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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > NEMO Dagger Tent > Test Report by Brian Hartman
NEMO DAGGER 3P TENT
INITIAL REPORT: March 4, 2018
I have been backpacking for over 20 years throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and most recently in Western USA. In addition to backpacking I enjoy family camping with my wife and kids and being outdoors in general. I would describe myself as a mid weight backpacker. I use fairly light weight equipment and gear but still like to bring more than the bare essentials with me while on the trail.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: NEMO Equipment
Year of Manufacture: 2018
Manufacturer's Website: www.nemoequipment.com
MSRP: US $499.95
Listed Weight: 4 lb 4 oz (1.93 kg)
Packed Size: 18.9 x 5.9 in diameter (48 x 15 cm diameter)
Peak Height: 42.2 in (107 cm)
Floor Area: 43.6 sq ft (41 sq m)
Floor Dimensions: 90.2 x 69.7 in (229 x 177 cm)
Vestibule Area: 11.4 sq ft + 11.4 sq ft (1.1 sq m + 1.1 sq m)
Measured Weight: 4 lb 3 oz (1.93 kg)
Construction and Materials:
Frame: 1 Hubbed Aluminum DAC Featherlite NSL 9.6 + 9 + 8.5mm pole
Canopy Fabric: 15D Sil/PeU Nylon Ripstop No-See-Um mesh
Floor Fabric: 30D PeU Nylon Ripstop (3000 mm)
Rainfly Fabric: 15D Sil/PeU Nylon Ripstop (1200 mm)
Color: Birch Leaf
Stuff Sack: Divvy Sack
As described on NEMO’s website, the Dagger “offers the best of both worlds: a tent light enough for ultralight backpacking, yet roomy enough to wait out a rainstorm without feeling claustrophobic.” In practical terms, the Dagger 3P is a lightweight 3-person, 3-season, freestanding extended dome backpacking tent with two vestibules and two doors.
After opening the shipping box my initial reaction was excitement as I rushed to open the Divvy sack and dump its contents onto my family room floor. The list of items contained within it included the following:
- Tent body and
Materials and Construction: The Dagger 3P is a double-walled tent, consisting of an inner tent and outer rainfly. The inner tent has a bathtub style floor that extends up the side walls for several inches. The floor is made of 30 denier nylon and has a polyurethane coating on it that gives it a waterproof rating of 3,000 mm. The 3,000 mm rating means that the fabric can withstand a 3,000 mm (9.8 ft) column of water pressure before it starts to leak. In the real world, 750 mm is enough to be waterproof (think umbrella) but because tent floors are subjected to lots of abrasion as well as constant folding, the coatings are made thicker so that they last longer before additional waterproofing needs to be applied. Interestingly enough, a seam runs across the middle of the tent floor; I don’t expect it to cause any problems as it is taped but I’ll keep my eye on it during testing. NEMO Equipment offers two accessories for the Dagger that help increase the life of the floor. The first is called a ‘Footprint’ and it’s used underneath the tent to protect it from sharp objects and rough surfaces. The second is called a ‘Pawprint’ and it’s used inside the tent to protect it from punctures. I am a fan of putting a ground cloth underneath my tents to protect them from abrasion. In practice I always carry a sheet of Tyvek with me and it not only protects the floor from abrasion but also adds an extra waterproof layer between me and the ground. One thing that I learned early on in Scouts though was it doesn’t do any good to put a waterproof layer under a tent if it extends beyond the footprint.
The upper two thirds of the inner tent, including the doors, consists of No-See-Um mesh. The two doors are positioned along the length of the tent and both have dual zippers, so they can be opened from the top or bottom. The fact that the upper two thirds of the inner tent is made of mesh, means it should have excellent air flow to reduce condensation and provide good ventilation in hot weather.
The tent has two 6 x 8 in (15 x 20 cm) storage pockets and two mesh light pockets, one on either end of the tent. I’m curious to try out the light pockets as they supposedly use a special light-diffusing fabric to cast an even glow throughout the tent. An optional center gear loft is available for purchase on NEMO’s website.
Per NEMO’s description, the tent frame consists of a single Featherlite NSL DAC pole. I would describe the frame as six lightweight, shockcorded aluminum poles that are permanently connected to each other via two Y hubs and a top swivel hub. The ends of the four corner poles snap into Jake’s Foot attachments located on the four corners of the tent body for easy assembly, while the swivel hub pole attaches to Ball Cap connectors that are located directly above the side doors. By incorporating the top swivel pole into their design, NEMO has created a tent with a high ceiling and steep, straight walls that has more livable space than alternative designs. The top pole pulls the sides of the tent upward to create additional headroom and shoulder area. It also makes the tent stronger and more rigid. Nine Swift Clips connect the rest of tent body to the pole frame to give it its final shape. Below are photos showing how the tent poles are arranged and what the Jake's Foot attachments and hubs looks like.
The rainfly is made of a 15D Sil/PeU nylon with tape-sealed seams for additional waterproofness. It’s secured to the tent by snapping plastic clips that are on each corner of the rainfly to the end of the Jake’s Foot attachments on each corner of the tent. In addition, the rainfly has ten guy-out points that can be used to secure it to the ground during rough weather. When the rainfly is attached, it creates two vestibules on either side of the tent. The two trapezoid-shaped vestibules provide a total of 23 sq ft (2.1 sq m) of covered space for backpacks, boots and/or the occasional stinky dog that refuses to get a bath before going backpacking with his owner. Finally, eight 66 in (168 cm) lengths of cord were included with the tent for use as guy-out lines if needed. Below are photos of the swivel hub, Swift Clips, and Ball Cap connectors.
For securing the tent to the ground, eight lightweight, 7 in (17.8 cm) aluminum stakes were included along with their own storage pouch. They have a tiny notch in the side to secure cordage. It’s my experience that these kinds of stakes work well as long as the cord loops are very tight; otherwise the cords simply slip off. Although they’re not my favorite stakes for that reason along with the fact that they’re tough to push in and pull out of hard ground without gloves, I understand why they’re included and plan to test them throughout this series.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Setup instructions are printed on a piece of fabric that’s sewn to the inside of the Divvy sack. The instructions and accompanying drawings explain how to pitch the tent in five easy steps. The instructions are well-written and easy to follow. NEMO recommends staking down the tent before erecting the poles and pitching it. I typically do this anyway with all my tents as it makes pitching in windy conditions much easier.
In addition, three small
hang tags were attached to the
outside of the Divvy sack. The first two
hang tags provided info on the DAC poles and Jake’s foot
attachments. The third hang tag listed the tent specs. I
found information regarding care and maintenance
of the tent on NEMO’s website. Below are
a few of their more noteworthy hints and tips:
If the tent is going to be stored for extended periods of time, keep the tent and contents loosely stored in a breathable cotton storage bag; do not store it in its stuff compression sack. Store the tent in a cool, dry, and dark area, away from direct exposure to UV rays from sunlight.
If the tent is exposed to dirt or sand, wipe it down with a wet cloth. For excessive dirt, hand wash the tent with Nikwax Tech Wash® or McNett ReviveX Synthetic Fabric Cleaner. Do not wash your tent in a washing machine with agitators, as they can tear the fabric. Hand washing and air drying is best. Do not use bleach and do not iron.
If you need to re-treat the DWR finish, you can use a spray-on product like Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof or McNett ReviveX Spray-On Water Repellent after the tent has been cleaned. Damaged seam tape can be repaired by using McNett Seam Grip over the damaged area by treating the exterior seams of the tent.
Fix a rip by using a clear Tenacious Tape patch by Gear Aid. Just clean the area and peel and stick the patch.
TRYING IT OUT
the NEMO Dagger was a breeze. First
I staked out the tent, then I assembled the main pole. Even though the main pole is large, with multiple
‘branches’ coming off it, there is only one way to put it together and it’s
pretty obvious. Next, I clipped the four
pole ends to the Jake’s Foot attachments and the top pole assembly to the Ball
Cap connectors. At that point, the tent
was freestanding, and the only thing left to do was connect the Swift Clips to
the tent poles and attach the rainfly.
All told, I had the tent up and the rainfly on in less than 5 minutes
and would have finished sooner if it wasn’t so windy outside. Now that’s quick!
3P is remarkably lightweight for a 3-person, 3-season tent, and yet it’s
incredibly well built and roomy. NEMO
has included a lot of nice features with this tent like dual entry/exit doors,
dual vestibules, and high side-walls for superior headroom. I’m looking forward to the next four months of
backpacking with it.
May 17, 2018
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Location: Hoosier National Forest
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
EASE OF SETUP: The NEMO
Dagger 3P was easy to set up. On my first trip I pitched the tent
and rain fly in just under six minutes, in 6 in (15.2 cm) of
snow! It was a simple job but having a friend help, which was the
case on my third outing, made setup go even quicker.
The Dagger 3P was lightweight for a three-person tent and once packed
in its Divvy sack, it easily fit in my pack. I considered getting
the 2-person tent, but ultimately decided that I wanted the additional
floorspace and headroom of the 3P.
DURABILITY: The Dagger performed
well in terms of durability. It withstood wind, rain, snow, and
below freezing temperatures with no ill effects. The tent poles
showed no signs of flexing in windy conditions and the tent floor,
which was subjected to sticks and other sharp objects on the forest
floor, showed no signs of wear. The tent fabric held up well and
the zippers worked smoothly and not once did they catch the tent
NEMO Dagger performed well during Field Testing. It was
lightweight, easy to set up, and had plenty of floor space and headroom
for two people. Likewise, the two vestibules provided suitable
storage for backpacks and gear. I had no problems with
condensation and the tent poles and rainfly easily withheld snow, wind
and rain. So far, the Dagger has proven itself capable of
handling foul weather.
July 8, 2018
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
1. My first trip was to Hoosier National Forest in Southern Indiana. Daytime temperatures approached 76 F (24 C) while nighttime temperatures dropped to 66 F (19 C). The weather both days was mostly sunny with light winds. The terrain was hilly and trails were soggy from rain that had fallen a few nights prior, but I was able to pitch the tent both nights on relatively dry ground. While at the park I hiked 12 miles (19 km) along scenic trails and even took some time to relax on a point overlooking Lake Monroe. Elevations ranged from 550 ft (168 m) to 790 ft (241 m).
2. My second trip was to the countryside near Oldenburg, an old German town in Southeastern Indiana. During this two-night outing I hiked mostly off-trail through woods and farmland several miles outside of town. Temperatures ranged from 72 F (22 C) to 65 F (18 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
my first trip of this test period, I again shared my tent with a
hiking partner. Why not? After all, the Dagger 3P has
plenty of room for two or even three people, and sharing the
shelter meant lighter packs for both of us. In the parking
lot near the trailhead we decided that I would carry the tent
body and rain fly while my friend carried the poles and ground
stakes. After divvying up the gear and rearranging our
packs, off we went. After several miles of hiking we stopped
for a snack and both agreed we'd made a wise decision, as our shoulders
and backs were thanking us for having lighter packs, even though it was
only a few pounds. We stopped to set up camp around 6pm and
pitched the tent in record time. Having an extra set of hands to
layout the poles, snap the ends into the fittings, clip in the tent
body, and put on the rainfly, made setup go very quickly. After
the tent was pitched we had no problem getting everything inside,
except for our shoes and packs which we left in the vestibules.
Having two doors and plenty of headroom made it easy
for us to get into and out of the tent without tripping over each
other. I was curious about how much condensation would
accumulate in the tent overnight, since two people were sleeping
inside. The next morning there was some condensation, but thanks
to the mesh uppers and because we left the vestibules open, there
wasn't nearly as much as I expected.
used the tent pockets both nights, filling them with my phone, glasses,
pocket knife and various other things that were too fragile to
leave on the tent floor in case I rolled over them while sleeping.
I also tried out the overhead 'light pockets' and they worked
pretty well. They're made of light diffusing fabric that helps
spread out the concentrated beam of a headlamp or flashlight so that it
casts a more even glow throughout the tent. I was able to tear
down the tent fairly early in the morning after sleeping in it the
second night, since I was camped on a ridgeline and the sun and wind
made quick work of the morning dew.
I really enjoyed using the NEMO Dagger during the past four months. It's
a rugged, lightweight, and spacious tent that's easy to set up, even in
the dark. It had no problems protecting me from wind, rain and
cold, and I wouldn't hesitate to take it into the backcountry
even in the winter. The tent
fabric, poles, and rainfly remain in great condition, and after four
months of testing they show very minimal signs of wear.
This concludes my Long Term Report and this test series for the Dagger 3P. Thank you to NEMO and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this tent.
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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > NEMO Dagger Tent > Test Report by Brian Hartman