Nemo Aurora Highrise 6-Person Tent: Tested
Family tent-based car camping has not changed much since the dinosaurs. OK, I exaggerate. How about, “since Henry Ford”? What I’m getting at is it all seems rather simple; throw some rope, poles, and fabric in a car, find a bloody nice place to park yourself for a day, a night, or a year, then live it up. The prerequisites might seem basic, but nowadays it appears they might also be simultaneously complex. Technology has moved on from hefty canvas A-frame tents and cast-iron pots to modern day ‘bendy poles, and high-tech materials. Nowadays we demand large, sturdy, portable, waterproof, and well-ventilated shelters for ourselves and our loved ones. Ideally it shouldn’t be so wieldy so as not to fit in the car boot but must offer enough space to live in once pitched. It needs to be easy to setup and simple to dismantle but strong and sturdy enough to keep the family warm and dry. It needs to store enough kit to be close at hand but keep also keep gear out of the way of sleep space.
The list goes on, and on, and delivering a tent that ticks all the boxes suddenly is harder than selling an e-bike to a single-speeder. Fortunately, quality outdoor manufacturer Nemo Equipment is no stranger to the challenges of finding creative solutions to keeping us comfortable in the wilds, and they join the family-camping-fray with its Aurora Highrise 4P and 6P tents. Here at AGA we’re growing more and more fond of the consistent high quality of Nemo kit, and so we took its big-mumma for a whirlwind test run to discover the pros, cons and everything in between of the mighty monster of the Nemo range.
The Nemo Aurora Highrise 6P Tent brings the high quality we’ve come to expect from Nemo to the world of car camping in a compact 8.46-kilogram, 66cm x 24cm x 24cm package. For Nemo products this might appear rather ‘hefty’ but in the world of vehicle-based camping, such a package is featherweight. The oversized, six-person, freestanding, family camping tent might pack small, but it delivers a super spacious 7.7 square metres (254cm x 304.8cm) of floor space once pitched. A combination of both clip and sleeve attachments affixes four strong 13mm-diameter aluminium poles to a 68D Polyester and No-See-Um Mesh inner to create a super sturdy semi-geodesic three-season tent.
The large standing height tent sees two full length poles cross diagonally ground to ground to create a 196cm-high dome structure whilst two suspended half-length poles slot into eyelets above the windows to not only provide strength but simultaneously deliver outward sloping walls, with a window, at both ends. A D-shape door on one side and a massive near full-width double-door on the other provides ample access and cross ventilation, folding neatly into a floor pocket at the base of the door. A unique patterned floor of 150D PU Polyester floor creates a bit of fun for this family tent and a 1500mm waterproof rating keeps both kids and kit dry. An optional footprint can also be purchased to further enhance waterproofing and extend tent longevity.
A brilliant Atoll/Oasis blue coloured rain fly of 68D PU Polyester (1200 mm) covers the entire roof and protrudes halfway down the two shorter walls to extend out and shelter both windows. The fly sheet extends to ground level over each doorway to form two large 2.2 square meter vestibules that can be tied open with Nemo’s one-handed Gatekeeper door tabs. Internally four triangular shoulder-height corner-pockets offer storage space whilst a roof mounted Nightlight Pocket creates a warm glow after dark when diffusing a regular headlamp. For peace of mind, workmanship and materials are covered by Nemo’s lifetime warranty against defects.
In the field
The first thing to love about the Nemo Aurora Highrise 6P Tent is the small, packed size and rather light 8.46kg weight. It’s right on the money for chucking in the back of the car and is lightweight enough for the kids to haul to camp where simple but nice-to-have features like the colour coded pole-tabs make pitching a breeze. Pitching is straight forward with two crossover poles that slide into rooftop sleeves before being tensioned via three solid pole-clips at each corner. Two further half-length poles strengthen and tighten the entire structure without a need for any Hercules like pole-bending.
Nemo’s attention to detail and quality workmanship is clearly evident upon pitching with clean lines and a distinct lack of ill-fitting poles, cheap guy ropes or dodgy zips. The fun patterned floor or brilliant Atoll/Oasis blue colour may be a little too ‘party’ for some, but we loved it. We also liked the fact that all flame-retardant fabrics are manufactured without the use of harmful chemicals, effectively displaying Nemo’s continued commitment to the environment.
Once pitched there is no doubt the 7.7 square metres of floor space combined with dual vestibules create a true six-person tent (meaning it will fit six regular sleeping pads for six adults) however like most tents of similar size, the Aurora Highrise’s 254cm x 304.8cm floor area is better suited to four people with a bit of kit rather than six adults. A 196cm midpoint of the roof is a blessing for those of us over 185cm tall and enables plenty of room to stand and move, however the sloping dome roof does mean for some crouching as campers move closer to the window walls.
The massive, oversized doors and cross ventilation are a huge win for this tent offering super easy access and making it a great warm-weather option. Two large windows and copious use of No-See-Um Mesh further aids airflow and helps to eliminate condensation build up in cooler or humid environments.
If the weather turns nasty, the 68D PU Polyester (1200 mm Hydrostatic Head) rain fly keeps rain at bay and internal hook and loop pole attachments along with reinforced guy points mean for a sturdy shelter even on windy days. The dual vestibules are a bonus for gear storage, and Nemo’s one-handed Gatekeeper door tabs are a favourite of ours for easily tying doors back. A bonus for when the rain stops is the Aurora Highrise’s ability to tie the entire vestibule back to each tent corner for increased airflow; A simple nicety that is often overlooked in less well-designed tents.
But as much as we are a fan of this tent, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. The half-fly on the window-walls creates a slightly extended window awning, but also leaves an exposed single skin wall and mesh window without a fly. This is not a problem on sunny days, or when the sky delivers vertical rain, but for blustery days the unsupported window awning does tend to ‘billow’ a little, exposing the mesh window that only has two fastening points. We couldn’t remedy the billowing awning with guy ropes and so a zipped window and couple of extra guy lines might better the tent’s ability to ‘batten down’ on those really nasty days.
Internally were pretty much in love. The high roof and spacious interior create a light airy feeling and the roof mounted diffusing Nightlight and snap fastening tabs for a lantern are both a nice touch. Four triangular pockets adorn the walls and were enough for our gear, although other tents of this size can offer more pocket space. Fortunately, the Aurora Highrise’s massive internal volume means a little less pocket space is no big deal.
Truth be told, we really like this tent.
We might love to nitpick, but the Aurora Highrise 6P had little to pick at, and we had to dig deeper than usual to find the bits we didn’t like.
The final word on the Nemo Aurora Highrise 6-Person Tent
With its spacious standing-height, clean design, simple setup and vibrant colours the Nemo Aurora Highrise 6P adds a solid dose of joy to family camping adventures. Nemo has delivered a quality tent that stands out in its class. Whilst we found some niggles, we were massively impressed by the quality materials and workmanship, in particular the oversized doors and simple but sturdy structure in fun, bold colours. At a relatively lofty price, the Nemo Highrise is not a short-term camping solution but rather an investment in a high-end, durable shelter. The Aurora Highrise 6P is, put simply, a great family camping tent of outstanding quality.
RRP: $900 (online pricing may vary) See Nemo Equipment for more info and stockists.