The NEMO Hornet OSMO™ is a technical, lightweight, compact, nearly freestanding backpacking tent. A favorite among thru-hikers and ultralight backpackers, it’s now made with proprietary OSMO fabric that delivers 4x better water repellency and 3x less stretch when wet than conventional nylon.
I recently had the opportunity to test the 2-person Hornet OSMO tent, which weighs 2lbs 8oz, in the desert canyons of northwest Colorado. Let’s dive into what I loved about the tent, what makes it unique, and what to be aware of before purchasing.
Both the fly and the floor on the Hornet tent are made with Nemo’s proprietary OSMO™ fabric, which is a composite weave of recycled nylon and recycled polyester. By putting the two together and harnessing the benefits of both materials, the fabric starts more water repellent and stays that way longer.
“Nylon is great because it’s lightweight and it’s strong,” said Gabriel Rosenbrien, Product Development Manager for Nemo. “Polyester is great because it’s dimensionally stable, it doesn’t stretch, and it also doesn't absorb water, it’s more hydrophobic than nylon.”
OSMO fabric is also made from 100% recycled yarns that are PFAS-free and meet flame retardancy standards without the use of added chemicals. A proprietary fabric coating, a formula developed just for OSMO, resists breakdown by hydrolysis and maintains water repellency longer.
“The goal in making OSMO was to develop a fabric that maximizes performance and reduces environmental impact,” Gabriel said.
Weight & Size
Compared to the first 2-person tent I bought almost two decades ago, the featherlight weight and extremely compact size of the Hornet OSMO make me laugh. Technology has come a long way. No longer is there any need to sacrifice comfort in camp for comfort when hiking.
The 2-person NEMO Hornet OSMO™ weighs 2lbs 8oz packed, or 2lb 1oz at minimum, which I understand to mean without the stuff sacks, extra guy line and stakes.
Almost more impressive, for offering both weather and bug protection, it folds and stuffs down into a super compact package. While my Dyneema trekking pole supported shelter is undeniably lighter with more interior space, it also takes up a smidge more room in my pack; but at times a lot more room, when I need to add the bug net to the setup. And Dyneema is expensive — make-you-cringe expensive.
In terms of interior space, at 5’ 7” I found that I could sit up comfortably, but my ponytail piled on top of my head did brush against the top mesh. A super tall human might find themselves in a slightly crouched sitting position. I do really love how the structure of the poles in combo with a patent-pending Flybar™ pole clip creates more room at the head of the tent (versus at the feet). It’s a clever and efficient design.
I used the 2-person tent for just myself and the sizing felt exactly right. I fully admit that I recently switched from a Klymit pad to the much cushier extra wide Exped Ultra 3R sleeping mat, because it turns out the extra ounces are absolutely worth a solid night’s rest. But even sharing the 2-person tent with my 11-year-old daughter would make me think twice. Possible? Absolutely. Would we end up flopping on top of each other all night? Most likely! That said, I would be much more inclined to share this tent with my dog, who’d curl up in the bottom, still giving me room to toggle from side to side.
The 2-person Hornet OSMO™ tent has vestibules on both sides. There’s a small weight penalty for this, but I found myself loving the flexibility in how I pitched my tent, as well as the ability to organize my gear, using each side in an intentional way.
What makes the Hornet unique and well worth your consideration is the extreme attention to detail. In addition to developing their own high-performance fabric for this tent, Nemo put a lot of thought into the little things.
I loved the nightlight pocket. Most of us have tried to dangle our headlamps from our shelter, only to quickly realize it can be awkward, with the light pointing at weird angles, and too bright. The pocket diffuses light and is perched perfectly overhead.
Another brilliant little detail is that when the rainfly on the vestibule is pulled back, it locks easily and in a clever way around the tent pole, adding stability to the setup. Nemo describes these as ‘integrated Gatekeeper™ clips’.
I appreciate that setting up the tent is intuitive and stuffing it all back into the sack is straightforward; Nemo allowed enough room in the stuff sack for the contents of the tent.
White no-see-um mesh at the side increases privacy, while black mesh at the top turns virtually transparent at night for clear stargazing.
Triangulated corners increase volume at the foot, protecting sleeping bags and gear from tent wall condensation. Also, the floor of the tent is seam taped. And, reflective material makes it easy to locate the tent at night with your headlamp!
Some Things to Note
Setting up the NEMO Hornet OSMO™ tent is intuitive. It’s a mostly freestanding tent that requires staking out the bottom 2 corners at minimum for structure. The tent poles are a single unit, with the 3 poles connecting to a single hub.
However, I did find the rainfly itself less than intuitive to use. This is in part because Nemo prints their logo on the inside of the tent so that it shows through the transparent fly material to be read correctly from the outside. It’s also because the outside of the fabric doesn’t necessarily feel like it should be the outside of the fabric.
Whatever the reason, I set up the fly inside out on my first try, when testing the pitch in my yard. And then managed to do it again out in the wilderness, while half asleep, and in the dark, because of lightning overhead.
Another small detail I found mildly annoying was that the stakes that come with the tent only have a groove for the guy lines on one of 3 sides. Why not eliminate having to think about this — and a few grams in the process — by putting slits on all 3 sides of the stakes?
Weighing 2lbs 8oz, the Hornet OSMO™ 2-person tent delivers serious protection from the elements and bugs, and a truly solid night’s rest, in an astonishingly small package. Don’t underestimate how much fabric innovation and a technical ultralight design can improve your backpacking experience. Just be ready to cozy up with your hiking partner, or instead order the size larger.