First test: MSR Nook (2012)

There are only so many ways to flex a pole and configure some fabric to make a backpacker’s shelter, and so it is no surprise to see that on first impressions the new MSR Nook appears to resemble many other modern tents. However it is often in the detail that the real benefit of a tent can be found, and with the Nook you do have to look beyond the façade and take a glimpse under the canopy to assess its pedigree.

The Nook uses the tried and trusted front curved pole and curved ridge design that Vaude among other brands has used for many years. But check out the weight of the Nook and it comes in at a shade under 1600g, making it lighter than the well-proven 1950g Vaude Taurus Ultralight for example. In fact there are not that many two-person tents weighing less than1600g, and those that do often have a heftier price tag than the £320 MSR is asking for the Nook (for example the Terra Nova Solar Competition 2 at £400 and 1170g). So the numbers look promising!

The Nook pitches inner-first with the pole set clipping effortlessly into eyelets around the base, from which the inner can be hung. You can also purchase a FootPrint groundsheet, which allows you to pitch the outer on its own without the inner. A nice addition is a short transverse pole that slots in across the top of the inner to create a little more headroom at the rear of the tent.

With the inner up, the flysheet drapes over the top and a scattering of pegs completes the pitch. There are only five pegs, though, and no guylines are provided – even though there are attachment points for guys. This does work okay, but some tents that are heavier may just have a more complete set of guylines and pegs, and I’d certainly feel happier with a couple of extra guylines and pegs if pitching this above valley level, as while it is reasonably stable it could be better.

The flysheet sits quite high off the ground too, which improves airflow and therefore reduces condensation; but in driving Lakeland rain, the inner could get pretty wet around the edges due to how exposed it is to the elements. For wild camping I would generally prefer a flysheet that extended lower to the ground to keep horizontal rain out.

Get inside the tent and the space is good, though. The outer doors have double zips so you can vent the top or bottom, and there is good space for a couple of packs in the porch. The MSR Nook is certainly wide enough for two, and there is decent headroom. It is not the most spacious two-person tent, but in reality many backpackers will use this tent for solo use. However if you really want to save weight you could get two people inside and be reasonably comfortable.

So I’d add some extra guylines and pegs, and I’d prefer the fly to sit closer to the ground for camping in wetter and windier conditions. But the MSR Nook is a good tent in terms of weight and price, and when used in good weather in sheltered sites its space and stability are ideal.

Price £320
Sleeps 2
Design ridge hoop hybrid
Poles DAC shock-corded alloy
Material outer 20D ripstop nylon with DuraShield, 1000mm hydrostatic head
Material inner  20D nylon No-see-um mesh; groundsheet: 40D ripstop nylon with DuraShield, 3000mm hydrostatic head
Internal dimensions length 223cm; width 127cm; height 96cm

Packed size 15x51cm
Weight 1590g
Made in Taiwan
Stockist details www.cascadedesigns.com

 

Verdict

The MSR Nook is a lightweight tent for two that would be fine for backpacking in reasonable weather, but heavier and higher-priced tents may have advantages in more testing conditions.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine June 2012