In bikepacking, tents with floors are a thing of the past. It’s all about efficiency. Finding comfort but not at the cost of unwanted extra weight. Tarp tents, pyramid tents, or simply using a rain fly and poles have become popular solutions for bikepackers who are looking for the extra security from the elements. Nemo Equipment did it right with the Apollo 3P Bikepacking Tent

Product:
The Apollo is a pyramid shaped shelter made up of one lightweight piece of fabric and a single pole. Designed to fit anywhere from three people, to one person and a bike, at 57 sq ft the Nemo Apollo is spacious to say the least. In the majority of our testing, we used the Apollo with two people and all of our gear, and had plenty of room to spare. Nemo chose a 15D Ripstop Nylon for the shelter fabric to keep the product lightweight and easy to pack.  Along with the vestibule, the Apollo comes with 5 lightweight stakes, a singular aluminum telescoping pole, and a quality compressible stuff sack. The stakes hold down the 5 points on the pyramid and the pole rises up in the center, using 5 height options (maxing out at 58”), until the fabric is taut. As an alternative option, Nemo has included a long guy-out cord, in case you’d like to leave the pole at home and find a tree to assist in pitching the tent. 

Set Up:
The set up is incredibly simple. The Apollo is not one of those tents that you dread having to assemble when you arrive at camp. The more times we set it up the easier it got. Find a flat-ish spot, layout the tarp, place the stakes, and away you go. In varying locations one might struggle with the overall footprint of the Apollo. It covers a lot of ground (105.5” x 98” to be exact), and thus finding a space to pitch could be one of your bigger challenges. We always made it a priority to find a space that had a relatively flat area for two sleeping pads, and we would pitch it based on that – even if the sides had rocks, brush, or a slope. It only really matters that your sleeping area is flat, not necessarily the other storage area covered by the Apollo.nemo-apollo-07110

We found that the product was best set up by keeping the door unstaked and placing the pole last. The Apollo comes equipped with adjustable pull-down cords on each staked corner, so after you place the pole at the desired height, you can adjust the pull-downs to create a tight fit. If the pull-downs aren’t creating the perfect tension, it is easy to adjust the stakes even once the pole is placed. We never had any issues with getting the tent fabric at, or close to, the ground to ensure protection from wind, or that lovely sideways Rocky Mountain rain. nemo-apollo-07113

Function:
The Nemo Apollo functions flawlessly in that it is super packable, it’s easy to set up, and it has kept us protected from the elements. We typically pack the telescoping pole and stakes in our frame bags. The pole fits perfectly along the downtube of a size small hardtail. We have packed the vestibule in either our saddle bag with the rest of our sleeping kit, or in a backpack if we are carrying one. It is lightweight and takes up very little space. 

One thing we have come to really appreciate about the Apollo in comparison to standard tents is how quiet it is. With standard tents you typically hear the poles banging on the sides of the fly or tent all night with the smallest amount of wind. The Apollo has no sound when set up properly, and has proven to be incredibly stable. nemo-apollo-07116The dual zipper feature allows you to open and close the tent in two different directions, and provides an option for ventilation on warm nights.  

Contrary to what you may think, this floorless shelter keeps the heat in very well. With two people sleeping in it, we have not noticed a difference in temperature when compared to sleeping in a standard tent with a floor. Nemo chose to design the door using a two zipper system, so on a warm night, you can vent the Apollo at the top. Alternatively, if you’d like to stargaze, or for setting up camp, the tie back for the door is convenient and easy to use. Another bonus? It dries very quickly if laid out in the sun after a wet or frosty night. 
nemo-apollo-0162
After a frosty and cold night in the Colorado High Country. Once the Apollo saw the sun, it quickly dried within 30 minutes.

We love the way the one pole system functions. It is easy to customize the height and tension of your shelter. There are certain scenarios where we could see the pole getting in the way, but the good thing about it is it doesn’t need to be placed in the direct center of the pyramid. It can be placed at an angle, or set to one side, so that two people could sleep next to each other if they wished. 

The Apollo has outperformed standard tents since the moment we began testing it. It’s lighter, easier to pack, easier to set up, and more quiet.nemo-apollo-04438

9 Comments

  1. Smithhammer

    I’m loving the Apollo as well, and agree with everything you said. To me, it is a much more versatile shelter than a floored tent. A couple things that I have found work well with the Apollo:

    I picked up a couple of these UL ground cloths from Mountain Laurel. They are cheap, and seem really flimsy, but are some sort of miracle plastic that I haven’t been able to put a hole in yet. Nice for protecting a sleeping pad from things that may puncture it: http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=43&products_id=144

    I also thought the pole that comes with the Apollo, while really beefy, is also pretty heavy. Z-Packs makes carbon poles in lengths that will work with the Apollo, and they are very reasonably priced. They aren’t adjustable like the stock pole, so I went with the 52″ option, and I can always stand it on a rock or whatever if I want to get a little more height: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/tent_pole.shtml

  2. Obviously your not bike packing where there are blackflies, mosquitoes etc!

  3. I’ve got about 8-10 nights in my apollo. I love it. Super easy set up. Easy to carry on the bike. I have been having a heck of a time getting it really close to the ground. Which on a few really windy and cool nights was a bit of an issue. But I’m still learning all the tricks.

  4. I’m just waiting on a decent sale to pull the trigger on this tent. I was (am?) initially a bit leery of a single wall, no floor shelter, but the weight savings and ability to keep my bike better protected from the elements make this worth giving a try for me. My biggest concern might be its size–I’m often a stealth camper and this is very much NOT a stealth tent.

  5. I wonder how much weight would be added if they just added a ~12″ skirt of netting along the bottom? Or just an entire floor of netting, which could be added or removed. This would give it insect or no-insect flexibility. Yeah, one can always don a bug net hood, but when insects are bad, it’s nice to have a small sanctum to get away. Guess the level of insect defense depends on the level of attack, if you are bikeracing or on a leisure bikepacking trip…

  6. And as always…
    Weight, weight, weight?

  7. Pingback: 2016 Bikepacker Gift Guide - Bikepacker

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