Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Window in vestibule, includes gear loft and footprint, affordable.
Cons: Difficult to get in and out, bad vestibule, not enough pockets.
Best Uses: Budget backpacking and camping.
The Marmot Limelight 2 is a moderate quality budget backpacking tent. It provides sufficient interior space, a small vestibule, weighs five pounds, and costs less than $200.
Although the Limelight is inexpensive it's not very livable compared to other tents that cost the same amount. A single entrance and an awkward vestibule make getting in and out rather unpleasant and time consuming. One person has to climb over the other person in order to get out. Tents with two doors are more comfortable.
Check out our comprehensive Backpacking Tent Review to see how the Limelight compares to the dozens of other tents we've tested. Specifically, consider the REI Half Dome 2, which is roughly the same price yet stronger and more livable.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Marmot Limelight 2 is a moderate quality budget backpacking tent. The tent's pole construction employs a basic and time-tested design. Two moderate quality DAC Press-Fit poles start on opposite corners and cross once in the center. The Limelight also has a single pole that runs perpendicular to the two primary poles. This lifts the tent body up and out, creating vertical walls and more interior space. The Limelight has one C-shaped door and a pointy nine square-foot vestibule. There's also a very small covered space on the opposite side of the tent that can be used to cover something small.
The Limelight is a reasonably sized tent. Thirty-two square feet provide plenty of space for two people. At an even five pounds, the Limelight is approaches the upper limit of the tents tested here. It's heavy for backpacking, compared to other top tents tested here, but light enough to carry on shorter, occasional trips.
The Limelight's vestibule is shaped like a pointy triangle. It's very difficult to close the zipper from inside the tent. You'll likely find yourself kneeling down and fully extending in order close it up. In wet and/or dirty conditions we found that some debris came back into the tent with us. The vestibules shape is also better for storing gear than for cooking. Excepting much smaller ultralight tents, the Limelight has the least functional vestibule of all tents tested.
More importantly, the tent's door design makes camping with two unnecessarily difficult. The single entrance requires both people to enter separately and climb over one another when getting out. We used the Limelight for two weeks in Yosemite. By the end of our time there we had adapted our sleeping arrangements based on who goes to bed first, who gets up first, and who was likely to get up in the middle of the night. In one particularly fierce downpour, one person entered the tent (unzip fly, unzip inner tent, sit down, zip fly, take off shoes and jacket, climb in) while the other person waited in the driving rain without a rain jacket. Two doors and two vestibules would make the tent more livable.
There are two pockets, but they're both on the door side. One person will have two and the other none. This is a terrible design error less terrible by the small gear loft.
The cross poles connectors are also a nuisance. Most tents connect this pole with grommets, but the Limelight uses reinforced mesh sleeves that require great force and precision in order to inset the pole. Grommets are easier and stronger and wed much prefer them here.
Finally, the inner tents construction is flashy, but functionless. Marmot uses a mix of curved mesh and solid nylon panels to create an aesthetically pleasing, but pointless design. We'd prefer to see either all mesh or, better yet, solid nylon on the bottom half and mesh on the top half.
Budget backpacking and camping.
The Limelight is the second cheapest tent in its class. Its a good value, but the REI Half Dome 2 is a much better value. We plot tent scores and prices in a Price versus Value Chart that illustrates how much bang each tent delivers per dollar.
The Marmot Limelight 4, $369, is the four person version.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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Most recent review: August 21, 2014
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