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[Sport Chek] Marmot Catalyst 3 tent with footprint. ($179.99)

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  • May 21st, 2019 6:44 pm
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Oct 4, 2004
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mikebc wrote: @lhsonic

The commenter asked for the difference between this and a Tungsten. Weight (and size) are why that costs more. Most people will be happy to swing the difference if they intend on getting use out of it. A tent is a once a decade purchase, shoes are more expensive so I don't follow the "can't afford it" logic. Backpacking is expensive to get into but I'm not recommending UL ounce shaving. Just make good decisions in the beginning to save in the long run.

In the $200 price range you can find good, light, small backpacking tents. This just isn't one of them, it will consume half your pack. However this is a fantastic tent and brand for car camping. At some point you do need to start counting pounds, if you want a big heavy tent then you'll have to pay more to skimp elsewhere. Shaving pounds out of packs and sleep systems gets really expensive and uncomfortable. so does lugging around a 50lb bag. So you'll start having to leave luxuries behind, which isn't enjoyable. I like my UL stool, camp shoes and flask of bourbon. Those weigh 2.5lb. I'm not ditching those to carry an oversized tent.
Again, I'm speaking from the perspective of a casual backpacker, someone new to the hobby, or someone who may not have several hundred dollars to invest in backpacking. I strongly believe that backpacking doesn't have to be "expensive to get into" unless you're hunting for weight savings. Weight is not the reason the Tungsten and the Limelight are more expensive- in fact, they both appear to be heavier than the Catalyst. The Limelight is the most liveable, the Tungsten kind of slots in the middle but they're all rather large tents. What I'm saying is that for someone who may only camp 2-3 times in the backcountry per year (like myself), I disagree that spending significantly more money on a lighter tent is worth it. The ROI just isn't there. We're not talking a few dollars here, we're talking about hundreds of dollars to get a more packable and lighter tent. Another poster suggested a BA Copper Spur... like c'mon.. that's $700, basically 4x the cost of this tent. And not to be argumentative, but rather out of genuine interest and because I think it could help a lot of people searching for a well-balanced tent, you mention some $200 tents that would be better than this one- which ones would that be?

A 3P tent is definitely meant to be shared between at least 2 people, and up to 3, if you like being very cozy. Have one person carry the stakes and poles, another the fabric, and someone else the footprint (which is another discussion topic altogether). The weight is beyond reasonable for each person. Also, packed size is not crucially important because again, the components can be split between other people and because it's a flexible measurement. You can also crudely stuff your tent so that it fills up all the empty space.
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Mar 28, 2009
572 posts
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Ottawa
I agree with @lhsonic , at this price, it's a great backpacking tent for up to 3-4 day trips. Works well for portaging but excels for canoe only camping where extra size gear/weight doesn't matter as much. I've done a few portaging trips and just came back from a canoe camping trip where it rained a lot of the weekend and this tent held up very well. Only thing to note is you need about 4 more pegs to really peg everything down properly and prevent moisture transfer from your fly to the tent sides. I carry my tent poles on the outside and squeeze the rest of my tent into my pack and I can carry that + a large -12C sleeping bag (i tent to camp in spring / fall) with food, cooking gear, hammock, 2 water bottles (1 insulated) + extra set of clothing in a standard 60L pack.

People are suggesting this as a car camping tent but IMO when I car camp, I almost always pack a 6-8 person tent so I can put up a comfy air mattress. If you're using a car and weight is not an issue then might as well camp in luxury.
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May 22, 2015
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@lhsonic
We're not talking a few dollars here
Well, I thought we were trying to, but a $700 UL Big Agnes is probably the worst option for sake of argument. Look at the Big Agnes Rattlesnake 2 SL mtnGLO for $300 after discount. Gimmicky battery powered LED lights and all, and still 2 lb less.

There's plenty of <$150 range tents on Amazon, especially from ALPS if you can find them on sale. Particularly the Lynx 1/2 and Taurus 1/2 lines which are well regarded as entry level tents. The Zephyr and Mystique lines from them are actually respectable performers in their own rights, but they are hard to find in Canada. I got my first ALPS Lynx 1 for $70 from Amazon Warehouse and it lasted me for years. I use a Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL now which is currently $300 on Sportchek but I grabbed it for $255 last year, or even less if I would have saved up on -$20 codes and 80% giftcards. Yes, it lacks a second zipper but it's 3 1/2 pounds less than the Catalyst 3 and will sleep 2 if necessary. The North Face Talus 2 can be found for a similar price if you're patient or willing to go to Oregon to grab one. The MH Ghost Sky has 2 zippers and is currently $265 at 3 3/4 lb. My hiking buddy uses a 4 1/2lb Vision 2 that he got for $200 (and is still currently this price) and he loves it.

If you really want a steal, the Marmot Colfax 2P is currently $117 CAD off their US site if you can make it stateside to pick it up from a mailbox there.

So we're talking <$20 per lb. to get your weight down if you shop around. There are other options out there, buy whatever you want though. I'm not a millionaire but dropping another $100 to upgrade was a no brainer. You can look at this tent as a $160 savings (even though it's always discounted to ~$220) or you can accept that if you're going to get into hiking relatively seriously then it is a stepping-stone kind of tent that can be skipped. I wouldn't recommend someone buys this tent to see if they like backpacking, start with a $60 Coleman, buy used or borrow one from a friend. Seriously, this Coleman is $60 with code BOOTSLIFE. If size and weight (8 1/2lb) don't mean much then people should jump on this thing. I've long considered ordering a couple of the "backpacking tents" off Amazon / AliExpress from Chinese bulk sellers to see how they hold up. On paper their stats aren't bad, it's just rip stop nylon and some poles after all...
Last edited by mikebc on May 20th, 2019 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Oct 4, 2004
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mikebc wrote: @lhsonic



Well, I am, but a $700 UL Big Agnes is probably the worst cherrypicked option for sake of argument. Look at the Big Agnes Rattlesnake 2 SL mtnGLO for $300 after discount. Gimmicky battery powered LED lights and all, and still 2 lb less.

There's plenty of <$150 range tents on Amazon from ALPS, particularly the Lynx 2 and Taurus 2 lines which are well regarded as entry level tents. I got my first ALPS Lynx 1 for $70 from Amazon Warehouse and it lasted me for years. I use a Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL now which is currently $300 on Sportchek but I grabbed it for $255 last year, or even less if I would have saved up on -$20 codes and 80% giftcards. Yes, it lacks a second zipper but it's 3 1/2 pounds less than the Catalyst 3 and will sleep 2 if necessary. The North Face Talus 2 can be found for a similar price if you're patient or willing to go to Oregon to grab one. The MH Ghost Sky has 2 zippers and is currently $265 at 3 3/4 lb. My hiking buddy uses a 4 1/2lb Vision 2 that he got for $200 (and is still currently this price) and he loves it.

If you really want a steal, the Marmot Colfax 2P is currently $117 CAD off their US site if you can make it stateside to pick it up from a mailbox there.

So we're talking <$20 per lb. to get your weight down if you shop around. There are other options out there, buy whatever you want though. I'm not a millionaire but dropping another $100 to upgrade was a no brainer. You can look at this tent as a $160 savings (even though it's always discounted to ~$220) or you can accept that if you're going to get into hiking relatively seriously then it is a stepping-stone kind of tent that can be skipped. I wouldn't recommend someone buys this tent to see if they like backpacking, start with a $60 Coleman, buy used or borrow one from a friend. Seriously, this Coleman is $60 with code BOOTSLIFE. If size and weight (8 1/2lb) don't mean much then people should jump on this thing. I've long considered ordering a couple of the "backpacking tents" off Amazon / AliExpress from Chinese bulk sellers to see how they hold up. On paper their stats aren't bad, it's just rip stop nylon and some poles after all...
Ok, I get where you're coming from now. I think you're just looking for the most cost-effective tent that will house 1-2 people. In this case, your choices are reasonable. I was doing like comparisons with other 3P tents. Certainly, I agree that the sweet spot is a 2P tent that you either use solo for the space, or with an SO/friend. I actually own the Rattlesnake SL2 myself and I dug far and wide to get it at $270. At the time it was the best compromise between weight, size and overall value. Of course you shouldn't be buying the Catalyst 3P for 1 person but some people prefer the extra space of a 3P tent over a 2P tent if they always have a buddy. It just didn't make sense to me at first why you were comparing a bunch of 2P tents with this 3P tent which weighs about the same but gives you much more real estate.

I went once shared a Tungsten 3P with a friend and it was a great tent. Lots of liveable space due to the bent pole design. Then after a bit I "bought out" my share and got my own 2P tent. I just wanted to have my own space at the end of a long day and I certainly didn't want to pack a heavy 3P tent if I went without him. What was the actually lighter to carry and the arguably comfier tent? The Tungsten 3P- when split two-ways. Now, I have privacy and still the option to bring along an SO or smaller sized buddy.

If we're comparing like-for-like, I think my argument still stands. Certainly many better choices for backpacking.. but with added costs. Yes, not necessarily hundreds more, but often in the range of double. I think the Tungsten 3P UL is a reasonable comparison. Extremely comfy and shaves almost 2lbs off your pack weight. But that 2lbs/2 (or even 3) is only 1lb savings for basically double the money. But yes, overall, agree that this is not the tent for you if you are looking for a 1/2-person backpacking tent and weight savings are nice as long as the price is right.
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May 22, 2015
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I understand where you're coming from, I just can't get over using a 3 person tent as an introductory backpacking tent. Yes, you can split the weight but I'm still caught up on the pack size (especially with the footprint and extra height of this specific model).

Most people will find a 2p to be fine for solo or S/O partners, in almost all cases of 2 guys going together they will carry their own 2 or 1p. I suppose its personal preference but I find 3p tents to be the odd man out for backpacking. Almost every review site will echo this sentiment.
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Aug 8, 2018
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I have gone backpacking with this tent and just want to point out the pack size really isn't that bad. We take the pegs/poles out and put it in one persons bag and then the Tent/fly/footprint go into a compression sack and I haven't found it any more bulky then my MSR Hubba Hubba tent. It is slightly heavier but once again split between two people it's not really a noticeable difference. We took this tent over our two person MSR because we wanted the extra room for our dog and it was well worth it.

It's a good tent and a good deal.
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Oct 15, 2013
728 posts
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lhsonic wrote: Another poster suggested a BA Copper Spur... like c'mon.. that's $700, basically 4x the cost of this tent. And not to be argumentative, but rather out of genuine interest and because I think it could help a lot of people searching for a well-balanced tent, you mention some $200 tents that would be better than this one- which ones would that be?
Another poster did not recommend the Copper Spur they said its packed volume is 5L vs 17L for this one (corrected numbers for radius/diameter). That is information that needs to be known for someone who intends to backpack as what you save in $ you are possibly spending in larger/weightier backpack and perhaps sacrificing what else you can pack (and may need to go lighter on and spend more) to carry this.

My recommendation would be to not get a 3P tent for backpacking. Car camping, sure.
I think if you are truly backpacking you are better carrying your own personal tent (or bivvy) but if you must, then I guess you can spread the load.


If money is your biggest consideration you can get a 3 person tent from Canadian tire made of similar materials and lower weight for $45: https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/outb ... p.html#srp

I have had a Woods tent from Canadian tire for car camping for years and it has been great. When backpacking I take a 2-person Sierra Designs Flash 2 I got on clearance, which is actually too big tbh but so good a deal I couldn't pass on it. I do have to sacrifice a bit on what I can carry to account for it.


I think this is probably a good tent and tbh if I didn't have one I use for car camping already I would be interested but for backpacking for a few days, no.

This seems like a decent option for under $200 for a 3P: https://www.amazon.ca/Winterial-3-Perso ... B01I0BJQEG the sloping sides might make it tight for 3 but it seems to have good ventilation, double doors, the weight and pack size isn't ridiculous and its a good price (although who knows what the durability is like).
This takes up 7L of space vs the 17L of the OP tent, and shaves off over 1.5Lbs. My only concern with that is the length is 23.8" to achieve that, so you need a tall pack to fit everything internally.
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Aug 8, 2018
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Once again, it is listed as 17L because that is the size of the bag it comes in. If you put it in a compression bag it will only take up 5-8L of space depending on the size of your compression sack.
Sr. Member
Oct 15, 2013
728 posts
1232 upvotes
Rxc1717 wrote: Once again, it is listed as 17L because that is the size of the bag it comes in. If you put it in a compression bag it will only take up 5-8L of space depending on the size of your compression sack.
I think that's fair and worth knowing. But I also think you could probably say ones that are less than 17L are also capable of being compressed with extra gear and can also be split into multiple packs.

Before the discussion was just about weight and cost, I'm just trying to say that is not the only reason, and those other reasons may cause knock-on effect that alters the rest of what you pack. 8L is still a big chunk imho considering you also have to fit bag and mat, pots and pans and stove, food and water, change(s) of clothes (choosing merino vs cheaper material) etc etc.

To me the categories you have consider holistically are it's weight and cost, durability of top and mainly bottom, packed size, features, intended use (all or 3 season, car or backpack, long distance or short and elevation) and perhaps looks though I don't care about that.
You need to consider it all because its no fun being out on the trail and having a load that tires you out or a tent that does something shit like let rain in and soaks the sleep system you bought, or other crap like it needing more than one person to erect. Been there and decided its best to just put down a bit extra on one of the major pieces of your equipment personally, but I don't bother saving mere grams on titanium spoons for instance.

This might work out for people and I imagine its a good tent, but it is heavier and larger volume than some of the alternatives that's all and it should be factored into your choice and personal usage.
I would definitely buy something like this for car camping personally, I think Marmot are a good brand.

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