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NEMO Dragonfly 2 Review

A superior tent that balances light weight with excellent features
NEMO Dragonfly 2
Photo: REI Co-op
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $400 List
Pros:  Excellent balance between weight and features, many storage pockets, large vestibules
Cons:  Tapered foot, pockets are high up
Manufacturer:   NEMO
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 24, 2020
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 12
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Weight - 25% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 8
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Packed Size - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The NEMO Dragonfly impressed us right out of the gate. It's an Editors' Choice Award winner because it deftly combines the creature comforts of a freestanding tent while finding clever ways to minimize its weight. It offers ample headroom, gear storage pockets, and exceptional vestibules. With a superior design and high-quality materials, we think this tent will stand the test of time. If you prioritize space over weight, you should consider some larger models in this review, but for almost any overnight adventure, we would happily reach for the Dragonfly. Where many tents try, this one succeeds.

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NEMO Dragonfly 2
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NEMO Dragonfly 2
Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $400 List$450 List$500 List$420.00 at Amazon
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$399.95 at Amazon
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Pros Excellent balance between weight and features, many storage pockets, large vestibulesTwo large double doors, good headroom, excellent balance of interior space and weightLightweight, good lateral headroom, large side doors, large overhead pocketGenerous dimensions, large vestibules, good balance between weight and durabilityExceptional headroom for its size and weight, two large side doors, lightweight
Cons Tapered foot, pockets are high upExpensive, delicate materialsSmall vestibules, tapered footprint reduces interior spaceSmall doors, expensive, zippers don't always open smoothlyOdd tent and fly zipper configuration, rain can splash underneath fly onto tent
Bottom Line A exceptional choice for both front and backcountry adventuresThis tent balances the key aspects of a backpacking tent better than all other modelsThis tent offers enough room for three, without weighing you downA tent that offers comfort and quality at a good weightA surprisingly comfortable, lightweight tent
Rating Categories NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 NEMO Dagger 2 Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2
Comfort (25%)
8
8
8
8
6
Weight (25%)
7
7
7
6
9
Weather Resistance (20%)
8
8
8
8
6
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
8
8
8
8
7
Durability (10%)
8
7
7
8
7
Packed Size (10%)
8
9
9
6
9
Specs NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Copper... Big Agnes Copper... NEMO Dagger 2 Big Agnes Tiger...
Packaged Weight 3.16 lbs 3.09 lbs 3.88 lbs 3.76 lbs 2.56 lbs
Floor Area 29 sq ft 29 sq ft 41 sq ft 31 sq ft 28 sq ft
Packed Size 19.5 x 4.5 in 19.5 x 6 in 21 x 6in 19.5 x 6.5 in 18 x 5.5 in
Dimensions 88 x 50 x 41 in 88 x 52 x 40 in 90 x 70 x 43 in 90 x 50 x 42 in 86 x 52 x 39 in
Vestibule Area (Total) 20 sq ft 18 sq. ft 18 sq ft 22.8 sq ft 16 sq ft
Peak Height 41 in 40 in 43 in 42 in 39 in
Number of Doors 2 2 2 2 2
Number of Poles 3 1 3 2 3
Pole Diameter 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.5/9/9.6 mm 8.7 mm
Number of Pockets 3 3 5 2 3
Gear Loft No No No Sold separately No
Pole Material DAC Featherlite NFL DAC Featherlite NFL Aluminum DAC featherlight NSL DAC featherlight NFL aluminum
Guy Points 5 4 4 10 5
Rain Fly Material 20D Nylon Ripstop 15D 1200mm Silicone Nylon RipStop proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating 15D Sil / PU Nylon Ripstop (1200mm) Silicon-treated ripstop nylon
Inner Tent Material 15D Nylon Ripstop [Body] 10D Polyester mesh
[Floor] 20D Nylon RipStop
proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating [Body] 15D Nylon Ripstop / No see um mesh
[Floor] 30D PU Nylon Ripstop (3000mm)
Silicon-treated ripstop nylon
Type Two Door freestanding Two Door freestanding Two Door freestanding Two Door freestanding Two Door freestanding

Our Analysis and Test Results

This tent is exceptional in a crowded field and fills in just the right niche for the backpacker who wants a full-featured freestanding shelter that won't weigh them down. It earns an Editors' Choice Award for combining a nice set of features like storage space while keeping weight in mind.

Performance Comparison


This tent performs well in a wide variety of conditions and we love...
This tent performs well in a wide variety of conditions and we love it for backpacking and car camping alike.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort


The Dragonfly has room where it matters most and features that set it apart from other similar models. The two side doors are very large relative to the size of the tent walls. This makes it easy to roll in and out, especially if you are used to having to hunch over and scramble to exit a tent. Their shape is a little unusual, so it's not quite as easy to open them with one hand, but the inconvenience is minor. This model's 88" length is just right for most folks (including those around 6 feet). It's 50" width is enough for two standard Thermarest pads, plus a little extra, and its peak height of 41" offered us more than enough headroom across the width of the tent. You may technically have a little more interior space in other models, but we never really missed it.


Two people can fit side-by-side without feeling claustrophobic at...
Two people can fit side-by-side without feeling claustrophobic at the head and shoulders.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The privacy panels on the side are not terribly high, but the two-tone black and white mesh is thoughtfully incorporated into the canopy to maximize both privacy and stargazing when the weather allows you to camp without a fly.

Peek-a-boo! The white mesh around the sides does a surprisingly good...
Peek-a-boo! The white mesh around the sides does a surprisingly good job of obscuring the view into the tent and providing a little more privacy.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Where this tent excels though, is with its storage space. There are two large-enough individual storage pockets on each side, as well as a pair of light diffuser pockets that make reading at night a real pleasure. Then there is the massive gear loft overhead that can easily hold most any reasonable item you would want to stash for the night. If there is a complaint to be had here, it is that all of the pockets require a long reach, so you may have to sit up to get what you are looking for — tough life.

We stuffed a sleeping bag into the overhead pocket just to...
We stuffed a sleeping bag into the overhead pocket just to illustrate how much volume it can hold.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


On the other hand, if there is something that can't be tucked away in one of the pockets inside the tent, there is a delightfully massive amount of space in each vestibule for a pack, boots, another pack, and maybe a tent for your dog. We feel like this tent will do the trick in most cases.

We don't necessarily recommend sleeping in the vestibule, but you...
We don't necessarily recommend sleeping in the vestibule, but you could do it and stay almost completely covered in the process. There is a really nice amount of space out there.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ease of Setup


The Dragonfly is easy to set up. If you have pitched a tent by yourself before, we are confident that you could get this one up in no more than four minutes. The poles, corner webbing, and fly clip webbing are all color-coded to ensure that you are attaching the right pieces to the right places. The structure of this tent is a variation on a traditional X-frame, which ends up looking something more like a stick figure with its arms straight up in the air and its legs spread apart.


The vestibules have two stakes each (four total), with four additional stakes for the tent itself (one at each corner). They come with a nice piece of blue reflective cord tied on, so they don't get lost in the neutral backdrop of a forest floor. It also means that you can avoid kicking a stake in the middle of the night when you are getting ready for bed.

The webbing and poles are all color coded and the stakes are easy to...
The webbing and poles are all color coded and the stakes are easy to spot.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weather Resistance


This tent has a nice geometry and tension that keeps you protected from the elements. Its eight stake points and additional options for guylines ensure that it anchors firmly to the ground in the wind, and the fly also runs nice and low. When pitched, the sides of the fly slope so the tent can't get broadsided by the wind quite as easily as some other models.


One potential area for improvement is with ventilation. The fly runs low to the ground, which is excellent for preventing splashback. There are struts on each vestibule zipper that allow you to prop them open, even in the rain; they don't open very wide, leaving the tent susceptible to a bit of condensation. All in all, this tent will serve you well for 3-season camping.

The fly runs nice and low to the ground. The strut is propped open...
The fly runs nice and low to the ground. The strut is propped open for just a little bit of ventilation.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Durability


For its weight, this tent brings some durability as well. Its 20D ripstop nylon floor and 15D ripstop nylon fly are trending towards delicate but still stand up to the regular stresses and strains of backpacking.


The pole structure offers enough flexibility that we aren't concerned with snapping a piece during setup or breakdown. It is important to make sure that each pole segment is securely locked into place with each of its adjacent segments. One thing that can happen if that's not the case the leverage from the male end of a segment can be great enough that it cracks the female end of its adjoining segment.

The tent floor did just fine after days out on hard packed snow.
The tent floor did just fine after days out on hard packed snow.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weight and Packed Size


We know that weight is the metric that gets compromised with each additional feature. However, the Dragonfly toes the line beautifully. Weighing in at just a nudge over 3 pounds, it is the best of both worlds.


Splitting the weight between two people is easy with the included 'Divvy Sack.' And if you do have a partner with you, a pound and a half per person is very reasonable. At 19.5"x4.5", it also packs down relatively tightly. If you choose to ditch the stuff sack altogether, it does a nice job of filling in space around some more rigid items in your pack.


Value


This tent costs a good chunk of change, but we think it is well worth it if you are using it multiple times a year. For its combination of performance and durability, this tent feels like it is very reasonably priced. With reasonable care, it will last for many adventures to come, making it a worthwhile lightweight and comfortable investment.

We wouldn't hesitate to take this tent out with us on our next...
We wouldn't hesitate to take this tent out with us on our next adventure.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Conclusion


We think that the Dragonfly takes the cake. This is a tent that most anyone could take anywhere. If you regularly spend nights in the backcountry but want a single tent to do it all, the Dragonfly is an excellent choice. It's light enough for extended backpacking trips and roomy enough for car camping. In many cases, tents try to do too much, but in this case, the Dragonfly gets it just right. It has a superb design combined with an excellent feature set. It balances comfort and storage space with a reasonable overall weight. It is a clear Editors' Choice Award winner that we would gladly grab for our next overnight adventure, wherever it is.

Ben Applebaum-Bauch