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NEMO Dagger 2 Review

A high-quality tent that strikes a solid balance between weight and comfort features
NEMO Dagger 2
Photo: NEMO
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Price:  $430 List
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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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 12
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 8
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Ease of Set-up - 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. If you want to go bigger, be sure to read more about the 3-person version at the bottom of this review.

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Pros Generous dimensions, large vestibules, good balance between weight and durabilityTwo large double doors, good headroom, excellent balance of interior space and weightExcellent balance between weight and features, many storage pockets, large vestibulesSpacious, affordable, included footprintLightweight, can be pitched in freestanding mode, large 'rainy day' entryway
Cons Small doors, expensive, zippers don't always open smoothlyExpensive, delicate materialsTapered foot, pockets are high upHeavy, bulky polesLow condensation resistance, small doors, tricky set up
Bottom Line A high-quality tent that strikes a solid balance between weight and comfort featuresOur favorite tent for all your backpacking needsA superior tent that balances light weight with excellent featuresThis inexpensive tent is spacious enough for laid-back car camping and light enough for short to moderate backpacking tripsA good choice for all your light and fast backpacking trips for two
Rating Categories NEMO Dagger 2 Big Agnes Copper Sp... NEMO Dragonfly 2 REI Co-op Half Dome... Tarptent Double Rai...
Comfort (25%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
6.0
Weather Resistance (25%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (20%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
4.0
8.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
Packed Size (10%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
4.0
10.0
Specs NEMO Dagger 2 Big Agnes Copper Sp... NEMO Dragonfly 2 REI Co-op Half Dome... Tarptent Double Rai...
Packaged Weight 3.76 lbs 3.09 lbs 3.16 lbs 4.82 lbs 2.60 lbs
Floor Area 31 sq ft 29 sq ft 29 sq ft 35.8 sq ft 30.5 sq ft
Packed Size 19.5 x 6.5 in 19.5 x 6 in 19.5 x 4.5 in 7 x 20.5 in 18 x 4 in
Dimensions 90 x 50 x 42 in 88 x 52 x 40 in 88 x 50 x 41 in 92 x 56 in 88 x 52 x 42 in
Vestibule Area (Total) 22.8 sq ft 18 sq. ft 20 sq ft 22.5 sq ft 15 sq ft
Peak Height 42 in 40 in 41 in 42 in 42 in
Number of Doors 2 2 2 2 2
Number of Poles 2 1 3 1 2
Pole Diameter 8.5/9/9.6 mm 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 2 mm 8.6 mm
Number of Pockets 2 3 3 6 2
Gear Loft Sold separately No No No No
Pole Material DAC featherlight NSL DAC featherlite NFL DAC featherlite NFL DAC featherlite NFL aluminum Easton 7075 E9 aluminum
Guy Points 10 4 5 4 8
Rain Fly Material 15D Sil / PU nylon ripstop (1200mm) 15D 1200mm silicone nylon ripStop 20D nylon ripstop 40-denier ripstop nylon/20-denier nylon mesh 1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silnylon
Inner Tent Material [Body] 15D nylon ripstop / No see um mesh, [Floor] 30D PU Nylon Ripstop (3000mm) [Body] 10D polyester mesh, [Floor] 20D nylon ripStop 15D nylon ripstop 40-denier taffeta nylon 1.0 oz/yd2 (34 g/m2) no-see-um mesh
Type Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Two door semi freestanding

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.

Performance Comparison


This tent is a quality companion on brisk early spring mornings.
This tent is a quality companion on brisk early spring mornings.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort


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.

The storage pockets are sufficiently large for most uses.
The storage pockets are sufficiently large for most uses.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

We noticed that the pre-bent poles really maximize interior volume, especially at shoulder height.

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

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.

The doors open from opposite ends so occupants can sleep head to...
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.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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.

The Dagger is relatively easy to set up, but the connected branching...
The Dagger is relatively easy to set up, but the connected branching poles make getting it under a control a little tricky sometimes.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weather Resistance


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 fly door can be propped open to allow for ventilation. It is...
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.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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, 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...
The reinforced corners on this tent struck us as particularly well-crafted.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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.

We really like what it has to offer and we would gladly take this...
We really like what it has to offer and we would gladly take this tent on our next backpacking adventure.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Value


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 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.

The 3-person version on the left compared to the 2-person version on...
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.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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.

It's a tight fit for three sleeping setups, but can be accomplished...
It's a tight fit for three sleeping setups, but can be accomplished by getting a bit cozy with your friends.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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 were expecting a little more from the peak height, but we had to...
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.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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