The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

NEMO Dagger 2 Review

A high-quality tent that strikes a solid balance between weight and comfort features.
NEMO Dagger 2P
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Price:  $400 List | $399.95 at REI
Pros:  Generous dimensions, large vestibules, good balance between weight and durability
Cons:  Small doors, expensive, zippers don't always open smoothly
Manufacturer:   NEMO
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 2, 2019
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 17
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Weight - 25% 6
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 8
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Packed Size - 10% 6

Our Verdict

Targeted toward the backpacker who wants it all, the NEMO Dagger does not disappoint. It offers many of the comforts of a car camping tent while still keeping its weight in check. Right out of the stuff sack, we were impressed with the durable yet lightweight fabric. Its extended length and spacious vestibules make it even more appealing after a long day of hiking. If you are looking for a new shelter to catch some quality Zs for years to come, you can't go wrong with this model.

This tent is comparable to the Editors' Choice Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2. And if you want to go bigger, be sure to read more about the 3-person version at the bottom of this review.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The NEMO Dagger 2 is a full-featured backpacking tent with a carefully considered design.

Performance Comparison


This tent is at or near the top of each scoring metric, putting it, not surprising, squarely in the top tier of this review.

This tent is a quality companion on brisk early spring mornings.
This tent is a quality companion on brisk early spring mornings.

Comfort


This extra long tent is nice for the extra tall backpacker. It is just a couple inches shorter than the capacious REI Half Dome 2 Plus. The two side doors are great for entering and exiting the tent without disturbing your partner. The privacy panels are nice for camping sans-fly and the mesh is thoughtfully designed as well; it is white around the sides, offering a little more privacy, and a more traditional black on top, which allows for less obstructed star gazing.

The trapezoidal vestibules are huge, each offering ample space for gear storage. When tucked inside, the two mesh pockets (one at each end) provide enough space for a book or a few articles of clothing. Like its sibling, the award-winning NEMO Dragonfly, the Dagger includes overhead light diffuser pockets which are made from opaque white fabric that creates a soft glow from the light of a headlamp.

The storage pockets are sufficiently large for most uses.
The storage pockets are sufficiently large for most uses.

We noticed that the pre-bent poles, which can also be found in the Marmot Tungsten UL2 and NEMO Galaxi 2 really maximize interior volume, especially at shoulder height.

This tent comes with a pre-bent pole architecture which pulls the canopy out a little bit more than a traditional straight pole design.
This tent comes with a pre-bent pole architecture which pulls the canopy out a little bit more than a traditional straight pole design.

The doors are a little smaller and harder to open with one hand than the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2. It's neither objectively good nor bad, but it is also worth noting that the two doors open in opposite directions, which means that sleepers are meant to lie head-to-toe.

The doors open from opposite ends so occupants can sleep head to toe. Also visible is the side white mesh and the top black mesh.
The doors open from opposite ends so occupants can sleep head to toe. Also visible is the side white mesh and the top black mesh.

Ease of Set-Up


This model has a single, hubbed pole structure. The tent and poles are also symmetrical, which means there is no 'head' or 'foot', so it's easy to orient everything properly. On top of that, the webbing around the clips and at the corners of the tent and fly is all color coded to give you extra confidence that it will go up right the first time. The tips of the poles have a ball at each end that clicks into a 'socket' at each corner of the tent. The fly has four broad hooks that clip into place as well. The brightly colored fabric on the tent corners and reflective cord on the stakes also ensure that you can find your way around the outside of this tent late at night or early in the morning.

Fly and pole attachment points at the tent corners.
Fly and pole attachment points at the tent corners.

Our only knock against the setup is that the pole apparatus is just long and gangly, so it can take a little bit to get it under control. Even so, one person working alone was able to get the tent up in under four minutes.

This tent is relatively easy to set up  but the connected branching poles make getting it under a control a little tricky sometimes.
This tent is relatively easy to set up, but the connected branching poles make getting it under a control a little tricky sometimes.

If you are looking for other easy-to-assemble tents, we like the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, the NEMO Dragonfly and the REI Half Dome 2 Plus.

Weather Resistance


We are impressed with the tent's stability in high winds. The four stakes in the vestibules (two on each side) really anchor the tent and significantly reduce fly flapping in the wind. The fly runs relatively low to the ground. The tent is susceptible to a little bit of splashback from the ground, but the bathtub floor is also higher than many other models, keeping moisture on the outside of the tent. Another nice feature is the strut-supported fly vent, which allows you to keep the fly unzipped in light rain. Our top choice for truly wet, windy conditions is the Hilleberg Anjan GT 2.

The fly door can be propped open to allow for ventilation. It is protected with a gray piece of fabric so it can be open in the rain.
The fly door can be propped open to allow for ventilation. It is protected with a gray piece of fabric so it can be open in the rain.

Durability


The 30D ripstop nylon floor feels like it would stand up well to regular use. The seams are well-sealed and the corners highly reinforced. The stakes are sturdier than other ultralight NEMO models like the NEMO Hornet Elite, so we trust them a bit more if staking requires a little assistance from a rock.

The reinforced corners on this tent struck us as particularly well-crafted.
The reinforced corners on this tent struck us as particularly well-crafted.

The NEMO Galaxi 2 gave us the same impression — these tents are made to last. The Hilleberg Anjan 2 earned the highest durability score in our testing.

Weight and Packed Size


Weighing in at 3 pounds, 14 ounces (including tent body, fly, stakes, line, and stuff sacks), the Dagger 2 certainly isn't the lightest tent in our review. In fact, it is more than double the weight of its companion the NEMO Rocket. However, given what it offers in terms of comfort, features, and durability, we are impressed that it still comes in at under four pounds.

Its packed size is 19.5" x 6.5" (competitive with the Hilleberg Anjan GT at 19" x 6"), and we loved the fact that the tent can easily be divided between two hikers with the 'Divvy Sack' drawstring stuff sack.

Best Applications


We would carry the Dagger on a backcountry trip in rugged conditions, but also think it is comfortable enough to car-camp at our favorite local lake. Easily dividable between two hikers, the tent offers enough comfort and features for backcountry travel in style.

We really like what it has to offer and we would gladly take this tent on our next backpacking adventure.
We really like what it has to offer and we would gladly take this tent on our next backpacking adventure.

Value


At $400, the Dagger is not the cheapest tent in the review but it has the features and quality we would expect for a model in this price range. Because of its weather resistance and durability, we think with average care this model should last for years of adventures to come.

Conclusion


The NEMO Dagger 2 is targeted to the backpacker that seeks both performance and creature comfort from their tent. It is well-suited to experienced backpackers looking to bring some style to their next adventure but is also easy enough to assemble that first-timers will find a lot to like about it as well.

3-Person Version


We love the Dagger 2 so much that we wanted to see if its 3-person sibling offers the same great experience.

The Dagger 3 comes with all of the same carefully considered design features, material, and durability of the 2. If you have a furry friend that enjoys the trail as much as you do, this version is an excellent option. It adds on an additional half a pound, bringing the total weight of the tent up to 4.25 lbs. If you are able to split it three ways (poles, tent, and fly), it's less per person than the 2P. The extra material also adds on an inch to the diameter of the packed size when rolled and stored in its bag.

The 3-person version on the left compared to the 2-person version on the right. Despite the advertised dimensions  we don't see that much of a difference.
The 3-person version on the left compared to the 2-person version on the right. Despite the advertised dimensions, we don't see that much of a difference.

It has the same length and peak height of the 2P, so what you receive in return is an additional 20 inches of width and another 12.5 square feet of floor space. Many sleeping pads are 20 inches wide, so there is really just enough space for another pad and sleeping bag.

It's a tight fit for three sleeping setups  but can be accomplished by getting a bit cozy with your friends.
It's a tight fit for three sleeping setups, but can be accomplished by getting a bit cozy with your friends.

The geometry of the headroom also doesn't feel very different, which means that it's a little more cramped than we prefer for the people on the sides. This version will also add on an additional $100 to the price tag, so it's not cheap.

We were expecting a little more from the peak height  but we had to hunch over a little bit if we wanted to sit on our knees.
We were expecting a little more from the peak height, but we had to hunch over a little bit if we wanted to sit on our knees.

We still love the 3-person version of the Dagger — if you just want to bring your dog along, it's definitely going to give you what you need. However, for three humans, we ultimately think the best option is the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3.


Ben Applebaum-Bauch