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.
NEMO Dragonfly 2 Review
Cons: Tapered foot, pockets are high up
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NEMO Dragonfly 2
|Price||$389.90 at Amazon||$294.97 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Excellent balance between weight and features, many storage pockets, large vestibules||Two large double doors, good headroom, excellent balance of space and weight||Lightweight, good lateral headroom, large side doors, large overhead pocket||Generous dimensions, large vestibules, good balance between weight and durability||Lightweight, can be pitched in freestanding mode, large 'rainy day' entryway|
|Cons||Tapered foot, pockets are high up||Delicate fabrics require special treatment, expensive||small vestibules, tapered footprint reduces interior space||Small doors, expensive, zippers don't always open smoothly||Low condensation resistance, small doors, tricky learn setup|
|Bottom Line||A superior tent that balances light weight with excellent features.||Our favorite tent for all your backpacking needs.||A comfortable, lightweight tent great for a weekend or a week.||A high-quality tent that strikes a solid balance between weight and comfort features.||A good choice for all your light and fast backpacking trips for two.|
|Rating Categories||NEMO Dragonfly 2||Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2||Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3||NEMO Dagger 2||Tarptent Double Rainbow|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Ease Of Set Up (10%)|
|Packed Size (10%)|
|Specs||NEMO Dragonfly 2||Big Agnes Copper...||Big Agnes Copper...||NEMO Dagger 2||Tarptent Double...|
|Packaged Weight||3.16 lbs||3.06 lbs||3.81 lbs||3.76 lbs||2.60 lbs|
|Floor Area||29 sq ft||29 sq ft||41 sq ft||31 sq ft||30.5 sq ft|
|Packed Size||19.5 x 4.5 in||19.5 x 4 in||20 x 4.5 in||19.5 x 6.5 in||18 x 4 in|
|Dimensions||88 x 50 x 41 in||88 x 52 x 42 in||90 x 70 x 43 in||90 x 50 x 42 in||88 x 52 x 42 in|
|Vestibule Area (Total)||20 sq ft||18 sq ft||18 sq ft||22.8 sq ft||15 sq ft|
|Peak Height||41 in||42 in||43 in||42 in||42 in|
|Number of Doors||2||2||2||2||2|
|Number of Poles||3||2||3||2||2|
|Pole Diameter||8.7 mm||8.7 mm||8.7mm||8.5/9/9.6 millimeters||8.6 mm|
|Number of Pockets||3||2||5||2||2|
|Gear Loft||No||Sold separately||Sold separately||Sold separately||No|
|Pole Material||DAC Featherlite NFL||DAC Featherlite NFL and NSL||Aluminum||DAC featherlight NSL||Easton 7075 E9 Aluminum|
|Rain Fly Material||20D Nylon Ripstop||Silicone-treated patterned double ripstop nylon with waterproof polyurethane coating||proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating||15D Sil / PU Nylon Ripstop (1200mm)||1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silnylon|
|Inner Tent Material||15D Nylon Ripstop||[Body] Patterned double ripstop nylon/polyester mesh
[Floor] Silicone-treated patterned double ripstop nylon with waterproof polyurethane coating
|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)
|1.0 oz/yd2 (34 g/m2) no-see-um mesh|
|Type||Two Door freestanding||Two Door||Two Door||Two Door freestanding||Two Door|
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 while keeping weight in mind.
This model excels in almost every category, so it is no surprise that it's the winner of our Editors' Choice award.
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. Its 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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 fairly priced. With reasonable care, it will last for many adventures to come, making it a worthwhile investment.
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