Cross-Country Tested: MSR Nook Tent


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Gear Tester Andrew Forsthoefel has just finished his cross-country walk. It took him nearly a year. At approximately 2,000 steps per mile—he’s had plenty of chances to count—Andrew has taken more than six million steps on his way from Pennsylvania to the Pacific.

Forsthoelfel sent us notes on his shelter from the high desert of Arizona. “The Navajo reservation land is beautiful, it’s harsh, and it’s all dust, sand, and rock,” he shared. “I like it, even if there aren’t any trees for shade and even though the towns are few and far between. Because of the distance between water-refueling spots, I’m normally walking 20-plus miles each day, sometimes 30-plus. These long hours are putting my body through the ringer: dry cracked feet, burnt brown skin, aching legs.”

Before Forsthoefel left, we set him up with an MSR Nook Tent, specifically designed to fit in small and/or awkward spaces. Here's Forsthoefel's report on his home away from home:

The end of the day sometimes finds me crashing on the couch of a kind stranger, but more often than not in my MSR Nook. Weight was a crucial factor when I was planning for my trip, but I also wanted a decent living area in case weather kept me inside. The Nook checks in at only 3lbs, 8oz, but features a 38-inch ceiling, so I can sit up with plenty of space to spare.

One of my favorite elements of the Nook 2 is its simplicity. The external T-frame—made up of one collapsible pole and an additional segment—is one of the most convenient designs I’ve used. Setup takes about three minutes. This has saved me on many a wet and windy night. And, as advertised, the Nook tucks into odd spaces—between a tree and a building, into the tight entrance of a mouth of a cave…. I was always able to find a protected area to sleep.

Perhaps most impressive of all, the tent has survived nine months of constant use. Nine months of pounding New Mexico winds, relentless Alabama rains, Arizona summer heat and Virginia winter cold. The RipStop Nylon coating on the fly and the bathtub floor have stayed bombproof and show almost no wear. Even when pitching it on wet grass I’ve never had to use a ground sheet. The thing is medieval-castle secure.

Other small features I've appreciated over the last year: side pockets near the entrance, which are super conveneient for stashing wallet, glasses, phone and other important stuff; and little fabric loops on the ceiling, which worked perfectly for hanging wet or smelly (more likely wet and smelly) clothes.

For long-distance trekking in the heat or cold it’s everything a tent should be: light, tough and roomy.

Available now, $399;

—Berne Broudy