Ben Horan is a freelance writer and sometimes-guide based in Missoula, Montana, and blogs at www.thegentlemanatlarge.com. Tom Robertson is a photographer out of Missoula, whose work has appeared in a variety of national and international publications, and is currently surfing from bike tour to bike tour around the Americas. Ben, Tom, and two buddies are rode bikes from Portland to Bend, OR, with trailers full of ski gear, in an attempt to ski as many volcanoes as possible in two weeks entirely under human power. You can check our their journey at #bike2skiOregon.
The Dagger 2P is expected to be in stock early fall 2015.
It’s no secret that rain on a tent fly amplifies the intensity of a storm. We’ve all stared grimly from the warmth of a dry sleeping bag into the predawn darkness, hitting snooze and listening to a torrent unleash its fury against your shelter, only to emerge later and find a gentle drizzle caressing the camp site. Over a couple of weeks bike touring through Oregon in the springtime, I had the opportunity to become reacquainted with this phenomenon, and through ten days of high frequency, low intensity precip the Nemo Dagger 2P kept me dry.
Trail Weight: 3lbs 12oz
Before the trip I fired up the obligatory living room test, and initial impressions were generally positive. The tent feels true to its claimed weight, which puts its heft mid-pack in the race to build a functional lightweight backpacking tent. At first glance it seemed slightly small for a two-person shelter, but I assumed that I was experiencing foreshortening against the floral patterned sofa. More on that later.
Nemo advertises the color as Birch Leaf Green, and it’s a pleasant departure from the Hunter’s Safety Orange that’s dominated the market for so long.
Design and Assembly
The symmetrical design makes erection intuitive, and in a dry, well lit living room putting the Dagger together for the first time was easy. The handfeel is slippery and lightweight, and I’m slightly skeptical of long term durability. However, over a couple of weeks of moderate use I didn’t notice any issues there. Also it’s marketed as an ultra-light tent, and when you pull one of those off the shelf you make certain concessions.
Sizing and Fit
In order to fairly address sizing and fit, we should establish a couple of caveats. I am 6’3”, oddly shaped, and inflexible, and this bicycle tour was also a ski tour, so I had quite a lot of things to keep dry. With that said, I found the tent small for a two person shelter.
Without orientating myself diagonally, I was unable to keep the feet of my down sleeping bag dry. This was the number one priority in a place where the relative humidity seemed perpetually above 100%, and drying anything was out of the question. With four bicycle panniers, ski boots, and a ski pack the vestibules were quite full. I also struggled slightly with access and egress, although as previously disclaimed I cannot touch my toes.
I suspect that on a reasonable trip, with reasonably proportioned humans that the Dagger 2P would be just right for two people. I was very happy as its sole resident, but would have come away from sharing it on this trip with a newfound familiarity with my mates. We had a similarly spec’d tent by a different manufacturer which also seemed to be on the cozy side of things. I presume that these companies are downsizing slightly in order to advertise lower weights.
One feature that we did not use, but which I appreciate, is that the plastic clips to which the rain fly attach can be easily separated from the tent. This allows for saving almost a pound by bringing only the fly and poles when concern over weight and precipitation outweigh the din of mosquitos. This would be great for ultralight backpacking or snow camping, although I’m not sure how the lightweight fly would weather a full on winter storm. I did notice that occasionally the plastic clips come off of the tent without solicitation. If you lose one of those things you are hosed, so do pay attention.
There’s also an opaque-but-translucent pocket which allegedly accepts a headlamp and provides dispersed illumination of the tent. I’ve got one of those high watt coal miner type head torches that didn’t fit in there, and so its performance remained an enigma until I set it up in the back yard. It does seem to light the tent up, although I’m not convinced that it’s any better than just wearing a headlamp except that now you don’t have to wear the headlamp. Wearing a headlamp to read isn’t really a problem that I knew I had, but it’s a neat idea.
All in all, Nemo put together a nice little tent here. It’s lightweight, easy to put together in the dark, and it keeps the bugs and the rain out. The vestibules stake out drum-tight, and it offers versatility for when you want no fly or only a fly. It’s not the lightest tent in its class (but not nearly the heaviest), and is on the small side for a two person shelter.
- Fairly priced
- A little small
- Don’t lose the tent-pole interface clips