The Nemo Tenshi is a solid and fairly lightweight model that offers more versatility than a majority of other 2-pole bivy-style tents. At first glance, it looks like most other weight-focused 2-pole mountaineering tents, but several subtleties make the Tenshi more user-friendly and livable. It's straightforward and pitches from the outside and sports one of the more comprehensive ventilation systems. It's decent in moist three-season environments and lower elevation use and comes with a removable vestibule, which makes using this model as a "base camp" on weekend or rainy trips much more pleasant. For the majority of users, its extra weight is worth the versatility.
Nemo Tenshi Review
Cons: Heavy, ventilation system is sweet but the canopy fabric itself is not as breathable as other models, okay internal dimensions, average price
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nemo Tenshi is a classic 2-pole alpine tent with a lot of extras. This model is pitched from the outside using clips, making it one of the simpler bivy-tents to set-up. Like many bivy-tents, it is only a single wall design. However, it sports a ton of ventilation options to help its inhabitants manage condensation. It's also on the more spacious side of similarly designed tents.
Ease of Set-Up
The Tenshi is one of the easiest bivy-style tents to pitch; unlike many bivy tents that place the poles inside the body (strong but more challenging to correct) or models that utilize pole sleeves, the Tenshi uses external plastic clips that make setting this model up a breeze. Its single wall design adds to its ease and speed of pitching. A lot of double-wall models use similar plastic clips, but then you need to add and secure a separate rainfly, but with the Tenshi, you pretty much clip the poles, and you're ready to go.
The external poles were one of the biggest changes made to this model when it was updated, and a change all of our testers felt was for the better. This model is easier to set up than all of its closest competition like the Black Diamond Eldorado, MSR Advance Pro, or The North Face Assualt.
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 many other single wall models.
The first is the vestibule has three holes around the pole sleeves, which doubles for reinforcing 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 some of the Hilleberg and The North Face models.
The other is something Nemo terms a "Sleep Tight Anchor Transfer" (STAT) that improves upon the traditional fabric loop anchor. 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 is one of the more weather resistant models we tested and was one of the best single wall models to use in the straight-up rain. The Tenshi held up well in heavy snow and strong winds, and is a model we'd consider taking to the greater ranges, lower 48, or Southern Canada.
Weight and Packed Size
The Tenshi isn't the lightest or most compact but weighs in at three pounds 15 ounces without its vestibule.
For the extra weight, you get a roomy feel and excellent ventilation. It's just a touch under four pounds without its vestibule.
The tent has 28.5 square feet of interior space and a 42" peak height. These measurements are slightly larger than average for a bivy tent.
The ability to add the vestibule is a nice feature that is useful for short term base camping (like hiking into a route and then leaving camp to climb a route the next day) or advanced camps at higher altitudes. The window on the vestibule is a nice touch and 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.
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 comfort and safety because no PU coated tent fabric is as breathable as we would like. The Tenshi has four vents; there are 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 circulate air while cooking. This makes it more comfortable to cook inside the tent because you may not need to open the door. Ventilation is the crux of single-wall tent design, and Nemo aced it with the Tenshi.
We did find that Black Diamond's fabric used in the Fitzroy, Ahwahnee, and Eldorado handled moisture slightly better than the Tenshi's, but we feel its vaulted vents more than equalized any differences in fabric.
Lastly, if nothing else, a unique feature of the Tenshi is its included removable Condensation Curtain, which is a thin piece of fabric that you hang inside the tent. It can help keep moisture vapor from your breath in one area and direct it out the door, keeping the other side drier. Our testers disagree about whether this is worthwhile to carry and fiddle with; some liked it, and others found it a little too gimmicky.
The Tenshi is built with 40-denier ripstop nylon that proved slightly better than average durability compared with other 2-pole bivy-style tents. Its body is slightly more durable than others, and the DAC Featherlite aluminum poles are solid (which are the identical poles used in the Firstlight).
The Tenshi is reasonably versatile; because of its extensive ventilation options, its bigger than the tiniest bivy tent size. Also adding to its versatility is its included and removable vestibule, which, when left behind, keeps this tent at a pretty respectable weight. When brought along, you'll have a lot of space to cover your gear.
The Tenshi is one of the more expensive contenders in our test but does come with a removable vestibule. The Tenshi is a solid, but not exceptional value, as its middle-ground pricing is balanced with solid performance and a host of sweet features.
The Nemo Tenshi is an excellent alpine climbing tent, particularly for the type of routes most people commonly attempt where you camp at the base of a route and leave camp set-up while you go off for your climb. You can certainly buy a lighter tent, but the Tenshi adds a fair amount of comfort and versatility for just a little more weight. We appreciate the vents, additional interior space, and optional vestibule for only a small weight penalty.
— Ian Nicholson