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Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 Review

A backpacking tent large enough for two people to snuggle in and light enough for one person to carry on their own
Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2
Credit: Mountain Hardwear
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Price:  $400 List | $399.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, packable, overhead pocket
Cons:  Single door, less livable volume, average stakes
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 17, 2022
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 4.0
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 6.0
  • Weight - 20% 9.0
  • Durability - 10% 6.0
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 8.0
  • Packed Size - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 goes all-in on its light weight. At just a little over a couple of pounds, it's just about as light as a tent can get before moving into the tarp category. It also packs down small and has a couple of features that keep it comfortable enough, including a front vestibule in the fly and pockets overhead and on the side. Its single front-end door is a little annoying to navigate with two people. However, if you are trying to reduce your load as much as possible while staying true to the free-standing tent, the Nimbus is the way to go.

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Pros Lightweight, packable, overhead pocketExcellent balance between weight and features, many storage pockets, large vestibulesLightweight, good headroom for its size, double side doors, massive storage pocketSpacious, affordable, included footprintLightweight, can be pitched in freestanding mode, large 'rainy day' entryway
Cons Single door, less livable volume, average stakesTapered foot, pockets are high upOdd door configuration, delicate materials, expensiveHeavy, bulky polesLow condensation resistance, small doors, tricky set up
Bottom Line A backpacking tent large enough for two people to snuggle in and light enough for one person to carry on their ownA superior tent that balances light weight with excellent featuresThis is a lightweight tent for a long-distance backpacking duo that still wants the comfort of a double-wall shelterThis inexpensive tent is spacious enough for laid-back car camping and light enough for short to moderate backpacking tripsA good choice for all your light and fast backpacking trips for two
Rating Categories Mountain Hardwear N... NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Tiger Wal... REI Co-op Half Dome... Tarptent Double Rai...
Comfort (25%)
4.0
7.0
7.0
10.0
6.0
Weather Resistance (25%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Weight (20%)
9.0
7.0
9.0
4.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
6.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Ease of Set-up (10%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
4.0
Packed Size (10%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
9.0
Specs Mountain Hardwear N... NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Tiger Wal... REI Co-op Half Dome... Tarptent Double Rai...
Packaged Weight 2.29 lbs 3.16 lbs 2.50 lbs 4.82 lbs 2.60 lbs
Floor Area 28.1 sq ft 29 sq ft 28 sq ft 35.8 sq ft 30.5 sq ft
Packed Size 12 x 6 in 19.5 x 4.5 in 18 x 5.5 in 20.5 x 7 in 18 x 4 in
Dimensions 86 x 52 x 41 in 88 x 50 x 41 in 86 x 52/42 x 39 in 92 x 56 in 88 x 52 x 42 in
Vestibule Area (Total) 7.7 sq ft 20 sq ft 16 sq ft 22.5 sq ft 15 sq ft
Peak Height 41 in 41 in 39 in 42 in 42 in
Number of Doors 1 2 2 2 2
Number of Poles 1 3 3 1 2
Pole Diameter 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 2 mm 8.6 mm
Number of Pockets 3 3 4 6 2
Gear Loft No No No No No
Pole Material DAC featherlite NFL aluminum DAC featherlite NFL DAC featherlight NFL aluminum DAC featherlite NFL aluminum Easton 7075 E9 aluminum
Guy Points 3 5 3 4 8
Rain Fly Material 20D ripstop nylon 20D nylon ripstop Ripstop nylon, PU coating (1200 mm) 40-denier ripstop nylon/20-denier nylon mesh 1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silnylon
Inner Tent Material 15D nylon mesh 15D nylon ripstop Ripstop nylon, PU coating (1200 mm), polyester mesh 40-denier taffeta nylon 1.0 oz/yd2 (34 g/m2) no-see-um mesh
Type Semifreestanding Two door freestanding Two door semi freestanding Two door freestanding Two door semi freestanding

Our Analysis and Test Results

This tent stands out for its light weight. The 15 denier tent and 20 denier rain fly are thin but packable. With an easy setup, this tent will have you covered in the backcountry in no time.

Performance Comparison


Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 backpacking tent - the nimbus is light enough for one person to carry but can fit two...
The Nimbus is light enough for one person to carry but can fit two people if necessary.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort


For everything there is to like about the Nimbus, its comfort is not at the top of the list. Its 86 inch length already makes it one of the shorter tents. Its peak height also only exists as a narrow strip down the center of the tent. The sidewalls quickly slope inward from there, so fitting two people while sitting up or sleeping is an exercise in getting cozy.

Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 backpacking tent - there's enough headroom at the center peak height for one person to...
There's enough headroom at the center peak height for one person to sit up. However, vertical space gets very tight very quickly on the sides.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The single vestibule is also rather tight for two sets of gear and shoes. The front-end door is easy to open and close but a little annoying for the other person if you need to get out in the middle of the night. The two side pockets and third overhead pocket are nice additions that provide extra storage in a tent with small dimensions.

Ease of Set-Up


The simplicity of this model also makes it very simple to pitch. Shock cord holds all of the pole segments together, and they are color-coded to match the grommets on the tent, which makes it possible to orient everything very quickly.

Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 backpacking tent - the three branches of the y-pole structure are easy to attach to the...
The three branches of the Y-pole structure are easy to attach to the tent body.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

This tent has a somewhat atypical system for connecting the tent to the poles. Cord loops on the main body attach to G-hooks on the poles that stay securely in place.

Weather Resistance


The Nimbus will keep you dry, but it's not a foul-weather fortress. The fly is made from 20D ripstop nylon. It flares out far away from the tent to more effectively shed precipitation and clips to the sides of the tent so that it doesn't blow off-kilter in strong wind. A flap over the vestibule zipper prevents rain from dripping through, and the vestibule itself provides enough coverage to keep a pack and shoes dry in a storm.

Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 backpacking tent - water beads well on the fly but the ripstop nylon material also sags...
Water beads well on the fly but the ripstop nylon material also sags a little when it gets wet.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

On the downside, this ripstop nylon seems to have some extra stretch to it. Though this does make it easier to pitch, it is also susceptible to sagging when wet, meaning that in a strong storm, you are likely to have the fly brush up against the tent walls.

Weight


At 2.29 pounds, this tent is one of the lightest in the category. This makes it a great option for deeper backcountry travel when you still want a tent with dedicated poles. If you are hiking with a partner, splitting the weight makes for an extra light load.

Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 backpacking tent - this tent keeps its tiny 'breakable' parts to a minimum by using...
This tent keeps its tiny 'breakable' parts to a minimum by using cord loops (instead of the usual plastic clips) to secure the tent to the poles.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Durability


With light weight comes delicate materials. The thin tent floor benefits from an additional layer of protection from a ground cloth. With a minimalist Y-shaped architecture, the poles also have quite a bit more front-to-back bend than a model with additional segments.

Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 backpacking tent - the three-point pole structure has some extra flex in the wind.
The three-point pole structure has some extra flex in the wind.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Having said that, many of the materials are more substantial than other models in the same two pound weight range. The metal coins at the corners and end of the tent that hold the poles in place are minimalist and strong, and the nylon cord loops that secure the tent to the poles also do away with plastic clips that can get stepped on.

Packed Size


To go along with its weight, this tent has some of the smallest packed dimensions of any model. It comes with a drawstring stuff sack, but we opt to leave it behind to take advantage of the packability.

Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 backpacking tent - compact hardware adds to the solid packability of the nimbus.
Compact hardware adds to the solid packability of the Nimbus.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

We also like the low-profile hardware. Combined with an absence of hooks, there aren't any parts that get caught on the body and mesh of the tent, which sometimes happens with other models when unpacking them at the end of the day. The fly is also small enough that you could stuff it in an exterior pocket if it was wet (instead of mixing it in with the rest of your gear).

Should You Buy the Mountain Hardwear Nimbus 2?


This tent is all about weight savings. It is easy to set up and packs up small. It has a couple of standard storage features like pockets and a vestibule that add to its overall comfort. If reducing your load is your top priority, this is certainly a contender. However, there are similar models that do weather resistance and comfort notably better for around the same price point.

What Other Backpacking Tents Should You Consider?


If the Nimbus is a tent you are considering, the Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Solution Dye is another lightweight option worth a look. It's a nudge heavier, but it has two double doors and offers additional headroom. The NEMO Hornet Elite is another similar model that is even lighter, with its weight being more on par with that of the models found in our ultralight fleet. The NEMO Dragonfly and Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 both offer exceptional space-to-weight and are superb all-around options.

Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 backpacking tent - we like being able to look skyward in the all-mesh canopy of this...
We like being able to look skyward in the all-mesh canopy of this lightweight tent.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch
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