NEMO Dagger 2 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Generous dimensions, large vestibules, good balance between weight and durability
Cons: Small doors, expensive, zippers don't always open smoothly
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The NEMO Dagger 2 is a full-featured backpacking tent with a carefully considered design. This tent is at or near the top of each scoring metric, putting it, not surprising, squarely in the upper tier of this review.
This extra long tent is nice for the extra tall backpacker. 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 enormous, 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.
We noticed that the pre-bent poles really maximize interior volume, especially at shoulder height.
The doors are a little smaller and harder to open with one hand than models with D-shaped doors. 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.
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.
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.
We are impressed with the tent's stability in high winds. The four stakes in the vestibules (two on each side) 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.
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, so we trust them a bit more if staking requires a little assistance from a rock.
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. 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" and we loved the fact that the tent can easily be divided between two hikers with the 'Divvy Sack' drawstring stuff sack.
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.
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.
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 can 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.
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 just enough space for another pad and sleeping bag.
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 increase your outlay, so it's not cheap.
We still love the 3-person version of the Dagger — if you just want to bring your dog along, it's going to give you what you need. However, for three humans, we ultimately think there are better options out there.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch