Nemo Dragonfly 1 Tent Review

Updated
Nemo Dragonfly Ultralight 1 Person Tent

Our Verdict

The Nemo Dragonfly 1 is an excellent 3 season backpacking tent which is lightweight, relatively durable and easy to setup.


Wilderness Redefined is reader supported. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Last Updated: May 31, 2022

The Nemo Dragonfly 1 is an excellent backpacking tent that is spacious for a one person tent and made of high quality materials.

It’s an excellent ultralight backpacking tent and earns my Editor’s choice award, signifying the high standards reached. 

The Nemo Dragonfly 1 is easily one of the best ultralight one person tents right now, and is only narrowly beaten out by the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 due to a questionable design choice for the rainfly on one side of the tent.

You can check the latest price for the Nemo Dragonfly 1 here. Or if you want the best one person tent going, check the latest price of the Copper Spur.

So do I recommend this tent? Read on to find out in my Nemo Dragonfly 1 review!

Rating

Weight and Packed Size (30%): 9.5 88/100
Comfort and Space (25%): 9.5 56/100
Weather Protection (25%): 9.5 70/100
Durability (10%): 9.5 75/100
Ease of Setup (10%): 9.5 85/100

Overall: 9.5 74/100

Who Is The Nemo Dragonfly 1 Tent For?

The Nemo Dragonfly 1 Tent is great for solo backpackers, especially for backpackers who want a tent made of high quality materials.

This tent also works well for the ultralight crowd. But super ultralight backpackers (you know who you are!) might prefer to go for a more extreme lightweight cottage brand tent, like the Durston X-Mid 1 … if it ever comes back in stock. I definitely do NOT recommend a super ultralight tent for most people though.

This tent also isn’t for casual summer camping or heading to festivals. There are cheaper options out there (such as the Kelty Wireless) that will do the job just fine.

So if you’re a solo backpacker, you’re in the right place!

Should I Buy The Nemo Dragonfly 1?

The Nemo Dragonfly 1 is an excellent 3 season backpacking tent. I highly recommend it for most situations. If you’re wanting a good quality ultralight tent that balances great levels of comfort with a lightweight build, the Dragonfly will be ideal.

However, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 is a very similar tent, but it fixes one of the bigger issues with the Dragonfly – the partial rainfly coverage on one side of the tent. Granted, the Copper Spur is typically slightly more expensive.

If you’re expecting very rough weather though, you’ll probably want to avoid an ultralight tent like the Dragonfly or Copper Spur and choose something like a Hilleberg. Hilleberg tents are very robust to bad weather, but typically significantly more expensive.

I do recommend upgrading to a two person tent (such as the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2), even if there’s just one of you. You’ll get more space and two vestibules instead of one. 

Pros

  • Spacious (for a 1 person tent) thanks to its horizontal cross pole.
  • Comes with a huge vestibule.
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Easy to set up with color coded tent poles.
  • Made of excellent quality materials.
  • Lightweight and a small packed size.

Cons

  • Tapered from head to toe which means you can’t use a wide sleeping pad.
  • Rainfly doesn’t provide full coverage on one side. This compromises weatherproofing in very bad weather.
  • The high bathtub floor on one side is a condensation risk.
  • No fast fly setup which means no rainfly first pitch.
  • The materials are relatively fragile, which may not be right for everyone.
The Nemo Dragonfly 1 Tent setup for backpacking in a field
The inner mesh tent body of the Nemo Dragonfly set up

Our Rating Criteria

This tent is rated using my 3 season backpacking tent rating criteria. The weights for each criteria can be found in the brackets.

The rating criteria is:

  • Weight & Packed Size (30%)
  • Comfort & Space (25%)
  • Weather Protection (25%)
  • Durability (10%)
  • Ease of Setup (10%)

I haven’t included price in this criteria as this is highly dependent on your budget.

Weight and packed size

Weight

The Nemo Dragonfly 1 Person Tent is an ultralight tent, coming in with a packaged weight of just 2 lbs 10 oz. 

Yes, this is heavier than some of the super ultralight tents out there (is “crazylight” a term yet?). But those super ultralight tents need to remove a lot of handy features, like a double walled build, to get the weight that low.

TentMinimum Trail Weight (lbs)
NEMO Hornet 1P1 lb 10 oz
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL11 lbs 11 oz
NEMO Dragonfly 1P2 lbs 1 oz
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL12 lbs 2 oz
MSR Hubba Hubba 1P2 lbs 2 oz
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL22 lbs 11 oz
North Face Stormbreak 1P3 lbs 1 oz
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1P3 lbs 5 oz
Kelty Late Start 1P3 lbs 5 oz
REI Passage 13 lbs 11 oz
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 1P3 lbs 15 oz

The chart above compares the minimum trail weight of leading backpacking tents. The actual weight of the tent will be closer to the packaged weight (2 lb 10 oz) once you’ve added in stakes, guylines and the carry bag.

But I prefer using minimum weight to compare tents as the definition is fairly standardized across the industry, i.e. only the tent body, rainfly and tent poles should be included.

The Nemo Dragonfly 1 Tent does come in as the lightest freestanding tent of the group. Technically, it’s slightly heavier than the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 tent when looking at packaged weight, but either way these tents are neck and neck.

You can cut weight further by going for a semi-freestanding tent like the NEMO Hornet 1 or the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1, but you’ll pay for this cut in the weight with a slightly more difficult setup and less room in the tent.

Overall, the Nemo Dragonfly 1 person tent is a very lightweight tent. It is easily among the lightest freestanding, double walled backpacking tents.

However, do note that fast fly setup is not available with this tent. This is when you leave the inner mesh tent at home and just use the rainfly, tent poles and footprint as an ultralight shelter. If you’re desperate for this, look towards the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 instead.

Packed Size

The Nemo Dragonfly 1 has a small packed size, coming in at 19.5 inches by 4 inches. This is small, and certainly plenty small enough to fit into a backpack.

Some tents have a longer packed size, while others are thicker. This can make it quite tricky to say which stuff sacks come in a smaller size. To try and account for this, I’ve calculated the volume of the packed size in the chart below.

Try not to take small differences too seriously though. Small differences can disappear in practice and your choice over how tightly you compress a tent, or what you choose to bring will matter more. 

Certainly, the NEMO Dragonfly 1 benefits from the drawstring in the center of its stuff sack. But some of the other tents will pack down just as small under pressure.

There’s a general pattern that the cheaper tents have a bulkier packed size than ultralight tents such as the NEMO Hornet, Big Agnes Fly Creek, Nemo Dragonfly or Big Agnes Copper Spur. Tents with hubbed poles can also be a little more unwieldy for packing away, but the difference is often minor.

In general, the NEMO Dragonfly has a very small packed size and will easily fit into a backpack.

TentPacked Size Volume (cubic inches)
MSR Hubba Hubba 1P239
NEMO Dragonfly 1245
NEMO Hornet 1P310
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1363
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1416
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 1P451
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1P481
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2551
Kelty Late Start 1P577
North Face Stormbreak 1P622
REI Passage 1751

Comfort, Space And Livability

How Spacious Does The Tent Feel?

The tent feels very spacious thanks to the crossbar pole running horizontally at the top of the tent. This opens up the tent, making it feel much roomier.

The peak height of the NEMO Dragonfly 1 comes in at 40 inches. This is pretty tall and enough for most people to sit up straight. It runs two inches taller than the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 and three inches taller than the MSR Hubba Hubba 1.

However, the Copper Spur HV UL1 actually feels a little roomier. The hubbed pole structure makes the tent height continue along much of the length of the tent, while the NEMO Dragonfly has a steeper slope to the ground.

This is fairly hard to describe, so take a look at the image below to see their shapes compared.

A comparison of the shape of the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 tent, the NEMO Dragonfly 1 Tent, the NEMO Hornet 1 Person Tent and the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1 tent.
The Nemo Dragonfly 1 has slightly less vertical space across the tent than the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1.

Overall, the Nemo Dragonfly 1P tent feels very spacious and certainly provides excellent space for an ultralight 1 person backpacking tent. However, it is edged out slightly by the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 tent.

Personally, I’m also a big believer that most backpackers would prefer a 2 person tent (see my Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 review). Perhaps not if you’re planning to go on a thru-hike and every single ounce matters. But the NEMO Dragonfly 2 person tent weighs just 8 ounces more and comes with a LOT more room.

Floor Area

The Nemo Dragonfly 1 comes with 20 square feet of floor area. This is moderately spacious for a one person tent, and equals that of the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1.

That being said, the floor area doesn’t always tell the whole story.

The crossbar at the top of the Nemo Dragonfly and the Copper Spur help to make them feel much roomier than backpacking tents without this feature.

The floor area is, however, another reminder of why you may prefer the 2 person model. For just eight ounces more, the floor area of the Nemo Dragonfly 2 is almost 50 percent larger.

Do note that many backpacking tents that aim to shave off as many ounces as possible, including the NEMO Dragonfly 1, have a tapered shape. The tent is wider where you rest your head and narrower where you place your feet.

Yes, that means there is definitely a “correct” way to face.

Not everyone minds this and it is certainly required to save on weight, but it does have a practical implication for sleeping pads. Rectangular sleeping pads might not fit well in the tent and you may need to use a mummy shaped sleeping pad instead.

If you’re fine with this, it’s a non issue. But if you do prefer a rectangular sleeping pad (as some side sleepers do), you may wish to opt for a heavier and more rectangular tent.

TentFloor Area (ft2)
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL229
NEMO Dragonfly 229
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 1P23
NEMO Hornet 1P22
Kelty Late Start 1P21
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL120
NEMO Dragonfly 120
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL120
REI Passage 120
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1P20
MSR Hubba Hubba 1P18
North Face Stormbreak 1P18

Sleeping Area Length – For All The Tall Backpackers

The Nemo Dragonfly is relatively long, with a length of 7 foot 4 inches. This will fit most tall backpackers, although do remember that you’ll need extra space to account for sloping walls and that you probably don’t sleep with your feet perfectly horizontal.

If you are a tall backpacker though, you’ll generally benefit from going a size up. Two person tents have a little extra height that can make a world of difference for sitting up inside.

If you’re so tall that when people first meet you they say “gosh, you’re tall”, as if you hadn’t noticed, you might benefit from a more tailored option. Big Agnes produce their own “long” version of the Copper Spur which adds more length and height to the standard tent.

Overall, though, the Dragonfly will suit most backpackers and is certainly one of the longest one person backpacking tents.

TentLength (feet and inches)
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Long8’0”
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL37’6”
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1P7’6”
NEMO Dragonfly 17’4”
NEMO Dragonfly 27’4”
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL17’4”
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL27’4”
REI Passage 17’4”
NEMO Hornet 1P7’3”
North Face Stormbreak 1P7’3”
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 1P7’2”
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL17’2”
Kelty Late Start 1P7’1”
MSR Hubba Hubba 1P7’1”

Tent Vestibules

Great backpacking tents come with big vestibules to store your backpack and muddy hiking boots.

The NEMO Dragonfly 1 comes with a vestibule, and a pretty large one at that. The vestibule area is 10 square feet. This is roughly 10% larger than the Copper Spur HV UL1 and 33% larger than the MSR Hubba Hubba 1.

However, the “high volume” nature of the Copper Spur does make this gap narrow somewhat in terms of how it feels. And with the Copper Spur you can convert the tent doors into awnings using your hiking poles.

But overall the Dragonfly 1 tent comes with one of the most spacious vestibules I’ve seen in a three season backpacking tent.

BUT, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think most people would prefer a two person backpacking tent.

You get double the number of vestibules, double the vestibule space and much more room inside the tent. All of this comes with only a very small weight and price increase.

TentVestibule Area (ft2)
NEMO Dragonfly 220
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL218
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1P10
NEMO Dragonfly 110
REI Passage 19.5
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL19
MSR Hubba Hubba 1P7.5
NEMO Hornet 1P7.3
Kelty Late Start 1P6.4
North Face Stormbreak 1P6
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 1P5.5
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL15

Other Comfort Features

The Nemo Dragonfly tent comes with a large door which is great for getting in and out of the tent easily.

The tent also comes with plenty of storage pockets placed around. This includes a nice large storage at the top of the tent that is roomy enough to stuff some fairly large items in.

That being said, the large bin pocket on the Big Agnes Copper Spur does beat out the Dragonfly in terms of storage space.

But overall, the Nemo Dragonfly provides plenty of storage space for your equipment compared to many leading backpacking tents.

Weather Protection

How does the NEMO Dragonfly perform in rain, wind, snow and heat?

Seasonality – A 3 Season Tent

The NEMO Dragonfly is a 3 season tent. This makes it ideal for most weather spanning Spring to Fall. This also means that the tent isn’t made to handle very strong winds, intense storms, or heavy snow.

For all of these, you’ll want a 4 season tent or even a mountaineering tent. But newbies beware – a 4 season tent is not better and, for almost everyone, 3 season tents perform much better.

Four season tents are heavier, perform poorly in summer, can have condensation issues in humid weather, and are expensive.

So all of this is to say, do make sure to match your tent to the weather.

Rain And Wind

The Nemo Dragonfly 1 performs reasonably well in bad weather. However, this is another area that the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 takes the lead.

Unfortunately, Nemo has decided to provide only partial rainfly coverage on the head of the tent. The rainfly starts about half way up this side, while the bathtub floor on the inner tent starts higher to stop cold air coming in and immediately hitting you.

Presumably this partial coverage is an attempt to reduce weight. And that, in turn, is because Nemo hasn’t used the most ultralight tent poles in an effort to reduce costs. But, unfortunately, this means the tent is effectively single walled on one side.

If heavy rain is coming down, this part of the tent will be the most likely to let water seep in.

If strong winds are blowing, they are likely to blow up this side of the tent and could compromise the overall stability. This is the sort of design decision that can mean a snapped tent pole at 4am in the morning…

Is the Nemo Dragonfly 1 bad for weatherproofing? No, it’s still fairly good overall. It does have sealed seams and a good enough hydrostatic head rating for the fabrics. The tent also has a bathtub floor to reduce water, dust and mud getting in.

It’s just frustrating because Nemo was so close to creating a winner with this tent…

If you’re expecting pretty rough weather, go for the Copper Spur (see its review here). And if you’re expecting very rough weather, go for a more robust tent like a Hilleberg instead.

A smaller point is that a fast fly setup is not available with this tent. This means you can’t pitch the rainfly first. Some people like to use this feature when it’s raining to avoid getting the inner body of the tent wet. 

Again, the Copper Spur comes with this feature. Although an outer first pitch isn’t always easy to achieve so can be up to personal preference.

Ventilation And Condensation

I liked that you can prop open the rainfly door to provide a fairly decent amount of ventilation flowing into the tent. This should help air circulate and reduce the chances of condensation.

But again, the partial coverage rain fly lets this tent down.

On the side with partial coverage, the bathtub floor extends far up the tent. Unfortunately, this semi single wall design is a recipe for condensation issues in the wrong weather conditions.

Again, the Nemo Dragonfly 1 tent still performs well overall. The performance of double walled tents with rainfly vents is good for preventing condensation. But the tent could have performed exceptionally if it wasn’t for the strange rainfly decision. 

Durability

We all want our tents to last a lifetime, but tent manufacturers face a lot of trade-offs when designing their tents.

Overall, the Nemo Dragonfly 1 is a very durable tent. With a caveat… for an ultralight tent.

The Dragonfly is made of excellent materials. 

It comes with DAC Featherlite aluminum tent poles. These are super strong, very lightweight and DAC produce the highest quality tent poles on the market. 

Nemo could have gone for the DAC Featherlite NSL or NFL poles, like the Copper Spur, if it wanted to cut the weight a little further. Granted, this would increase the price of the tent.

The rainfly, floor and non-mesh part of the tent body are all made of ripstop nylon. The rainfly is 15 denier, the floor is 20 denier and the non-mesh part of the wall is 10 denier.

Nylon is the standard backpacking tent material which comes with decent strength with a very low weight. While ripstop refers to the fabric weave which helps protect against big tears in the nylon. Ripstop nylon is pretty standard in the more expensive backpacking tents.

But here is where the caveat comes in. Nylon is a thin material and there is a point when a tent’s material gets so thin that you start feeling uncomfortable when using the tent, for fear of ripping it.

This very much depends on your own limits. Personally, I think the Nemo Dragonfly 1 provides a great balance between durability and weight. 

However, some people prefer a tent that is a little more rugged and are happy to carry the extra weight that comes with it. 

If this is you, heavier, cheaper, and thicker polyester backpacking tents such as the North Face Stormbreak might be more up your street.

One of the commonly used metrics to compare the durability of tent materials is the fabric denier, where a higher denier means a stronger material. 

However, it’s less commonly known that this metric only applies for comparisons of the same fabric and weave. So you shouldn’t compare ripstop nylon to polyester, or ripstop nylon to standard nylon.

On the face of it, the Nemo Dragonfly 1 has a fairly similar denier to the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1. The floor feels a little bit more durable, but the walls and rainfly are perhaps a tiny bit thinner. 

The durability is good for an ultralight tent. But you would definitely not want a dog to be walking around on the bare tent floor.

The thinness of the floor also means you’ll want to bring a footprint to avoid any tears due to stray rocks of tree roots. You can either purchase the Nemo Dragonfly 1 footprint separately, or just make your own groundsheet by cutting out a bit of Tyvek.

TentRainfly DenierFloor Denier
MSR Hubba Hubba 1P2020
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL115-2015-20
NEMO Dragonfly 1P1520
NEMO Hornet 1P1015

Ease Of Setup

Setting up the Nemo Dragonfly 1 tent is a breeze thanks to its color coded tent poles that make it easy to work out which pole goes where.

Once you’ve set up the tent poles you can then hook the inner body to the poles using pole clips. Clips are much easier to use than pole sleeves, although sleeves can provide a more equal force distribution that makes for a slightly stronger pitch.

The Nemo Dragonfly 1 is a freestanding tent. Freestanding tents stand up by themselves without having to stake out the tent. This is great for tough terrain which is difficult to stake, such as rocky terrain. It’s also great for repositioning a tent without having to go through most of the setup again.

Freestanding tents are also easier to set up, although there isn’t too much difference once you’ve got used to setting your tent up.

Overall, the Nemo Dragonfly 1 is very easy to set up and, once you’re used to it, setup should take less than a couple of minutes.

That’s not to say it can compare with the speed of instant tents or pop up tents, but these are definitely not suitable for backpacking.

Do note though, that the Dragonfly does not come with a fast fly setup. If you plan on going super ultralight with this tent, you’re out of luck.

Price

The NEMO Dragonfly 1 is fairly pricey and this is probably one of the biggest drawbacks. 

However, this isn’t unusual for ultralight backpacking tents. The costs of DAC branded aluminum tent poles, nylon fabric and precision engineering do add up. And this is evidenced by the very similar Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 typically coming in at a similar price point.

When it comes to value for money, I would recommend checking the price of both of these tents:

If one of them is currently listed for $50 cheaper than the other, or more, go for that tent.

Do remember that you’ll probably want to buy the additional footprint too, and Big Agnes footprints can be a little pricier than their competition.

If you’ve got to this point of the review and you feel disappointed at the price of the Nemo Dragonfly 1, don’t panic yet. There are plenty of good budget one person backpacking tents. I’d recommend to check out the following two:

Both are heavier and less user friendly than the Nemo Dragonfly. But they’re still great tents and come in at ridiculously low price points.

What else?

A commonly overlooked feature of a tent is its color. 

Lighter colored tents typically let in more light which can make it feel more comfortable to hang out inside the tent if it’s pouring outside. They also make it more difficult to lose your tent.

However, those who are stealth camping might prefer to go for a green or brown colored tent to blend in with the background.

The Nemo Dragonfly comes in a bright green. This might be fine for stealth camping but it may also be too bright a green, depending on the terrain you’re in.

Other Versions Of The Nemo Dragonfly

Nemo Dragonfly 2 and Nemo Dragonfly 3

If you’re looking for a slightly larger tent, you can also check out the Nemo Dragonfly 2 and the Nemo Dragonfly 3.

Both of these are similar in overall design. But they come with two doors, two vestibules, and a whole lot more space.

Alternative tents

The NEMO Dragonfly 1 is an excellent tent, but frankly I think most people would be happier with the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2.

It’s more spacious, taller, and comes with two doors and two vestibules. Yes, it costs more and weighs a little more. But, despite its higher cost, the Copper Spur HV UL2 feels like it has a little more bang for your buck.

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 is also VERY similar to the Nemo Dragonfly 1 Person Tent and would make a great replacement at a similar price point.

Finally, if the Nemo Dragonfly 1 is too expensive, consider the Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 Person Tent, or the North Face Stormbreak 1 Person Tent. Both are great tents but do lack a lot of the features that make the Dragonfly lightweight, spacious and comfortable.

FAQ

Does the Nemo Dragonfly need a footprint?

A footprint is not required to use the Nemo Dragonfly tent. However, you may want to purchase the additional footprint because the floor is made of thin materials. The tent floor is one of the most common places for a tent to rip.

Is the NEMO Dragonfly waterproof?

The NEMO Dragonfly is waterproof in most weather. The tent will perform well in moderately heavy rain and strong winds. However, the NEMO Dragonfly is not designed for extremely heavy rain and wind.

Is the Nemo Dragonfly free standing?

The Nemo Dragonfly is a freestanding tent. Freestanding tents stand on their own without needing to stake the tent. This means you can easily move the tent to a new position without having to completely set it up again.

Wrapping up the review

Thanks for reading my Nemo Dragonfly 1 tent review!

Overall, it’s a brilliant backpacking tent that comes with plenty of comfortable features, all at a very low weight.
You can check the latest price of the Nemo Dragonfly 1 here.

Was this post helpful?

Author at Wilderness Redefined camping website

James has been escaping to the outdoors for as long as he can remember. This first started in family camping trips but soon turned into adventure camps and hiking through the Scottish Hebrides. Now he has turned towards trying to make camping more comfortable and accessible.