NEMO Firefly 2 Tent Review

Nemo Firefly Tent Review

The NEMO Firefly is a lightweight 2-person tent with a robust floor and ultralight mesh and fly. It’s easy to set up, and has great headroom, excellent ventilation even with the doors closed, and lots of smart design features that enhance its livability. While it is similar to the NEMO DragonFly, it has a much thicker and more durable floor that eliminates the need for a footprint and can accommodate a canine companion.

Specs at a Glance

  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Doors: 2
  • Vestibules: 2
  • Type: Double wall with freestanding inner tent
  • Minimum Trail Weight: 2 pounds, 14 ounces
  • Fly material: 15D (denier) sil/ PeU-coated ripstop nylon, seam-taped
  • Tent material: 68D PU polyester bathtub floor, white and black noseeum netting
  • Poles: DAC Featherlite Aluminum poles with hubs

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. 

Materials: A Combination of Robust and Ultralight Fabrics

The Firefly is very similar in size and design to NEMO’s popular Dragonfly tent–the biggest difference is the floor material. The Dragonfly has a 20 denier floor which users often augment with a NEMO-made or a homemade footprint/groundcloth. The Firefly upgrades the durability to a 68 denier floor, eliminating the need for a footprint. It also protects the floor from internal damage if you camp with your dog.

Both vestibule doors roll up on mild nights.
Both vestibule doors roll up on mild nights.

Meanwhile, Firefly keeps the ultralight materials in the rest of the tent to save weight. The fly is an ultralight, translucent 15 denier ripstop nylon and the mesh is an ultralight no-see-um mesh. The tent fly doesn’t feel delicate, but the mesh does. It snags easily, but the minor snags I experienced could be fixed by rubbing my fingernail over them to realign the threads. I haven’t gotten any tears in the mesh, but I still treat it gently.

The Firefly is easy to pitch. There are waterproof instructions sewn into the stuff sack, along with a glow-in-the-dark page illustrating a number of constellations, a fun detail when you’re camping out with your child. The included poles are high-quality DAC Featherlite aluminum, with shock-cord attached hubs, so you don’t have to worry about losing a small, critical connection piece.

The mesh tent pitches first, and is clipped to an exoskeleton of DAC Featherlite aluminum poles.
The mesh tent pitches first, and is clipped to an exoskeleton of DAC Featherlite aluminum poles.

The poles, fly, and inner tent connection points are color-coded (gray and bright green) so you can align them properly the first time. The poles go into grommets at the four corners of the inner tent, and then the inner tent clips to the pole exoskeleton. A horizontal spreader pole for the fly clips in over the top of the hubbed poles, and then the fly goes over the top, held in place by grommeted webbing which slip over the tips of the poles at the four corners where they protrude below the inner tent corner grommets.

On the foot end of the fly, this webbing can be tightened with ladderlock buckles to pull the fly taut. Then you stake out the vestibules (this is the part that makes the Firefly not fully freestanding) and adjust their tension with LineLocs. You can also secure the fly to the poles with the tiny attached Velcro wraps, but they’re so small they’re hard to use, and I never found them necessary as the fly fits snug and secure.
have to set up the inner tent first and the fly second, which is common for dome tents from US-based companies. This means, in the rain, the inside of the tent is going to get wet when you pitch it, so it’s a good idea to bring a small cloth to wipe down the interior of your tent before setting up your sleeping bag.

The head end has a big arc cutout, and the waterproof bathtub floor rises to meet it. Thus, you have rain protection but a massive air vent.
The head end has a big arc cutout, and the waterproof bathtub floor rises to meet it. Thus, you have rain protection but a massive air vent.

Ventilation

Ventilation is this tent’s strong suit. I’ve used the Firefly through many nights of rain with no condensation inside because it has tons of ventilation features, as follows:

The fly has a large arc cutout at the head end, a signature feature of NEMO’s tents.  At the head end of the inner tent, the waterproof bathtub floor extends up the wall to meet this arc. With this design, you are fully protected from rain, and the space between the inner and the fly at this spot creates a massive vent that’s always open. At the same time, the high wall of the inner tent acts as a windbreak on your sleeping area. If you position the arc into the wind, you can have the vestibule doors completely closed while still getting ventilation to reduce condensation.

The tent is erected with DAC Featherlite aluminum poles. The inner net tent pitches below these poles and connects to them with clips on webbing. The fly goes over the top of the poles. This means that there are multiple inches of space between the inner net and the fly to prevent condensation from collecting on the interior of the tent and your gear

The vestibules have a cat cut bottom to save weight andincrease ventilation, which can leave bulky gear vulnerable to splashback in the rain.
The vestibules have a catenary cut bottom to save weight and increase ventilation, although this can leave bulky gear vulnerable to splashback in the rain.

The edges of the fly on the vestibules are catenary cut (cut on a curve) to allow for airflow even when the tent is all zipped up. However, there is no way to completely batten down the hatches (e.g. stake the edges of the vestibule all the way to the ground) in inclement weather, so in heavy rain, you could get some splashback into the vestibule area on the gear stored there (but not into the inner tent).

Both doors have two-way zippers and a kickstand vent near the top. There is a small plastic rod encased in webbing that tucks away into the rain flap over the zipper when not needed that can swing out and attach to the velcro dots that hold the door zipper rain flap shut. If you zip down the top part of the zipper partway, the kickstand vent holds a space open for ventilation to occur while still keeping the majority of the door zipped shut to reduce the entry of precipitation.

A kickstand vent and 2-way zipper allows for ventilation with the vestibule mostly closed.
A kickstand vent and 2-way zipper allows for ventilation with the vestibule mostly closed.

On a hot night with little likelihood of precipitation, you can roll up and stow both sides of the vestibule doors on both sides of the tent, and then roll them down quickly if it starts to rain. Or if there’s no chance of rain, you can take the fly completely off and stargaze through the mesh.

Other Notable Design Features

  • Black and Light Insect Netting: The Firefly uses black noseeum mesh at the roof of the inner tent to allow for clear night sky viewing. White noseeum mesh is used on the sides of the tent for a little more privacy.
  • Two Headlamp Light Diffuser Pockets: The white mesh is also used on two flat pockets with elasticized openings, one on either side of the ceiling at the head end, that you (and your tentmate) can put your headlamp(s) into to serve as overhead lighting. The white mesh acts as a light diffuser, giving you a more gentle ambient light instead of a spot.
  • Essentials Pockets are large mesh pockets halfway up the tent walls on either side of the head end that are good for phones, cameras and glasses.

Livability

The Firefly has lots of headroom, and, to save weight from a traditional dome shape, the height tapers off near the feet. This taper also happens with the floor: the head end is 50” wide, and the foot end is 45.” This means two wide (25”) pads won’t fit in the tent at the same time. These dimensions mean that the two occupants should be people who are comfortable sleeping right next to each other, but the height at the head means it doesn’t feel claustrophobic, even when sitting up.

The head end has lots of headroom
The head end has lots of headroom

At 88” long, the inner tent has room for some gear at the head or foot end even when using full-length pads. This is helpful because even though the twin vestibules are sizable, their catenary cut bottoms can leave bulky gear, like a big backpack, exposed to splashback from heavy rain. In milder weather, I prefer to leave more gear in the vestibule and have a less cluttered tent. I always leave my shoes in the vestibule to keep the tent cleaner.

All the zippers have pull cords on the inside and outside. The vestibule zippers occasionally got caught on the zipper rain flap, but always released the fabric quickly and easily by backing off the zipper, and left no damage. The inner tent doors are C- shaped and run smoothly with one-handed operation.

Two people inside is cozy, but there’s still room at the foot end or the head end for some gear.
Two people inside is cozy, but there’s still room at the foot end or the head end for some gear.

Packing

The Firefly comes in a stuff sack labeled a “Divvy sack.” This wins the clever naming competition–for “divvying up” the components between two users. One person takes the stakes and poles, the other person takes the tent body and fly. As the poles and stakes are slightly over a pound, and tent body and fly weigh slightly over two pounds, you have a full-coverage setup for two at very reasonably light weights per person.

The long stuff sack has an additional drawcord around its middle, so when you remove the pole and stakes bags, you can halve the size of the stuff sack. I prefer being able to stuff (rather than roll or fold) a tent into its “stuff sack” but when I do that with the Divvy Sack at half-size, I can’t get it to close all the way. Stuffing the whole system into the fully-extended sack is no problem, however. The tent doesn’t have instructions for folding or rolling, so if you want it to fit neatly in the half-size sack, it takes trial and error of figuring it out yourself. Personally, even if divvying up the components, I just stuff the tent into the full-size sack and compress the extra space.

Comparable Two-Person Tents

Make / ModelDoorsInner TentWeightPrice
NEMO Firefly 22Freestanding2 lbs 14 oz$350
NEMO Dragonfly 22Freestanding2 lbs 10 oz$400
NEMO Hornet 22Non-Freestanding1 lb 15 oz$370
REI Quarter Dome SL 22Non-Freestanding2 lbs 8 oz$350
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 22Freestanding2 lbs 11 oz$450
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 22Non-Freestanding2 lbs 3 oz$400
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 22Freestanding3 lbs 8 oz$450
Mountain Hardwear Aspect 22Freestanding2 lbs 14 oz$430
SlingFin Portal 22Freestanding2 lbs 13 oz$485

Recommendation

The NEMO Firefly 2P Tent is a great option for a hiker who wants the full protection of a double-walled tent at a low weight or someone who wants a shelter with a minimum of fiddle factor. The weight is even more impressive when split between two people, making it a great tent for a couple or two friends who don’t need a lot of personal space, as it’s cozy but not claustrophobic for two with good headroom. It also is perfect for a hiker and their dog(s), or a parent and child. I appreciate how on-spec NEMO is with this tent–their stated weights and my tested weights lined up almost exactly.

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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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4 comments

  1. Great review! Seems like a solid choice and great value when compared to the Copper Spur. $100 less with a sturdier floor and very little weight penalty. Thanks for such an in depth review.

  2. I’m going to take a look at one of these. Our family recently added a dog and my teenagers are excited to take it on camping, hiking, and backpacking trips. The sturdier floor of this tent might make that easier.

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