User Review: Marmot Limelight 2P
Design: three-season freestanding dome
Ease of Setup: Easy
Weight: 5 lbs
Price Paid: $188.95
I've never been one to crave sleeping outdoors. As an amateur landscape photographer I enjoy hiking, it's just that many of the locales I wish to photograph are more than a day hike from the trailhead, ergo, I use a tent. While I've had the pleasure of borrowing tents for much of my life, the Marmot is the first I've owned myself.
What I like about it.
I don't think anyone has found the perfect design for erecting a tent, but the system Marmot uses here is a winner. It is possible for one person to set both main poles simultaneously before raising the tent body. I did it once before using the tent and I was comfortable enough to take it into fair weather. Marmot has videos on their site that demonstrate the system quite well.
The tent also breathes well. This tent is not a 4-season tent, but as I mentioned in another review I found myself camping in sub-freezing temperatures one night in March. There was remarkably little frost built-up under the fly and on the poles, and there was no noticeable condensation (and no frost at all) on the inside of the inner tent. Don't forget when setting up to open the rear fly vent. They've sewn in a short metal pole and some velcro to open a small gap in the back of the fly. This is what's keeping you dry overnight.
What I don't like.
If I had my way I wouldn't carry the whole package myself. At 5 pounds it's at the average for 2-man backpacker tents. Over rough terrain that ends up being heavy enough for me to contemplate splitting the load between two people. That's nice for the trail, but it complicates setup and tear down. One can no longer simply roll or unroll the the tent from the stuff sack directly onto the site. That's also another sil-nylon stuff sack, adding $15 or so to the amount invested into the setup.
As others have mentioned, the zipper on the rain fly is difficult to reach from inside the tent. I have to kneel on the ground in the vestibule to reach it. This isn't a problem on warm, dry ground, but if you find yourself camping after a bit of rain you may end up tracking some dirt back into the tent.
I would also label the included gear loft as mostly useless. You might be able to stow your deck of cards or a small paperback up there, but it isn't useful for the personal items of two tentmates.
I really thought the single-door design would be a big drag, but it hasn't been yet. I may just be lucky in that my usual tentmates don't get up in the middle of the night. Your experience may be different, depending on the sleep behavior and/or bladder size of your tentmate. Marmot also advertises the sizable vestibule as a place to stow gear. Here in the Midwest we are typically required to loft our packs onto poles, cables, or into trees as to not attract coyotes and other smaller critters. Other parts of the country have similar requirements for different critters, but the end result is the same. It is still a useful place to keep your footwear. Finally, I should mention that the tent seems to have a versatile guy-out setup, but I have not used it. Don't expect to guy the tent without buying more poles though. There are a couple extra, but not that many.
The bottom line.
The Limelight is pretty affordable for its feature set. For its small premium over other models you get a full-coverage rain fly, clip-based setup, and an included water-resistant ground cloth. If you were originally considering something like a Eureka Timberline, consider the Marmot Limelight as a better value.