather.
- Color Updates — The bright orange color has stuck around but is now accented with some grey color blocks on the vestibule and roof ventilation flaps.
As we haven't tested the updated Tenshi, the review that follows only refers to our experience with the original tent.
Hands-On Review of the Tenshi
The Nemo Tenshi is durable, has a livable design, and comes with a detachable hooped vestibule. Unfortunately, it's heavier than all the other two-pole models we tested, like the Black Diamond Eldorado, which kept it from winning an award.
The Tenshi has a large hooped vestibule (that is removable) and has great ventilation thanks to its four vents.
Ease of Set-Up
The Tenshi pitches reasonably quickly by inserting two poles inside the tent. This design is common in many single wall tents, and we appreciate the Nemo's large Velcro strips, which make it easy to attach the poles. Some tents pitch faster and easier because they have pole sleeves, and we think the Tenshi would be even better with them. Attaching and tying out the vestibule takes a bit of extra time, but is well worth the effort if and when you want the extra covered space.
The Tenshi is a strong two-pole single-wall tent. It has the traditional four mid-level corner guy points and reinforced ground level points. It also has two features not found on other single wall models:
(1) The vestibule has three holes around its tie-out loops. Though not necessarily designed for this, you can wrap the guyline around the pole once to help transfer tension from the tie-out stitching to the entire pole sleeve (see the photo below). This technique is used on the Hilleberg dome tents and works well; however, on those tents, there is no fly material around the pole, so this could create a durability issue over the long-term if you do this with the Tenshi.
(2) The Tenshi has what Nemo terms a "Sleep Tight Anchor Transfer" (STAT) that improves upon the traditional fabric loop anchor (used on the Rab Latok series and elsewhere). Instead of tying rope, slings or cordalette to the outside and feeding something else through the inside loop to your harness, Nemo's setup lets you tie the tent - and yourself - in tightly against an anchor with minimal slack in the system. The exterior point can also serve as an additional tie-out point in high winds (see the photo below that simulates this).
The Tenshi's Sleep Tight Anchor Transfer. Clip the black loop into the mountain and your harness into the corresponding loop inside. This feature can also work as an extra tie out, as shown simulated here.
The tent has 28 square feet of interior space and a 42" peak height. These measurements are an average amount of space for a bivy tent or a tiny bit more room than ultralight single wall tents, like the Black Diamond Firstlight. If you're 5'10" or taller, your head and feet will likely touch both ends simultaneously, though that's common for this type of tent.
The Tenshi provides an average amount of space for a two-person single wall tent. It's considerably more comfortable than ultralight tents though.
The ability to add the vestibule is a nice feature that is useful for base camping or advanced camps. The window on the vestibule is not necessary but can be excellent for monitoring conditions and increasing morale when you're stuck inside all day. There's a small reflective strip beneath the vestibule window that can help you find the tent at night. Two pockets sit in the upper corners by the door and are more supportive and more extensive than those found on the vast majority of other single wall tents we've tested.
Note the reasonably spacious vestibule and two supportive pockets on the Tenshi. Cilo Gear 45L NWD Worksack in the vestibule.
The Tenshi's finest attribute might be its ventilation system, which is one of the best of any single wall tent we've ever tested. This is critical to both comfort and safety because no PU coated tent fabric is as breathable as we would like. The Tenshi has four vents! Two on each side, a small one on the front, and a huge one in the rear. The vents are marvelous because they allow you to customize airflow based on environmental conditions. For example, you can close the front vent if the wind is hammering from that direction and leave all of the others open. The rear vent is so large you can use it as a mini door to put things in the tent.
Bonus: the vestibule also has two vents that help to circulate air while cooking. This makes it more comfortable to cook inside the tent because you may not need to open the door. Also, all of the vents likely make cooking inside the main tent safer than in any other single wall tent we've tested (more air flow = less carbon monoxide). Ventilation is the crux of single-wall tent design, and Nemo aced it with the Tenshi.
The Tenshi has a removable Condensation Curtain, a thin piece of fabric that can help to keep moisture vapor from your breath in one area and direct it out the door. Our testers disagree about whether this is worthwhile to carry and fiddle with. Some like it and others don't.
The Tenshi's rear vent is fantastic. You can seal it up tight (left), have a small opening (center), or open it fully (right). Mesh netting further allows you to customize airflow or vent in warmer conditions with insects.
Nemo had some hydrolysis issues with the PU formulations on the older Tenshi models and changed the zippers and fabric coatings in 2010 to improve durability. Our experience shows that three-layer fabrics are more resistant to hydrolysis over the long term than two layer fabrics like the Tenshi's walls. Nonetheless, our Tenshi has proven to be tough, and we have not heard of other problems with the recent models.
The bottom snap corners of the Tenshi have a metal point on the bottom exterior. This feature helps increase durability when you pitch the tent on hard surfaces like rocks and compacted soil in established campsites. Overall, this competitor is very tough.
Weight and Packed Size
Our affinity for the Tenshi lessens when we have to lug it around. The tent is best suited to high altitude mountaineering and alpine climbing, but in those situations, low weight is often the number one consideration. The Tenshi's 84 oz. base weight is a lot. Other tents, like the MSR Advance Pro, weigh nearly half as much as the Tenshi. This is a serious drawback that leads our testers to prefer lighter tents that are not as durable or as comfortable. When climbing, it is often more comfortable to carry less on your back than have a slightly larger and better-ventilated tent for camp.
Body: 51 oz. or 3 lb. 3 oz.
Two main poles: 12.9 oz.
Vestibule + vestibule pole: 23.9 oz.
Condensation Curtain: 3.0 oz.
These measurements do not include guylines or stakes. The Tenshi comes with good quality guyline, but not enough of it. The stakes are okay, but not phenomenal. If you want to upgrade, we suggest Ruta Locura 9" Carbon Stakes, which are much lighter than the included stakes and worth every penny if you plan to stake into the bare ground.
The stuff sack is hefty — we would prefer a light and straightforward stuff sack for the tent body and a separate sack for the poles, similar to what Nemo does with their Obi 1.
The Tenshi doesn't pack down so well, shown here next to the CiloGear 45 liter Non-Woven Dyneema Worksack. Other single wall tents pack much smaller.
The Tenshi is reasonably versatile, both because of its extensive ventilation options, and because it comes with with a removable vestibule, which expands your horizons.
This tent has a host of features that make it the Mercedez Benz of single wall tents. Nemo is known for dreaming up wild features that increase comfort in camp. The Tenshi's ventilation and anchor systems exemplify this.
The Tenshi is ideal for alpine climbing or multi-day ski touring.
At $700, the Tenshi is one of the more expensive contenders in our test. While it is one of the heaviest single wall models in our review, it's a top-tier tent that does well in many of our metrics.
The Nemo Tenshi is an excellent alpine climbing tent. If it were lighter, we would use it much more often.