Gear Review: NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Amy Hatch
NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

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.


OSMO™ Fabric

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

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 

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

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.

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

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.

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

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. 

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

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.

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

 

The Details! 

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. 

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

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’.

 

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

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. 

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

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!

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

 

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. 

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

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. 

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear


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. 

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

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? 


Bottom Line

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

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. 

 

 

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking Tent Review GGG Garage Grown Gear
Hornet OSMO™ Tent by NEMO

 

 



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6 comments

Scott. Thompson

Scott. Thompson

Just got my Hornet to replace a now ancient REI Chrysalis. First time out, rain came in torrents about 3AM. All stayed snug and dry … until morning when I unzipped the rain fly. Even with pre-shaking, rain and water entered the vestibule onto my boots. A side opening would have kept more of the vestibule drier. And the rain fly zipper tended to snag regularly on that moisture barrier strip that runs its length. That said, I expect the compact Hornet to outperform the old Chrysalis especially when it comes to avoiding condensation.

Luke

Luke

I have a 1st gen Hornet 1p. I agree on the stakes. They would be perfect if they had that notch on all three sides. I also feel like those loops under the flybar are are asking for a shelf of some sort. I feel like this was supposed to be a post-purchase addon but never saw the light? I use bug net sleeves for your arms ($2 at army/navy surplus) and fasten them to the loops. Makes for a nice small basket shelf.

Michael

Michael

How is this tent different than the most recent Nemo – Osmo – ELITE – tent?

Carli

Carli

I have the 2020? Yellow elite version, and aside from having to patch the floor a couple times after nights in volcanic / obsidian zones its my favorite shelter ever. I can set it up alone in about 3 minutes and it holds up well to weather and wind. Once I destroy the one I have ( I backpack at least 30 days a year) I was considering ul pole shelter but this gives me so much peace of mind I might just get another. I live in the PNW so a double wall is everything to prevent condensation and I sleep cold when I’m damp.

Andrea

Andrea

I have an older version (2021, I think) of the 1-person. It has held up very well to high winds, heavy rain, etc. I’m 5’6" and find the 1P plenty big for me and my gear, and depending on the dog’s style, there’s room for a medium-ish sized pup.

Adrian

Adrian

Nice. The tent material quality HAS to be too notch for the co outdoors.

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