Open main menu

Marmot Sanctum

rated 4.5 of 5 stars

The Sanctum has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best four-season tents for 2022.

photo: Marmot Sanctum four-season tent


Price Historic Range: $190.00
Reviewers Paid: $90.00-$480.00


7 reviews
5-star:   2
4-star:   5
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

A well built four-season tent that touts some nice creative features.


  • Lots of storage
  • Well constructed
  • Weather resistant
  • Double doors
  • Large vestibule
  • Warm
  • 8 lb minimum weight


  • 8 lb minimum weight
  • Footprint connection
  • Pole sleeves


It's a classic four-pole winter design.

This adds a great deal of stability to the tent. The primary cross poles need to be inserted into sleeves that run nearly the entire length of the tent.

This is a bit of a hassle when the hands get really cold in sub zero weather. I find the models with clips-only tend to pitch faster and with less hassle. Some would argue that the sleeves are worth it for the extra strength they provide. I haven't noticed a difference in strength between the sanctum and my Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 (the Trango is a clip tent).

The poles all insert into brass grommets. When you also add the footprint the junction gets a bit busy. 

The fly clips into the 8-pole hubs at the base of the tent. I like the fact that they clip in. Notice that the fly can clip into either the tent or the footprint. 

The poles are anodized aluminum with shock cords.
They work fine unless they don't have time to reach equilibrium with the outside freezing temps. In this case, any contact with snow, and the warmer aluminum acts like an adhesive. The snow melts and sticks to the poles. When the melt gets into the male/female connectors, it freezes. This makes the poles difficult to get apart the next morning. This phenomenon is not unique to this tent. It happens to all my aluminum pole tents in really cold temps. You just have to try your best to keep the poles away from the snow.

After putting the poles through the sleeves, it's quite a feat to get the first one arched. It would be easier with two people but I usually do the job solo. I often wonder if the amount of stress I place on the pole is going to be too much and bend the pole. So far, so good.

The footprint is difficult to get connected to the body of the tent. The distance between grommet points on the footprint seem to be further apart than those of the tent. This means that when you try to fit one of the footprint grommets under a pole, the grommet on the opposite side of the tent just falls off. This drove me nuts for three campouts. After some really cold fingers,  I finally resolved to solve the problem by tying the tent to the footprint with flywire. Now it's semi-permanently attached.

Stability: The tent pitches fairly tautly. If guyed out, it performs really well. I was pleased at how well the tent sheds snow and rain and sleet. On one recent campout, I approached the tent and it had some new snow cover on it.
As soon as I touched the zipper, the snow blanket just shattered and fell, leaving the tent clean as a whistle.

The tent also doesn’t suffer as much “droop” as some models. For me, “droop” is when you pitch the tent and it’s really taut but then the material has time to stretch. When you come back later, it looks like a hound dog’s jowls. The material has a little give but not so much that you don’t recognize your abode upon return.

Weather Resistance: I’ve slept in the tent in rain, sleet, snow, and wind. When all zipped up, the tent does an amazing job keeping out the elements. If you open the zipper too far on the entry however, precipitation can get into the tent. They added a zipper flap that covers the top 8 inches or so of the zipper to mitigate this problem (see the pic with the vent below). Even with this additional feature, I've still had some minor snow fall in from above. In snow, be sure to tap off the fly around the door to mitigate the potential problem. In rain, yikers!

The floor has a taped seam that runs across it. All seams are still intact on my model. I've also shown a pic of the underside of the tent to give you an idea of its shape.

One big plus on this tent is how well it blocks wind. The fly is quite heavy duty. It does add some weight but it’s a fantastic wind shield.

Ventilation: There’s a decent sized roof vent above the door.
20171111_081704.jpg        Door vent  with zipper cover. The cover lowers the entrance height, keeping more heat in.

The vent flap can be stowed into a screen pouch that is built into the fly.
20171221_214253.jpg                             Vent flap can be rolled up (pic is upside down)

This can reduce flapping at night. I think that the above average size of the vent does allow enough air flow through to reduce some of the condensing. I gauge the quality of ventilation on a winter tent as follows: If you remove the fly in the morning and can shake off sheets of ice from the interior of the tent, it doesn’t vent well. I don’t have this problem with the sanctum. There’s just a bit of frost under the fly.

Room and Storage: Pockets galore! Not only are there six pockets in which to stash your gear (four around the floor periphery and two on the walls)...
20171209_073054.jpg                              Tent wall pocket with open ceiling flap

...the tent’s storage bag is a rectangular design that doubles as a ceiling pouch. It clips to the ceiling of the tent. The storage bag is double sided and holds liters!

                              Ample room for two with large clip-on gear bag

The front entry of the tent has a vestibule large enough to cook in and room enough to store your packs/boots.
20171209_073021.jpg                              Spacious vestibule with a tight entrance

The vestibule on the back side is tiny but still valuable. Its V design cuts the oncoming wind. I wish it was a tad longer to ease some of the wind shear.


                              Small rear vestibule that acts as a wind cutter

You could fit a small amount of gear in it. On top of the vestibules, the tent offers a mesh gear loft that hooks onto the interior of ceiling via small plastic hooks.
20171221_214916.jpg                                       Taut gear loft with side wall pouches

All of these options combined, equal a fantastic amount of gear storage space options.

The tent is an interesting length. It is rather stout.20171209_081945.jpg

                              Stout design cuts some weight but creates a tight fit

I have a Big Agnes Crosho -20 long bag and it touches on both ends. The tent fits me perfectly (lengthwise) at 5'11". If I was anything over 6 feet, I think that it might begin to be a close call. The width of the tent is ample for 2P. The tent is advertised as 93" x 60" (236 x 152 cm) but this must mean vestibule to vestibule. As you can see in the pic, I measure the tent to be 80" (203 cm) in length.

20171221_212635.jpg                                        80" length: beware those over 6 feet tall!

If you account for the pitch of the walls, you lose a couple of inches of usable space on each end, thus the sleeping bag touching on both ends. In extremely cold temperatures, you don’t want your insulating layer mushed flat against at tent wall, thus, be careful if you are over 6 feet tall with this model.  

The reported height is 44" (112 cm) but I measured 46" (117 cm). This leaves you a good amount of space in which to sit up. Even with the gear loft intact, the ceiling still registers 40" tall (ample room in which to sit up).

PackabilityThe tent packs into a 10 x 20 inch (25 x 50 cm) rectangular bag.
20171221_205651.jpg                                        Packed tent relative to a 32oz (1L) Nalgene bottle

It’s a rather clever idea. This way, the bag can double as the storage tote mentioned above. The rectangular shape of the pouch necessitates that you fold the tent instead of rolling it or stuffing it. One side of the pouch holds the tent, and one side holds the fly.
20171221_205750.jpg                         Open pouch; one side for tent, one for fly, poles in the middle

Once both are folded and placed in the storage bag, the bag needs to be folded in on itself and secured with velcro straps. This part can be a bit difficult if you’re not very careful about how you fold the tent or how you insert it into the carrying bag. You really have to wrench down on the velcro straps to get it closed. Adding the footprint into the bag doesn’t make the task any easier.

Relative to the pitch size, I think the packed tent is what I’d expect from a four-season model.

Features: The Sanctum offers a number of interesting features:

  • Double doors (speaking only from personal experience; the back door is small but if you open it and the fly, you can kneel forward and relieve yourself so as not to have to put the boots on and go out into the freezing cold at night or in the morning.) The small opening allows the tent to maintain more of its heat when opened.

                                Small rear door keeps more heat in

  • Two zip-open screened ceiling panels as well as screened double doors
  • Velcro tabs on the tent as additional adhesion to the fly
  • A taut ceiling gear loft that doesn’t sag
  • Stow bag that can be used for gear storage
  • Zipper hood on the front fly door
  • 14 fly guy out points
  • 8 lb weight (3.6kg). The tent was branded as an "ultralight" expedition tent. For how bombproof it is, the weight is justified. It's just when you trade in your 2lb summer tent for an 8lb beast, you can feel it. 

Ease of Use: One slight peeve about the Sanctum is that the zipper on the fly does not curve around at the top.
The straight up zipper means a tighter squeeze and a lower crawl/squat getting in and out of the tent 
(in the pic above, you can see, that on the fly, the amount of space between the zipper and the pole is not very wide). Also, the tent zipper has a pretty sharp turn on the front door. It’s tough to get the zipper to turn that corner.


Construction and Durability: I am impressed with the construction of the Sanctum. It really is a tent made for extreme conditions. All seams are double stitched. Reinforcement is included where necessary. I have never had any concerns with the tent’s performance in any weather that comes its way.

The stakes were standard so I replaced them with a better model.

Conditions: I’ve tested the tent in all four seasons in Minnesota. Temperatures ranged from evening lows in the 60’s to below zero. 20171209_071936.jpgSince there’s a bathtub bottom with a 12" height, ventilation in the summer months may be a concern. I’ve never used the tent in evening temps above low 60’s so I’ve never had a problem.

Update 12/28/17: I brought the tent out last night to test its merit against the weather. I pitched on a sky ledge along section 13 of the Superior Hiking Trail. The outside temperature was -20°F. Inside of the tent, it was 12.6°F. That's a 32.6°F difference! I always assumed a four-season tent added about 15°. I am thoroughly impressed. 

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $90

This is a great sturdy tent. It was easy for me to set up by myself, or with a friend, without argument. Once we got inside and settled in for the night, the interior temperature must've been up to 45 degrees, when the exterior temperatures was +10*. Held the heat in really well, and kept the wind out. It was almost too warm inside.

Sure it may be 9+ pounds, but it's a 4 season tent, so I don't see the problem with the extra weight. Vestibule is not the biggest, but definitely workable.

Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: Very
Weight: 9+
Price Paid: $220 ebay new

This is a fantastic tent. I love the fact that it has so much floorspace and room to move in it. The D shape door makes it really easy to get in and out. I have used it at low and high altitude camping trips, in some very bad weather conditions and the tent has not let me down. The fabric is very strong and durable as are the poles.

Sleeps: 2
Price Paid: $425

I must say when I am camped in a very exposed and stormy alpine environment this tent allows me to sleep without worry! Plenty of room for two and gear or three in an emergency. The only drawback is the over 9lbs of weight. But if you are looking for a very well made 4-season tent this one will do the job!

The Marmot Sanctum has been my go-to tent for five years now. I've used hundreds of times in many types of conditions from snow, wind, rain, hail, and yes, even a typhoon!!!! I currently live in Okinawa and was camping near the beach when a typhoon decided to show up two days early in the middle of the night!!! Luckily it had been already raining hard enough for me to decide to completely stake and guy out the tent. The tent easily shrugged off constant 60 knot winds with gust to 80 knots (I was nervous a cpl times lol).

The only drawback to this tent is the weight, but when this tent was designed (six or seven years ago) it was light for its sturdiness. When I go touring on my bike I bring the Sanctum, but when I'm backpacking I usually opt for my ultralight North Face. This tent is going for under 250 now? What a steal!!!!

Design: 4-season freestanding
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: with the clip design it's fast and easy even in the dark
Weight: 9 lbs I think
Price Paid: $480

Loved the tent. Worked perfect for two years. Then it failed me in Yellowstone when it snowed so hard it soaked through everything. I almost died trying to get the hell out of there! Highly considering a new brand.

Design: sanctum
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: very easy
Weight: 9 pounds

My favorite tent ever owned, except for one thing. The weight. Although at 9lbs 4oz this is by no means the heaviest 2 man, 4-season tent, it just certainly isn’t backpacker friendly. I find I use this tent for short jaunts into the winter backcountry now almost exclusively (as well as higher elevation car camping) due to the weight. Don’t get me wrong, this tent is born and bred to be used in extreme conditions, and if the conditions are extreme, the level of protection this tent provides far outweigh the weight concerns when loading your pack. Bottom line, this tent is a tank. It will withstand a snow load like no other. It is also very windproof, a must for winter tents. The seam taping on this tent is impervious. Never once has this tent leaked. If you camp in the late fall/winter/early spring in high elevations, this tent is for you. If you can find a good condition used one for sale, snag it. They are being phased out of the Marmot line this year.

Just don’t expect to be able to use this tent all 4 seasons, as its designation would suggest. You will find it too hot and poorly ventilated in the warmer months. (Although I did make due with it in Moab in August last year since I loaned my solo tent to a friend. Hell, he isn’t going to thrash this baby, no way!) The tent is a 10/10 as far as winter tents go. As for a year round tent though, I would have to drop that 10 rating to a 7 just for the fact that it is too much tent in anything but chilly to extreme cold conditions. I still highly recommend you snag one if you can though, a true bomb shelter.

Design: Free standing 4 season tent.
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: Very easy. One person can setup tent with no assistance in under 10 minutes without fly.
Weight: 9lbs 4oz total
Price Paid: $329

You May Like

Recently on Trailspace

Patagonia Fitz Roy 30° Review

Darn Tough Light Hiker No Show Lightweight Hiking Sock Review

The North Face VE 24 Review

Notes from Norway