The Nemo Dagger OSMO packs a big punch, with a smart design and what Nemo claims is a class-leading size for its price and weight.
Pros / Reasons to Buy
- Spacious and with plenty of storage space
- OSMO material has some impressive durability and weather proof claims
- Commitment to sustainability, maintenance and environmental credentials of manufacturer
Cons / Reasons to Avoid
- High cost
- Only average in terms of packed weight and size
- Perhaps overkill for the occasional camper
There’s a lot to like about the Nemo Dagger OSMO. The Dagger has long been one of Nemo’s most popular tents and the upgrade to the new weather-resistant, durable and environmentally impressive OSMO fabric makes the tent seem even better. Whilst it’s not the absolute lightest, or smallest when packed down, it’s stats are still good and when assembled it provides a spacious feeling interior with huge covered storage areas in the vestibules. This is a premium product from a premium brand and it’s likely going to be overkill for many hikers, but, if camping out is a regular part of your outdoors experience, then you’ll likely be very welcoming of this tent’s thoughtful design, quality build and the manufacturer’s commitment to maintenance and service.
Compare to Similar Products
- Nemo Hornet Elite OSMO Backpacking Tent
- Nemo Chogori Mountaineering Tent
- Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL Backpacking Tent
- Full comparison and reviews: 25 Best Small 2 Person Backpacking Tents of 2023
Analysis and Test Results
The Dagger has long been one of Nemo’s best-selling lightweight tents and they have updated this to include their proprietary OSMO nylon blend fabric which promises better water resistance and durability. Beyond this, the tent offers a large interior space – Nemo claims its class-leading. Of particular note are the two very large vestibule areas by each of the entrances. These are not only above average sized, but also include Nemo’s Landing Zone – a waterproof container that allows users to stash gear outside the tent that would normally have to stay inside. The tent also comes with a lifetime warranty, showing that Nemo aren’t afraid to put their money where their mouth is in term of their durability claims.
The Nemo Dagger OSMO offers a well-sized rectangular internal space (229x127cm/90x50in) and a good maximum height of 106cm/42in. ‘Spacious’ isn’t really a word you can use to describe any kind of lightweight tent, but relatively speaking, this tent is big inside. The rectangular compartment means you can choose to sleep head to toe with your trail companion or choose to sit opposite each other, all without one person having more limited space (as happens with tapered tents). Psychologically, these factors can make a tent ‘feel’ larger than it actually is. There’s an entrance on either side of the tent – this is a big plus when sharing a tent as it means you don’t need to clamber over/get clambered over by your tent mate should one of you need a toilet break in the middle of the night.
As you’d expect, the inside has numerous pockets to help keep things organised – including a mesh pocket on the ceiling designed to allow you to convert your head torch into a light in the tent.
Those dimensions listed above refer to the tent’s main compartment but, when viewed from above with the fly sheet fitted, the tent is a good bit larger and has an almost perfect octagonal footprint. That extra volume outside the main compartment comprises two very large vestibule areas and are provided with what Nemo calls ‘Landing Zones’ – effectively water-resistant fabric ‘tubs’ for stowing gear. This means there’s plenty of space to store gear outside of the main compartment but still protected from the elements which will only add to the sense of space within the tent. This is a big plus point in our opinion.
Nemo make a big deal about their proprietary OSMO fabric. Introduced in 2022 it’s essentially a nylon blend with improved water resistance, durability, and dimensional stability (this last point basically means it doesn’t stretch or sag when wet). The OSMO fabric offers 2000mm of water resistance – that’s very impressive when stacked up against other tents in this round up. The inner skin is made from a combo of ripstop nylon and ‘No-See-Um’ mesh (essentially fine mesh designed to keep biting insects out). Aside from the two entrances, there are vents at the top with Nemo claim allow full ventilation even in the rain. Beyond this, the environmental credentials of the materials used are impressive: the OSMO fabric is made from 100% recycled raw materials and meets Bluesign sustainability criteria. Nemo also state that the OSMO fabric meets all relevant fire-retardant standards without needing to be treated with chemical agents. The stats are impressive and there’s no reason to believe the tent won’t offer a good degree of water proofing in even the most heavy rainfall.
However, the tent’s inner skin makes heavy use of mesh fabric and this is going to compromise the tent’s performance in colder weather regardless of whether the outer fly is used or not. Nemo describe the Dagger OSMO as a three season tent, and we certainly agree with this rating – we’d definitely advise being aware of its weatherproof qualities before taking it out in very cold weather.
At the other end of the scale, the tent can be used without the fly in very hot conditions – of course, in these circumstances you also loose the advantage of the extra covered vestibule storage areas.
Nemo clearly puts a lot of faith in their new materials as the tent comes with a lifetime warranty.
The Dagger OSMO weighs in at 1.86kg (4lb, 2oz) for the complete tent – and, of course, you could make this a little lighter by omitting certain components if appropriate. That puts it broadly in the middle of the tents we assessed. Put simply, if every last gram counts when you’re backpacking, you’ll likely bypass the Dagger OSMO in favour of something else. But extreme lightness comes with compromises – often in terms of size and durability. Once these are factored in, we think the Dagger OSMO strikes a good balance between weight and features.
The Nemo Dagger OSMO packs down to 50x16x9cm (19.5×6.5×3.5in) and, as with the weight, that’s about average for the tents we’ve assessed. That’s going to take up a good portion of a backpack, but, with all tents of this general size, that’s unavoidable. This next statement is very subjective, but given a large enough backpack, and accounting for the relatively low weight of the Dagger OSMO, we think that many hikers will still be able to carry a good deal of equipment besides the tent without their pack becoming unmanageable.
Durability is one of the key selling points of Nemo’s OSMO fabric and, as mentioned previously, they back this up with a lifetime warranty. However, damage not covered by the warranty can still absolutely occur and it’s good to see that Nemo offer plenty of resources on their site for best practice on caring for and carrying out DIY repairs on their tents and equipment. They also offer a spare parts ordering service and offer a professional repair service for anything the user can’t tackle themselves. It’s great to see brands standing behind their products and taking sustainability and lifetime maintenance seriously.
Ease of Setup
Now, this is a subjective category! How difficult you find setting up a given tent will depend a lot on your past experience with other tents plus how well you can transpose visual instructions into the real world. Certainly, many people reading this will have experience of an incomprehensible instruction sheet with nonsensical illustrations that came bundled with a tent. A tent can be quite easy to set up, but if the quality of the instructions isn’t up to standard, then can you really say the tent is easy to setup? We’re pleased to see that Nemo offer a setup video on their site that clearly shows the process of assembling the tent – and they also have a separate video that shows how to pack their tents down (something many instructions seem to miss out on, but which becomes a very real problem when all the pieces won’t fit back into the stuff bag!). All that said, Nemo have done a good job of making the setup as pain-free as possible and the tent’s smart design extends to the setup process.
We cannot stress enough, though, that the first time you setup any tent should not be on the trail and that’s especially so if you’re trying to set it up for the first time as the light is fading, you’re tired or if the weather is turning bad (or any combination of the above!). Always ensure you have setup and packed down your tent at least once in a controlled environment like a garden or living room before doing so on a live camping trip.You don’t have to memorise the process, but even a minimal degree of familiarity will be beneficial when it comes to setting it up (and breaking it down again!) ‘for real’.
At the time of writing, the Nemo Dagger OSMO costs around $498/ £648.95. Whilst it isn’t the most expensive tent we’ve looked at; it certainly sits at the pricey end of the scale. Nemo proudly state that their products are intended to last a lifetime and their commitment to maintenance and repair are commendable. In practice, this means that the Dagger OSMO can be viewed as a long-term investment rather than a disposable piece of kit. It may not be the las tor only tent you ever buy, but it could be and if it isn’t, then it should certainly last a very long time and perhaps the high price isn’t so objectionable after all?
This isn’t a tent for the occasional overnight hiker – we don’t think you’d be spending this much on a tent unless nights on the trail are a big part of what you do. We also need to bear in mind that Nemo are a premium brand who charge extra because their products incorporate hi tech materials and utilise great design – and these qualities, abstract as they may seem, are the things you’ll be thankful of if you find yourself regularly sleeping in a tent. This is a great product: well made, well thought out and with durability and sustainability at the heart of the brand who produce it. We love the spacious ‘feel’ it has and the storage possibilities outside of the mail compartment are appealing too. But whether these features are overkill for you is a ultimately a personal decision.
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