The Nemo Dragonfly 2P was designed to be ultralight, yet extremely livable. With a spacious interior, dual vestibules and two doors, it still manages a 3 lb. 2 oz. pack weight. Is there a catch? My review:
The Dragonfly 2P features two vestibules, two large zippered doors with integrated strut vents, two gear pockets, and a large gear loft. The frame is a hubbed design feature 8.7mm DAC Featherlite NFL poles with a volumizing brow pole laid across the top. The tent body is a combination of 10D breathable nylon ripstop and 10D No-See-Um mesh. The rain fly is a slightly thicker 15D nylon ripstop, coated with silicone and polyurethane for water protection and durability. The dimensions come in at 88″ x 50″ (45″ at the foot) with a peak height of 41″. The tent includes 8 tent stakes, guy lines, and a stuff sack. It weighs just 3 lb. 2 oz and retails for $389.95
What I liked
Let’s start with the most impressive aspect of this shelter, the weight. At just over 3 lbs it is easily light enough to be considered a lightweight solo shelter, yet it happily houses two people inside. To say that the Dragonfly pushes the limits of what a full sized, fully featured two person shelter can weigh is an understatement. This weight was achieved primarily by utilizing impressively thin fabrics. The thickest fabric here is just 15 denier, which feels like satin sheets in the hand. It uses the highest quality aluminum poles on the market and further reduces weight by making careful design choices. It leaves out unimportant features, unnecessary pole section and minimizes fabric and attachments. Divided up, the shelter can be as light as about 1.5 pounds per person, allowing for whimsically light pack weights. It packs up small too, packing down to about the size of a basketball, with the poles and stakes slid vertically into a pack.
This shelter also offers impressive space and livability, especially when considering the weight. Generally, getting to a near 3 lb. pack weight requires sacrificing doors, vents, and interior space, but not here. The floor plan easily allows two full sized sleeping pads given the 50″ wide shoulder area with room to spare for extra gear. The peak height of 41″ is high enough for even taller campers to sit straight up inside, without being pressed into the mesh walls or ceiling. There is even extra space at the head and foot of the shelter which allows for some extra gear or clothing to be stashed out of the way. The brow pole does an excellent job of improving elbow and shoulder room too, making getting dressed ,packing up or just moving around inside a non-issue. The space inside is quite livable, cozy, and the green glow the fly puts off is uplifting underneath a dreary overcast day.
Organization and storage is pretty good also. Having a total of three internal pockets and two considerably sizable vestibules, the shelter makes organizing gear effortless. Two small pockets, one beside each door, and a large gear loft allows for phones, clothes, headlamps or any other small objects to be placed out of the way and off the floor. The vestibules are large enough to hold full sized backpacks, cooking supplies and boots, all without having to stack anything up. There’s even enough room to keep a pathway out of the tent completely unobstructed, which makes getting in and out far faster and more convenient. There are even two small headlamp pockets on the ceiling, with diffusing panels that essentially convert a headlamp into an overhead lamp.
Speaking of getting in and out, the doors are large and provide easy entry and egress. The zipper extends most of the way down the tent body, which allows the legs to simply swing out instead of having to crawl out on hands and knees. The headroom is sufficient to minimize being clotheslined while coming and going, but it is still possible when not being careful. The zipper on the vestibule is actually closer to the sleeping compartment than most shelters, making it less of a stretch to reach, which I found particularly nice.
Wind stability has been surprisingly good. The frame design is tried and true at this point, and having the vestibule stake out at multiple points instead of one not only improves storage space, but also increases rigidity and wind resistance. This also cuts down on buffeting of the vestibule, just by having an additional stake out point. When fully pitched, the shelter happily handles 25 MPH winds, with the occasional gust not causing much of an issue aside from a little rocking. It does creek a little throughout the night when windy as the fly shifts over the poles a bit, but using the brow clips and Velcro tabs to secure the fly to the poles helps a lot. I haven’t found it terrible intrusive, but a particularly rough storm would likely exacerbate. When properly staked and guyed out, it forms reliable and sturdy backcountry escape, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for high elevation camping, given the thin fabric and relatively limited guy out options included. Under the cover of trees or bushes it holds up very well.
The build quality overall is quite great. The stitching is very consistent with no frays or lose threads that I could find as of yet, and the seams all expertly sealed and taped from the factory. The tent stakes are solid aluminum, sturdy, and have held up well to being tapped into rocky soil and gravel. The fabrics are noteworthy as they’re impressively smooth, very consistent, and have a very nice tactile, cloth like feel to them. The guy lines are fairly average, but do a fine job of avoiding stretching or holding too much water when they’re wet, but they may need to be retensioned over time.
Condensation management has been great. While it doesn’t have a top vent, the doors both include strut vents which allows them to be propped open at the top to allow a nice cross breeze to come through. They also have a small flap which helps keep rain out during rough weather, so they can be used in the rain too. The tent body is mostly breathable, aside from the gray panel at the head of the shelter. This combined with the strut vents allows for excellent ventilation. Only minor condensation build appeared near the single layer panel at the head tent, and to a much lesser degree the small single layer section near the foot. Generally, it stays dry and well vented in all but the soggiest of conditions. Also thanks to this great ventilation, it makes a rather nice summer shelter. The vestibules roll back on both sides to allow a full breeze to blow through, minimizing heat build up and opening up the tent for big views. Despite this, it’s not overly breezy inside during cold weather, making it a nice spring-fall shelter.
Setup is about as easy as it gets, with color coded poles and body connections to keep things simple. The poles simply clip into the tent body, the tent body is lifted up and connected to the aluminum frame via simple clips, and the rainfly is tossed over and connected via plastic clips. There are a couple Velcro tabs that can be used to better secure the fly to the poles, which I recommend, but it’s not explicitly required. Overall, the entire pitch takes less than 5 minutes, and is pretty easily handled in the wind, even solo. Simply stake out the corners of the tent body first in this situation and it is smooth sailing from there.
What I didn’t like
Despite being built from some of the best materials available, it’s still built from some of the thinnest materials on the market. A little TLC should be taken with this tent floor and even the rainfly. Camping on granite or gravel without some sort of footprint or protection should probably be avoided given the limited thickness as it will wear it down over time. Grass, dirt and duff shouldn’t be an issue though. Thankfully, the shelter has held up great during my testing, despite camping on some rocky soil and at higher elevations, but I have been careful when choosing my sites and clearing out debris.
Like most UL shelters these days, the tent doesn’t come with enough stakes to properly guy out the shelter for rough weather. It does come with a couple extra guy lines, which can be connected to the stakes that are already included for the basic setup, or perhaps connected to a makeshift tent stake (a stick), but I recommend adding at least 4 more stakes and a couple guy lines for unexpected weather.
I had a tiny amount of condensation build up at the head of the tent in very humid conditions, but nothing bothersome or problematic. It never wet out my sleeping bag or clothing, so it was never really a problem. A quick swipe of a microfiber hand towel takes care of it in the rare situation that it does arise, so I recommend keeping one handy, just in case.
After my time with the Dragonfly 2P I came out with one distinct impression, “Nemo has figured this out”. When it comes to truly ultralight tents, especially those pushing the 3 pound barrier, there is always some big sacrifice. But, that isn’t the case here. It’s spacious, enjoyable to be inside, has lots of quality of life features, and has held up quite well, even in less than favorable conditions. Setup is painless, it packs down tiny, and the feathery lightweight build makes it an easy decision for long, challenging trips into the backcountry. Toss in a couple extra stakes and guy lines when choosing exposed campsites and this shelter is good to go. This is Nemo’s best shelter yet, which makes it easy to recommend to anyone who is looking for every major feature, without the weight penalty. Just choose your camp wisely.
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