NEMO Gogo LE: A Lightweight Inflatable Tent for Your Next Backpacking Trip

by November 27, 2012 11/27/12
NEMO Gogo LE

Inflatable tent? Yep, you definitely read that right. I’ve had the pleasure of thoroughly putting the NEMO Gogo LE though a number of multi-day backpacking trips over the last 14 months and I’ll be sharing my thoughts in this comprehensive review today.

The NEMO Gogo LE has been an extremely reliable and durable lightweight backpacking tent that I’ve really grown to love (with a few additional enhancements I’ve made along the way.) This review is an honest assessment of both the positives and negatives I’ve found with the Gogo LE. I’ve tried to illustrate my points with detailed photos throughout the article. Let’s get right into it!

Lightweight?

NEMO GoGo LE TentI’d like to provide a bit of a background into NEMO’s categories for their tents, as well as some notes on backpacking weight classifications. Some terms that get thrown around in backpacking are lightweight (LW – pack weight under 25 lbs.), ultralight (UL – pack weight under 15 lbs.), super-ultralight (SUL – pack weight under 10 lbs.) and extreme-ultralight (XUL – pack weight under 5 lbs.).

These weights can be debatable depending on who you talk to, but I’ve provided this info as a guideline. It’s also partly based on Brian Green’s excellent ongoing Lightweight Backpacking series on ITS Tactical. Check it out if you’re interested in learning more about lightweight backpacking!

NEMO groups their tents into quite a few categories, but the ones that apply the most here are Backpacking, Ultralight Backpacking and Featherweight Backpacking. It can be a bit confusing if you’re purely following those categories as you’ll see a “featherweight” single-person tent that weighs close to three pounds.

The Gogo LE fits into NEMO’s “1 Person Adventure” category and comes in at 2 lbs. 9 oz. packed out. They also offer the Gogo Elite, which comes in at 1 lb. 11 oz. packed out and is essentially the same as the Gogo LE without the side door and 6″ less length overall.

NEMO Gogo LE TentThese weights can be a bit deceiving though, so allow me to explain. The Gogo LE came with 5 tent stakes, but to fully set it up, you’ll need an additional three tent stakes, an optional ground sheet (not carried at NEMO) and a stick to prop up the foot end. The waterproof stuff sack that comes with the Gogo LE is nice, but weighs 3.5 oz. alone.

The configuration I carry the Gogo LE in, with the extra stakes, ground sheet, pump and a bungee (1 oz.) rather than the stuff sack, comes in at 2 lbs. 11.8 ounces. I cut my ground sheet from a larger piece of Eureka Floor Saver material and it weighs 5.4 ounces by itself. If you do the math, you can see that 2 lbs. 6.4 oz. is what my weight came out to by removing the stuff sack and before adding the ground sheet.

NEMO Gogo LE Footprint

Just a note on the removal of the waterproof stuff sack, I already carry a lightweight waterproof stuff sack in my pack and the tent just gets placed inside this. I’ve also used a white trash compactor bag, but the 1.9 oz. Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Dry Sack I have is actually lighter weight than the 2.4 oz. Husky trash compactor bag. By the way, I’m not an advocate of waterproof backpack covers and like to waterproof the actual contents rather than the pack. Those things never completely cover/waterproof the pack anyway. Besides, do you really care if certain things like a compass get wet?

Stake Out

As mentioned previously, the NEMO Gogo LE comes with the minimum amount of tent stakes to set it up. I’ve found through trial and error, that having those extra three stakes makes my backpacking experience more enjoyable. The minimalists out there will probably say you could always carve your own from sticks, but I’d rather carry them.

NEMO Gogo LE Stake Out

The spots where the missing stakes go are at the mid-points of each long side and a third at the foot-end guy line. The mid-point of each side has a place for those stakes already, with a loop of bungee and a plastic ring. I really like the bungee here, as when these points are properly staked, it allows some flex for those that toss and turn during the night (like me.) The addition of these stake out points also keeps the sides taught and prevents the subtle sagging that bothered me until I added the extra stakes.

NEMO Gogo LE

At the foot end, it’s very easy for your improvised stick to fall over without the third stake to attach to the provided guy line. Before adding this stake I was either tying the guy line around a tree, fashioning my own stake, or going without. This is how I learned how easy it is to knock over the stick. You’ll see in the photos exactly what I mean about the improvised stake being necessary. Without this the foot-end would collapse.

The last thing I did was to tie taut-line hitches at every guy line, there’s quite a few of them. This enabled me to really tweak each individual line to properly adjust the overall tightness of the Gogo LE. I feel this last part is really important and totally worth the time. The taut-line hitch is the one knot I use more than any other I know. Seconded by the Bowline. The front two tie down points on the tent (zippered flap and main tent tie down) feature an adjuster on each of the lines that functions like a taut-line hitch.

NEMO Gogo LE

I’ll get on a soap box here for a minute and say that there’s no good substitute for a well tied taut-line hitch. All those devices on the market (there’s tons of them) that attempt to “do it for you” are nonsense and unnecessary. I would have rather seen instructions included in the Gogo LE for tying a taut-line hitch. I used the provided adjusters to simply hold one side of the line and tied my own taut-line hitch to the other.

I don’t know how much this is actually true, but it seemed that when everything was properly staked down with the extra stakes and the addition of taut-line hitches, it seems to resist condensation build up overnight much better, even when all the flaps were fully closed.

Inflation

NEMO Gogo LE Tent Air BeamSomething I’ve never seen in a tent before the NEMO Gogo LE, is the use of an inflatable beam. With the included Integrated Pump, the 2″ diameter Airbeam that runs right over your head as you sleep, can be inflated and eliminates the need for any poles.

I think it’s a fantastic concept and one I admittedly first discounted, due to the questions that formed in my mind. “What if it leaks?” “What if it gets punctured while in my pack?” I quickly let those questions go after a few uses. The Airbeam is incredibly strong and I haven’t noticed any loss of inflation overnight or even after a few days of it being set up. The material used to protect the beam is seemingly puncture resistant and I’d be surprised if it ever did get punctured. It hasn’t happened yet (knock on wood!)

The Airbeam is actually two parts, the X-Ply fabric that encloses it and the actual bladder. A spare bladder is available for ten bucks if you’re nervous about leaving home without an extra. A spare only weighs 1.6 ounces too. Personally, I’m content with the small repair kit that’s included if something ever happened. It can fix a rip in the tent or patch the bladder in a pinch.

NEMO Gogo LE Inflate System

To inflate the beam, all you have to do is dock in the female-side quick disconnect fitting of the Integrated Pump with the male end fitting, located at the base of the tube. Ensuring the moisture-release valve is closed, simply blow into the other end. This will inflate the chamber that you’ll now squeeze to force the air into the tube. This combination movement is quite easy once you get the hang of it and is MUCH easier than simply blowing into an air valve like a pool floatie. I have pondered that if NEMO found a way to not need the pump it would shave off some weight. I’ve actually wanted to try hacking the pump to exclude the chamber and see how hard it is to inflate the tube without it.

NEMO Gogo LE Pump

NEMO offers a few different types of pumps for their other Airbeam tents too. The Integrated Pump (2.4 oz.) that comes with the Gogo LE isn’t the lightest option they make, that’s the Ultralight Integrated Pump, with shortened tubing and lighter weldable fabric. It’s 39.95 to upgrade to it and boasts a 50% weight savings.

Deflating the tent is also the fastest I’ve ever seen for doing so. By simply placing a dummy-corded cover onto the quick-disconnect fitting the air immediately flows out within seconds. It’s that easy!

Measurements and Comfort

Since we’ve already gone over the weight on the Gogo LE, let’s take a look at the measurements. I’ll say first that I wouldn’t change a thing on the measurements, I think they’re perfect for a person of my size and even much bigger. I’m 5’10 / 185 lbs. and it’s got plenty of spare room at foot, width and head. That’s even with my pack and boots stored in the nose. This is why I said earlier that I like the side door on the LE version of the Gogo. It allows me to enter/exit without disturbing my pack inside the nose. However, I do like the option come morning time to open the nose and stand up to put on my boots on. Stepping into them one at a time without having to hunch over out the side door is more comfortable. Take what you can from that.

NEMO Gogo LE
NEMO Gogo LE

I’ll also mention that while there’s plenty of room, I’m hard pressed at my size to change a pair of pants inside of the tent. I’ve done it, but it’s certainly not fun and I can only imagine what my tent looked like from the outside during the process!

While we’re on the subject of the side door, I’d like to voice a complaint. While I’m not sure if this has been fixed yet, the flap over the side door zipper gets stuck in the zipper track almost every time I zipped it open or closed. I have to hold the flap while zipping it to keep it out of the track. This sticking has also happened to me while I’m in the tent. Trying to open the side door in the morning irritates me when I have to reach my hand to the outside to pull the flap out of the way to finish opening the door. Hopefully this is a non-issue now and has been addressed.

NEMO Gogo LE

The overall length from head to toe on the Gogo LE is 114″ and the width at its widest point is 41″. The height at the peak of the Airbeam is 27″ and the width at the end of the foot is 24″. The tent shell fabric is 40D OSMO, a high-tenacity polyester ripstop. NEMO states that OSMO remains breathable across a broad range of humidities, is naturally UV-resistant, doesn’t sag when wet, highly durable, chemical-resistant and abrasion-resistant. I definitely haven’t found anything contrary to this and agree that is does seem to sag less than other tent fabrics I’ve seen. I haven’t been in a torrential down-pour with the Gogo LE yet, but the rain I have been in has simply beaded up and rolled down.

NEMO Gogo LE
NEMO Gogo LE

20D PU Nylon is featured on the Fly/Vestibule and 30D PU Nylon is stitched on as the floor fabric. From the description of the 30D floor fabric, it would seem there’s no need for a ground sheet, but I won’t be giving mine up anytime soon. I like the added protection it affords the bottom of the tent and I don’t want to spend the morning letting the floor dry before rolling up the tent. I’d rather roll the tent up, stuff it in my bag and wait on the ground cloth to dry off before shaking it out and rolling it up. Personal preference.

Bemis seam tape is also used on all NEMO tents to provide a uniform waterproof barrier to the stitching on the inside of the tent. The nose of the tent features a small pocket and there’s a clip above your head on the Airbeam that’s perfect for clipping a watch onto so you can hear your alarm in the morning.

NEMO Gogo LE
NEMO Gogo LE
NEMO Gogo LE

A last detail I really like is the addition of reflective zipper-pull cordage, guy lines and stake out loops. It definitely helps to find your tent in the middle of the night after nature calls. There’s also a top loop, which i suspect is for tying up the top of the tent to a tree limb in the unlikely event the Airbeam failed.

Final Notes

NEMO Gogo LEI’ve owned and used about half a dozen bivy-like tents in all my camping/backpacking experience and while some have had more space and some have had more features, if you’re looking to save weight and retain functionality, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better value than the NEMO Gogo LE. The small issues I’ve had aside, I’d highly recommend it to anyone. I just hope that the zipper sticking issue has already been taken care of.

I think I’ve also got Kelly convinced to downsize our family camping tent to a NEMO OBI 2P, which is a two-person tent that weighs just 3 lbs. and is capable of being backpacked. While it doesn’t have a screened in porch like our current family camping tent, our son is old enough now to camp in his own tent and there’s just no reason to keep using a larger tent. Plus, it makes me feel more manly sleeping in a smaller tent. Ironic, isn’t it?

I’d like to thank NEMO and Tactical Distributors for allowing me the time to thoroughly test out the Gogo LE and provide my feedback here to everyone. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to get them answered for you.

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Gyrogyrl
Gyrogyrl

This tent is now inflated in my living room and even after reading your instructions, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to deflate it. Can you give more precise instructions? Because nothing I have tried has worked. Thanks.

Kent Madin
Kent Madin

What's it like to cook in this tent?

Peter
Peter

Does the side door have mesh inside?

Natron
Natron

The taut-line hitch was a great idea for the foot of the bivy/tent. Thank you.

George
George

Thanks for the review. I am interested in buying this tent, but i am a bit worried that using it in areas with humidity, might produce condensation because it has no vents. Have you experienced this? Thanks!

Gertrude Pelletier
Gertrude Pelletier

This is absolutely amazing! Our family loves outdoor activities so much especially camping trips. This infaltable tent seems to be very perfect for us! Thanks for sharing this magnificent post!

RC
RC

Yep, I had already ordered the Asashi. Thanks for the heads-up on the Meta - looking forward to Mike's review. ITS does a fantastic job publishing practical and honest feedback - most all of the gear reviews floating around the interwebs are superficial at best. Keep up the great work!

Jack
Jack

Great write up! I bought a used 1 man tent off a friend last year and now I use it even car camping. Why would I do that when weight doesn't matter? Well it's awesome sleeping in a cocoon and I'm getting too old to share a tent with another man after drinking beer and eating questionable food all night! Lol!

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Thanks a million brother, glad you liked the review. I like the power cinch as well, but not more than the taut-line hitch. I don't usually have the need to adjust mine at all. For instance on all the taut-lines I've used on the Gogo LE, after the initial setting I haven't had to touch them. Even after high wind and multiple days with it set up. That's certainly not to say a taut-line won't ever need to be adjusted though.

I also use the power cinch when setting up a trunk line, as I went over in the series of videos I did on rigging a tarp shelter here: http://www.itstactical.com/skillcom/knots/knot-of-the-week-rigging-a-tarp-shelter-part-1/

I like the fact a trunk line with a power cinch and a slipped half-hitch can be pulled free and taken down in seconds if needed. Important for those mornings you need to get on the road as fast as possible or if for some reason you have the need to break down camp in a hurry to di di mau.

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Hi David, thanks for the kind words. Mike's going to be following up with a NEMO Meta 1P review in the future and I've got plans to review a few offerings I've used for years from Integral Designs. I have a tent similar in size as this NEMO from them and while heavier, it has its merits as well. I also have one of their bivy sacks.

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Thanks RC! The Asashi looks nice, have you looked at the Pentalite? I really like the fact that you can use it as a tarp shelter and convert it into a full tent with the optional inner tent. It fits four just like the Asashi does. I may be confused though, did you already purchase the Asashi? If you still want the personal tent option, but want a little more elbow room, check out the Meta 1P. You'll need a trekking pole to set it up, it's lighter (by 2 oz.) than the Gogo LE and it can technically fit two.

Mike's been running one for as long as I've been running the Gogo LE and will be putting together his usage review up on ITS in the near future. I mention it can fit two, because to save weight on the GORUCK Ascent, both Mike and I slept in the Meta 1P while in basecamp tackling 14'ers. It was awesome being able to distribute our weight across two packs with a single 2 lb. tent.

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Hi Leo, glad you liked the review and felt that all your questions were addressed. I appreciate your comment!

Weetabix
Weetabix

Excellent tent review. One of the best I've ever read.

With regard to taut line hitches: I've come to prefer a power cinch. I use a canoe hitch to secure the working end. http://www.trailmeister.com/Knots/powercinch.html

The taut line is a good knot, but even tied carefully, mine need to be adjusted occasionally.

Weetabix
Weetabix

Excellent tent review. One of the best I've ever read. With regard to taut line hitches: I've come to prefer a power cinch. I use a canoe hitch to secure the working end. http://www.trailmeister.com/Knots/powercinch.html The taut line is a good knot, but even tied carefully, mine need to be adjusted occasionally.

David
David

Awesome write up. Been looking at that tent and the Morpho 1p and 2p. I think they are an awesome concept. Have any other write ups on single or two person tents for packing? Looking for packing trips, campsite and a shtf situation

RC
RC

Great review Bryan! I found a fantastic deal on a Nemo Asashi this past weekend for use as a family car camping tent but I'm also looking to get a personal tent also. I like the Gogo but am thinking I will want a little more elbow room - contemplating the Obi or Losi 2P variants also.

Leo
Leo

This is perfect. I had been hoping to hear more about this tent, as it caught my eye while I was browsing online. All of the features I was curious about were addressed in this review. Thank you very much!

Brian
Brian

Brian-

I must say that your review of the NEMO Gogo is the best tent review that I think I have ever read. Well thought out and the format of pictures and text. I have been making the move from camping and backpacking trips to bikepacking trips. The concept of the uber light weight backpacking but on a off-road bicycle.

I find that my Sierra Designs Clip Light CD is still to heavy for 50-60 miles a day on the bike. Here on the east coast warm weather brings bugs and I only use a tarp in cooler weather. So a small bivy -like tent is something I am looking for since I am solo most times.

The one question that I have with the Nemo is the pump system. I did not understand the pump process. Are you still blowing air into the beam or are you pumping it? After riding 68 miles on the C&O on my first day of a 3 day trip. I had a hard time blowing up a Big Anges Air Core after full day of riding. Blowing up a beam in a tent would not be a option!

Thanks

Brian
Brian

Brian- I must say that your review of the NEMO Gogo is the best tent review that I think I have ever read. Well thought out and the format of pictures and text. I have been making the move from camping and backpacking trips to bikepacking trips. The concept of the uber light weight backpacking but on a off-road bicycle. I find that my Sierra Designs Clip Light CD is still to heavy for 50-60 miles a day on the bike. Here on the east coast warm weather brings bugs and I only use a tarp in cooler weather. So a small bivy -like tent is something I am looking for since I am solo most times. The one question that I have with the Nemo is the pump system. I did not understand the pump process. Are you still blowing air into the beam or are you pumping it? After riding 68 miles on the C&O on my first day of a 3 day trip. I had a hard time blowing up a Big Anges Air Core after full day of riding. Blowing up a beam in a tent would not be a option! Thanks

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Thanks RC! I sincerely appreciate your continued support and the great feedback!

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Thanks a million brother, glad you liked the review. I like the power cinch as well, but not more than the taut-line hitch. I don't usually have the need to adjust mine at all. For instance on all the taut-lines I've used on the Gogo LE, after the initial setting I haven't had to touch them. Even after high wind and multiple days with it set up. That's certainly not to say a taut-line won't ever need to be adjusted though. I also use the power cinch when setting up a trunk line, as I went over in the series of videos I did on rigging a tarp shelter here: http://www.itstactical.com/skillcom/knots/knot-of-the-week-rigging-a-tarp-shelter-part-1/ I like the fact a trunk line with a power cinch and a slipped half-hitch can be pulled free and taken down in seconds if needed. Important for those mornings you need to get on the road as fast as possible or if for some reason you have the need to break down camp in a hurry to di di mau.

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Thanks RC! The Asashi looks nice, have you looked at the Pentalite? I really like the fact that you can use it as a tarp shelter and convert it into a full tent with the optional inner tent. It fits four just like the Asashi does. I may be confused though, did you already purchase the Asashi? If you still want the personal tent option, but want a little more elbow room, check out the Meta 1P. You'll need a trekking pole to set it up, it's lighter (by 2 oz.) than the Gogo LE and it can technically fit two. Mike's been running one for as long as I've been running the Gogo LE and will be putting together his usage review up on ITS in the near future. I mention it can fit two, because to save weight on the GORUCK Ascent, both Mike and I slept in the Meta 1P while in basecamp tackling 14'ers. It was awesome being able to distribute our weight across two packs with a single 2 lb. tent.

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Hi Brian, thanks for the kind words. Here's the gist of the pump system, it's still a manual inflation, but the best way to describe it is "assisted inflation." You blow into the tube and it inflates that chamber on the pump (grey circular area in the middle of the tubes.) Once that section is inflated, you squeeze it with your hand to "force" air into the tube. You'd wear out your lungs without the added assist by the squeeze if you were just trying to use a tube to inflate it.

An added benefit of this system is that once you get the hang of the breathe/squeeze method, it's super fast. Even with you being tired after a day of riding, there's minimal effort required thanks to the assisted design of the pump.

Hope that clears up the confusion and helps you out, thanks for the question!

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Hi Brian, thanks for the kind words. Here's the gist of the pump system, it's still a manual inflation, but the best way to describe it is "assisted inflation." You blow into the tube and it inflates that chamber on the pump (grey circular area in the middle of the tubes.) Once that section is inflated, you squeeze it with your hand to "force" air into the tube. You'd wear out your lungs without the added assist by the squeeze if you were just trying to use a tube to inflate it. An added benefit of this system is that once you get the hang of the breathe/squeeze method, it's super fast. Even with you being tired after a day of riding, there's minimal effort required thanks to the assisted design of the pump. Hope that clears up the confusion and helps you out, thanks for the question!

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