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Marmot Alpinist 2 Review


Four Season Tent

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Price:   $500 List
Pros:  Waterproof-breathable fabric, good ventilation, only single wall tent with vestibule.
Cons:  Vents catch wind, pole design is not as strong or as durable as other single wall tents.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Marmot

Overview

The Marmot Alpinist 2 is a solid and dependable tent that is more a fare amount more versatile and livable than most single wall tents we tested. The Alpinist proved quite adaptable for a range of conditions and worked as well as almost any other tent we tested for three season camping. The DAC Featherlite NSL Green poles and a strong three-layer ePTFE membrane fabric are high quality. The shelter has average ventilation, a small vestibule, but a noticeably more spacious interior than most single wall tents we tested and sports two functional pockets.

Though it excels in creating a comfortable space, we feel the Alpinist lacks as much strength and durability found in many other single wall tents when it came to the most severe storms. Guy points along the corners, stronger pole clips, and ditching the awnings would make the tent significantly more storm-worthy.

While it isn't quite as bomber as some of the other single wall tents we tested its fabric breathed near the best among single wall shelters and its livability was top notch especially considering its weight.

RELATED: Our complete review of four season tents

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Ian Nicholson
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
November 2, 2014

Livability


The Marmot Alpinist 2 is a well-rounded and versatile tent. Unlike most other single walled shelters, the Alpinist has a small vestibule (8 sq. ft.) that covers a pack and boots, and makes for a marginally more comfortable entry and exit. The pole structure is similar to the Black Diamond Ahwahnee in that two poles cross corner-to-corner and a third half-length pole supports two ventilated awnings and serves to steepen the walls. This makes the tent more spacious and more comfortable to spend time in. We thought both of these tents were far nicer to log time in than Nemo Tenshi, Hilleberg Unna, Direkt 2, Rab Latok Ultra or the Black Diamond First light or Eldorado.

The Alpinist has two mesh pockets that hang down just below the two vents. This design is better than laminating the pockets to the wall (like many other single wall tents do) because it provides more support. The only downside to this design is you cant roll over in bed and reach the pocket; you have to sit up, at least partially. Overall, the pockets are better than those of most other single wall tents weve tested.

The door under the vestibule is part mesh adding yet another large and covered vent helping to circulate air and move moisture to help the user stay dry in even the rainiest of conditions.
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The Marmot Alpinist has three guy points on the walls, but none on the poles. This puts all of the tension on the walls: a bad thing.

Weather Resistance


Although the poles are high quality, the plastic clips that attach to them are just okay and a little bulky. Marmot uses a U-shaped clip that attaches to the pole in two places. This is the same clip that's used on their budget three-season Marmot Limelight 2 tent. We believe the Alpinist deserves stronger, lighter clips that alternate, left, right, left, right.

Another area of concern is the webbing strap that guys out the four corners. These attach to the poles with a thin metal ring and extend a foot or so to the ground. No other tent weve reviewed uses this design and were not impressed. While it didnt break during our test period we believe its considerably weaker and less durable than traditional grommets and the far superior partial pole sleeves used on the Hilleberg Tarra and Jannu and Mountain 25. The tent guys out with reinforced points in the center of both walls and the rear wall, but not along the poles. This is a serious oversight because strong winds will put all of the force directly on the walls, not the pole structure. The points that exist are good, but adding one to each corner would make the tent much stronger.

The Alpinists two awnings are like a double-edged sword: they make the tent more livable and versatile, but also catch wind, thereby making the tent less capable of severe conditions. In stormier weather we prefer tents that ventilate without large awnings.

One other small bummer was that when we pulled the side guy lines really tight it would pull up the floor quite a bit and reduce the amount of floor space inside the tent.

Ease of set up


The Marmot Alpinist is easy to set up and was one of the best scoring tents in this category. It uses basic external clips that while a little heavy and bulky were very easy to use. Compared with some of the Alpinist's main competitors the Black Diamond Ahwahnee and the Eldorado it is way quicker and easier to set up. We did think the Alpinist was around the same speed and ease to set up as the Mountain Hardwear EV2.

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Marmot Alpinist in a well protected forest

Adaptability


Another highlight of the Alpinist is its adaptability and it can be used from fairly stormy 4 season weather (we would use this tent anywhere in the lower 48) to even rainy and wet three season beach hikes. Part of it's adaptability comes from is the fabric which after testing these tent over three weeks on eight desperate trips was as breathable as any of the tests we tested. The other thing is how many vents the Alpinist has. The Alpinists door sports a unique construction because it has a partial mesh panel at the bottom that allows cool air to flow in from the bottom, forcing hot air out the top vents. This works well. The two large vents while they can be a little wind catching in severe storms did do a great job at helping to manage the moisture.
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The Marmot Alpinist's partial mesh door helps provide good ventilation.

The Alpinists most similar competitor is the Black Diamond Ahwahnee. The Alpinist is easier to set up with the pole pitch from the outside and your also less likely to get snow or rain in the tent. The poles are better (DAC Featherlite NSL Green) on the Alpinist and stronger, too. The fabrics are roughly equal, but the Ahwahnee is a little tougher and feels a touch nicer to hang out in, but the inclusion of the Alpinist's vestibule and significantly lower weight (by 23 ounces!) make the Alpinist a better shelter for light and fast missions. The Alpinist however is not as good for base camping (there's only one door).

Weight


The Alpinist weighs in at 5 lb 8 oz, slightly heavier than the smaller Eldorado or or the similar sized Mountain Hardwear EV2 which weighs 4 lbs 14 oz. It is more than twice the weight of the Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 or the Black Dimaond Firstlight. But the Alpinist is lighter than many other tents that are as versatile like the Black Diamond Ahwahnee or the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2.

Value and the Bottom Line


While the Alpinist 2 is well rounded and well made, it occupies an odd niche in the four-season tent market. Its neither as strong nor as light as other single wall tents, but it is more versatile in that it can be used for backpacking and wetter three season trips and a fair bit more comfortable to hang out in. It can certainly be used on most 4 season trips including Cascade Volcano climbs but may not be burly enough for a West Buttress Trip and the thought of all the snow blowing through the vents is unpleasant. If you like the idea of the Marmot Alpinist check out the Black Diamond Ahwahnee or the Mountain Hardwear EV2

Other Versions


Marmot Limelight 2
Click to enlarge
  • Cost - $220
  • A budget tent best for non-technical use
  • 5lbs 10oz makes it idea for car camping

Marmot Nitro 2P
Click to enlarge
  • Cost - $330
  • 2lbs 10 oz makes an excellent backpacking tent
  • Uses adjustable trekking pole and 2 light poles
  • Double wall helps control condensation
Ian Nicholson, Chris McNamara

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 18, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
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2 Total Ratings
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4 star: 100%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Jan 18, 2016 - 01:11pm
bykyrb · Skier · Provo, Utah
I agree with almost everything said in the OGL review of the Alpinist 2. I bought, tried, and returned many tents in this review and this was one of my favorites (I ended up keeping the Hilleberg Jannu). The fabric is the most durable of those I tried, and I think the 3-layer ePTFE fabric (GoreTex knock-off) is very breathable and would last many many years.

I didn't find the webbing supporting the "knees" in the pole corners very weak, nor did I think the metal ring attaching them to the poles seemed weak. In fact, I really liked the more vertical side walls the bent poles created. The metal rings would make a good attachment point to add your own corner guylines, or you could attach guy lines to some of the plastic pole clips. I personally liked the pole clips - they are much wider than other clips such as the ones Mountain Hardwear uses. I think this places less stress on the fabric where they are attached, by spreading the load out. They are also easy to attach and remove with gloves on - a big plus for winter tents.

Two things I think could be improved are, I wish there were stake-out loops midway along the long sides of the floor. I slept in this tent on a windy night and the wind easily lifted the edge of the floor, slapping me in the head and face all night. I don't think it would be hard to sew in your own webbing straps for stake-out points at these two locations though. I also wish the vestibule had a more vertical wall at the entrance. As it is, opening the vestibule door allows precip to fall right into the tent when entering, exiting, or putting gear in and out. Without having a long 3rd pole supporting the vestibule (like the Jannu), I don't know how they could do this though.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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