First Look: Big, Tall Tent From Nemo

Nestled between granite outcroppings in Idaho’s City of Rocks, the vertical reach of our green and grey Nemo Wagontop 4P tent pierces the sky like a monolith.

Across the trail, the kids and I study the initials of immigrants, smeared in axle grease from their own covered wagons while heading west along the California Trail. “Wagons” have come a long way.

This year, Nemo brings us tall, livable space with the Wagontop 4P. As the name implies, its arched structure draws inspiration from the iconic conestoga wagons of the American old west.

The Wagontop became available last weekend. Here’s a peek into what it brings.

The Gear: Nemo Wagontop 4P ($450)

Available: Now (Jan. 2015)

Where To Test It: Family car camping, backyard sleep-overs, festivals

Who’s It For: Tall families of four or less

Critical details: It’s constructed of a single-wall with a 70D polyurethane polyester shell and vestibule. The floor is burly 150D polyurethane polyester. Two aluminum poles with central hub provide the frame. Plastic clips attach tent to the frame. The tent is offered in green/grey and blue/khaki.

Dimensions: 8’ x 8’ x 6.5’. Vestibule footprint: 50” x 55” (27 square feet). Total footprint 69 square feet.

Packed dimensions: 10” x 10” x 28”. Packed weight including tent, poles, vestibule, poles and stakes: 18lbs.

Extras: Footprint ($55), Gear Caddy ($30), and waterproof backed Victory Blanket ($80) are after market purchases.

Packed size:The WT4P comes in a liberally sized zip bag with two webbing straps that encircle its girth. In the bag are two poles in a pole bag, 6 stakes with cord pulls in a stake bag, a vestibule and the tent body. The tent packs into 28×10×10”, consuming relatively little trunk real estate.

Setup: The pair of two-hubbed poles snap together to form identical branching front and back hoops. Extending from each hub are a longer and a shorter free pole that wrap around the sides and a third, central curving pole connecting the mirroring hub system.

To set up the tent, the curved central pole arches over the door and the shorter of the free poles are pinned vertically to grommets on either side of the front of the tent. The longer of the free poles then angle back and around the sides to pin to the base webbing grommets. You repeat this same process on the backside of the tent and the tent body is then clipped to the frame. The tent is staked to the ground at the four corners.

The large front door is zipped closed with a rainbow zipper. Three zippers enable the door to be opened from either side while keeping the other half closed. Two crescent zippers, one in each side of the door, retract a storm window to allow circulation through either or both of the door’s mesh windows.

Ventilation: Two large mesh side windows are drawn shut with tri-toggled storm flaps and can be rolled down to provide additional circulation. Two additional mesh screens sit high on the wall above the door and back walk, providing continual cross ventilation.

Vestibule: A small eve covers the door, but for complete protection a large front vestibule clips under the eve and is pinned to the ground with two stakes, providing an additional 27 square feet of room. A tall right side zipper door seals the vestibule shut.

Storage: Six small mesh pockets (three in front, three in back) are sewn into where the floor and wall seam meet and can hold a flashlight, toiletries or kids supplies.
Nemo’s Victory Blanket ($80 after market purchase, and an outdoor blanket with a flannel top and waterproof bottom), perfectly fits the WTP4 footprint to create a cozy cabin-like environment.

Made In: China

Skyscraper! At 6.5’ tall, the tent has a gymnasium-like feel under which Big Hoss could brand cattle. My wife, who is 5’7”, appreciated the extra headroom for more pedestrian luxuries, like changing clothes while standing.

Flaw: I’m a big believer that a tent should be easy enough to pitch without instructions. As luck would have it, I tested an early model that came without them (production models have instructions sewn to the tent). It took me and a Hewlett Packard software engineer 10 minutes to figure out the pole configuration. That said, it’s much more intuitive the second go around.

First Impressions: Single wall construction in a multi person tent seemed like a risk. But the variable venting configurations kept our family of four (plus a dog) condensation free.

Setup is complicated the first time. Because of that, I initially just liked the tent. But I’ve grown to love this tent with repeated use. The poles are very long, though, and require a good amount of campground space. And its stature compromises the “vertically challenged,” so plan to set it up with a partner.

Lastly, its blocky mass is prone to catching even the slightest breeze, so you’ll want to stake down your investment to keep it from kiting away.

Who Should Buy It: Tall drinks of water who roll with a large posse.

Contact Brand/More Beta: Nemo Wagontop 4P

—Steve Graepel is a contributing editor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at Photos © Monopoint Media LLC