Nemo Wagontop 4P ReviewMarch 18, 2016
- High point spans the tent
- Removable vestibule
- Setup is awkward & unruly
- No center point to hang a lantern
- Minimal pockets
The Nemo Wagontop is sturdy and spacious. The 78-inch highpoint actually spans the length of the tent and the only place you need to duck is when entering. But, to be this sturdy and spacious the pole system is obnoxious to set up with two awkward and spidery pole sets.
Ease of Setup & Breakdown
The first time setup is totally befuddling. But, once the system was understood and a good method developed, the Wagontop was the fastest tent to set up in this test at just under 11 minutes.There are two sets of poles consisting of five pole segments connected by two joint pieces. Each joint piece has three pole segments. Once the poles are assembled, you’ll be begging for a color coding system to know what end goes where since it’s not at all obvious. As it turns out four of the ten segments are the verticals on the corners, four are cross supports along the sides and two provide overhead arches—not your standard tent pole configuration. But once it’s up, the need for the convoluted poles makes a bit more sense and the finished architecture of it is brilliant. From then on, just knowing what to expect makes subsequent setups a bit easier. Breakdown is typically simple, though still awkward due to the pole segments all being connected. It takes tight rolling (but not any sort of magic) to get it all back into the carry/storage bag which has a zipper along the long side and two sturdy carrying handles.
Livability & Functionality
The first thing of note inside this tent is the spacious and continuous headroom for those of average height. The 78-inch high point runs the length of the tent like a vaulted ceiling and is not constrained to some little point right in the middle. This does hinder the ability to hang a lantern from the center without stringing a line along the vault (for which Nemo does include tabs to tie to—you could also hang laundry or a room divider). The 63-inch-tall side walls bow out and are topped by a steep transition to the ceiling to make every square inch of the floorspace useable much like a cabin style walled tent. The Wagontop has four shallow pockets close to the floor, two under the door and two at the back of the tent. Tabs for the windows could be used to hang a massive gear loft, but that would completely eliminate standing headspace for anyone over 5’ 3”. Since Nemo rates this as a 4-person tent, the 17.25 sq. ft. per person gives the Wagontop the most floor space per person and with the bowed out walls, those on the edges don’t sacrifice any vertical space. The large 4-zipper, double-D door (the tent version of French Doors) allows users to choose if they want to open from the left or right side or to open the whole flap. The removable vestibule is also spacious and will hold a folding camp chair or two for sitting under and watching the rain fall if that’s what your trip brings.
Materials & Construction
The entire upper, including the vestibule of the tent is made from 75 denier polyurethane polyester rated to 1500mm in a static column waterproof test (rainproof but not under pressure). The floor of the tent is a tougher 150 denier PU also rated to 1500mm. Meaning, the fabric will resist puncturing but if there’s standing water under the tent (dew on grass shouldn’t be a problem), the pressure of stepping on and/or gear lying on the floor could cause some of the wet to seep through. Double reinforced seams, burly stakes and drawstring closures on the stake and pole bags show the commitment to quality throughout the product and the experience Nemo wants its customers to have.
Down-angled mesh vents sit above the door and the far back wall to provide good ventilation even in a rainstorm when the side windows need to be closed up. If the rain is blowing horizontal you can close the rear vent. The front vent doesn’t have a flap but is protected by the vestibule. Though if the wind is that strong you might have other problems to deal with (not necessarily with the tent). The counter side of the walls bowing out to provide more room inside is the mesh windows on these walls have the slightest angle upward. The window flaps need to be closed in even the lightest of rain to prevent spatters from entering the tent. Though, the window flaps are on the inside, so opening and closing them can be done without going outside. Droplets will have gathered on the outside of the window flap and could drip into the tent floor when they are opened immediately after a squall. Mesh windows on the door allow for increased ventilation while keeping bugs at bay.
As a single wall tent (without a separate rain fly) the Wagontop is best suited for temperate climates where overnight temperatures don’t get cold enough to cause much condensation and mid-day temperatures/direct sun exposure don’t turn the tent into a furnace. Mesh vents are minimal so the most substantial way to air this tent out is to open the one huge front door. This tent is also well suited to stand up to windy days thanks to the robust frame structure and the fabric and the configuration of that fabric. The 27 sq. ft. removable vestibule increases the ventilation and weather protective versatility. This is a brilliant innovation for campers who find themselves in desert and temperate climates. To take this a step further, Nemo could make a version with a second door built into the back wall and a second removable vestibule configuration.
Cameron Martindell- Test Director & Editor
Cameron Martindell is the Gear Institute's Gear Test Director, responsible for coordinating our gear testing team, recruiting new experts, and maintaining the Gear Institute's editorial standards for product testing.