NEMO Equipment has found creative solutions to shave weight but save comfort and weather resistance, making this tent one of our favorites. It wins our Top Pick Award for Light Weight and is the lightest two-door tent in this review. We love its clever design and dragged it all around the Sierra this summer. However, because it is so light it is quite fragile and needs to be treated with care.
We took the NEMO Blaze with us on many backpacking adventures in the High Sierra this summer.
Check out the chart below to see where the NEMO Blaze landed amongst the competition. We especially were impressed by it's light weight, so we granted it our Top Pick for Light Weight award.
The Blaze feels comfortable for two, and the vestibules have adequate space for storing extra items.
By no means is this tent the most roomy in this review, but NEMO
found ways to make it feel more comfortable than its competitors in its weight category. The floor dimensions are only one inch larger than the MSR FreeLite 2
, but the peak height is slightly higher and the tent generally feels more airy and roomy than the FreeLite
. Its two doors allow much easier access for two people than single door tents like the Hilleberg Anjan 2
and the Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2
; two doors add significantly to the comfort of a tent. The vestibules are on the small side but large enough to stash some shoes and a pack.
The pole configuration is clever and futuristic, leading to campers sleeping head to toe because the high points (by the poles) are on opposite ends. If you want to sleep with both your heads at the same end, one person gets a slightly droopier mesh side in their face — a small price to pay.
There is lots of head room for the person sleeping at the side where the pole connects.
The loops in which the cord-locks go through to roll up the fly door or the mesh door in fair weather or while moving into the tent, are too small. The plastic barely fits through and is finnicky to undo if the wind picks up during the night or if it starts to rain. This award winner has a decently sized pocket on either side for personal items.
We found the Blaze's small cord locks for tying back the door difficult to operate.
We were a bit nervous about how this tent would perform in high winds and rain, and were pleasantly surprised when it did well. Because it is non-freestanding, it could be more susceptible to high winds and getting blown over, especially if it is not staked down well. It does not have a significant amount of guy points, but having two doors helps stabilize this shelter significantly. The fly fabric is great, super light, packable, stretches tight for good wind resistance without much flapping noise and didn't stretch much when wet. It is surprisingly waterproof for being so thin. The Hilleberg Anjan 2 is the most weather resistant tent we tested and we would choose it over the Blaze if we were anticipating extreme weather conditions including very high winds.
This award winner is a true double wall tent and has great ventilation. The separate mesh interior helps with condensation, making it more versatile than the Tarptent Double Rainbow.
Weight and Packed Size
We love NEMO's attention to detail in the weight savings department with these tiny zipper pulls.
The Blaze excels in these categories. Nipping at the 37.6 ounce Fly Creek's heels, it weighs 39.7 ounces, third lightest in this review (the Ghost UL2 is second), and is the lightest two-door tent.
It packs down as small as both the Fly Creek and the Ghost. The super light 7D weight fly material is easy to cram into small places in your backpack — as are the small pole sections.
The tent wants to trick you into thinking that its freestanding, but it sets up a little bit strange if you stake it out after putting the poles in. Since it is not entirely free standing, it takes a bit of practice to get the setup right. We recommend staking it out first, minding square corners, then putting the poles into the body. The pole construction is similar to the Double Rainbow's, though the way the fly is designed to fit onto the body makes the tent look a bit odd and jaunty. But rest assured — it's probably set up right.
The Blaze is an asymmetrical tent because of its diagonally placed single ridge pole. Cleverly, this allows it to have a high peak height and larger interior without extra hubbed ends. The MSR Freelite 2 isn't quite as light, but has very strong hubbed poles and two doors as well.
It took us a while to figure out that it is better to stake out all four corners before connecting the pole to the body. Here Jessica Haist is learning the hard way.
Although these points share the same stake, there is a convenient cord-lock on the fly's cord.
This metric is the Blaze's weakest area. Its fabric is the lightest in this review at a mere 7 Denier, and is therefore the most susceptible to damage. Even the lightest tent in this review, the Fly Creek, has a 15 Denier weight fabric and is more durable. However, its high quality PeU coated ripstop nylon material is of much higher quality and, if treated with care, will last much longer than a lower quality fabric like the REI Passage's thick-coated polyester material.
This award winners light fly material was damaged simply while riding in one of our tester's packs and was abraded while hiking. It had micro-sized holes that could only be seen when on the tent body and light shining through from outside was visible. As with all lightweight gear, this tent needs an extra level of care to keep it from being damaged. That means choosing carefully what it goes beside in your pack, as well as staking it down carefully so it does not blow away and roll on abrasive surfaces in high winds.
Some tiny holes were worn into the Blaze's fabric while traveling in a backpack.
This tent's main limitation is its delicate fabrics. We can't emphasize enough how important it is to take care of your lightweight gear. To learn more about ultralight materials and care check out our Ultralight Tent Buying Advice.
The other main limitation is that it is not a freestanding tent. This makes is more susceptible to high winds and trickier to set up. With extra practice, patience, and care you will learn how to treat your tent and how to set it up properly. Then it will give you a great backpacking experience because it's saving you ounces and providing comfortable shelter.
We take this award winner on all of our extended backpacking trips into the backcountry. It is a great choice for something like the PCT or AT or shorter forays on the weekend. We would not recommend this tent for car camping. It is specifically for backpacking. We would recommend the Blaze's big brother, the NEMO Galaxi 2, as a great car camping and heavy duty tent. It's light duty only for the little Blaze.
The lightweight, asymmetrical Blaze next to it's burlier, heavier big brother the Galaxi.
The Blaze retails for $479.95 which is not cheap. However, we think that if you value weight savings and want to be somewhat comfortable when backpacking with someone else, it's worth the money. We would pay the extra money and chose the Blaze over the FreeLite. If you're looking for a tent that will last you a really long time and can be stretched from the beginning of Spring to the very frosty end of Fall, consider the Anjan. If you're looking for a bit more comfort and don't care as much about weight, you can spend less and get the Editors' Choice winner, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2. NEMO has used quality design and materials to create the Blaze; it's worth it if you plan to cover a lot of miles with it on your back.
The Blaze is set up for sleeping with heads at opposite end - the doors open in opposite directions.
The Blaze wins our Top Pick Award for Lightweight. It is not the very lightest tent we tested, but it is the lightest two-door tent, and certainly the most livable and comfortable in its class. This is the tent we kept reaching for this summer. Although it is not completely freestanding (similar to the Double Rainbow) it's super light and spacious — worth the $479! We love its futuristic, asymmetrical design and have not seen the likes of it before. It takes a little extra effort to set up properly and take good care of this high-end lightweight product, but we think it's worth the effort and the cost. For a lightweight, double wall tent with two doors, we're not sure what else you could ask for. It's more spacious and better in the wind that the Fly Creek. Although the vestibules are small, they work, especially given that you can fit more inside the tent than some of the other models we tested.
Even though the NEMO Blaze's fly looks funny, it is on correctly and the body's interior nylon walls protect from splashback in places where the fly is high.
We think the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 edges out the Blaze in all-around comfort, durability and weather resistance to take the Editors Choice Award, but just barely. If weight savings are your primary concern we highly recommend the NEMO Blaze.