NEMO Dragonfly 2 Person Tent Review

NEMO Dragonfly 2 Tent Review

The NEMO Dragonfly 2 Person Tent is a lightweight (2 pounds, 10 ounces) tent with fantastic ventilation, large vestibules, and a convenient gear loft. It’s quick to set up and a trustworthy shelter in wind and rain. It’s cozy with two people and can’t accommodate two 25” wide pads, but has good headroom across the width of the tent.

Specs at a Glance

  • Capacity: 2 People
  • Doors: 2
  • Type: Semi-Freestanding
  • Minimum Trail Weight (manufacturer): 2 lb, 10 oz (42 oz) / 1.2 kg
  • Minimum Trail Weight (measured): 11.5 oz poles + 15.5 oz inner tent + 15.0 oz fly = 42 oz.
  • Packed Weight: (manufacturer): 3 lb, 2 oz (50 oz) / 1.41 kg
  • Packed Weight (measured): 50.0 oz.
  • Floor Dimensions: 88” x 50”/45” (tapers at foot) / 223.52 cm x 127 cm/114 cm
  • Packed size: 19.5” x 4.5” diameter / 50 cm x 12 cm diameter
  • Peak Height: 41”/ 105 cm
  • Materials:
    • Fly fabric: 15D Sil/PeU Nylon Ripstop (1200 mm)
    • Floor fabric: 20D Sil/PeU Nylon Ripstop (1200 mm)
    • Inner tent: 10D Nylon Ripstop/ No-See-Um Mesh
    • Poles: DAC Featherweight Aluminum
  • Included: tent pole repair sleeve, fabric patches, extra guyline, and sturdy aluminum J stakes (named for the shape of the cutout where the guyline goes) with Y-shaped bodies. Variable-size stuff sack, pole bag, stake bag.
  • Our tested weights and measurements lined up exactly with the manufacturer weights and measurements.
The Dragonfly 2 is considered a Semi-Freestanding tent because the fly must be partially staked out to anchor the vestibules.
The Dragonfly 2 is considered a Semi-Freestanding tent because the fly must be partially staked out to anchor the vestibules.

Tent Setup

The Dragonfly is quick and intuitive to pitch and is easy for one person to do alone. The instructions come printed on a tag attached to the stuff sack, alongside a second tag with a glow-in-the-dark constellation finder. There is one main pole with two three-way hubs, that forms the backbone of the tent and looks like two “Y”s attached end-to-end.

White mesh increases privacy, while black mesh enhances star-gazing
White mesh increases privacy, while black mesh enhances star-gazing

The poles are color-coded gray and bright green to match the webbing on the inner tent so you can quickly orient the pole correctly. This color-coding also extends to the webbing on the clips that attach the inner tent to the poles, and to the buckles that attach the fly to the inner. It seems like a small detail but it is really helpful when you have to set up the tent in a hurry to not have to figure out which end is which.

There is also a spreader pole that crosses over the main pole and provides good headroom across the width of the tent. The ball ends of the pole fit into tiny clear plastic receiver rings on the inner tent. Because the spreader pole is important to the geometry of getting a tight pitch, I feel a little nervous about the durability of this hardware. NEMO’s Firefly tent, (click for my review), also has a spreader pole but it fits into grommets in webbing, which feels like a more robust choice that I wish was used on the Dragonfly, too.

For further connection of the fly to the poles, there is a black plastic ring attached to the underside of the fly that clips over the clear plastic spreader pole rings on either side of the tent. There are also tiny Velcro wraps on the underside of the fly to attach it to the poles, but I found them awkward to access and not necessary, even in high winds, so I never use them.

It's cozy for two people but there is good headroom
It’s cozy for two people but there is good headroom.

Livability

The Dragonfly has lots of headroom, facilitated by the spreader pole, with a peak height of 41” from floor to ceiling. This makes it easy to sit up to read, look at maps, or change clothes. The 88” length means that there’s extra space at the foot or the head end beyond even long sleeping pads for your gear, however, unless your backpack is tiny, or you’re using the Dragonfly as a solo tent, you’ll probably want to store your pack in the vestibule.

The inner tent is tapered from head to feet, 50” to 45”, which means you can’t fit two wide pads next to each other. Although I’m pretty small, I’ve found my rotisserie sleep style really benefits from a wide pad. I think more and more side-sleeping backpackers are finding this as well and the market of wide pads has been expanding. I wish it had a rectangular footprint at 50 inches to allow for two wide pads. I do appreciate, however, that each person gets their own door and vestibule.

The sizable vestibule provides good coverage even for a big pack
The sizable vestibule provides good coverage even for a big pack.

There are several options for off-the-floor gear storage inside the tent. Flat mesh pockets halfway up the side of the wall at the head-end can hold glasses, a watch, and other lightweight essentials. A large triangular gear loft on the ceiling worked well for holding my puffy jacket at arm’s reach for layering in the night. Additionally, two flat pockets of white mesh on the ceiling act as light diffusers for your headlamp. It’s great to slip your lamp in and have a steady light illuminating your working area without bouncing about and shining right in your tent mate’s eyes.

Both sides of the vestibule doors can be completely rolled up for views and ventilation
Both sides of the vestibule doors can be completely rolled up for views and ventilation.

Excellent Ventilation

Ventilation is the Dragonfly’s strong suit. If you recreate in areas with high humidity and lots of rain, and also need protection from bugs, the Dragonfly is a great option. I have had zero condensation in the Dragonfly, even when using it in 50 degree F rain all night.

Most notably, there is a large arc cutout in the rainfly where the bathtub floor comes up extra-high on the end wall for splash protection. You can guy the arc out which creates a massive vent at the head end. There are also catenary cuts on the bottom of the vestibules to promote airflow into the tent from the bottom, and two-way zippers on the vestibules with kickstand vents that let you open up a gap at the top of the vestibules for the humid air to escape.

If you don’t need to batten down the hatches, you can roll up the head-end of the vestibule and still have your pack undercover in the larger foot-end vestibule; you could roll back both vestibule doors, or you could take the fly entirely off and stargaze on a clear night.

The vestibule has a single triangular panel at the head end and two triangular panels with two guylines at the foot end for extra gear storage and coverage
The vestibule has a single triangular panel at the head end and two triangular panels with two guylines at the foot end for extra gear storage and coverage.

Multi-panel Vestibules

The Dragonfly’s vestibules (on both sides of the tent) are comprised of a single triangular panel on the head end and two triangular panels on the foot end. The multi-panel vestibules provide more room for your gear than traditional one-piece triangular vestibules.

For example, the NEMO Firefly, which is very similar to the Dragonfly but has a more traditional vestibule, has 8.6 square feet of vestibule space per side, as compared to 10 square feet of space per vestibule on NEMO’s Dragonfly. The trade-off of the multi-panel vestibules is that they also require using two stakes per vestibule instead of one. This means it is slightly more complicated to get a tight pitch than it is with a single stake-out point, which I experienced when pitching it on a platform.

If you want to roll up just the head-end vestibule door for extra ventilation, you can do that without unstaking anything, but if you want to roll back both doors of the vestibule you have to undo two stakes per side. For some users, the extra stakeout will be an annoyance; for others, it is a perfectly fine tradeoff to get the additional vestibule space.

Numerous guyout point and aerodynamic edges make the Dragonfly 2 quite storm-worthy
Numerous guyout point and aerodynamic edges make the Dragonfly 2 quite storm-worthy

Storm-Worthiness

On one of my Spring overnights, I experienced 20 mph winds throughout the night, with gusts up to 50 mph and on-and-off rain. I had seen the gale warning in the forecast and it made me choose this tent out of the ones I’m currently testing. I was confident I could pitch it easily in the wind and that it would be a secure shelter in the storm, and it didn’t disappoint.

Construction

Semi-Freestanding

At SectionHiker, we classify tents as freestanding if they can be picked up and moved around after fully pitching them. Semi-freestanding tents, like the Dragonfly, may have freestanding inner tents but require the fly to be staked out to have a taut pitch. You may see different definitions of freestanding elsewhere (indeed, Nemo itself classifies the Dragonfly as freestanding), but for us, this distinction is important to clarify the extra step/ extra complication to plan for when pitching on the snow, frozen ground, or a tent platform.

The head end of the tent has a massive arc vent that can be opened up wide by guying it out The waterproof bathtub floor goes halfway up this wall to provide weather protection
The head end of the tent has a massive arc vent that can be opened up wide by guying it out The waterproof bathtub floor goes halfway up this wall to provide weather protection.

Materials

The fly is made of 15 denier ripstop nylon coated with silicone on the outside and PeU on the inside, allowing for it to be internally seam-taped. PeU is different from the old PU (polyurethane) coatings which break down over time and become sticky and stinky–PeU won’t do that.

The 20 denier floor saves weight and bulk at the expense of being light-duty and requiring some more caution in preening the site for sharp rocks and sticks before setting up. For additional protection, use a homemade ground cloth or the optional 8-ounce footprint (sold separately). If you think you would consistently use the footprint, or if you have a dog or will be using this tent with kids, you may want to choose NEMO’s Firefly with a much more robust 68 denier floor at a 4-ounce weight penalty above the Dragonfly.

The inner tent is constructed with a band of 20D nylon ripstop fabric just above the bathtub floor and the rest is noseeum mesh–white on the sides for a little more privacy, and black on the ceiling for clearer views of the night sky. The zippers on the inner tent doors (one on either side) are C-shaped, have two sliders, and run smoothly with one hand.

Using the headlamp diffuser pockets gives a nice glow to the tent
Using the headlamp diffuser pockets gives a nice glow to the tent.

Stakes and Stuff Sacks

The aluminum J-stakes (named for the shape of the cutout for guyline) have Y-shaped bodies for better holding power in soft ground. They have a robust loop of blue reflective cord which you can actually use to pull out the stakes. Blue is one of the most visible colors in a natural setting due to the contrast, and the reflective tracer helps you find a stake quickly by headlamp if you drop it. The stakes also have a rounded head which hurts less when pushing it into soft ground with the palm of your hand.

The Dragonfly comes packed in a “Divvy Sack” which has a drawcord at the top of the bag and a second one halfway down. The idea is that you can halve the size of the stuff sack if your partner takes the poles and stakes. I found the tent with stakes and poles to be a tight fit in the stuff sack, and the tent without stakes and poles to be an even tighter fit in the reduced-size stuff sack. I’ve taken to carrying the poles outside of the main stuff sack even when solo, and I don’t use the volume reducing drawcord–I just compress the stuff sack in my pack.

Comparable 2 Person Tents We Also Recommend

Recommendation

The NEMO Dragonfly 2 Person Tent is a dependable, easy-to-use lightweight tent for a couple, a pair of good friends, or a parent and child, or a solo hiker making the transition away from heavier tents but who wants reliable gear that will take them through inclement weather. I also appreciate how all of Nemo’s measurements and weights were right on spec.

  • Great ventilation
  • Big vestibules
  • Quick to set up with color-coding
  • A solid tent in wind and rain
  • Lots of gear storage with a loft and pockets
  • Light-diffusing headlamp pockets in the ceiling

Disclosure: The author received this tent from NEMO for an honest review.

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About the author

Greg Pehrson is an ultralight backpacker who was bitten hard by the MYOG (make-your-own-gear) bug. He repairs, tinkers, and builds gear, often seeking to upcycle throwaway items or repurpose things from outside the backpacking world.

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