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Marmot Catalyst 2 Review

A comfortable camping tent that serves well in both the front and backcountry.
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Price:  $170 List | $169.00 at REI
Pros:  Roomy, two doors, included footprint
Cons:  Smaller vestibules, small pockets, no top vents
Manufacturer:   Marmot
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 2, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 10
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Weight - 25% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 6
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Packed Size - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The Marmot Catalyst 2 is a versatile, comfortable tent with a lot of space all around. It has excellent headroom and two side doors with two vestibules. It sort of comes with a 'front' side and a 'back' side, allowing for the possibility of privacy at a crowded campsite, even without the fly. Though we had some issues with ventilation and fly tensioning this tent served us well throughout testing. The included footprint is a nice bonus that only a couple of other models in this review can match. We would take this tent on most outdoor adventures, but if you need even more headroom for both people, check out the The North Face Stormbreak 2 or the easy-to-pitch REI Passage 2.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Marmot Catalyst 2
Awards  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $169.00 at REI$159.00 at REI$158.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$199.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$159.96 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Roomy, two doors, included footprintTwo side doors, easy to pitch, large trapezoidal vestibulesHeadroom, large tent doors, ventilationLightweight, easy to pitchEasy to set-up, lots of features, roomy
Cons Smaller vestibules, small pockets, no top ventsDoors can be annoying, heavyHeavy, unsteady in high wind, cheap stakesSmall interior, single door and vestibuleHeavy, flappy vestibules
Bottom Line A comfortable camping tent that serves well in both the front and backcountry.This basic tent is easy to set up and provides comfortable nights of camping on a budget.This spacious tent makes the most of its dimensions and offers plenty of features that will have you camping in comfort.A budget tent for those who want to minimize weight and don't mind sacrificing a fair bit of comfort.This tent includes a great feature set and a spacious interior to create a model worthy of car camping luxury.
Rating Categories Marmot Catalyst 2 REI Co-op Passage 2 The North Face Stormbreak 2 Big Agnes C Bar 2 Mountainsmith Morrison Evo 2
Comfort (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
4
10
0
9
Weight (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
6
Weather Resistance (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
5
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Durability (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Packed Size (10%)
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
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6
Specs Marmot Catalyst 2 REI Co-op Passage 2 The North Face... Big Agnes C Bar 2 Mountainsmith...
Measured Packaged Weight (pounds) 5.19 5.29 5.89 3.96 5.47
Floor Area (Sq ft) 32.5 33.75 30.5 28 36
Packed Size (inches) 7 x 21 7 x 22 7 x 22 6 x 19 8 x 17
Dimensions (inches) 88 x 53 x 44 88 x 52 x 40 87 x 50 x 43 86 x (52 x 42) x 4 92 × 56 × 43
Vestibule Area (Total, Sq Ft) 16.2 18.75 19 7 19
Peak Height (inches) 44 40 43 41 45
Number of Doors 2 2 2 1 2
Number of Poles 3 2 4 2 2
Pole Diameter 8.5/9 mm 8.5 mm Not provided Not provided Not provided
Number of Pockets 2 + light pocket 4 + 2 door stuff pockets 4 3 4 + gear loft
Gear Loft No Yes No No Yes
Pole Material Velocity HD aluminum 7000 7001 aluminum Aluminum DAC pressfit aluminum 7000 Series Aluminum Alloy
Guy Points 4 4 4 7 2
Rain Fly Material 68D polyester Coated polyester taffeta 68D lightweight polyester taffeta, 1200 mm PU Polyester taffeta 68D polyester
Inner Tent Material 40D/68D polyester Nylon/Taffeta Mesh 68D polyester taffeta, 1500 mm PU coating Polyester & mesh 68D polyester
Type Freestanding Freestanding Two door, freestanding Freestanding Freestanding

Our Analysis and Test Results

This tent is for the frequent car camper who feels the need to get out into the backcountry one or twice a year. It's a versatile model that offers a spacious interior. We have some questions about its vestibules and ventilation, but for the most part, it's a nice choice for those who need a single, inexpensive tent for all of their camping needs.

Performance Comparison


The Marmot Catalyst 2 delivers solid comfort and relatively easy setup. It has a slightly above average weight but all-in-all maintains a spot toward the top of this review.

This tent stands out most anywhere it goes.
This tent stands out most anywhere it goes.

Comfort


This tent is one of the more comfortable models in this review. It is generous in all three dimensions. The two side doors are large and open in opposite directions for head-to-toe sleeping. There is also plenty of headroom in this tent.

The two side doors open. There is also plenty of headroom to spare.
The two side doors open. There is also plenty of headroom to spare.

The two vestibules are asymmetrical, but both are on the smaller side. They can each fit a pack, but it might be pressed up against the inside of the fly. There is also sort of a 'front' and 'back' to the tent. One side is completely mesh (front), and the other side is completely solid fabric.

The fabric on the 'back' of the tent. When the fly is on  it limits the cross breeze on warm days.
The fabric on the 'back' of the tent. When the fly is on, it limits the cross breeze on warm days.

Ease of Set Up


There are three poles in this setup. The two main poles create a typical X-pole structure, each one connecting into grommets at the opposite corners of the tent. The last one creates a 'brow' that pulls out the top of the canopy a little bit further on the front side of the tent.

The main poles (orange) and the additional brow pole (grey) are easy to set up.
The main poles (orange) and the additional brow pole (grey) are easy to set up.

The fly has a color-coded red corner that matches with a similar red tab on the tent to ensure that it is lined up properly before you clip them together.

Weather Resistance


We have no major complaints, but we wish the Catalyst 2 offered just a little bit more in terms of protection. There are not enough stakes to pull out the head and foot ends of the fly, which is ultimately no big deal. The fly zipper also isn't watertight, which we do see on other budget models as well.

This tent comes with a zipper flap cover because the zipper itself isn't water tight.
This tent comes with a zipper flap cover because the zipper itself isn't water tight.

We aren't huge fans of the single-stake triangle vestibule. We find, especially on budget models, that one side of the triangle is a little too saggy and readjusting it takes time that we would rather not take at the end of a long day of hiking. We prefer the trapezoidal vestibules of the The North Face Stormbreak 2 and REI Passage 2.

Durability


The 68D polyester fly and floor are fairly standard issue fabrics for tents in our budget review. We find that both held up well during testing. Caring for your tent is always important, but it is much more abrasion-resistant than way more expensive backpacking tents with thinner nylon floors. One area that we wonder about is the pole that creates the 'brow' of the canopy. It appears to put the mesh in this area under higher stress than the rest of the tent so we would watch those spots for increased wear and tear.

One of a handful of high tension areas on the brow  which pulls the mesh more aggressively than on other parts of the tent.
One of a handful of high tension areas on the brow, which pulls the mesh more aggressively than on other parts of the tent.

Though we really wish that this tent came with enough of them, the six included hex stakes are a notch or two sturdier than typical hook stakes. Another nice plus is the included footprint. Most manufacturers will sell footprints separately but getting one in the bag is a nice add on that will prolong the life of your tent floor.

The more-rigid-than-average stakes that come with this model (pole splint and guyline also included).
The more-rigid-than-average stakes that come with this model (pole splint and guyline also included).

Weight & Packed Size


Coming in at 5 pounds, 3 ounces, this tent is slightly above average for this review. However, we think its versatility offsets some of that extra heft. There is plenty of room, so split between two hikers, the load is reasonable for short to moderate trips.

This tent is chunky compared to the Big Agnes C Bar and Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2.
This tent is chunky compared to the Big Agnes C Bar and Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2.

A packed size of 7" x 21" also puts this model on the bulky end of our review as well. It's another reason we wouldn't recommend it for a single person; it just takes up a ton of space in a backpack. If you are much more focused on the miles, then we would recommend the Big Agnes C Bar 2. It's a tight fit for two but comes in at under four pounds.

Best Applications


This tent is a nice choice for a variety of activities. There is enough space for two to justify it has a comfortable car camping tent. It's on the heavy side, but it delivers solid enough performance that if you don't mind the weight, it's a good choice for lower mileage short and moderate length backcountry trips as well.

The backside door and vestibule open.
The backside door and vestibule open.

Value


The Catalyst 2 rings up at $170. It is slightly above average for the cost of a tent in this budget review, but we still think it is a value purchase.

Conclusion


The Marmot Catalyst 2 combines comfort and versatility. There are a couple of key features, like the small vestibules and some issues with ventilation, that hold it back from being at the top of the list, but there is a lot to like about this model, and we think it can serve the right backpackers well for years of camping to come.

This tent would be a comfortable night's sleep for two on your next adventure.
This tent would be a comfortable night's sleep for two on your next adventure.


Ben Applebaum-Bauch