User Review: Marmot Swallow 2P
Design: Three pole boxy dome
Ease of Setup: The body is easy, getting the fly evenly taught takes practice
Weight: 8 pounds
When I set out looking for a tent, I had a very specific design in mind. I had used the Mountain Hardware Skyview before and it made a great impression on me so I began my search keeping that tent's specifications in mind.
It's a heavy tent with nice access and highly adjustable ventilation and unfortunately, it's completely out of stock. Thanks to the similar products option on Trailspace.com, It didn't take long to find the Marmot Swallow.
In many ways, the Swallow surpassed the impressive skyview, but not on all accounts. First of all, the Swallow provides far more ventilation and allows you to choose what parts of the tent get ventilation. You may choose to close the windward vents in dust storms keeping drifting sand from penetrating the screen while leaving the low foot vents open to allow relief from stinky feet.
The Swallow's spectrum of ventilation options also makes this tent truly convertible. It performs below zero degrees and it stays comfortable to 80 degrees and sunny with so long as there's a light breeze.
One of the manufacturer's points that I disagree with is that this is a two person tent. This is a two person plus two backpacks, climbing gear and still enough room to see an acre of the floor tent. I once slept three people in this tent and then I (the fourth) slept in the vestibule. Of course I don't need a whole lot of room to sleep and it was only one night. Three people in below freezing is cozy just watch the condensation which is avoidable with vents. All of that extra room makes extended stays much more relaxing.
The thing I hate about staying in one camp for more than two nights is how cluttered my tent gets. At home, I'm pretty tidy but in a tent, organization is a little harder. That's why I make use of those little side pockets as much as possible. That's also why I almost freaked out when I found four wall pockets in the Swallow the first time I opened it up. Four pockets means two per person! (or one per person if you're as crazy as me). On the down side though, zipping the main zipper when the pockets are full, places a lot of stress on the curved part of the track.
In the vestibules, there is even more storage space. The main one has room for packs plus boots. The rear one has room for just boots. The toughest part is deciding who gets the side with the big vestibule. I love the versatility of having two vestibules but I must admit, the Skyview still wears the crown in my opinion. If only the Swallow was better set up for stove cooking in foul weather...
It is easy to tell the amount of thought that went into engineering this tent. Its strength against wind and snow, the practical shape of its side walls, the thoughtful loops and tie offs all make this tent what it is, great... but also kinda heavy. For me, that's a sacrifice I am willing to make for preparedness. Sure it's a stone in the pack but at least I get to sleep when the unexpected dust storm hits and everyone else is in bug net ultralights (that was actually a really fun night, at least for me).
I haven't even gotten into all of the little features that the Swallow provides but then it wouldn't be as exciting for you when you get it.