Marmot Tungsten 4P Review: Our Detailed Field Test

A four person camping tent that’s light and compact enough for backcountry duty… Well there’s a sentence you don’t read every day!
Marmot Tungsten 4 - Intro
This is our Marmot Tungsten 4P review, an hybrid camping/backpacking tent!



Marmot Tungsten 4P Tent

Specs:
Price: $399
Weight: 9.3 lbs (4.2 kg)
Floor size: 93” x 82” (236cm x 208cm)
Peak height: 52” (132cm)
Number of compartments: 1
Capacities: 4 person, 3, 2, and 1 person also available
Shape: Dome
What we like: Versatile, weather-worthy, quality materials 
What we don’t: Expensive, lacks specialization




The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict

We brought the Marmot Tungsten 4P along for this year’s extensive camping tent field test, and found it to be one the most unique and versatile shelter in camp. On the one hand, you’ve got a four person camping tent that’s smaller and lighter than anything else in the field, while on the other you’ve got a plus-sized backpacking rig made from premium quality materials with weather protection in spades. 

Marmot Tungsten 4 - Verdict
We tested extensively the Tungsten 4P during a summer week-end in the mountains

Needless to say the Tungsten 4P was a bit of an oddball in our group, but if you follow the folks at Marmot, you know that’s on-brand with their founding ethos. Marmot has always made a point of doing things a little differently since they were founded in 1971 by a couple college kids with a shared passion for mountain climbing. Their departure from the ordinary is apparent in many of their innovations like square-baffled “WarmCube” insulation and their absolutely bonkers “8,000 Meter” mountaineering suit, and the latest Tungsten 4P follows suit in that regard. 

Regardless of the Tungsten’s eccentricities, we evaluated it using our the same on the ground methodology as every other tent in our field test, and found its quirkiness may be just the thing some campers are looking for.




Detailed Evaluation

We spent a long summer weekend in the Marmot Tungsten 4P extensively testing it for all the most important factors of a good camping tent. We tested everything from rain and wind performance to comfort and livability, and while the Tungsten is far from perfect in many aspects, we felt it could be the perfect shelter for certain types of outdoor lovers. 

Space and Comfort

Depending on how you look at the Tungsten 4P, space and comfort can be either a plus or a minus. That’s a common symptom of hybrid tents like these though, and we went into testing expecting some tradeoffs. 

For a backpacking tent, you’re getting a great amount of interior space and livability. The ceilings are taller than other tents in this genre like the Big Agnes Copper Spur, and the interior felt surprisingly roomy thanks to the two additional poles Marmot uses to pull the walls of the tent out at the front and back doors. We found that you could sleep three adults inside the Tungsten 4 without feeling too cramped, and as a two-person backcountry shelter, it feels particularly large. This tent could also be a smart option for two adults and two kids. 

Marmot Tungsten 4 - Space and Comfort 1
There’s plenty of room for three adults inside the Tungsten 4P, and we found it to be particularly well suited for two campers wanting a little extra space.

As a camping tent, however, we definitely felt jealous of the “camping only” shelters in this year’s field test with their massive interiors and stand-up height ceilings. Marmot did a good job making the most of the interior space by giving the Tungsten 4P two equal size storage vestibules, so you’re not having to share the tent with any extra unwanted gear, but no one is going to accuse you of glamping in this bad boy. 

Marmot Tungsten 4 - Space and Comfort 2
There’s room to hang out under the Tungsten’s dual vestibules, but you definitely won’t be standing inside this tent.

Interior storage is nothing special, but the Tungsten’s divided mesh pockets had enough space to get the job done for three campers, while its dual light diffusing headlamp pockets made for convenient hands-free lighting after dark.   

Weather Resistance

As a tent that’s designed for backcountry duty, we expected the Tungsten to be a strong performer in bad weather, and we left our testing feeling confident in that regard. The pole structure feels rock solid, and once we got the Tungsten guyed out, its combination of a relatively low peak height and round dome shape felt properly sturdy in the wind. 

We didn’t experience any hard rains during our testing, but all the right ingredients are there for a rain-worthy shelter. The fly feels tough and well-made, and hovers just above the ground in all directions, so even wind-blown rain should be a non-issue. Seam taping is uniform and high quality throughout the tent, and Marmot now includes a footprint in the price of the Tungsten, so the floor felt particularly well protected.

Marmot Tungsten 4 - Weather Resistance 1
The rainfly sheds water with ease, and seam-taping is consistently high-quality throughout.

Ventilation is also a high point for this tent, which isn’t surprising considering the full-coverage rainfly allows the vast majority of the canopy to stick to breathable mesh. We were comfortable inside the Tungsten on warm summer days with or without the fly, and the two vents in opposing corners of the fly did a good job keeping condensation at bay. 

Marmot Tungsten 4 - Weather Resistance 2
Dual vents combined with plenty of mesh keep air moving through the Marmot Tungsten 4P.

Ease of Set-Up

Again, as this is at least a part-time backpacking tent, quick and easy setup is an important feature. We’re happy to report that the Marmot Tungsten 4P was among the easiest pitching tents in our test, second only to the Kelty Discovery Basecamp and its fantastic “quick corners” system. The poles are all clearly color-coded, and everything slots into place without any extra muscle. We particularly appreciated the linked pole system on the Tungsten, which helps keep the structure in place when you’re pitching it solo. 

Marmot Tungsten 4 - Ease of Set-up
The Tungsten’s linked pole system makes for a drama-free set-up, even when pitching solo.

The canopy clips onto the frame in proper backpacking fashion, and then the two extra support poles slot smoothly into their eyelets without overstressing the fabric. The whole thing went together in under ten minutes on our first attempt (guylines included), and we had that figure shaved down considerably by the end of the weekend.

Durability

Despite its weight-conscious fabrics (68D ripstop polyester fly, 70D polyester taffeta floor), we were pleasantly surprised by the durable feel of the Tungsten’s materials. The seams all look ruggedly sewn, the zippers felt rugged and worked without issue, the 7000-series aluminum poles are all high quality, and the clip-in hardware on the rainfly feels like it’ll go the distance. 

Marmot Tungsten 4 - Durability 1
There’s no branding on the Marmot’s poles, but they look and feel on par with name brands like DAC.

We were particularly impressed by the Tungsten’s hardware and design for the additional roof poles: We’ve seen similar setups in other camping tents that put a questionable amount of stress on the fabric and hardware, but Marmot’s tough aluminum eyelets and extra swatches of fabric reinforcement gave us zero drama.

Marmot Tungsten 4P - Durability 2
Marmot has their interior-maximizing pole system down to a science. These solid aluminum eyelets felt rock-solid, and the fabric never felt over-stressed.

Weight and Packed Size

Similar to space and comfort above, weight and packed size are typically a low point of these hybrid tents, and the Marmot Tungsten 4P is no exception. At nearly 10 pounds, the Tungsten is far from a sprightly backpacking tent, and although stripping away the footprint and any extra stakes helps reduce that figure slightly, it’s still heavier than we’d like, even when split between two hikers. 

The weight proposition looks better if three people are all willing to split the weight for a backcountry trip, but at that point you’d be better served with multiple purpose-built backpacking tents, so it still doesn’t feel like a feature here. 

Marmot Tungsten 4P - Weight and Packed Size 1
The Tungsten didn’t pack down quite as swall after our first use, but if you’re planning on taking it backpacking, you’ll be dividing it up and leaving the stuff sack at home anyways.

Packed size is a similar story, and while the Tungsten was easily one of the lightest and most compact camping tents of our test, it’s still considerably bulkier than most backpacking rigs. Ultimately what you’re buying into with a shelter like this is the versatility to do both front country camping and backcountry camping through, so if extra interior space on the trail is worth the weight penalty to your group, the extra pack weight may be worth the effort.

Marmot Tungsten 4P - Weight and Packed Size 2
While the Tungsten isn’t exactly ultralight, it’s significantly lighter and more compact than other 4P models.

Value

The Marmot Tungsten 4P has a pretty specific user in mind, and if you fall into that niche, this tent will be a solid value for you. 

The main selling point of the Tungsten is that it’s built to wear multiple hats: A “big enough” camping tent that gets the job done for car campers, and an extra large backpacking tent for three hikers (or two, if you’re willing to carry the weight).

Marmot Tungsten 4P - Value
The Tungsten was dwarfed by other campaign tents in our field test, but it’s still impressively large for a backpacking shelter.

We think the Tungsten 4P would be a great fit for families who are interested in taking backpacking trips with their kids (two parents/two children) but don’t want to spend the money on two separate shelters for their outdoor activities. 

The Tungsten 4P definitely isn’t cheap, but we feel that you get what you pay for in terms of material quality and design. High-performance fabrics, a great pole set, and an included footprint all take some of the sting out of the MSRP, and if you’re looking for a single tent that does it all for you and your posse, it’s worth the asking price. 

What We Like

Our favorite thing about the Marmot Tungsten was its versatility. No, it isn’t a massive camping tent or an ultralight backpacking shelter, but it was definitely the only shelter in our camping tent field test we would consider hiking a few miles with. The materials all felt durable and well put together, the space-making design of the Tungsten’s frame keeps it from feeling claustrophobic, and hey, they even threw in a footprint for the money.

Marmot Tungsten 4P - What We Like
The Marmot feels like a proper fortress from the elements when it’s all buttoned down.

We also appreciated the full coverage rainfly, and its double door/double vestibule design is a feature you’ll appreciate regardless of how you use the Tungsten. This is also easily one of the best tents in our roundup for weather protection: Unlike the cavernous cabins that made up the majority of our contestants, the Marmot’s relatively compact and aerodynamic footprint felt well prepared to tackle heavy winds.

What We Don’t Like

The glaring issue with the Marmot Tungsten 4P is that although it’s impressively compact and lightweight as a camping rig, its backpacking credentials give us some pause. A four-person backpacking tent is a rare species for a reason: They’re just not worth the extra weight and bulk for the majority of hikers. 

There are people out there who want them, however, and if you’re shopping for a 4P backpacker yourself, chances are you’ll run into our other complaint with the Tungsten: It costs about $100 more than the REI Trail Hut 4. Granted the Tungsten felt much more refined and had much more durable hardware than the Trail Hut, but the two are otherwise so similar, the bump in price felt tough to swallow.

Alternatives

  • REI Trail Hut 4: Similar specs at a significant discount. The Marmot feels higher quality, but the Trail Hut 4’s smaller size and lower weight make it probably a better backpacking option.
  • North Face Wawona 4: If you aren’t likely to actually take your tent backpacking, the Wawona is just as tough, significantly roomier, and even costs a bit less. Read our full test and review of the 6-person model…
  • Nemo Aurora Highrise 4: Another camping-only alternative. More space, premium materials, and fantastic design for the same price. Read our full test and review…
  • Nemo Dagger OSMO 3P: If you really plan on taking a hybrid tent backpacking, this is the one to beat. It’s more expensive, but cuts half the weight and still provides excellent interior space for two. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a four-person camping tent that does part time duty as a backcountry shelter, the Marmot Tungsten 4P is a good balance of high quality and high versatility. It’s niche may be narrow, but we really only had complaints about it when comparing it to tents that were more laser-focused as either camping or backpacking models. 

Marmot Tungsten 4P - Conclusion

Hybrid tents are always a bit of a compromise, and unless you’re willing to drop over $500 on one from Nemo or Big Agnes, the Tungsten 4P is the best option out there in this category. There are much larger four person camping tents and much lighter backpacking tents, but the Tungsten draws a smart line between the two, making it a particularly attractive option for those doing short overnight trips with three campers or small children.

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