Review: Nemo Dragonfly 2P Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Ultralight Backpacking Tent
Nemo Dragonfly 2P
$400, 2 lbs. 10 oz.
backcountry.com

From clear, cool, late-August nights on the Teton Crest Trail, to mixed weather that included rain and wind on a five-day hike in Yellowstone’s Bechler Canyon area in September, the Nemo Dragonfly 2P displayed the weather protection and exceptional livability that distinguishes it as one of the very best two-person, three-season ultralight backpacking tents on the market today—at a very good price for this level of quality. Here’s why.

Most unique about the freestanding, two-door, double-wall Dragonfly 2P is its outstanding balance of low weight and livability: It represents quite possibly the top competitor to a tent I’ve long considered arguably the best in this category, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2. And it’s cheaper. The Dragonfly’s floor area of 29 square feet matches that of the Copper Spur HV UL2, as does the 88-inch length, while the width of 50 inches tapering to 45 inches from head to foot ends creates a near match. Many backpackers will find the living quarters close but comfortable for two people to share and sleep in. And it’s two ounces lighter, at just over two-and-a-half pounds.


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The Nemo Dragonfly 2P interior.
My friend, Todd, who’s over six feet, demonstrating the Nemo Dragonfly 2P interior space.

The Dragonfly employs a frame similar to the Copper Spur HV UL2, consisting of one pre-bent, DAC Featherlite NFL 8.7mm hubbed aluminum pole that arches high, creating a 41-inch peak height that’s impressive in this weight category, and a second, short bridge pole over the top that expands the area of generous headroom in the center of the tent—tall people can sit up in the Dragonfly with room to spare. The materials and geometry of the Dragonfly lend it a degree of sturdiness comparable to the Copper Spur HV UL2 and other tents of similar weight. In Yellowstone, it withstood moderate winds without so much as bending.

With mostly mesh ceiling and walls, plus the traditional double-wall design and two doors creating cross-ventilation, condensation was never a problem, and the tent interior stays cooler on warm nights. The tent uses two different types of mesh: white around the sides, which offers a bit more privacy, and black mesh overhead, which blends into the sky to offer undiluted stargazing with the rainfly off at night.

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A Nemo Dragonfly 2P vestibule.
A Nemo Dragonfly 2P vestibule.

The trapezoidal vestibules provide a generous combined storage area of 20 square feet, with two stakeout points instead of the usual one for each, expanding their useable area. When unzipped, each vestibule’s two door panels can both be rolled back, creating multiple possible configurations, including leaving one panel in place as a wind shield, or rolling back both (on one or both sides of the tent) for better ventilation and sky viewing, while maintaining rain protection overhead because the drip line prevents water rolling off the rainfly into the tent interior. Strut vents at the top of each two-way vestibule door zipper pop easily into place, creating a gap that maintains some cross-ventilation even when you need both vestibules closed up in windblown rain or cold temperatures.

At one end of the tent, the rainfly reaches about midway down the interior wall, rather than nearly to the ground—adequate for keeping out rain while enhancing ventilation, but also making it easier for dust to blow up inside.

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The Dragonfly includes excellent, small details that really make the user experience much better, like color-coded poles that simplify and speed up pitching; two large mesh interior pockets; and ceiling pockets for a light. As with any ultralight shelter, the fabric is reasonably durable, but certainly not compared to heavier tents: 15-denier sil-PeU nylon ripstop rated to 1200mm for waterproofing in the rainfly, and 20-denier sil-PU nylon ripstop also rated to 1200mm in the bathtub floor. The packed size of 19.5×4.5 inches is as expected for a tent of this size and weight.

Nemo’s Dragonfly 1P ($360, 2 lbs. 1 oz.) brings that architecture and livability to a single-door (on the side) solo tent with comparable livability and vestibule area.

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Nemo Dragonfly 2p

Space-to-Weight Ratio
Sturdiness
Ease of Use
Ventilation
Features
Value

The Verdict

Arguably one of the two best, most comfortable, freestanding, two-person, ultralight backpacking tents on the market—and the cheaper of the two—the Nemo Dragonfly 2P’s excellent weight-to-space ratio strikes an ideal balance between livability, low weight, and protection from the elements, with impressive attention to details.

4.6

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You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these affiliate links, at no cost to you, to purchase a Nemo Dragonfly 2P at backcountry.com, Moosejaw.com, or nemoequipment.com, or a Nemo Dragonfly 1P at backcountry.com, Moosejaw.com, or nemoequipment.com.

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See my review of “The 8 (Very) Best Backpacking Tents” and all of my reviews of backpacking tents, ultralight backpacking tents, backpacking gear, and ultralight backpacking gear that I like.

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Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Wilderness Backpacking Trip” and “A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking.” With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read all of both stories for free; if you don’t have a subscription, you can download the e-guide versions of “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Wilderness Backpacking Trip” and the lightweight backpacking guide without having a paid membership.

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.

—Michael Lanza

 

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10 thoughts on “Review: Nemo Dragonfly 2P Ultralight Backpacking Tent”

  1. I am a newbie backpacker but have base camped for a while. I was ready to pull the trigger on this tent. I really like it! However, when I learned it did not have the fast fly feature, I started to look elsewhere. I’m very concerned about pitching a tent in the rain. Are there any tricks available for this style of tent? Thanks. Very good review!

    Reply
    • Hi Lisa,

      Yes, the fast-fly setup, where you can leave the interior tent home and pitch the shelter with just rainfly, poles, and a footprint, is very convenient and saves weight, and you’ll find that in another tent that’s a personal favorite and very similar to the Dragonfly, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2.

      But you won’t find a problem with the Dragonfly’s performance in rain, in my experience using it. It keeps rain out and ventilates well enough to avoid building up condensation.

      If by “tricks” you mean is this type of tent complicated to deal with in the backcountry, the answer is no. It’s freestanding and quick and easy to pitch and dissemble.

      Chech out my picks for Custom Trip Planning pagethe best backpacking tents.

      Thanks for the comment and keep in touch.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the response! Sorry, I must not have been very clear. What I was referring to was if it was raining hard outside if there were any tricks with the Nemo to set it up in the rain without getting rain on the inside of the tent. With the fast fly setup of the BA tent, I think it is much easier to do this. But is there some way to still accomplish this with the Nemo?

        Reply
        • Okay, I understand your question. Yes, with the Big Agnes fast-fly setup, you can (at least theoretically) erect the poles and rainfly first and then attach them to the footprint, although it’s easier to insert the poles into the footprint first and then put the rainfly on.

          With the Dragonfly, as with any freestanding tent, what I do when pitching it in the rain is to, if possible, assemble the tent under the canopy of tree branches, where you have some protection; you can then move it to your preferred tentsite and stake it out. I also first lay the interior tent on the ground and have the rainfly ready to quickly spread over the interior tent, before inserting the poles; then I crawl under the rainfly to insert the poles, keeping the interior tent largely protected from direct rainfall. It’s a little awkward but not really that difficult and usually succeeds in keeping your interior tent dry.

          That trick also works when pitching a fast-fly tent setup.

          Hope that’s helpful. Good luck.

          Reply
  2. Michael,
    Great and informative article as always. Wondering if you’ve had the chance to try out either the Nemo Hornet or Dagger two person tents? I have my eye on those as well as the Dragonfly and would love your input. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Brett, thanks for asking. Yes, in fact, I looked at both the Nemo Dagger 2P and the Hornet 2P before I decided on testing and reviewing the Dragonfly 2P, and it basically came down to choosing a certain balance between total tent weight and living space that falls in between the Dagger and Hornet.

      At 11 ounces heavier than the Dragonfly, the Dagger has a noticeably roomier interior and slightly larger vestibules, and is otherwise very similar; maybe a better choice for two people who need a little more space (such as if one or both are big/tall people).

      The Hornet obviously falls at the other end of the continuum, at 12 ounces lighter than the Dragonfly, but its 27.5 square feet of interior space will feel noticeably more cramped than the Dragonfly. Plus, the pole structure is simpler and I strongly suspect (based on experience with other tents that use the same pole design) not quite as sturdy as the Dragonfly or Dagger. But as light as the Hornet 2P is, I would consider buying it as a relatively spacious solo tent, because even at 5 feet 8 inches and 160 pounds, I find many solo tents just too small (and more prone to condensation because of the limited interior space).

      I did not test either of them in the field, but I have tested many tents with similar space and architecture.

      I hope that’s helpful. Good luck.

      Reply
      • Michael,
        Thanks for answering my question. I’m 6’3″ and would appreciate the extra room a 2p tent affords. I’m a bit concerned that the rainfly doesn’t entirely cover the whole tent, presumably to save weight. Did you have any issues with water getting in at all, especially those areas that the fly doesn’t cover? Otherwise, I’m pretty sold on this tent! Thanks again.

        Reply
        • Hi Brett, good question, but no, rain entering the tent was never a problem, even the steady rain I got in Yellowstone. The rainfly overlaps the solid-fabric lower part of that exposed wall of the tent, so the rain would have to literally blow upward to get inside. That would realistically only happen in extreme alpine conditions like mountaineering, a use for which this tent is not designed, anyway. I think you’ll find this tent quite weather-worthy for backpacking. Thanks for the good questions. I hope you’ll consider making the purchase through one of the links I’ve provided in the review.

          Reply

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