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TripSavvy / Joy Merrifield
Lightweight and portable
Simple setup and breakdown
Reinforced corners stay rigid
Hard to set up in wind
Fabric immediately got a run
Takes up a lot of room
It’s wobbly in high winds, and the fabric may have some durability issues, but the original Neso Beach Tent, also known as Neso 1, is a highly portable, take-anywhere shelter that’s a breeze to set up.
We purchased the Neso Beach Tent so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
We take our shade-worshipping seriously, so we understand the struggle: Full-on beach tents can be antisocial and clunky, cabanas are heavy, and it’s only funny when it’s someone else sprinting after a runaway beach umbrella. Not when it’s you. Luckily, we have more options: Neso borrows the best of each with its original Neso Beach Tent, or the Neso 1.
Composed of tech fabric and sandbags, the Neso 1 is lightweight yet runs no flight risk, and the smooth, elevated angles provide shade without blocking everyone’s view of the water. Very populist. We took the beach canopy to Rockaway Beach for a long, windy day in the sand to see how the pieces fit together. Read on to see what we thought.
On the beach, the swooping edges and sculptural lines make the Neso 1 look like a wobbly spandex Brâncuși. The tent takes a simple approach to portability: It’s composed of a sheet of lightweight, peachy Lycra/nylon blend fabric with sandbags dangling from ropes at each corner and comes with two ball-tipped shock cord poles that prop everything up. Once the sandbags are filled and stretched out, the tension of the Lycra sheet holds the shock cords in place, elevating the tent. Nothing gets staked into the ground, so the tent can be set up in a variety of terrains, as long as there are rocks or sand available to weigh down the anchor bags.
We found a small run along one of the sides while we were setting the tent up for the first time.
The jersey shade’s corners are reinforced with triangular vinyl panels and finished with grommets, where the ropes go through. Though we liked how it looked, vinyl and peachy-soft jersey don’t necessarily play all that well together. Stitching rigid vinyl to jersey can actually break the knit, causing holes and runs. Considering we found a small run along one of the sides while we were setting the tent up for the first time, we worry that more are imminent, and the corners will be a weak point.
Another issue we had with the design was how much real estate the long ropes and sandbags took up. These can be shortened and tied off to a point, but we still felt the beach spread was disproportionate to the amount of shade we created. Much of this will depend on your destination. New York beaches can get pretty crowded, so this design wasn’t ideal. However, it might be more appropriate for quiet expanses when there’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out comfortably.
It’s telling that every sunshade of this type that we’ve come across has offered setup tips and tutorials, as well as disclaimers about proper assembly. Putting up this beach tent isn’t exactly as easy as throwing open an umbrella. If you get it wrong (like we did the first time), the entire thing might collapse around your ears. We recommend studying up before you hit the beach.
This tent might be more appropriate for quiet expanses when there’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out comfortably.
We deployed our Neso for the first time on a gorgeous, sunny, ridiculously gusty day at Rockaway Beach, which ultimately meant we were trying to transform a willful spandex kite into a well-behaved sun shelter. While the tent is simple enough for one person to set up, we were thankful for a three-person crew to help keep the fabric flat in the high winds, fill the bags with sand, and keep them as taut as possible while the poles were fit into position.
The setup involved laying the shade flat on the ground first, filling each of the four anchor bags with sand, and cinching them closed. A tip printed on the side of the carry bag suggests that, first and foremost, the anchor bags must be very heavy with rocks or sand for the tent to work. Tying the cord to a tree or bumper would also work, in a pinch. We pulled the bags out as far as they could go, stretching the shade fabric out before positioning the two shock cord poles under the front corners of the shade. Working them into a good, stable position in the heavy wind took some maneuvering, but we eventually got the poles to stand upright.
As the wind shifted, we had to stay vigilant, constantly adjusting the poles to chase the wind direction.
To contend with the high winds, we positioned the front of the shade to face the direction from which the wind was blowing (as Neso instructs). This kept the shade from becoming airborne, but with the wind blowing from inland, we spent most of the day listening to the ocean behind us and facing some grimy beachfront apartments. As the wind shifted, we had to stay vigilant, constantly adjusting the poles to chase the wind direction. Burying the sandbags helped keep the fabric taut, but the entire thing did come down on our heads a couple of times.
The Neso 1 has a 50+ UPF rating, meaning that it blocks over 98 percent of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. You’ll still need to wear sunscreen, but camping out underneath it kept us cool and protected. The canopy is also said to be water-resistant on rainy days. To test, we threw some water on it and found that it does indeed bead on the outside rather than penetrating the fabric.
Portability is the Neso 1’s primary design motivation, so the tent construction and transport bag are minimal. Rolled up in its bag, the tent and poles are about the size of a yoga mat, and the entire thing weighs a slight 4 pounds. It was easy to throw over a shoulder and go and compact enough to fit inside a small suitcase like the Away Bigger Carry-On.
Rolled up in its bag, the tent and poles are about the size of a yoga mat, and the entire thing weighs a slight 4 pounds.
The fabric is just about an 80-inch square, which was big enough for three people to lounge under in beach chairs. Four adults almost fit when just lounging on a blanket, but two is probably ideal to avoid overcrowding. The sloped canopy of the Neso 1 is 66 inches at its highest, which doesn’t allow for room to walk around, but doesn’t feel vertically cramped either. Neso produces tents in two larger sizes—Grande and Gigante—if you need more height or a larger shade.
Keeping the Neso clean couldn’t be easier—the Lycra/nylon canopy fabric is resistant to liquids, stains and spills are easily sponged off, and sand just brushes away. When we were done with the canopy, we balled up the fabric and stuffed it into the bag. The next time we needed it, the tent came out looking fresh and unwrinkled.
We like the simultaneously sporty and bohemian vibe, but since you can buy ridiculously cute beach umbrellas for $20, shelling out the $100 for a Neso beach tent is a bit of a hard sell on aesthetics alone—saying nothing of the fact that the fabric already had a run at our first setup. We’re going to try to write off the fabric run as a little bad luck, though, and say that paying a premium for the portability (4 pounds!), for the packaging (cute!), and for the “Made in the USA” (glad to hear we still make stuff!) is worth it. Just barely.
Neso admits that it didn’t invent this type of beach tent. It’s difficult to be sure who did, but we think Otentik has a compelling backstory. For virtually the same coverage and the same design, though, the Neso 1 comes in $25 cheaper than the Otentik Original, which we also tested.
We suspect that difference is partially due to different manufacturing methods, and partially due to fabric quality. The feel of the Neso jersey is silky and peach fuzz-smooth, which feels amazing but doesn’t bode well for durability. The Otentik is made of thick Italian microfiber jersey and forgoes the Neso’s vinyl and grommet corners in favor of self-fabric knots. Simpler may be better, in this case.
It’s probably a yes.
We like the Neso beach tent for its portability, simple setup, and easy-care fabric, but it takes a hit for durability and was wobbly in high winds. We feel like we could learn to overlook its faults in the name of 4 pounds of haul weight, though.
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