The NEMO Hornet Elite 2 is an ultralight, semi-freestanding, three-season backpacking tent with a single-pole construction, two doors, and two vestibules. It’s the lighter (Elite) version of the NEMO Hornet 2 – coming in at 4 oz / 113 g less and costing $130 more. The Hornet Elite 2 has a packed weight of 2 lb 1 oz / 935 g (this accounts for everything that comes with the tent) and a minimum trail weight of just 1 lb 11 oz / 779 g (this includes tent body, fly, poles, and stakes).
I used the Hornet Elite 2 for my hike of the Southern Sierra High Route and for a couple of shorter trips in California’s Sierra Nevada. I have used this tent exclusively as a single-person shelter and have yet to share it with someone else (although I don’t suspect I would want to – more on this below). I did not use the optional footprint (sold separately) with the tent.
- Capacity: 2
- Seasons: 3
- Doors: 2
- Vestibules: 2
- Poles: 1
- Minimum Weight: 1 lb 11 oz / 779 g
- Packed Weight: 2 lb 1 oz / 935 g
- Packed Size: 19 x 4.5 in / 48 x 12 cm
- Peak Height: 37 in / 94 cm
- Floor Area: 27.3 ft² / 2.5 m²
- Floor Dimensions: 85 x 50/42 in / 216 x 128/107 cm
- Vestibule Area: 6.2 ft² + 6.2 ft² / 0.6 m² + 0.6 m²
- Freestanding: Semi-Freestanding
- Pole Material: Hubbed Aluminum DAC Featherlite NFL
- Pole Diameter: 8.7 mm
- Canopy Fabric: No-See-Um Mesh
- Fly Fabric: 7D PeU Nylon Ripstop (1200 mm)
- Floor Fabric: 10D Sil/PeU Nylon Ripstop (1200 mm)
- Color: Elite Marigold
- MSRP: $499.95
- Dual stage stuff sack makes it easy to divide with a partner
- Patent-pending Flybar adds more room at the head and distributes fly tension evenly
- Guyouts connect the inner tent to the rainfly, pulling the sidewalls of the inner tent outward to create more livable space.
- Light Pocket overhead sleeve made with light-diffusing fabric to turn headlamp into a tent lantern
- Black No-See-Um Mesh canopy provides breathability and nighttime views
- Color-coded guylines and DAC poles
- Triangulated guyouts at corners to increase volume at the foot
- DAC Featherlite poles connect with a single-hubbed intersection
- NEMO Lifetime Warranty
The Weight: The Hornet Elite 2 is one of the lightest (and most reasonably priced) two-person, semi-freestanding shelters available. Yes, there are similar and lighter tents (the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 2 Carbon is lighter, but it also costs nearly twice as much – and is even more fragile), but the Hornet Elite 2 strikes a great balance between weight, durability, and price. The packed weight is 2 lb 1 oz / 935 g (this includes everything that comes with the tent – down to the plastic the tent is wrapped in) while the minimum trail weight is 1 lb 11 oz / 779 g (this includes tent body, fly, pole, and stakes). A sub-two-pound (907 g), semi-freestanding, two-person shelter is nothing to scoff at.
The Pitch: The NEMO Hornet Elite 2 uses a single pole with three attachment points – two on either side of the tent’s head and a single grommet in the center of the tent’s foot. You will also need at least two stakes to pitch the tent (they’re needed for the foot’s corners), but in a pinch, you would still be able to sleep in the Hornet Elite 2 if you somehow lost your stakes and couldn’t find a reasonable substitute. The fly requires at least two more stakes for the vestibules. It’s easy to set up and there’s nothing complicated about the pitch
The Light Pocket: There is a single overhead pocket in the Hornet Elite 2 made with light-diffusing fabric which means that you can easily turn it into a lantern by putting your headlamp inside. You don’t have to use it for your headlamp, but it does a great job when used as such. You would think that there wouldn’t be too many features with such a minimalist shelter, but it’s nice to see that NEMO made the effort to include what they could here. This attention to detail also includes pole grommets with notches to lock the poles into place.
The Wind: The semi-freestanding nature of the NEMO Hornet Elite 2 means that it isn’t as heavy as its freestanding cousins, but at the cost of the tent not being as structurally sound. If you find yourself setting up in high winds, you’ll need to be careful with your pitch. The poles are designed to bend and because there’s only one point of contact at the foot of the tent, the sides of the tent are easily pushed into the interior. It’s more an annoyance than anything in dry conditions, but this could be a more serious problem in extreme weather.
The Interior Space: The Hornet Elite 2 is advertised as a two-person shelter and its square footage is comparable to other ultralight two-person shelters on the market. That said, I can’t imagine having to share this tent with someone else (at least not for any considerable amount of time). Maybe with a dog. I would consider this more a 1.5-person shelter instead of a two-person. Good for a solo backpacker who needs extra space (me) or maybe someone and a doggo.
The Footprint: This is a complaint I have with most ultralight backpacking tents – the separate footprint. Sure, you could argue that the footprint is optional and that if you’re buying an ultralight tent you aren’t going to want to add additional weight, but if you’re buying an ultralight tent you also have more an incentive to use a footprint since the materials are going to be less durable. The Hornet Elite 2 does not come with a footprint, but there is one available for an extra $49.95 that adds 7 oz / 187 g to your setup. The weight of the normal NEMO Hornet 2 is only 4 oz / 113 more than the Hornet Elite so if you only want a little more floor protection, it might make sense to just get the Hornet 2 instead.
The Rain?: The one thing I’ve heard from others about the NEMO Hornet Elite 2 is that it doesn’t perform great in the rain. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I have not had any rain whilst using this shelter and so I cannot speak to how it holds up in a downpour. That said, campsite selection and pitch is going to be important since the wind can do a number on the shelter and the bathtub floor isn’t particularly high.
Who is it for?
Beginner Backpackers: If you’re looking to buy your first backpacking tent that you might use one time and then may live forevermore in your closet somewhere, then the NEMO Hornet Elite 2 is not the tent for you.
Weekend Warriors: If you’re getting out on the occasional or even regular weekend outing into the backcountry, then you could take a look at the NEMO Hornet Elite 2 as an option, but you’re probably better off with the Hornet 2 (the non-elite version) instead since it’s going to be more durable and is 25% less expensive. But don’t let me stop you, the Elite can still be a great option if you have the money and you’re ready to cut a little more weight from your pack.
Thru-hikers: The target audience for the NEMO Hornet Elite 2 is the thru-hiker. An ultralight $500 tent that needs to be treated with love to survive the rigors of the trail? Sounds about right for a thru-hiker. If you’re going to be using this as a solo shelter, it’s definitely worth taking a look at. That said, if you’re more a fan of saving all the weight possible, you can also check out the Hornet Elite 1 (the single-person version of the tent).
Couples: If you’re planning on using this shelter with your backpacking partner for the long term, then you may want to consider something a bit larger. The vestibules are a bit small and there won’t be any leftover interior space for your gear (unless you’re both very small and have the short versions of everything). It can definitely work as a two-person shelter, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
|NEMO Hornet 2||31 oz / 879 g||$370||27.5 ft² / 2.6 m²||2/2||Semi-freestanding|
|Fly Creek HV2 Platinum||26 oz / 737g||$550||28 ft² / 2.6 m²||1/1||Semi-freestanding|
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon||27 oz / 765 g||$1000||27 ft² / 2.5 m²||2/2||Semi-freestanding|
|Big Agnes Fly Creek HV Carbon 2||23 oz / 652 g||$850||28 ft² / 2.6 m²||1/1||Semi-freestanding|
|Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2||28 oz / 794g||$795||32.5 ft2 / 3.02 m2||2/2||Not freestanding (requires two trekking poles)|
|Tarptent StratoSpire Li||26 oz / 738 g||$709||27 ft² / 2.5 m²||2/2||Not freestanding (requires two trekking poles)|
The NEMO Hornet Elite 2 is an awesome single-person shelter and an alright two-person shelter. If you’re expecting to be out in a storm or an extended period of bad weather, you may want to look for something a bit more structurally sound, but if you’re only going to be encountering the occasional rain or windstorm, you can probably trust the Hornet 2 Elite to get you through it.
The Hornet Elite 2 has definitely earned a spot in my shelter rotation and will be joining me on many future endeavors into the wilderness. I’m curious to see how it holds up in the longterm and how much abuse it’ll stand up to before inevitably falling apart. That said, it is protected by the NEMO Lifetime Warranty which provides a “lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship and materials to the original owner.”
Check out the NEMO Hornet Elite 2 here.
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