NEMO Dagger Ridge Porch 2P Tent Review

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Our NEMO Dagger Ridge Porch 2P Tent Review details an innovative two person tent with advanced features and a huge living area.  Please do have a read.

Who are Nemo?

For many UK readers the NEMO brand might not yet be a very familiar name.  However, that is set to change as they offer more of their products on this side of the pond.   Infact, they are a long standing American company with a great reputation.  Also, like many of the best outdoor brands, NEMO was created by a mountaineer with a vision.

The story goes that NEMO founder Cam Brensinger was spending a desperate night on the side of Mount Washington.  He was suffering in a poor excuse for a bivvy and realised the market needed better products. So, immediately after graduation, he founded New England Mountain Equipment (NEMO).  Now, almost 20 years later,  the company is firmly established in America.  The team are now broadening their horizons into the European market.

Features

For some time the NEMO product line has featured a tent called the Dagger.  NEMO describe the Dagger as ‘light enough for backpacking, yet roomy enough to comfortably wait out a rainstorm.’  It features two large vestibules and all the features you’d expect of a modern high performance tent.

Now, we also have the Dagger Ridge Porch.  This takes the inner of the original Dagger and massively expands the living space.  Infact, the huge front alcove easily houses a couple of full sized camping chairs and still leaves room for equipment.  Similarly, it will happily house a couple of bikes.  Then, once it’s time for bed, there’s the inner sleeping compartment from the Dagger to snuggle into.  

The front vestibule opens via a long semi clamshell style zip which offers a variety of opening combos to suit different conditions.  There is also an exit door from the rear of the inner tent.  

Pole Structure

The Dagger structure comes from a network of DAC 9.6 and 9mm Featherlite NSL poles.  The inner tent is formed from one hubbed pole and another pole forms the porch structure.  The poles are colour coded and the colours correlate to webbing at the pole housings.

Fabrics

The outer tent fabric is 40D sil nylon ripstop with 40D nylon ripstop and No-See-Um mesh for the inner tent.  The groundsheet is made from 70D PeU nylon ripstop.  The hydrostatic head of the flysheet is 3000mm and the groundsheet is 5000mm.

NEMO describe the tent as semi-freestanding.  To explain this, the inner is self supporting but the porch needs to be pegged out.  NEMO supply pegs for this along with enough pegs for the rest of the porch and guylines.  One aside from this design is that the inner could be used as a free standing structure without the flysheet.  Maybe an option on very fine weather nights?

Storage

Storage and organisation is very well thought out.  The porch has loops for securing smaller items like lights.  There is also a lantern loop.  It also has two hanging pockets and the inner tent has further pockets at each corner. There are also clever overhead light pockets at each end of the inner.  They use special light diffusing fabric to cast an even glow throughout the tent.

Stats

The colour of the Dagger Porch is a light green (described as Birch Bud) and the tent comes with a clever stuff sack which will be explained in more detail later.  The total tent package weighs 2.67kgs.  All NEMO products carry a lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship and materials to the original owner.

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In Use

I was very excited to complete this NEMO Dagger Ridge Porch 2P tent review.  I love it when manufacturers offer products that seek to actively enhance the outdoor goers experience.  This is just such an example.

Tent Pitching

So, what about pitching the Dagger Porch?  Well, one thing to mention first is the storage sack it comes in.  This is actually really well thought out.  A handy guide to putting up the tent is stitched inside and halfway down the bag there is another drawcord.  This is designed so you can use the bag as a mini storage bag.  I often carry the inner and outer of tent separately if the outer has become wet.  If you leave the poles out this storage bag allows you to separate the sections.  I’m not sure it was designed for that, but it works.  Poles and pegs come in separate stuff sacks.

The poles initially look quite complicated, but it is easy enough to work them out.  There is a webbed pole that creates the sleeping area shape and another pole for the hoop of the porch.  Once put together, the poles have a ball shaped end that clips into receivers on plastic feet at the end of the inner and porch.  Similar connectors fasten the inner at the top.  Once you get the hang of it, it is a simple job.  Once all the poles are in place you can pull the porch over and secure it with the supplied pegs.  To help, a colour coding system helps distinguish the correct pegs and pole sleeves.  

Porch Design         

When leisure camping (as opposed to lightweight mountain trips) it makes perfect sense to maximise living space.  Whether it is for shade on a sunny day or to shield from wind.  Often, in the UK at least, it might also be sitting out a rain shower.  Whatever the reason,  having a large porch area is really useful.  

With the Dagger Porch there is no doubting this tent has a very large living space.  Infact, it is 3.9 sq m of living space.  This is easily enough space for two large camping chairs.  Even then, there is space for other equipment and room to cook (not that I am advocating cooking inside a tent of course!).  You could even store a couple of bikes in there or it could house a dog so the inner is kept for humans only. 

The other crucial aspect of the porch design is height.  Although it isn’t high enough for an adult to stand up, you can easily sit up in the chairs.  Living is very easy in the Dagger Porch.

Structure

The tent gets its structure from a pole system for the inner and another single long pole that forms a hoop for the porch.  This means there is a lot of fabric supported from this pole.  This is then secured by pegging the porch at the front and sides.  Finally, the porch door is shaped aerodynamically towards the floor.  

It is certainly secure when the tent is pitched into the wind, but the large pole does leave a lot of fabric at the side.  On one occasion the wind direction changed during the night and we awoke to the sides getting rather buffeted.  Infact they held up fine, but this is certainly something to consider.  If NEMO had added an additional pole in the middle of the porch it would be a more all season tent.  As it stands, do be aware of harsh weather limitations.      

The other porch features are well considered.  The long zip allows it to be opened to either side and a special storage pocket at the side makes it simple to stow the door panel.  

NEMO have added a couple of hanging pockets that are perfect for storing items like a book or small electronics.  The hanging loops allow a torch or light string to be attached.

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Weatherproofing

I have had no problems with the tent letting in water or the groundsheet leaking.  That said,  the fabrics used on the Dagger are quite lightweight options.  I can’t yet speak for longer term durability, but it might make sense to use a groundsheet protector and to take care with the flysheet fabric.  

The flysheet doesn’t extend to ground level but isn’t far off.  The advantage of some space under the base is there is some airflow for ventilation.  In a tent with such a large porch this is important.  I haven’t had condensation issues so far, but be aware that in some conditions this could be a factor.

NEMO have added guylines at each side of the porch and a storm flap covers the top section of zip.  All in all, it is a simple and yet extremely functional living space.

Inner Tent

Once it is time to head to bed you have a very cosy space to head too.  The Dagger Porch offers comfortable space for 2 although you won’t have lots of space to spare.  This isn’t a problem as there is so much storage space in the porch. The inner is actually a great size just for sleeping.

As is common with many American tents, there is a lot of mesh on the inner tent.  This aids ventilation and the mesh will keep insects out.  The downside is that there isn’t much insulation.  For a tent that will be used in warmer drier conditions this isn’t a problem.  It is something to be aware of if you wanted to use the Dagger in windy or colder conditions though.

Bathtub Floor 

The inner features high bathtub floors and has an entrance into the porch and a rear exit.  This rear door makes it really usable as you don’t need to climb over your partner to exit the tent.  Similarly, there is a limited amount of storage in the small porch area between the rear door and inner.  The rear door has a longest access zip covered by a storm flap.  

Inside the inner there are several useful corner storage pockets and a clever light pocket.  This is positioned at the top edge of the inner and features a special light diffusing fabric.  Simply put, when you stick your torch in there the tent is filled with a pleasant diffuse light.  It works really well.  

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Summary

In so many camping situations the ideal combination is a large living area and a smaller and cosier sleeping compartment.  As my NEMO Dagger Ridge Porch 2P Tent Review highlights, this tent offers this combination perfectly.  You can live in comfort in the porch and then you have a comfortable place to sleep.  As discussed,  when you have large fabric panels there will inevitably be limitations on windproofing and weatherproofing, but as an option for the gentler weather months it is a very easy living tent.  Given it’s generous living space it is also a fairly lightweight option.  

More details on the NEMO Dagger Porch Tent are available on the NEMO website here and please take the time to watch the useful Trekkit video below.  Trekkit are also UK retailers of this tent and details are available on their website here.  It retails for £549.99.

Our top tip about Reflective Gear Markers here might also be of interest.