Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 Review: Our Detailed Field Test

Want to know how much space can you squeeze out of a four person camping tent? The Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 may have the answer!
Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - Intro
This our Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 review, fully field tested just for you!



Nemo Aurora Highrise 4P Tent

– Price: $399.95
– Weight: 15.9 lbs (7.2 kg)
– Floor size: 100” x 90” (254cm x 229cm)
– Peak height: 75” (191cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Capacities:  4 person / 6 person
– Shape: Dome
– What we like: Impressively spacious, great vestibule, outstanding livability, durable materials
– What we don’t: Expensive, questionable wind performance, potential hardware issues




The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict

The Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 is new in Nemo’s lineup for 2022, and after reading through the spec sheet, we couldn’t resist picking it up to include in our big camping tent field test this year. A four-person camping tent that’s tall enough to stand up in, genuinely large enough for four campers to share, has outstanding material quality, and two nice big exterior vestibules? Who wouldn’t be interested?

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - Verdict
Our experience with the Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 was overwhelmingly positive.

We’re happy to report that after spending a long weekend in the Nemo Aurora Highrise 4, it delivers on every single one of its promises. The interior is spacious, the materials are high quality, and the tent is packed with smart features in typical Nemo fashion. The Aurora’s unique frame design, which creates rain-friendly windows while also maximizing interior space, works exactly as advertised, and left us feeling like we were in a shelter much larger than most four person tent.

Nemo has a penchant for unique innovations like this, which makes perfect sense when you consider the company was founded by an industrial design student back in 2002. Since then they’ve gone on to rack up a long list of accolades including “best invention of the year” from Time magazine, the Editor’s Choice award from Rock & Ice magazine, and the best mountaineering tent of the year from Backpacker magazine.

To offer a fair and unbiased take on the Nemo Highrise Aurora 4, we subjected it to the same field testing standards as every other shelter in our roundup and all things considered, it performed admirably well!

Right, let’s dig into the details!




Detailed Evaluation

Our field testing aims to evaluate every aspect of a tent’s performance, from ground-level observations like individual material quality to the “big picture” concept that is all-around livability. This includes testing for weather-worthiness, durability, and (most importantly) the sum total of the tent’s value for your hard-earned money.

Space and Comfort

The Nemo Highrise takes its name from the unique set of extra poles used to stretch the walls up and outward from the center, and it’s a fitting moniker. This design literally pulls the walls beyond vertical, and as a result, space and comfort are arguably the Aurora’s best feature.

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - Space and Comfort 1
Peak height stretches over six feet, and the extra poles pull the tent walls out to maximize interior space

Its 75” peak height is taller than many 6P models on the market, and its claim as a 4 person tent is genuine, unlike most 4P models. We had no issue fitting four generously-sized pads into the Highrise, and your average camper will have space left over should they opt for a queen-sized mattress instead.

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - Space and Comfort 2
When Nemo says four person, they mean it. No compact pads or mummy bags required here to make it work.

Nemo specs sufficient interior storage for four inside the Highrise, with a combination of floor-level mesh pockets (which also double as stash pockets for the doors when left open), integrated mesh stash pockets near the door, and their trademark “night light” pockets, which diffuse the light from any headlamp or flashlight into a mellow yellow tint that’s easy on the eyes.

Exterior storage is another highlight of the Highrise, as both the front and back doors are equipped with large storage vestibules. This helps make the most of the space inside the tent, further improving the viability of the four-sleeper proposal.

Weather Resistance

Weather resistance for the Aurora is largely positive, and it shines particularly well in the rain. All the essentials are there, with the full-coverage vestibule, high-quality seam taping, and a 1200mm waterproof rating on the 68D polyester fly. Nemo goes one step further, however, by taking full advantage of their new Highrise frame design, which leaves a significant overhang at the windows. This allows the windows to be left open in anything short of sideways rain, but you can also zip them up tight as needed.

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - Weather Resistance
The added overhang allows the windows to be left open in rain, and also creates a nice gap for airflow.

We took full advantage of this design and left the fly on, even in hot sunny weather. With the two windows open, and the vestibules tucked back, the Aurora felt like a nice shady spot that never struggled for airflow.

Wind resistance is the only potential concern for us here, although we didn’t experience any heavy winds during our testing. The frame felt properly sturdy and the guylines were numerous and well-placed, but we would definitely want to keep the open-ended sides pointed away from the wind if the weather had turned.

Ease of Set-Up

Set-up was pretty average for the Aurora Highrise, and took us a little over 10 minutes from start to finish. The poles aren’t color-coded, but the obvious difference in length between the main frame and the roof extensions removed any guesswork from the process.

Our only complaint here is that the Highrise’s added roof poles add some serious tension to the tent, and as such, required a fair amount of muscle to get into place (more on that below). We were able to pitch the tent with one person, and as is the case with any tent, expect the process to get easier as the tent stretches and settles.

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - Ease of Set-up
It takes a little muscle to get these poles in place. Luckily Nemo thought to reinforce the fabric at each corner.

Aside from that, everything feels pretty straightforward. The Aurora uses a hybrid sleeve/clip-in design for the canopy, which is a little more involved than the couldn’t-be-easier approach of something like Kelty’s “quick corners” system, but much easier than the Aurora’s massive stablemate in the Nemo lineup, the Nemo Wagontop.

Durability

All things considered, the Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 looks and feels like a very durable shelter, which is exactly what we’d expect from a brand like Nemo at this price point. The two features that particularly stood out during our testing were the tent floor and the poles.

As far as the floor goes, Nemo specs a burly 150D polyester fabric throughout, which should prove to be as tough as it is handsome (we wish more tents used cool patterns like this, so kudos to Nemo for the fun touch). The poles feel similarly robust, and are all made from 13mm diameter aluminum. They aren’t a name brand like the DAC poles used in the North Face Wawona 6 we tested this year, but they felt just as tight and well put together as any other premium tent.

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - Durability 1
Fun and functional: The Aurora’s pattern-printed floor is made from 150D polyester.

With that being said, we do have some durability concerns with the Aurora, all of which unfortunately stem from the unique frame design that makes the tent stand apart. Because the poles are designed to pull the tent’s walls out as far as possible, they put a good deal of stress on the canopy’s and rainfly’s stitching, seams, and eyelets. We actually managed to deform one of the riveted attachment points on the corner while putting these poles into place. It was still fully functional, and could totally be blamed on us getting overzealous with the tension, but it was enough to give us pause about the fairly untested nature of the new design.

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - Durability 2
The Aurora’s rivet deformed under tension the first time we pitched the tent. It was still functional, but concerning nonetheless.

Granted, it could be a one-off issue, and even if it weren’t, we know it would be covered by Nemo’s lifetime warranty. It’s a minor complaint, but still seems uncharacteristic of a Nemo shelter.

Weight and Packed Size

As usual, because this tent is intended for car camping only (meaning you won’t be taking it backpacking), weight and packed size aren’t a major concern performance-wise. With that being said, we will point out that Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 both looks and feels a good bit heftier than your average four person model.

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - Weight and Packed Size
The Aurora is a bit hefty, but goes back in the bag without issue.

We didn’t have any issues getting it back into the bag (an important detail when everyone is ready to head home and grab a hot shower), but it certainly feels more like a six person tent in hand. Personally, we’re fine with that fact, especially considering how much livability Nemo has packed into this four-person powerhouse.

Value

Pound for pound, we feel the Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 is a good value for the money. Heavy stress/heavy wear items like the poles and tent floor are absolutely built to last, and, as we stated above, are covered by Nemo’s lifetime warranty.

The extra design features like the rain-friendly windows, extra interior space, and the colorful floor pattern all add to the overall value of the tent, and after spending some time with the Aurora, we believe the price is justified.

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - Value
The Aurora’s cheery colors fit right into our lush mountain valley location.

Our issue with the roof pole rivets is the only strike on the Aurora’s otherwise spotless record, but again, as a relatively new and untested design, there’s a lot riding on that. We’ve never experienced a hardware issue with a Nemo tent before (including our recent experiences with the Wagontop and Dagger OSMO), so time will determine whether this was user error or an actual quality concern.

What We Like

Overall, we’re impressed with the Highrise, and found a lot to love here. The unique pole design works as advertised, making the interior of this tent feel much larger than your typical four-person model. The combination of an impressively tall ceiling and windows that stay open in bad weather mean the Highrise never feels claustrophobic, even when loaded down with four campers inside.

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - What We Like 1
The windows stay open with the fly on, so the interior always has a nice open feel.

The two-door, two-vestibule design also gets high marks here, and while it doesn’t offer the “bonus room” feeling of larger designs like the Nemo Wagontop or North Face Wawona, it still makes for great ventilation, easy set-up, and ample exterior storage space.

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - What We Like 2
There was plenty of room in the exterior vestibule for packs, shoes, and yes, our giant duffle bag.

It’s also worth mentioning that the tent’s bright colors and unique printed floor make the Highrise feel like a truly special place to hang. As adults, we all noted the “positive vibe” exuded by this cheery color scheme, and would wager anyone camping with children would particularly appreciate the fun atmosphere it creates.

What We Don’t Like

Again, our main complaint here is with the potential durability concerns of the Highrise’s highly-tensioned frame. We’re not sure how well the tent would function if one of the rivets were to fail, and while we know Nemo would take care of the issue, that warranty doesn’t help fix a tent in the field.

The possibility that Nemo may still be “working out the kinks” on the Highrise during its first year of production gives us a little pause. The Aurora is priced in the same ballpark as other proven 4P models from brands like North Face, REI, and Eureka, and while it’s arguably a superior tent in terms of space and features, that argument is largely dependent on little details (like rivets) working the way they should. 

Alternatives

  • Big Agnes Bunk House 4: Another roomy four person tent with it’s own set of unique features. Costs a few dollars more, but boasts proven reliability. Read our full test and review…
  • MSR Habitude 6: Similarly tall and spacious dome tent with good exterior storage. Expensive, but a proven performer in bad weather. Read our full test and review…
  • Nemo Wagontop 6: If you’re digging Nemo’s quality and innovation but looking for something even taller, the Wagontop delivers interior (and exterior) space in spades. Read our full test and review…
  • REI Co-op Basecamp 4: Not quite as large, but a tough-as-nails shelter that also works well for cold weather and high winds. Read our full test and review…

The Bottom Line

If a roomy four-person camping tent is what you’re after, the Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 takes interior space to new heights (apologies for the pun). It’s made from durable materials, boasts an innovative and fun design, and, of course, is backed by Nemo’s lifetime warranty.

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 - Full tent 2

The unique frame of the Aurora is still somewhat unproven, but its potential benefits were clear to see: Tons of interior space, rain-protected windows, and industry-leading shoulder room thanks to those beyond-vertical side walls. Despite the minor hiccup we experienced, we still feel that the Highrise is a standout option (especially in the four-person segment), and a good value for the money. 

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