Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Trout Camping: Nemo Dark Timber Wall Tent

At left,  a hare's ear dubbed body variant of Steve's "Swing for Trout" style of flies. Pheasant hen tail. Hare's ear+SLF spun in a dubbing loop and secured by wire. Ginger hackle wrapped full.

Size 10 3 xl.  I'll be using these through the spring. I should probably tie a herl abdomen and then the hare's ear+SLF thorax. I'm lazy right now. This is a utility fly. Probably gets the job done. I'll be finding out shortly.

My library desk for the last two weeks. Does everyone else's desk look like this ? (The stack of books are from my trout library and are reference for a work-in-progress ... just like everyone else).

Robert Smith's book open as a visual reminder to tie sparse soft hackles. Sparse.

And sparse. Tried ribbing with floss. Meh. Don't like the outcome but my vote doesn't count. We'll ask the trout. Datus Proper taught us that.

The tent: Base Camp.

I chose a new base camp tent this year as most of Michigan's campsites are drive-up affairs. Maybe I have to pack gear 100 meters. Maybe. Most of the time the tent pad is adjacent to the fire pit adjacent to the gravel pull-in for the 4Runner.

So, where I'm car camping and making a base for a couple days or a week, I'm expanding my footprint. Last fall I crawled across a campsite to use a tree as a support to stand-up in the morning.  Sitting up on a cot has some merit right now.

Here's the final product:

So, the Nemo Dark Timber is a substantial tent consisting of an A-frame shelter and a wall-tent style insert which buckles into the outer shell. This will be clearer in a minute.

First, the set-up.

Tent duffel. About 19 lbs. Packable on a purpose-driven trip. Say, camping a half-mile from the parking I'd make three trips: shelter, sitting, and sleeping; camp kitchen and foods; and fishing gear + utility items.

I'm not opposed to packing a bit on multiple trips for comfort and/or isolation.

The "pile" of gear I'll use in my illustration.

Nemo Dark Timber on left, 2 Byer easy-cots, an REI collapsing table, a canvas dropcloth "tent carpet" and a folding camp chair buried in there.

Everything one needs comes with the tent.

The stakes are massive. I could tie-down a light aircraft on a turf strip with these and have with something similar.

That's a $16 hardware store hatchet. I leave things at the campsite sometimes so hatchets are pure functional items. I sharpen it with a file.

I carry a Randall knife. I carry a hardware-store hand-ax. Go figure.

The A-frame tarp.

A-frame tarp erected. Still working on tension. First pitch tonight and you can see I botched the front corner stake placement. Tension on a tarp should bisect the angle formed by the corner.

My uncle George would be disappointed. In my defense, I haven't set an A-frame tent in twenty-five years. It does come back.

Those poles are massive DAC aluminum. The ridgeline-to-pole connectors are machined stainless. No chance of some sort of grommet failure there. No grommets to break out.

Interior. Floor. Still working on its tension. I don't have a picture of it; but, I did align the force vectors of the out-stakes of the floor segment before proceeding. No pull lines.

Took a minute to get right.

Floor of tent with canvas drop-cloth tent carpet.

Interior in "solo bear" configuration. There is a central lantern hook. It's easily got room for a camp chair, a work table for tying, writing, drinking, and a bunk. I like to write late into the evening when camping.

It brings me closer to Hemingway. I'm sure he sat up late at night on fishing trips and wrote because as he lay on his bunk he thought "what a lazy bastard I am lying here when those stories will not write themselves."

There's a lot of angst and guilt in this racket.

Two bear configuration. Plenty for room for two full-sized cots.

Room between cot and wall for storing.

Access into and out of the tent in two-cot configuration without bothering any other occupant in hibernation mode. Our crew sleeps very soundly when we camp. Not sure about yours.

Interior, two cot mode. I almost brush the ridge line and I'm just at 5'9". Note the huge door. Door storage pockets inside on the "centerpost". Window on the right and I've poorly secured the window covering. Both ends of the tent are of like configuration. It'd be easy to leave the screen open on both ends in August and have great ventilation. It'd be easy to have both windows open in all other months for a bit of the same.

The A-frame ridgeline tarp overhangs the interior tent by two feet on each end.

Another door image. In the right side of the picture, you can clearly see the buckle attachment system which connects the interior tent to the exterior ridgeline tarp.Look at that separation! The air circulation must be amazing and the tent must dry very quickly.

Nemo. Dark Timber tent. It's running about $225 on clearance from Nemo right now. I think the tent market doesn't stand such heavy gear very well. Backpackers want light. Families want cheap. This is a substantial piece of gear that went for $500 list originally.

The tent provides room for base camp and eliminates the need to upgrade to a trailer.

In storms, the tent has 4 guy-outs for the ridgeline (duh), 6 additional side guy-out points for the outer tarp. There are also 8 guy-out points for the inner tent to secure the bottom tent section.

You will have to re-tension the guy-outs in high wind throughout the night. It's the nature of such a tent design. We've all had to do it on classic canvas and yes, I'd suspect you'd have to keep a taught pitch on the Dark Timber.

A Tungsten 3p or 1p  from Marmot both handle 45 - 60 mph straight-line winds. I fully guy-out my tents by habit. Has saved me. I'd use those smaller profile tents should I be expecting thunderstorms.

Will the Dark Timber take a bad storm? I'll let you know.

I have enough confidence to try.

Oh, first pitch with pictures and staging: 35 minutes. I think I could get it up and configured in under 15 minutes next time if I remember all the tensioning tricks.

In rain, the tarp-then-tent set-up would be sweet!

Nemo Dark Timber: Tent



  1. Spike, I like your pheasant wet, I tie a couple of similar flies using that Gartside #1 material.
    Sparse is key with your spiders. The one posted is just perfect. I agree the fish will tell you.

  2. Thanks, Alan. I'm tying my "opening day specials" now and all are stripped one-sided hackle and sparse. It's going to be cold here the last week of April. The spring is behind. Snow here again this morning. It probably will be two weeks behind at opener.

    Sparse soft hackle in the column are my key. I'm following your example. I don't anticipate hendricksons in any number. I expect small spider-y nymphs floating in the drift. I'm going to swing a few oversized wets along the bottom third to see if i can entice a trout. Bottom dwellers feed poorly in my experience but, they can be induced to feed if opportunity strikes. Mottled olive and brown colored sculpin patterns are joining the hare's ears.

  3. Nice tying as always Spike and I like your choice in tent, something I've not done for a couple of years now but intend to start again soon, cant beat getting away under canvas for a few days and fishing the places where you wouldn't normally venture for a day session. I see you have my cot all made for me already, that cake and the cot could tempt me across the pond....lol

  4. Well, I've a weakness for the old Bodington's in a cask and Fuller's London Pride. We get dirty brown water and something over-pressurized with nitrogen here. If you can stand the beer abuse, come ahead.