Marmot Guest House 4 Review
Cons: No privacy without the fly, pricey
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Our Analysis and Test Results
It's always great to have multiple options for deploying your tent because just in the span of a few hours, things can go from hot 'n sunny to cool and windy. The Guest House 4 (and by default, it's big brother Guest House 6), offers such versatility with the combination of its breezy floor-to-ceiling mesh tent and a super-deluxe rainfly. At first, we thought it was kind of an all-or-nothing deal — either you're "naked" or wearing the equivalent of a one-piece ski suit, but upon exploring these options in the field, we found lots of happy "outfits" in between.
Space and Comfort
Despite being split at a fixed point where the tent creates two distinct rooms (hence the "Guest House" moniker, we're assuming), this tent feels spacious inside. The rooms are NOT equally sized, so it's kind of apparent that the kids sleep on the smaller side and adults on the bigger, but four people should easily fit in this 13' x 7' (total) space despite the low headroom.
Because the base tent is so mesh-forward, unless you're in a shady spot, you're going to probably want — need — something to keep the sun off during the day, and the only way to do this is to deploy the supermassive rainfly. Now, at first, that seems like it spells "end of breezy fun" because we all know what happens when the fly goes on: bye-bye light and breeze and views, and thus a lot of daytime comfort. But… not so in the Guest House! With multiple roll-up doors on the fly — including a super cool one that turns into an awning — you won't feel trapped inside if you want some shade from above.
The Guest House also offers four doors, more than most other options in our review. This means each person gets their own door - no more stepping over (and on) your tentmates to get outside.
The supermassive rainfly on the Guest House offers plenty of rain and wind protection. While there's absolutely no resistance in the underlying mesh tent where you can't even zip up a window (there aren't technically any, just doors), the weather resistance is totally dependent on deploying the fly. And, on that front, it's totally got you covered - literally and figuratively.
Ease of Set-Up
Despite looking and feeling easy and breezy once set up, the actual build-out takes a lot of practice. It's a bit tricky at first to find all the sleeves and clips and get the poles in the right place even as they're color-coded. It takes four poles to get the tent up; one of which holds up the extended portion of the larger room — but this pole and the area it commands can flop around a bit until you get it staked out (it doesn't cross or share any integrity with the rest of the tent). There's then another pole across the top to help add loft and keep the room divider dividing things.
Additionally, even on the four-person version, the fly could really use a minimum of two people to wrangle as it's a heckuva lot of material with many clip points and vestibules. At the end of the day, though, it's like anything else: with some practice (and maybe a buddy) set-up will become second nature.
As with the other tents that we tested from Marmot, they make high-quality goods that hold up under scrutiny (meaning: roughhousing kids, tossed gear, and rogue natural objects like branches). The poles are more than enough to hold up the tent and heavy fly, and the super-duty fly is going to repel anything short of a meteor. The stakes, however, could be better.
Also like other Marmot tents we tested, the pack and pack size of the Guest House 4 is nothing special. Just a tough but run-of-the-mill stuff sack augmented by a few compression straps and a shoulder strap. With such a bulky fly that we didn't much feel like taking a lot of time to roll up properly (who does after an exciting, exhausting weekend out anyway), it's a test of your remaining strength to punch it back inside.
There's some top value in the Guest House if nothing else because of all the fun versatility. Aside from Marmot's poor quality stakes, the rest of this tent system holds up to its price and should hold up to lots of adventures this season and many more.
Invite yourself — and your crew — to be VIP guests of nature in the fun and versatile Guest House 4. This tent is spacious, versatile, and fun. We love the option to be enclosed in nothing but mesh with enough doors that no one ever has to hopscotch over you and your gear. And, if nasty weather does roll in, the impressive fly will not only keep you cozy and dry, it will also provide you with several extra vestibule spaces. While a bit pricey, this is a tent we think you will easily love and have as part of your camping life for many years to come.
— Rick Baraff