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NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo Review

An ultralight tent with two side doors and great for covering long distances
NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo
Credit: Nemo
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Price:  $600 List | $599.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Super lightweight, easy to pitch, packs down very small
Cons:  Small, expensive, delicate
Manufacturer:   NEMO
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 16, 2022
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 4.0
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 6.0
  • Weight - 20% 10.0
  • Durability - 10% 5.0
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 8.0
  • Packed Size - 10% 10.0

Our Verdict

The Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo is the ultralight backpacker's dream tent. At just a shade over two pounds, it's light enough for one and just barely large enough for two. It has a few creature comforts like two side doors and storage pockets for small items. Though it's not the most durable or wind resistant, it is very easy to set up, and some novel design features make the most of limited space. Unsurprisingly, it packs down small. This tent prioritizes low weight above all else, but if that's important to you, this is one of the lightest dedicated-pole tents out there.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Super lightweight, easy to pitch, packs down very smallExcellent balance between weight and features, many storage pockets, large vestibulesTwo large double doors, good headroom, excellent balance of interior space and weightLightweight, good headroom for its size, double side doors, massive storage pocketSpacious, affordable, included footprint
Cons Small, expensive, delicateTapered foot, pockets are high upExpensive, delicate materialsOdd door configuration, delicate materials, expensiveHeavy, bulky poles
Bottom Line An ultralight tent with two side doors and great for covering long distancesA superior tent that balances light weight with excellent featuresThis tent balances the key aspects of a backpacking tent and performs admirably in all of our metricsThis 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 trips
Rating Categories NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Copper Sp... Big Agnes Tiger Wal... REI Co-op Half Dome...
Comfort (25%)
4.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
10.0
Weather Resistance (25%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (20%)
10.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
4.0
Durability (10%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Ease of Set-up (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Packed Size (10%)
10.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
4.0
Specs NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Copper Sp... Big Agnes Tiger Wal... REI Co-op Half Dome...
Packaged Weight 2.13 lbs 3.16 lbs 3.09 lbs 2.50 lbs 4.82 lbs
Floor Area 21.8 sq ft 29 sq ft 29 sq ft 28 sq ft 35.8 sq ft
Packed Size 19 x 4 in 19.5 x 4.5 in 19.5 x 6 in 18 x 5.5 in 20.5 x 7 in
Dimensions 87 X 40 x 39 in 88 x 50 x 41 in 88 x 52 x 40 in 86 x 52/42 x 39 in 92 x 56 in
Vestibule Area (Total) 6.9 sq ft 20 sq ft 18 sq. ft 16 sq ft 22.5 sq ft
Peak Height 39 in 41 in 40 in 39 in 42 in
Number of Doors 1 2 2 2 2
Number of Poles 1 3 1 3 1
Pole Diameter Not provided 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 2 mm
Number of Pockets 3 3 3 4 6
Gear Loft No No No No No
Pole Material DAC Featherlite NSL aluminum DAC featherlite NFL DAC featherlite NFL DAC featherlight NFL aluminum DAC featherlite NFL aluminum
Guy Points 4 5 4 3 4
Rain Fly Material 0D OSMO Ripstop 20D nylon ripstop 15D 1200mm silicone nylon ripStop Ripstop nylon, PU coating (1200 mm) 40-denier ripstop nylon/20-denier nylon mesh
Inner Tent Material No-See-Um Mesh 15D nylon ripstop [Body] 10D polyester mesh, [Floor] 20D nylon ripStop Ripstop nylon, PU coating (1200 mm), polyester mesh 40-denier taffeta nylon
Type Semifreestanding Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Two door semi freestanding Two door freestanding

Our Analysis and Test Results

Because of how light it is, this tent is specialized for lightweight backpacking. It has narrow dimensions and delicate materials, but can't be beaten on weight. The Osmo material improves the water resistance over other ripstop nylon tents.

Performance Comparison


NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo backpacking tent - the nemo hornet elite osmo is a super lightweight tent great for...
The Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo is a super lightweight tent great for long-distance backpacking adventures.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort


This tent does the most with the least, but it still isn't especially comfortable compared to the rest. We consistently had our heads or our feet touching the ends of the tent, which can be a bummer if there is a lot of condensation on the underside of the fly. The width is exactly wide enough for two regular sleeping pads, so be prepared to have your shoulders brushing up against the mesh walls. Despite the fly bar at the apex meant to provide headroom, we found that it's not really possible for two people to sit up at the same time, or for one person to sit up without their head touching the top of the canopy.

NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo backpacking tent - it's a cozy fit for two in this tent. it is exactly wide enough for...
It's a cozy fit for two in this tent. It is exactly wide enough for two bags.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Having said all that, we really appreciate having two side doors on a tent of this size. It makes all the difference for two people trying to navigate the space simultaneously. Each person also has a side pocket close at hand, and this model comes with an overhead light pocket that diffuses the light from a headlamp at night or for extra storage. This tent also has mini extender lines that connect to the fly. In theory, they are supposed to provide additional lateral space, but in practice, they don't create a ton of extra room.

NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo backpacking tent - the side doors aren't huge, but it is much more preferable to have...
The side doors aren't huge, but it is much more preferable to have two rather than the single door placed at one end of some ultralight models.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weather Resistance


The scant pole structure keeps this tent from thriving in high winds, but the Osmo material is a step up from its predecessor. As a semi-freestanding model, it uses two stakes at the foot end to provide volume. This means it is imperative to find good ground for staking. There is also only one guy point at the foot end. If the wind catches the tent broadside, it will flex inward. The straight up-and-down vestibule zippers aren't as effective as models that have one that curves away from the door — sometimes water gets flicked inside the vestibule when opening and closing it.

NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo backpacking tent - when opening the straight-line zipper on the fly, water can drip...
When opening the straight-line zipper on the fly, water can drip into the vestibule. However, we found the Osmo fabric was a great improvement in material engineering.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

With all that in mind, we love that the Osmo fly material stays taut compared to other nylon tents that stretch and sag when wet. This reduced the amount of pooling precipitation as well as the amount that dripped and ran underneath the fly toward the tent floor. Though the vestibules are fairly small, they can accommodate a pair of trail runners and potentially a small pack.

Weight


The Hornet Elite Osmo delivers the ultimate tent weight reduction. Flexing the scales at 2 pounds, 2 ounces, it is one of the lightest two-person dedicated pole tents we've seen to date.

NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo backpacking tent - the hornet elite osmo is the lightest dedicated-pole tent in the...
The Hornet Elite Osmo is the lightest dedicated-pole tent in the category.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

We wouldn't hesitate to take it out on a solo trip (which would certainly alleviate many of the comfort concerns noted above). For those who do use it in a pair, it's an exceptionally light carry when split between two packs.

Durability


The thin materials of Hornet Elite Osmo require a commitment to caring for it on trail. The thin floor is susceptible to developing pin holes if it's pitched repeatedly on sandy or gravely surfaces. To achieve its light weight, this model also has flexible but somewhat delicate poles. They won't snap easily in the wind, but each segment needs to be securely and completely inserted into adjacent segments during setup to reduce the possibility of cracking an end.

NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo backpacking tent - we like the durability of the tri-tip stakes, which are 100%...
We like the durability of the tri-tip stakes, which are 100% necessary for a sturdy pitch.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Interestingly, the stakes are very bend resistant. This is a great feature to have in a semi-freestanding model since it relies heavily on stakes to provide actual structure to the end of the tent.

Ease of Setup


The Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo is super simple to pitch because of its minimalist design. It has one set of Y-shaped poles. They are color-coded, as are the pole captures at the corners of the tent and fly, so it is clear how to orient everything.

NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo backpacking tent - the y-shaped pole structure (with grey branches and blue spine) is...
The Y-shaped pole structure (with grey branches and blue spine) is really straightforward. The plastic fly bar clips on easily for a little bit of extra headroom.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The only tricky part can be ensuring that the foot-end stakes responsible for the structure of the tent are driven deep enough into the ground. We also recommend being cautious at first with tensioning the fly so that you don't bend the bottom of the Y out of alignment.

Packed Size


Going along with its ultralight weight, this tent packs down as small as it gets. It comes with a roll-top stuff sack. It's a tight fit to get all of the pieces back into the sack, so we typically packed the tent, fly, poles, and stakes separately. We appreciate that the sack can double as a bear bag more easily than a typical drawstring bag.

NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo backpacking tent - the roll-top stuff sack is a lowkey but pleasant addition.
The roll-top stuff sack is a lowkey but pleasant addition.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

It also has limited hardware, which reduces bulk. The fly bar is the largest hard piece (aside from the poles), but its flexibility and shape make it easy to fit into the nooks and crannies of a pack.

Should You Buy the NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo?


The Hornet Elite Osmo is for the long-distance backpacker who wants to cut down on weight. This pricey model is one of our favorites for extended adventures, but its thin materials and narrow dimensions make it highly specialized. We recommend it for those who don't mind sleeping in very close quarters with their hiking partner and are okay with treating their tent a little more carefully.

What Other Backpacking Tents Should You Consider?


If you want a lightweight tent with a little more interior space, the Big Agnes Tiger Wall Solution Dye is one of our favorites. For something even roomier with larger vestibules that won't weigh you down too much more, the more durable Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 and NEMO Dragonfly are at the top of our list.

NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo backpacking tent - it's a small tent, but if you want the ultimate in light weight...
It's a small tent, but if you want the ultimate in light weight, there's no better option out there.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch
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