Gear Review: NEMO Dragonfly 2
Tent design has come a long way, not just since the heavy aluminum tubing poles and 12-pound rigs from my days (long, long ago, in a galaxy… etc., etc.) as a Boy Scout. Manufacturers may be reaching some kind of limits with regard to minimizing weight without compromising durability, but lightweight fabrics and poles are still inspiring new, user-friendly, roomy designs. NEMO’s Dragonfly 2 is just that: user-friendly, roomy, and surprisingly lightweight for a two-person shelter. I haven’t slept in a tent with another human (though I realize some think of their dogs as humans, I don’t … quite) since I was about 12, but if that need should arise, I would happily share this tent with a fellow hiker.
NEMO Dragonfly 2 At-a-Glance
Weight: 42 ounces (2 pounds, 10 ounces), minimum weight
Category: Freestanding, double-wall
Peak Height: 41 inches
Interior Space: 29 square feet (floor), plus two 10-foot vestibules
Materials and Features
NEMO’s Dragonfly 2 is a two-person, three-season, freestanding tent that is extremely easy to assemble and offers plenty of room for two weary hikers and their gear. At just over three pounds, packed, it may not qualify as lightweight for a single hiker, but it surely does when split between two.
Featuring a single, hubbed aluminum DAC 8.7 mm pole and a small spreader pole of the same make and material, with color-coding on anchor points and pole, the Dragonfly is easy and intuitive to assemble. But if anyone gets confused, there is a tag with clear, illustrated instructions on the stuff sack.
The spring-leaf-colored canopy is made from 10-denier nylon ripstop fabric and no-see-um mesh. The fly is 15D sil/polyurethane nylon ripstop and the floor is 20D sil/polyurethane ripstop.
A few other features worth mentioning: the company’s patented two-stage Divvy Sack, which cinches down to about half its length, makes it easy to share the weight between two hikers; canopy pockets designed to hold and diffuse light from a headlamp; a “brow pole” to provide extra head room; and interior pockets to store personal items.
Space, Weight, Packability
Dragonfly 2 is generous in both floor and head space. This reviewer, while not tall, sits tall (i.e., usually appears as tall as or taller than 6-footers when seated together; in other words, long torso, short legs), and there was plenty of room to spare.
The floor easily accommodates two pads and bags or quilts, with a bit of room left over for gear storage; two 10-square-foot vestibules offer plenty of room for the rest. At more than 7 feet in length, the floor provides length enough even for hikers with trail names like “Stretch” or “Bigfoot.” The floor is slightly tapered, to save weight, but is still comfortably capacious.
The Divvy Sack cinches down to near half its size, making it easy to pack and split fly and canopy between two hikers. This reviewer hiked 40 miles solo with the tent, and while true ultralighters would blanch, it packed nicely, especially with the poles tucked away in a corner.
This is one of the easier tents this reviewer has assembled in recent years; it took just a few minutes on the first try, without consulting directions. It’s always amazing to see how cleverly engineered poles have become, and just how precise segment lengths and curvature must be in order to work.
The Dragonfly features four corner stake loops and two for each side vestibule, all adjustable for a nice, taut pitch. Basically, all you have to do is stake the four corners, let the pole snap into position, and match pole ends with color-coded corners. After snapping the three-segment brow pole into place, it’s easy to drape and buckle the fly at four corners, then stake and snug up the fly on either side.
This reviewer used the Dragonfly on a chilly, drizzly night on the Appalachian Trail and in warmer conditions at sea level. (Plans to use it on another night were scuttled by a bitterly cold, late-fall snowstorm in northern Tennessee.)
The fly did not leak in wet conditions, though despite the presence of vents, there was still some condensation. The tent nicely withstood a steady, 15- to 20-knot breeze driving up a steep hillside.
Over the course of several nights, the materials looked and felt strong. Of course, any time you are working with fabrics this light, caution and care are warranted. In addition, the finely tuned, lightweight pole should be handled, packed, and stored with care.
The NEMO Dragonfly 2 is a great choice for two-person backpacking adventures, offering lots of room, fast, easy assembly, and a few welcome frills at just over three pounds of weight. Big doors, a roomy interior and a fly that can be cinched down to nearly hug the ground offer privacy, protection and comfort.
Comparable Two-Person Backpacking Tents
Weight: 49 ounces (3 pounds, 1 ounce)
Livable Space: 29 square feet floor with two 9-square-foot vestibules
Weight: 78 ounces (4 pounds, 14 ounces)
Livable Space: 35.8 square feet
Weight: 56 ounces (3 pounds, 8 ounces)
This item was donated for purpose of review
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