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Marmot Limelight 2 Review

A budget tent for car camping.
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Price:  $250 List | $186.71 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Huge doors, feels roomier than its dimensions, includes footprint, affordable
Cons:  Heavy, lower quality materials
Manufacturer:   Marmot
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 18, 2018
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 20
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 8
  • Durability - 10% 5
  • Weight - 25% 4
  • Packed Size - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The Marmot Limelight is a budget tent that comes with some nice creature comforts. We enjoyed it quite a bit out of the box. It feels roomier than its dimensions would suggest, and its two large side doors make it easy to enter and exit. It has large, two-tiered storage pockets and comes with a footprint, which is a rarity in the tent universe. We think it is a tent that is made for car camping.

Its primary drawback is that it has severely limited versatility. It's a heavy tent and a bulky one at that. When compared to any tent in the top tier of this review, it becomes clear that the Limelight is made from much lower quality fabrics, which impacts its weather resistance.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

We took this tent out in the foliage of fall to see what it could offer. Our weekend adventures were fun, if not a little damp.

Performance Comparison


The Marmot Limelight keeps pace with some of the best regarding comfort and ease-of-setup, but ultimately loses ground for durability, weight, and packed size.

The Limelight offers good comfort at a good price.
The Limelight offers good comfort at a good price.

Comfort


This tent offers more comfort than it initially appears. Though on paper, its length is comparable to many other tents in this review, its width and peak height make it stand out from the rest. Two people could easily sit up in it at the same time, something that cannot be said for some ultralight counterparts like the NEMO Hornet Elite.

There is plenty of space to sit up and move around.
There is plenty of space to sit up and move around.

In addition, Its fairly unique pre-bent pole structure creates an interior space surrounded by vertical walls, which makes for a greater cross-sectional area higher up than on most tents.


We loved the two massive side doors. They are asymmetrical; one is a D-shape and the other is a teardrop that opens almost all the way around and tucks away into a pocket at the foot of the door.

If you can get away with keeping the fly off and the doors open  this tent offers a pretty sweet panorama of nature.
If you can get away with keeping the fly off and the doors open, this tent offers a pretty sweet panorama of nature.

There is a large double-layer pocket on each side. At some points, we felt like they could almost hold too much stuff because the weight of the gear and devices they were holding sort of forced them closed at the top. It is also slightly inconvenient that they are at opposed sides of the tent (meaning people have to sleep head-to-toe to be within easy arms reach of their respective pockets).

The split storage pockets aren't very wide  but you can still fit a fair amount in each of them.
The split storage pockets aren't very wide, but you can still fit a fair amount in each of them.

Ease of Set-up


The Limelight is relatively easy to set-up. It has two long poles that cross at a central hub, as well as a separate cross-pole that expands headroom. The pre-bent poles can be slightly unwieldy — they like to rotate around the hub as you are sliding the segments together, but this is a minor annoyance.


There is quite a bit of guyline, but not enough for the myriad guy points on the fly. We wouldn't recommend taking this tent out in the kind of weather that would require it, but if you need to, we suggest using the included line first at the loops on the head and foot ends of the fly to pull it away from the tent.

A plastic hub permanently connects the two primary poles. A shorter  separate  crossbar runs across the width of the tent.
A plastic hub permanently connects the two primary poles. A shorter, separate, crossbar runs across the width of the tent.

The tent-to-pole and corner tent-to-fly clips seem like cheaper plastic than most of the other tents, but they get the job done. The six hex stakes anchor and stay anchored fairly well.

Weather Resistance


We are pleased with the weather resistance of the Limelight. It keeps rain out well, and if you guy or stake the head and foot ends of the fly, there is enough separation from the tent that contact with the mesh canopy is not an issue. However, with the fly closed up, the ventilation is poor. The small vent at the top of each vestibule doesn't do the trick, so count on some overnight condensation unless you can roll back the fly partially or completely.


The included footprint is a plus. It attaches to the poles with the grommets at its corners and adds both debris protection as well as an extra barrier against ground moisture.

The single stake at each vestibule means that the fly is susceptible to flapping, and the heavy material sags even more deeply once it gets wet, but as long as we were careful to pitch and stake it well, we are happy to say we didn't have any rain catastrophes.


Durability


The Limelight is made from some hefty 68 Denier poly taffeta. Though it is less elastic than ripstop nylon, the thick material means that it is highly puncture-resistant. Combined with an additional layer of security from the included footprint, with reasonable, regular care, this tent should last a long time.


With that in mind, we could envision the pole hub, and fly and tent clips breaking before the material wears through. We have also heard reports of the polyester not standing up well to repeated UV exposure.

Weight and Packed Size


This is a monster of a tent. The two-person version weighs in at 5lbs, 10 oz. The heavier materials, combined with the clunky pole structure make it feel even bigger. If you're planning on carrying it solo, this tent will take up most of your pack space. Even splitting the weight between multiple people still leaves each one carrying a load that is still heavier than some other entire tents (i.e. you could each carry your own two-person tent, say a Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, and still be carrying less weight than one Limelight).


On the plus side, this tent includes a footprint, which is highly unusual. What this means is that it is possible to set it up in fast-pitch mode, without the tent body itself, thus reducing the total load by a couple of pounds. The biggest drawback to fast-pitch is significantly reduced bug protection.

If you want to drop a significant amount of weight  and don't think that bugs will be an issue  consider the fast pitch option.
If you want to drop a significant amount of weight, and don't think that bugs will be an issue, consider the fast pitch option.

Best Application


The Limelight is a good choice for an individual who is car camping and doesn't have to carry it anywhere, or for two people that don't mind carrying a little extra weight to retain some creature comforts. We think it is too heavy for extended backpacking trips, especially if you are hiking solo, but on the other side of the spectrum, it is a nice, spacious option for pitching in the backyard for some quick and easy summer camping for kids.

Value


The Marmot Limelight 2 retails for $249. For couples primarily car camping, it is a good value. However, the reality is that its most similar competitor, the REI Half Dome 2 Plus, is superior in almost every way, including its price tag.

Conclusion


This tent is great for the budget-conscious camper who likes to spread out. It is large, comfortable, and durable. It's a real whale of a shelter, so we wouldn't want to take it the distance, however short that may be, but for its price, we are pleased with what it offers.

3-Person Version


If you are planning to add in another person, we would recommend sizing up. The Marmot Limelight 3 adds even more space to an already roomy camping experience. We are underwhelmed by the width, adding only 14 more inches over the 2-person (keep in mind that a standard sleeping pad is 20 inches wide). However, it increases the length by a modest, if not significant two inches, and bumps the peak height by a full 5 inches.

Typically, tents expand primarily in width between 2- and 3-person versions, so Marmot opted to go against the grain in every dimension.

The three-person version has the same comforts as the two-  plus a little (or a lot) extra in each dimension.
The three-person version has the same comforts as the two-, plus a little (or a lot) extra in each dimension.

However, with the extra room comes the extra weight. At 6.75 lbs, it follows in the footsteps of its two-person counterpart. It is best used in situations that don't require you to carry it anywhere on your back.


Ben Applebaum-Bauch