NEMO Equipment was started in 2002 with the intention of pushing innovation in the outdoor industry. Designed in New Hampshire, the small company initially won various awards for their AirSupported Technology in tents. Throughout the years, NEMO has consistently won innovation and “best of” awards annually. Not only are NEMO products used by some of the world’s best explorers and alpinists, Naval Special Warfare has taken a particular liking to NEMO and used their products in various operational theatres. Read more of NEMO’s history here.
You may have noticed we at the Loadout Room have featured a number of NEMO tents. We want to bring you our thoughts on the top outdoor gear and we believe NEMO is one of the best outdoor gear designers and manufacturers within todays market. Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to review a number of NEMO products and wanted to share what makes them so innovatively kick ass. Below is the loadout of NEMO gear I always keep in my pack: tent, sleeping bag, pad, and pillow for that extra comfort.
There are mountaineering tents and there are backpacking tents, but until recently, the two haven’t gone very well together. There are 4-season single walled mountaineering tents that weigh around the 2-pound mark, but immediately suffer when the temperature rises and moisture moves in. On the other end, there are lightweight backpacking tents that work phenomenally well in warm weather, but a whisper could blow them over.
Sticking to their path of innovation, NEMO decided to break the mold and make a 4-season backpacking tent that is as well suited in the snow packed Rockies as it is the hot dry deserts of Southern Utah. In other words, imagine if a hardcore alpine tent had a baby with an ultralight, airy backpacking tent.
In the Oregon Cascades the Kunai kept me protected and warm in single digit temperatures with 40+ mph winds. On another trip in the stinging rain, the interior stayed dry and ventilated without heavy condensation buildup. Recently on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), the temps pushed into the 80’s, but the Kunai’s ventilation kept a nice level of airflow so I didn’t feel like it was ‘night in the box’ during a scene of Cool Hand Luke.
Using lightweight materials, this enables NEMO to put extra venting and zip-away sections on the door and rear of the tent. With the vents open, a four-season tent transforms to a three season and vise-versa.
This isn’t the tent for you if you are looking for a spacious luxury glamping tent. The Kunai is for those who love adventure, but want one year round do-it-all tent. The Kunai is a true two-person tent. There isn’t a lot of extra room for maneuvering around. It’s cozy, but works will with two people and their packs. The smaller sized vestibule is big enough for packs, extra gear, and boots.
This is the perfect tent if you run a combination solo and partner trips into the mountains, deserts, rivers, or even the rain forests of the PNW and SE Alaska. In the case of a multi-day storm, it may get a bit snug in there for most, but you will definitely be protected from the elements.
The Kunai packs down surprisingly small. Every time I show it to someone, they always laugh and think I’m joking about the packed size. At just over 4.5 lbs fully stocked, its easy to forget you’re carrying a tent. The small and lightweight size make it easy for comfortable overnight trips with even a smaller 30 L pack.
If you are looking for one tent to do-it-all, this is it. Great for dry, wet, hot, or cold weather, this tent speaks volumes about NEMO’s consistent innovation and care for the user. I highly recommend this tent if you spend time in a variety of climates throughout all four-seasons.
- Capacity 2P
- Minimum Weight – 4 lbs 0 oz / 1.8 kg
- On the Fly Weight – 3lbs 1.2 oz / 1.4 kg
- Trail Weight – 4 lbs 10 oz / 2.1 kg
- Floor Dimensions – 85 in x 51 (footwidth) 42 in / 216 cm x 130 (footwidth) 107 cm
- Floor Area – 27 sq ft / 2.5 sq m
- Vestibule Area – 7 sq ft / 0.7 sq m
- Interior Height – 42 in / 107 cm
- Number of Doors – 1
- Frame Description – 2 DAC 9.0mm Featherlite NSL
- Packed Size – 7.5 x 6 in dia / 19 x 15 cm dia
- Vestibule Fabric – 20D PU Nylon Ripstop (1500mm)
- Fly Fabric – 20D PU Nylon Ripstop (1500mm)
- Canopy Fabric – 20D Nylon Ripstop / No see um mesh
- Floor Fabric – 30D PU Nylon Ripstop (3000mm)
- Color – Skyburst Orange
- MSRP — $499.95
SLEEPING BAG — TANGO SOLO DOWN COMFORTER
I previously reviewed a sleeping bag from Sierra Designs that is truly innovative and extremely plush. The new NEMO Tango Solo Down Comforter is as innovative, yet brings a completely different style of bag to the market. The Tango Solo is a mix between a sleeping bag and a quilt. For a number of years, quilts have been the rage with the ultralight alpine climbing and fast-packing crowd. They’re extremely light and capable of keeping two people alive on a high frozen bivy in the mountains.
The Tango Solo takes the technology of the quilt and adds in a pad sleeve at the head and foot of the bag. There is no insulation below you while sleeping. With advancements in insulated pads, this 30 degree bag works wonders for a user who likes to change sleeping positions throughout the night. The bag is almost identical in shape to the old rectangular sleeping bag you probably used on your first camping trip as a kid.
The hood or top section of the bag is secured by two buttons. Want to go ultralight in the mountains or sleep on a hot summer night? Lose the hood and reduce the 1 lb 13 oz Tango Solo to an even lighter and more packable size. Even with the hood attached, the bag packs down extremely small into a Sea To Summit compression stuff sack.
This bag is truly a friend of the versatility seeker. The Tango Solo is far from the confines of a traditional mummy bag. Combined with the pad slip cover option and one of NEMOs 25L pads, this system is closer to sleeping on a silk sheeted bed than in a sleeping bag. In wet and humid conditions the down is dry treated to be hydrophobic to water. On warm nights, unbutton one of the corners and cool yourself off. It is also extremely easy to slip a foot or two out the side of the bag for a little extra ventilation.
Overall, for lightweight, comfort, and versatility, I’ve haven’t found any bag that comes close to the Tango Solo. There is a reason Outside Magazine named the Tango Solo 2015 Gear of The Year Winner.
- Temperature Rating – 30F / -1C
- Fill Type – 700 Fill Power Down with DownTek™
- Fill Weight – 10.1 oz / 290 g
- Minimum Weight – 1lb 13 oz / 810 g
- Shape – Rectangular
- Capacity – 1P
- Fits – Up To 6’4″ / 193 cm
- Shoulder Girth – 46 in / 117 cm
- Hip Girth – 46 in / 117 cm
- Knee Girth – 46 in / 117 cm
- Pad Sleeve Dimension – 25 x 76 in / 64 x 193 cm
- Packed Size – 15 x 10 in dia / 38 x 25 cm dia — although much smaller with a compression sack.
- Compressed Volume – 6.1 L
- Shell Fabric – 20D Nylon Ripstop + DWR
- Footbox Fabric – OSMO™ DT W/B with DWR
- Lining Fabric – 30D Nylon Ripstop Taffeta
- Color – Granite / Marigold
- MSRP — $299.95, $329.95 w/pad slip cover (trust me, its worth it)
PAD — ASTRO AIR 25L
NEMO does a great job of thinking of the little things. The Astro Air 25L seems like just a simple sleeping pad. In all reality, it is very simple, but has a few features that set it apart from the competition. When fully inflated, the pad is 3″ thick and fits perfectly with the Tango Solo Down Comforter. The baffles run horizontally for comfort. This also makes wiping dust, dirt, or the occasional food crumb off the pad very simple.
The head baffle is much larger and raised to keep a more natural sleeping position. Add a pillow to the already raised pad and it will work for just about any type of sleeper. For its inflated size the pad packs down incredibly small.
Have you ever bought a new pad, used it for the first time and then found there was no way you could get the pad back into the stuff sack? You may be able to get it back in there, but no one wants to spend a half an hour hulking every ml of air out of the pad just to get it back to its vacuum sealed size. NEMO designed the accompanying stuff sack slightly oversize. This also allows them to have an internal pouch with a complementary patch kit in case an accidental leak or puncture occurs.
NEMO offers the Astro in an insulated version as well for those who need a pad for colder temperatures. The Astro Air works great and keeps in the warmth if coupled with the Tango Solo and you stay above the 30 degree temperature rating of the bag. I have used this pad on snow and I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone. It’s not meant for that, but thought I would try any way. If most of your outings are during the colder months or on snow, go with an insulated pad. If you are a three season adventure who likes to sleep on a pillow of air, the Astro Air 25L is worth checking out.
- Minimum Weight – 1lb 7 oz / 650 g
- Minimum Temp. Zone – 35 to 45F / 2 to 7C
- Shape – Rectangular
- Width – 25 in / 64 cm
- Length – 76 in / 193 cm
- Thickness – 4 in / 10 cm
- Insulation Type – Air
- Packed Size – 9.5 x 3.5 in dia / 24 x 9 cm dia
- Fabric – 75D PU Polyester Ripstop
- Color – Riptide Blue
- MSRP — $109.95
PILLOW — FILLO BACKPACKING & CAMPING PILLOW
A comfortable nights sleep in the backcountry can pay dividends on the next days adventure. Updated for 2015, the NEMO Fillo is the one amenity I never go without. From the car, airplane, to the tent, the NEMO Fillo Backpacking & Camp Pillow is surely a luxury item. When backpacking, climbing, or sleeping in the backcountry, I’ve always packed my extra clothes into a stuff sack and endured the lumpy night’s rest. Things have drastically changed with this pillow. There is a reason the Fillo is NEMO’s best selling product. Everyone loves a great nights sleep, and without the the proper headrest, you end up with a night of tossing and turning.
Inside of the washable Polyester Microsuede cover is an internal air bladder that takes just two or three breaths to fill. The bladder is covered with a foam pad to add extra comfort and makes you forget you’re sleeping on an air-filled pillow. Attached inside the cover is an internal stuff sack that shrinks the pillow down to 4″ x 6.” I’m a consistent side-sleeper and the inflated Fillo is large enough for me to sleep the night through and not wake-up with a sore neck.
Overall, for the price, comfort, and packability, the NEMO Fillo should definitely be on your gear shopping list. I’ve been using the NEMO Fillo for the last three months with over 21 days of tent time and have slept better than ever. From the backpacker to the soldier this is a perfect amenity. Just don’t attempt to sneak this in your Ranger School packing list unless you want to give your instructor a nice present coupled with a major minus.
- Minimum Weight – 9.2 oz / 260 g
- Minimum Temp – Zone N/A
- Shape Rectangular
- Width 10.5 in / 27 cm
- Length 17 in / 43 cm
- Thickness 4+ in / 10+ cm
- Insulation Type – Air with Luxury Foam
- Packed Size – 6 x 4 in / 15 x 10 cm
- Fabric – Washable Polyester Microsuede
- Color – Horizon Blue, Moss Green, Nimbus Grey
- MSRP — $39.95