Every year, BACKPACKER sends out a team of outdoor adventure enthusiasts to test new equipment or gear has come out this year. They take this gear out into the toughest wintery landscapes for an intensive week of ski touring and camping. The Editor’s Choice Award this year went to six winners, one being Nemo’s Redesigned Kunai Tent. According to the experts at BACKPACKER, the NEMO Kunai 3-4 Season Backpacking Tent “has all the strength to handle winter storms yet is light and breathable enough for year-round use.” This is a rare statement, usually tents that are suitable for winter camping are overkill for most of the year – they are too heavy to carry around for most of the year and don’t have enough ventilation for warm months. NEMO has figured out a way to solve this problem and come out with (maybe) the best tent ever.
The idea of NEMO was created on a cold night on the side of Mount Washington where founder Cam Berninger was lying awake, freezing, in a poorly designed winter tent. This experience and many others made him realize that there was extensive room for improvement in the tent design world and he was determined to do it. Since then, NEMO has been working with designers, engineers, and avid adventurers in New Hampshire. The brand quickly grew, and the NEMO tent was the overall winner of the ISPO Brand New Award in 2005 and was even named by Time and Popular Science as among the 100 best inventions of the year. At NEMO they believe that “Intelligently designed gear enables the adventures that make us all our best selves – humans who are conscious, inspired, connected, and mindful.” In their office they have stickers that say, “Design Like You Give A Damn”. Designing like they give a damn is exactly what they do. They vow to never bring a product to the market that already exists or doesn’t offer a better experience than what does already exist.
About the Kunai Tent
NEMO instilled their beliefs, devotion and innovation and created the Kunai tent in 2015, and then continued to push that innovation and create something even better in 2020. The Kunai tent is truly revolutionary.
The Kunai tent is through and through a true four-seasons tent. It was originally designed in 2015 after NEMO decided they were going to devote their time to create the most perfect tent. The already great 2015 design was updated in 2020, which has won itself the BACKPACKER Fall 2020 Editor’s Choice Award.
The 2020 version has a reshaped entry area, two new zippered mesh windows, a lighter weight and even an enlarged vestibule.
“Despite its tall profile, it stands stable in 30 mph winds and several inches of snow.”
This tent is great for snowy adventures in the winter and great for 80-degree summer backpacking conditions. Weighing only 4.5lbs, the Kunai tent has the versatility to be a camping, backpacking, and mountaineering tent. The 2020 model has a tapered profile, aggressive brow pole and wind-blocking inner tent that will keep you extra protected in extreme weather conditions.
The Crazy, Unconventional Ways that NEMO Tests Their Products
At NEMO, they not only put time into the ideas, design, and execution of their products, but they also spend an unprecedented amount of time testing their products. They employ some really unconventional techniques to be sure they are offering the best product they possibly can to the market.
The NEMO tent was tested first by being attached to the roof of a truck and driven around. Instead of using a wind tunnel, they attach the tent to their old Tacoma and see how the tent holds up in extreme wind and stress. The air beams that are used instead of traditional poles in the tents are tested by exploding them sometimes! They do this so they can know the burst pressure of an air beam when used in some really high temperatures.
To test how the tent will do in the rain, they have a rain chamber on site. The rain chamber is an aluminum frame with Plexiglass walls that recirculates hundreds of gallons of water. Setting up a tent and leaving it in the chamber for a while will show the team any leaks that exist in the tent, where water may wick in, and splash back coming in underneath. This allows them to make the changes before they come up with the final design.
The office is only two hours away from the most extreme weather conditions on the planet. The top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, which is home to the most extreme weather observatory on earth. At 6,289 feet high, it has measured winds up to 231mph. This, of course, is the perfect place to test a tent. If it can stay standing in these conditions, then it can withstand any conditions. They left the tent there for 10 days where it resisted unspeakable gusts of wind and remained perfectly in place.
The team over at NEMO does this because they need to make sure that they are developing the best products that they possibly can that will keep users safe, dry and happy on their next adventure.
NEMO’s 4-season Kunai tent is a rightful champion of BACKPACKER’s Fall 2020 Editor’s Choice Award. With unprecedented innovation and the standard of perfection, the team at NEMO has designed something truly revolutionary and we are confident that they will continue to come up with some other really awesome and innovative designs.