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NEMO Dagger 2 Review

The Dagger 2 is targeted to the ultralight, feature-loving backpackers seeking both performance and creature comforts in their equipment.
NEMO Dagger 2P
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $400 List | $299.94 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Easy to set up, lightweight, packable, comfortable
Cons:  Expensive
Manufacturer:   NEMO
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch & Jess McGlothlin  ⋅  Nov 13, 2018
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 20
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 8
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Weight - 25% 7
  • Packed Size - 10% 8

The Skinny

Targeted to the ultralight, feature-loving backpackers seeking both performance and creature comforts in their equipment, the NEMO Dagger does not disappoint. Pulling the tent from the stuff sack, we were immediately impressed with the durable yet lightweight fabric, and the make-your-life-easier features just kept coming. While the interior width of 50" was smaller than many of the other tents we reviewed (the REI Half Dome 2 Plus measured a whopping 56" across) a longer-than-average length of 90" made up for it. Big doors and airy mesh paired with wind-blocking lower sidewalls made this tent an easy selection for an Editors' Choice Award. Our other Editors' Choice Award winner, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL, costs $50 more than the Dagger but weighs 11 oz. less (and features two sq. ft. less of floor space). At 19" x 5" (Dagger) and 19.5" x 4" (Copper Spur), the two tents feature a nearly identical packed size.

Looking for more room?
This tent is also available in a 3-person version. We recently took it out for a test drive and summarize our results at the bottom of this review.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Weighing in at a trail-ready weight of 3 lb. 12 oz. (including tent body, fly, stakes, line, and stuff sacks), the Dagger 2 offers 31 square feet of interior space, and an added 11.5 square feet of vestibule space. Dimensions of 90" x 50" x 42" meant the tent is a bit narrower — but also a bit longer — than most in this review. The freestanding structure is easy to pick up and holds its shape well for campsite adjustments mid set-up and feels sturdy in windy conditions. The DAC featherlight NSL poles utilize a sophisticated system to further reduce weight and increase strength at pole connection points.

Performance Comparison


We were impressed how sturdy connection points appeared even when poles of varying diameters were coming together, and the elasticity of the aluminum seemed to make the connection "sticky" — it didn't feel like it was going to slide apart easily. The poles also "clicked" into place very easily into the hubs on the tent corners, and when we felt lazy we could place out foot on the tab and maneuver the pole out without bending down (handy on those 5AM pre-dawn departure mornings). We loved the "Divvy Sack" dual-stage drawstring stuff sack, which allowed us to easily split the tent between two hikers for trail carry. Two pockets helped keep us organized inside, and overhead light pockets provided an easy holster for headlamps, while the special light-diffusing fabric cast an even glow throughout the tent.

Comfort


While we didn't encounter much extreme weather while testing the Dagger 2, we found the high sidewalls effective at keeping evening breezes and dampness away when the rain started pouring down. The sidewalls provided a bit of privacy while camping sans-fly and the openness of the tent allowed for the ultimate view. The high sidewalls also provided some measure of privacy while the mesh ceiling and upper walls allowed airflow.


Two large side doors open to trapezoidal vestibules, which gave us more-than-expected area for gear storage and cooking. Tucked inside, we enjoyed the roomy interior mesh pockets and the overhead light pockets which offered soft diffused light and eliminated the bothersome "bobbing headlamp."

The Dagger 2 features "creature comfort" details that can make all the difference on a backcountry trip.
The Dagger 2 features "creature comfort" details that can make all the difference on a backcountry trip.

Three other tents in our review features "hubs" for lighting — the Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO features integrated LED lighting, the Marmot Catalyst 2 boasts a "lampshade pocket" and the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 has a cute lantern-themed flashlight hub on one end of the tent.

Early-season camping in the Nemo Dagger 2-person backpacking tent — the tent proved comfortable in mixed conditions and was a tester favorite. The 1.5 sq. ft. vestibules gave us plenty of storage space.
Early-season camping in the Nemo Dagger 2-person backpacking tent — the tent proved comfortable in mixed conditions and was a tester favorite. The 1.5 sq. ft. vestibules gave us plenty of storage space.

This is a tent we'd take into the backcountry and expect to get a solid night's sleep in. The 15D Nylon ripstop fly fabric was quiet even in windy conditions — something many of the other tents in this review lacked — and we were pleased with the durability of the 30D PU Nylon ripstop floor. Even a rambunctious Bernese Mountain Dog's nails did not make a dent in the floor material.

The inside of the Dagger features well-places pockets in places we always seem to want them.
The inside of the Dagger features well-places pockets in places we always seem to want them.

The fine-gauge no-see-um mesh breathed well and worked cleanly in tandem with the fly to provide a night of fresh air and no morning condensation. This tent earned a 9 for comfort; we enjoyed the small details Nemo added to make nights just a bit more relaxing.

Here one tester is looking out from the NEMO Dagger  over at the REI Half Dome 2 Plus and the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV. We found the REI Half Dome 2 Plus easy to assemble  even for one person working alone in windy conditions. This tent  though heavy  scored highly across all categories except for weight.
Here one tester is looking out from the NEMO Dagger, over at the REI Half Dome 2 Plus and the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV. We found the REI Half Dome 2 Plus easy to assemble, even for one person working alone in windy conditions. This tent, though heavy, scored highly across all categories except for weight.

The only tent to earn a 10 for comfort in the test was the REI Half Dome 2 Plus. The Big Agnes Rattlesnake, The North Face Triarch, and the NEMO Galaxi 2 also took home high scores for their comfort rating.

Tight-weave no-see-um mesh felt high-quality and comfortable.
Tight-weave no-see-um mesh felt high-quality and comfortable.

Ease of Set-Up


The single, hubbed pole design made tent set-up a breeze; one person working alone was able to get the tent up in under four minutes. A wide crossbar lifted out the sidewalls, offering more headspace and the illusion for far more room than the tent actually boasts.


The Dagger  our Editors' Choice  in all her glory.
The Dagger, our Editors' Choice, in all her glory.

We loved the fact the fly entry doors staked out to two points instead of the industry average of one; this created more gear storage and let us feel like we had a bit more freedom in how we positioned the doors. We could leave the two points staked out and still have easy entrance and egress into the tent (and the open space was large and welcoming enough for a 130-lb. dog to trundle through without problems).

The Dagger  one of our Editors' Choice winners  scored well in ease of set up. The single  hubbed pole design allowed us to set this tent up in under four minutes - at a casual pace.
The Dagger, one of our Editors' Choice winners, scored well in ease of set up. The single, hubbed pole design allowed us to set this tent up in under four minutes - at a casual pace.

When the weather turned drizzly, the ability to have the fly essentially largely deployed while still maintaining a view to the outside was well appreciated.

Nemo Dagger 2-person backpacking tent stake.
Nemo Dagger 2-person backpacking tent stake.

Looking for other easy-to-assemble tents? We liked the REI Half Dome 2 Plus and the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 for their super-easy set-up, even by headlamp.

Both sides of the Dagger's fly stake out  preserving vestibule space while allowing entrance.
Both sides of the Dagger's fly stake out, preserving vestibule space while allowing entrance.

The fly clipped quickly and easily onto the poles, and we greatly appreciated the face all exterior-facing connection points were reflective — making late-night set-ups and early-morning break-downs far easier.

The fly was easy to clip on in seconds  thanks to innovative clips.
The fly was easy to clip on in seconds, thanks to innovative clips.

Weather Resistance


We tested the Dagger in very windy conditions and were impressed with the tent's stability in high springtime winds. When we encountered moisture, the tent performed beautifully in rainy conditions.


Our top choice for truly wet, windy conditions is the Hilleberg Anjan GT 2. We loved the tent's low profile, well-placed guy points, and heavy-duty Kerlon 1000 fly material. If we knew were heading into a week of wet weather, the Anjan would be our top choice. Other high-scorers were the Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO and the Big Agnes Copper Spur.

The Dagger's high sidewalls inspired confidence should rainy conditions arise.
The Dagger's high sidewalls inspired confidence should rainy conditions arise.

Durability


The 15D Nylon Ripstop body and high fabric walls felt like they'd wear well with hard use, and the 15D Sil / PU Nylon Ripstop (1200mm) (the same fabric as The North Face Triarch fly packed small but offered quality protection on cold, windy days. NEMO is known for their quality construction, and the Dagger doesn't disappoint.


We reviewed another tent from the NEMO family, the NEMO Galaxi 2 and came away with the same impression — NEMO tents are made to last. The Hilleberg Anjan 2 earned the highest durability score in our testing, alongside the Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO and Marmot Catalyst 2.

OutdoorGearLab tests the Copper Spur HV alongside the NEMO Dagger 2. Both earned 8 out of 10s for their remarkable durability in Montana and the Sierras.
OutdoorGearLab tests the Copper Spur HV alongside the NEMO Dagger 2. Both earned 8 out of 10s for their remarkable durability in Montana and the Sierras.

Weight and Packed Size


Coming in with a trail-ready weight of 3 lb. 12 oz. (including tent body, fly, stakes, line, and stuff sacks), the Dagger 2 wasn't the lightest tent in our review.


The Dagger's stuff sack  which easily dividable between hikers  was one of our favorite features.
The Dagger's stuff sack, which easily dividable between hikers, was one of our favorite features.

That honor went to the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV at 2 pounds 5.6 ounces and the Tarptent Double Rainbow at 2 pounds 15 ounces). We feel that for the weight, it's one of the heaviest-featured tents in the review.

The REI Half Dome 2 Plus  HIlleberg Anjan  Big Agnes Copper Spur  NEMO Dagger  Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight  and Tarptent Double Rainbow - the award winning line-up.
The REI Half Dome 2 Plus, HIlleberg Anjan, Big Agnes Copper Spur, NEMO Dagger, Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight, and Tarptent Double Rainbow - the award winning line-up.


Its packed size is 19" x 5" (almost competitive with the Hilleberg Anjan GT at 19" x 6" and 4 lb. 1 oz.), and we loved the fact that the tent can easily be divided between two hikers with the "Divvy Sack" dual-stage drawstring stuff sack.

All of our contenders. From left to right: NEMO Galaxi  Alps Lynx  REI Half Dome 2 Plus  Eureka Midori  Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight  Big Agnes Copper Spur HV  Hilleberg Anjan  NEMO Dagger  Tarptent Double Rainbow  Kelty Salida 2  and Marmot Catalyst.
All of our contenders. From left to right: NEMO Galaxi, Alps Lynx, REI Half Dome 2 Plus, Eureka Midori, Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight, Big Agnes Copper Spur HV, Hilleberg Anjan, NEMO Dagger, Tarptent Double Rainbow, Kelty Salida 2, and Marmot Catalyst.

Best Applications


We would carry the Dagger on a backcountry trip in rough conditions, but also found it comfortable enough to car-camp with at our favorite local lake. Easily dividable between two hikers, the tent offers enough comfort and features for true backcountry travel, and we would want this tent as our shelter for that next high mountain summer snowstorm.

The Nemo Dagger 2-person tent stakes out well and  even without guy lines  we felt confident it could withstand a breezy day.
The Nemo Dagger 2-person tent stakes out well and, even without guy lines, we felt confident it could withstand a breezy day.

Value


At $399.95, the Dagger is not the cheapest tent in the review but it carries the features we'd expect for a tent in this price range. The price tag includes a reviewer favorite Divvy Sack dual-stage drawstring stuff sack, guy-out cord, a repair kit, and stakes. Nemo's Pawprint, a soft, washable fabric liner for the interior of the tent, is available for purchase at $59.95 and adds 12.7 oz. of weight. For camping in variable ground conditions — and to ensure both the durability of your tent and for additional insulation — we'd suggest picking up the footprint, which adds 7.7 oz. to the trail weight and costs an additional $49.95.

Nothing but great views seen from the Dagger.

If you're looking for a backpacking tent under $200, look at the Marmot Catalyst 2, the Eureka Midori 2, and the Kelty Salida 2, all of which retail for under $200.

Conclusion


The NEMO Dagger 2P is targeted to the ultralight, feature-loving backpackers seeking both performance and creature comforts in their equipment.

The Dagger is sturdy and weather-ready.
The Dagger is sturdy and weather-ready.

This tent is well-suited to experienced backpackers looking to bring creature comforts to their next adventure but is easy enough to assemble that first-timers can easily set it up without assistance.

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 3-person version blends in just as well with the forest scenery as the 2P.
The 3-person version blends in just as well with the forest scenery as the 2P.

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 & Jess McGlothlin