Our old Eureka Timberline tents were starting to show their age. Many of them have been in use for 15 years, some more, some less. I was just about ready to tell our committee it was time to order some new tents when it occurred to me that I hadn’t really looked at alternative tents in a good many years. This led me on a quest that concluded that we evaluate the Marmot Limelight 3.
Our Timberline 4 tents have served us very well. They are relatively inexpensive, durable, and easy to set up. They backpack well; the fly, tent, poles and stakes are divided amongst three or four Scouts. On the other hand the Timberlines do have a pretty big footprint that can make finding level space for them a challenge, tend to partially collapse inward in winds or snow, and have limited space for gear storage.Over time we learned that although the Timberline is claims room for four it really fits only three Scouts and their gear.
The Marmot Limelight 3 is nearly two pounds lighter (a noticeable difference when backpacking) and only two square feet smaller than the Timberline. The dome shape promises better performance in the wind and snow; in fact it has special tie outs for windy, snowy conditions. The Limelight makes better use of it’s floor space; there’s 41 square feet of space in the tent for three sleeping bags and 10 square feet vestibules under the fly on each side for gear. The Limelight 3 ($239.00) costs about 25% more than the Timberline 4 with one door ($179.00) and is significantly cheaper than the Timberline 4 outfitter with two doors ($269.00). The comparison with the outfitter model is more appropriate as the Limelight has two doors and tougher fabric than the standard Timberline 4.
We ordered one Limelight and I set it up at home. My two immediate concerns were the length of the poles and the complexity of setting up the tent. Two thing Scouts inevitably do with shock-corded tent poles (despite dire warnings) are to twirl one or two sections around in the air like nunchakus stressing and sometimes breaking the shock cord and using the poles for impromptu sword fights. The limelight’s two main poles are about eight feet long and they seemed, at first, destined to last about as long as a paper shirt in a bear fight once put in the hands of Scouts.
I gave the new tent to some of my Scouts at our next meeting and asked them to try setting it up and tell me what they thought. I walked away and let them do this on their own. I should note that the Limelight does not come with illustrated pitching instructions -there are only written ones on a tag on the tent bag.
The Scouts set the tent up with a minimum of confusion and had a generally favorable reaction to it. We took it out camping one weekend and it got very good reviews from the Scouts who used it. Based on their reaction we ordered three more to take with us on our annual week-long canoe trip. By the time they had used the tent for the week (we had some high winds and rain) the Scouts were sold on them. My initial concerns about the complexity of setting up the Limelight were dismissed when the Scouts remarked that it was much easier to set up than the old Timberlines.
I’ve spent many nights in the Limelight and I’ve really come to like it. The Scouts are very happy with their new tents too. The only possible downside I have seen thus far is that the small plastic clip that holds the two main poles together has broken on a couple of the tents. I hasten to add that you don’t need the plastic clip – I am not sure why it was there in the first place.
Here’s a comparison of weight, cost (manufacturers retail, there are better deals out there), and floor space based on 3 Scouts per tent.
|Marmot Limelight 3||Eureka Timberline 4|
|Total||Per Scout||Total||Per Scout|
|6 lbs 11 oz||2 lbs 4 oz||11 lbs 3 oz||3 lbs 6 oz|
|61 Sq Ft||20.33 Sq Ft||63 Sq Feet||21 Sq Ft|
Manufactured by Marmot