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ADV ProductsNemo Kunai: Minimalist 2-Person Tent Built for Extreme Weather

Nemo Kunai: Minimalist 2-Person Tent Built for Extreme Weather

Packs down small but with room for two people and protection for your gear.

Published on 08.15.2018

Adventure riders and backpackers share a lot of the same needs. For both, gear has to be light, pack small, and be durable. That’s why backpacking tents are the go-to for ADV riders who want to be self-sufficient while they explore the unknown and untamed. Nemo is a New Hampshire based outdoor gear company that specializes in minimalist adventures and has created cool gear to make that easier.
The Kunai is a 2-person backpacking tent that meets the standards of a ‘mountaineering tent.’ If you are not sure what’s the difference (I wasn’t), mountaineering tents are designed for people that climb mountains, therefore, standing up to extreme weather is more of a focus.

Setting It Up

Nemo Kunai 2 person backpacking camping tent

Nemo Kunai 2 person backpacking camping tent

Unless it involves torque specifications, I typically don’t read instructions when putting something together, such was the case the first time I set up the Kunai. Luckily, the engineers at Nemo foresaw my stubbornness (or stupidity) by making the tent very intuitive to put together. There are two aluminum main poles that are connected by a center pivoting piece of plastic. The front and back of the poles are color coordinated to the front and back of the tent making it very easy to figure out. There is a third pole that goes across the front to keep the whole thing tensioned and to create a little awning. The tent connects to the poles with plastic hooks, which are super simple to use.


Next the cover is very easy to toss over and attach the four corners to the same four pole ends that the tent uses. There are four guy-out lines attached to the the tent and pass through the cover for extra support, but I didn’t have the need to use them. The cover’s front section creates a small vestibule with its corners staked to the ground. All in all, set up takes about five minutes including putting on the cover.

Adventure Motorcycle

How It Worked

The main tent material is very thin 20D Nylon Ripstop material that has X-reinforced stitching to withstand gnarly winds. It is white and translucent. For those who value privacy when camping with others, the cover is a must. There is a low mesh window on the door and a large upper mesh window at the back of the tent. The cover has a matching rear opening to help with ventilation but it never got hot enough during testing to mess with these.

Nemo Kunai 2 person backpacking camping tent

Nemo Kunai 2 person backpacking camping tent

The vestibule is very small, yet I was glad to have it. It was enough space to put my boots, jacket, and pants with still a little pathway to get out in the middle of the night. It would have been nice to have a little more room to put my bike’s top bag as well. Also, the way that the vestibule is staked to the ground means that you have to be pretty low (hands and knees) to get in and out of the tent. We didn’t have any rain or wet weather during our testing but the bottom of the tent is thick (as far as tent material goes) and that material is carried a good portion up the walls of the tent to further keep things dry.

As with all “two-person” tents, it fits one person comfortably and two people intimately. For motorcyclists, there is plenty of room for your helmet, clothes, and riding gear if you’d rather not leave it outside. Head room is ample – being able to sit up and be on your knees is nice for changing purposes.

Some extra features that I really like are the two side pockets at the front of the tent. They are good spots to put important things you want to keep track of (wallet, keys, sunglasses). Another clever feature is the light pocket in the ceiling of the tent. It is a little flap of material designed for a light source (phone, headlamp, jar of lightning bugs) that is slightly opaque to diffuse the light through the whole tent.

Nemo Kunai 2 person backpacking camping tent

Nemo Kunai 2 person backpacking camping tent
Light pocket in the ceiling lets you diffuse light throughout the tent.

Again, I didn’t experience any serious weather other than some pretty chilly nights. A lot of backpacking tents are mainly made of mesh, with a rain fly as extra protection, but the Kunai’s main material is more substantial than mesh and combined with the cover make a double layer wall situation that I think helped with insulation. While it wasn’t storm status, there was a couple nights of gusty wind and the tent was rock solid even without the guy-out lines.

Packing It Down

The tent comes in two packs; a roundish larger pack for the tent, cover, and six stakes and longer skinny one for the poles. What is cool about this arrangement is that they are separate and can be packed independently to fill any holes in your panniers or luggage. The main tent bag has a roll top and compression straps so once you get the tent and cover folded and rolled, you can stuff it in and cinch it down super small. Something I like is that the bag is generous in its size, meaning you don’t have to roll the tent ridiculously tight just to make it fit back in the bag.

Nemo Kunai 2 person backpacking camping tent

Who Is It For?

Because of its pack size to pitched size ratio, this is for adventure riders looking for a tent that has enough comfort and room for two people, or one person and all their stuff, but packs down to the size of a typical one-person tent. The benefit of most one-person tents is that they save weight and size but the trade off is that they don’t offer any extra room inside for motorcycle gear.

This is also for the rider who has a high likelihood of camping in some really bad weather. This tent is designed for people spending the night on glaciers in a snowstorm. And while I didn’t camp in anything close to those conditions, I feel very comforted knowing that I could. Plus, other tents that are gnarly enough to handle that kind of weather are normally much bulkier, heavier, and larger than Kunai.

Our Verdict

I know that there are cheaper tents out there and many of my riding buddies have a Walmart, K-mart, or some other -mart special that has gotten them by so far. But just like tools in the garage, having the right equipment for the right situation can make life so much sweeter. When riding all day in cold wet weather, the prospect of spending a night in a possibly cold wet tent just sucks. The Kunai puts weather protection first and packability/simplicity a close second. And the simple fact that the polls are in their own separate bag makes finding space on your bike easier since you aren’t trying to find a weird shaped hole.

Nemo Kunai 2 person backpacking camping tent

What We Liked

  • Extreme weather protection
  • Quick and simple set up and tear down
  • Packs very small for a non-mesh 2P tent
  • Plenty of room for one person and gear

What Could Be Improved

  • The main material could be a little less translucent for privacy
  • Vestibule is a small
  • With cover, it is awkward climbing in and out

Nemo Kunai 2P Tent Specs

TENT STYLE: Freestanding
CAPACITY: 2 Person
FRAME: 3 Aluminum DAC Featherlite NSL 9.6+9mm poles
CANOPY FABRIC: 20D Nylon Ripstop
FLY FABRIC: 15D Sil/PeU Nylon Ripstop (1200 mm)
FLOOR FABRIC: 30D PeU Nylon Ripstop (3000 mm)
COLOR: Skyburst
MINIMUM WEIGHT: 3 lb , 15 oz / 1.8 kg
PACKED WEIGHT: 4 lb , 13 oz / 2.2 kg
PACKED SIZE: 11.0 x 7.0 in dia / 28 x 18 cm dia
PEAK HEIGHT: 42.2 in / 107 cm
FLOOR AREA: 27.6 sq ft / 2.6 sq m
FLOOR DIMENSIONS: 85.1 x 51.2/42.2 in / 216 x 130/107 cm
VESTIBULE AREA: 6.8 sq ft / 0.6 sq m
MSRP: $499.95

Shopping Options:

Amazon Nemo Equipment Backcountry

Author: Sean Klinger

With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs. 

Author: Sean Klinger

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Eric Hall
Eric Hall
August 15, 2018 3:40 pm

Love NEMO! I have their Galaxi 2p which is also great for the bike and has two vestibules if you want a bit more room but would love to try this Kunai next.

Eric Hall
Eric Hall
August 15, 2018 3:41 pm

Oh and I also like NEMO because while they’re still eco-minded, they’re not contributing to groups shutting down riding areas like some other tent mfg’s.

August 20, 2018 7:29 am

Anyone who ever set up a tent with a loose flysheet in really bad rain and wind will remember how wet everything became. So all tents, were you need to set up the inner tent first and then throw over the flysheet, are in my opinion disqualified as a bad weather tent!

I prefer the Hilleberg design were inner and outer tent are connected together and were you have pole channels in the other shell. That way the interior stays dry and you have no issue about getting the outer flysheet in place in stormy winds! Others have copied it, but Hilleberg still defines the gold standard!

August 23, 2018 7:42 pm

Wow, another vastly overpriced piece of gear! I have no doubt that it’s a great tent, but I for one will never spend that kind of money on such a tent. From reading the review, it seems like it’s nearly identical to my REI Half Dome 2 that I paid $120 for with a coupon. Yeah my REI tent may not be good for mountaineering, but how many of us ADVers will be riding our bikes up mountains where we’ll be camping in subzero weather?

August 24, 2018 11:02 am
Reply to  RobG

I totally agree Rob. If you’re climbing Everest and need perfect gear where cost isn’t an issue, I’m sure this is an awesome tent. But for most ADV camping you can find something from $100-200 that’ll do the job just fine. I personally use that I got on sale for $80. After 3 years of regular use it’s still works fine — a bit small, but the vestibule is big enough and I’ve never gotten wet or blown away no matter the weather.


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