NEMO x L.L.Bean’s Impact Tent is great for camping and backpacking. It’s also carbon-neutral and is the first tent to undergo a full life cycle analysis.
When Maine-based L.L.Bean wanted a new tent, it turned to its New Hampshire neighbor NEMO for help. The brands decided to make it a carbon-neutral tent, and to put it through a full life cycle analysis, all while keeping the price competitive.
“It’s hard to bring sustainable attributes to an entry-level tent,” said Noah Pitchforth, NEMO’s VP of Product. But NEMO, which has made an aggressive commitment to being carbon positive, threw itself into the project with fervor.
In designing the Impact tent, which will replace L.L.Bean’s Aurora, NEMO made the fabrics stronger. It elevated the tent’s sustainability by using all recycled fabrics, and it hired a third party to perform a life cycle assessment to fully understand the tent’s impact.
The Life Cycle Assessment
Certifier Intertek worked with NEMO’s factory to factor in air conditioning use, what temperature it keeps the factory at, and how far the polyester yarn traveled to the factory from where it was made. Tallying those impacts let NEMO understand the tent’s carbon footprint. By choosing 100% recycled fabrics, NEMO reduced the tent’s fossil fuel consumption by 25%.
Then, it purchased carbon offsets from Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Woods Initiative to offset the rest. The project, which is 165 miles from L.L.Bean’s headquarters in Freeport, Maine, is AMC’s strategy for land conservation in the 100-Mile Wilderness region, an area with some of the largest tracts of undeveloped forests in the U.S.
According to NEMO, the life cycle analysis of the Impact tent is the first life cycle analysis that’s been done for a tent.
“We were setting up a base level of knowledge and using it as a way to figure out where the opportunity is with long-term carbon goals,” said Cam Brensinger, NEMO founder and president.
“It’s exciting as now we have a deeper understanding of our supply chain and what we can do next. We discovered how to save small percentages at each step,” he explained. “With this tent, we peeled back the layers to see if those costs were being minimized in the most sustainable way.”
Brensinger says that it’s been a game-changer to get to a place where NEMO can control every aspect of the product. “If we want to halve our carbon production by 2030, there aren’t a lot of product cycles to do that. And it’d be impossible without good factory partners — the carbon is in the supply chain.”
Put to the Test, NEMO’s Impact Tent Delivers
NEMO’s Impact Tent not only brings a reduction in carbon emissions, but it also gives consumers comfort, durability, trustworthiness, and quality to help them have as many great nights outdoors as they can clock. Steep sidewalls make the interior feel exceptionally roomy. Dual vestibules store gear and give tent inhabitants options for entry and exit.
NEMO’s new Landing Zone gear tub, a waterproof bucket floor that tucks under the vestibule for dry storage outside the main body of the tent, expands critical storage. Pockets inside hold small essentials.
We tested it for car camping and backpacking. Strutted vents enhance air circulation, and the tent is quick and easy to set up. By using 100% recycled ripstop in the fly and main cabin panels, the Impact gained an 80% increase in tear strength.
It meets industry standards for water repellency and flame retardancy without the use of dangerous chemicals. Its no-see-um mesh doors and window provided prime stargazing and zero bug bites.
And we loved the tent’s light pocket, a sleeve built into the canopy to hold a headlamp. Slide in a headlamp and the tent interior fills with a warm glow.
The Impact tent comes packed in NEMO’s Divvy Cube dividable stuff sack so you can spread the load with a hiking partner. And the poles come in a recycled fabric bag that eliminates single-use plastic.
Eliminating Carbon Emissions
In April, NEMO joined Climate Neutral and will offset its greenhouse gas emissions as a line item in the brand’s budget.
“Reducing and someday eliminating carbon emissions has been and will continue to be our priority,” said Brensinger. “But we think it’s important to take financial accountability for past emissions to drive future change.”
“We’re not fully surfing the product sustainability wave yet,” Pitchforth added, “but we’re getting closer. There’s a race towards sustainability between brands, a race that’s building momentum. There’s a moment here to take advantage of in each product category, an opportunity to create materials that need to exist. And we’re diving in.”