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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 / Model||Doors||Inner Tent||Weight||Price|
|NEMO Firefly 2||2||Freestanding||2 lbs 14 oz||$350|
|NEMO Dragonfly 2||2||Freestanding||2 lbs 10 oz||$400|
|NEMO Hornet 2||2||Non-Freestanding||1 lb 15 oz||$370|
|REI Quarter Dome SL 2||2||Non-Freestanding||2 lbs 8 oz||$350|
|Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2||2||Freestanding||2 lbs 11 oz||$450|
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2||2||Non-Freestanding||2 lbs 3 oz||$400|
|MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2||2||Freestanding||3 lbs 8 oz||$450|
|Mountain Hardwear Aspect 2||2||Freestanding||2 lbs 14 oz||$430|
|SlingFin Portal 2||2||Freestanding||2 lbs 13 oz||$485|
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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