Nooks and crannies. All you really need in terms of space to pitch a small 2-man tent like this aptly named one from American brand MSR. In fact, the more I think about it, the more apt I think the name Nook actually is because the shape of this tent is sort of wedge-like and tapered to fit in to small gaps yet offer what is actually quite a liveable space.
The MSR Nook is a lightweight (1.6kg) tent which packs down in to a bag just 50cm x 15cm. It’s the kind of tent which, when you throw it to people they catch it and then raise an eyebrow at it’s lack of mass. It is a tent which you can stash in a backpack and carry around without much bother at all if you are either a single traveller with a lot of gear, or a couple with not much gear. I say this because inside there’s ample room for me on a Thermarest and my backpack alongside me. But although you could get two cosy people in there, the porch is more of a wind-shield than a storage area and you’ll not get a pack protected in there very easily.
The nook is, like a lot of American tents, an inner-first pitched tent. This has the benefit that, if the weather is hot and all you need is a bug-protecting layer then the inner provides that. The flip side is that if you are pitching in more… British weather, then you’re likely to get a wet inner before you can heft the flysheet over the top.
The poles are aluminium and slightly pre-formed to aid with the complex curves that the Nook’s design requires. They’re made by DAC, who are well known for high-quality tent poles and shouldn’t be confused with DAF who make trucks. They slot together as easily as mating damson flies and the ends pop in to metal eyelets on webbing loops at each corner of the Nook.
Two poles create a lot of headroom at the door end of the inner, which I can easily sit up in with clear headroom, or as the picture below suggests, you could squat and wait for your sleeping partner to return from the toilet, poised like Kato in the Pink Panther films ready to pounce like a mountain lion.
There’s a third single section pole which pops in to two eyelets half way down the tent’s ‘spine’ and it’s this which helps create a feeling of volume and airiness inside what is a pretty skinny footprint.
The outer of the Nook is a very lightweight coated nylon material with a Hydrostatic Head of 1000mm. This should hold out showers pretty well, but conventional wisdom states that 1000mm probably isn’t high enough of a count to combat very harsh rain over a prolonged period.
We tested the Nook on a chilly summer’s night with both its side vents open. It was condensated in the morning, which was no surprise, but not so badly that it didn’t dry out in the sun within 10 minutes. MSR supply the Nook with a short length of pole which you can use to create a small vent in the door zipper to help minimise condensation, but we opted for warmth over dryness. The flysheet of the Nook is quite high off the ground in places which helps create a draft through.
That same zipper is a two-way affair, which allows you to have a look out without fully unzipping, which is nice.
The pegs supplied with the Nook are beautiful red anodised X-section works of art. They’re an absolute bastard to pull out of hard-ground in the morning, but go in very easily in the first place. It’s worth noting that the Nook is NOT supplied with any guylines, so you should invest in a couple if you want to use it in very windy conditions.
SUMMARY: Overall impressions of the MSR Nook are that it’s a great little tent for either one person with a load of other gear, or two travelling minimally, but on paper it’s not really a mountain tent. The lack of guylines, fairly high flysheet and 1000mm rating make this a tent which is suited to its name and would be more at home in a protected nook than on an open hillside. In those conditions it works well. It’s lightweight and priced competitively.
More: MSR (Cascade Designs)