By Jason Heaton
on 9.22.10

What’s next – a car without wheels? From the, “why didn’t I think of that” category comes the NEMO Morpho 2P ($350), a lightweight backpacking tent that eschews conventional aluminum poles for support in favor of collapsible “airbeams.” Poles have been a necessary evil of tent construction forever and though modern tent poles are light and strong, they’re still clumsy to pack and set up, prone to breakage and add weight. The creative folks at NEMO, a New Hampshire-based maker of camping gear, thought outside the… uh, tent, and decided to use air to keep the tent upright instead. Who says there is nothing new under the sun?

The way the Morpho 2P works is pretty simple. The tent is shaped like a common two-person backpacking tent and setup begins the same way. Spread the tent out on flat ground and stake out the corners to pull it taut. But instead of assembling shockcorded aluminum poles and feeding them through sleeves on the tent, you connect a small, very lightweight foot pump to quick-connect fittings at the base of the tent. Less than a minute of pumping with your foot and the tubes that run over the top of the tent become rigid, standing the tent up. Disconnect the pump and you’re good to go. The beauty of the design is the integration of support within the shelter meaning there’s less to pack. If you have to set up camp in the rain, you can stake out the tent, crawl inside and stay dry while you pump up the tent around you.

The Morpho 2P packs small and weighs in at a hair over five pounds, which is about standard for a two-person backpacking tent. Construction is bombproof ripstop waterproof/breathable nylon with a separate rainfly for when the sky opens up. A vestibule lets you keep your muddy boots outside at night and, while definitely cozy, interior dimensions shouldn’t inspire any Brokeback Mountain moments. One thing to note – the Morpho 2P is not really designed for use in high winds (we stand corrected). So it might not be the one to take on your weeklong trek across Tierra del Fuego. But for long weekend outings, it’s the perfect companion. The Morpho 2P gives new meaning to open air sleeping.

Buy Now: $350

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