Planning my first bikepacking tour I had a long shopping list. By far the most expensive part of the set-up, apart from the bike of course, was my sleep system.
Making decisions on which tent, airbed and sleeping bag to buy took several months of research and review reading, firstly on the merchandise, then once a decision was made, further reviews on merchandisers!
Criteria for selection, in order of priority:
I'd seen some YouTube reviews by through-hiker and bikepacker influencers, often they were out of my price range and/or not free-standing.
Eventually I decided upon the Marmot Tungsten UL1P weighing in at around 1.3Kg for the 3 season bundle.
Be careful if purchasing, don't confuse the Tungsten UL1P with the heavier Tungsten standard tent!
The UL1P sells for around $300 USD. When buying in the US from the UK you will also pay import duty and a considerable delivery charge. I purchased mine from US based Backcountry Gear and was more than happy with their service, it came out at around £300. It is possible to find them in Europe, but there was none available at the time I wanted one.
For the purpose I bought it; bikepacking in Spain during Spring/summer, being a mid-range budget shelter, it was perfect and I will continue to use it. It was wobbly in the strong Levante Winds though!
Review in summary
Approx 1.3kg and packing down to around 15cm diameter x 47cm long
Easy to put up, around 15 minutes at a leisurely pace
Even easier to break down, less than 4 minutes packed into bag
There's no special folding or rolling to pack it away
The bag also holds my large Big Agnes airbed and groundsheet
I'm 5'8", there's plenty of headroom for me to sit-up whilst on my thick airbed
There's around 12" at the end of my airbed spare and around 6" along the side
No condensation problems as you're not touching the fly-sheet
Lots of room in the vestibule for gear
There's a handy pocket for things that you need quickly in the night
There's a pocket on the ceiling for a light
I didn't get wet in a thunder storm that ran for around 5 hours
It gets wobbly in winds over approx 35 knots if orientated correctly. If not orientated correctly approx 20 knots gives it a hammering. I haven't done extensive testing but possibly this isn't the tent for windy high-mountain camping.
The colour is a bit bright for stealth camping
The guy rope tags are hi-viz, not good for stealth camping
It was perfect for my bikepacking in Spring/summer in Spain
I've replaced the bag it stores in, as it got damaged
Being Ultra-lightweight you need to accept that to achieve a low weight, the material will not be as thick as a 'normal' tent, therefore not as robust. I'm clumsy and I'm careless, and as yet I haven't destroyed it.
I have slept in my Tungsten around 15 times and ridden with it on my handlebars for around 800 kilometers. I've had two quite big falls with it on my handlebars too.
I have melted holes in my tent with incense sticks, the repair patches work well. I light the incense sticks as it is supposed to be a fly/mozzie deterent, I think it works!
The duffel bag Marmot provide got a good bashing where it rubbed on my handle bars, it sustained further damage when I had a big fall, tearing the bag when the bike somersaulted. The bag looks so tatty now I have bought another one. It is an Exped Waterproof Compression Bag with circumference straps Medium 19L Manufacturer's code: X7640147-768390 from Outdoor GB it cost around £20, the ground sheet fits in the new bag with all the tent parts but the airbed doesn't. I can't say whether it's good for the job, I haven't used it yet!
The tent's easy to put up, just remember the silver/grey end of the pole goes to the silver/grey tab and the silver/grey clip on the main body. The yellow end of the pole goes to the yellow tab and yellow clip on the main body.
I didn't bother putting the guy ropes on when it wasn't windy. When it was very windy and with the tent orientated correctly, with the narrow end pointing towards the wind, at around 30-40 knots, I found it best to put more weight inside the tent to help stabilise it. The poles started to shift from their designed position at this wind speed. Being tall and thin, I'm not sure this tent is good for higher winds. But I will say that the more meticulous you are when pitching-up, the better the tent will perform in winds.
If you pitch-up without orientating the tent properly, then the wind has much more of an effect on the stability of the poles. At around 20 - 25 knots, with the wind on the long side, the poles were shifting from position quite a lot.
I was in the tent only once for a real heavy rain storm, it lasted around 5 hours, and I stayed dry inside the tent. The good thing about the thin construction material is that it dries out very quickly.
The zip on the external and internal vestibule doors rarely snag, and both are two way/two toggle zips. All doors can be tied back with a toggle and tag.
Then colour is a little bright for stealth camping, but I still did it and wasn't disturbed. At each corner is a tag to tie the guy strings on, they have a small strip of hi-viz paint on them. If you're thinking of stealth camping you may want to eradicate the hi-viz with a market pen.
I'm 5'8" (172cm) tall. I have long legs and shortish body, sitting on my thick airbed there is plenty of headroom and I wasn't constantly touching the sides of the tent. With the mesh interior, if you should touch the sides or ceiling, you're not getting sopping wet from condensation, which is limited to the fly-sheet.
The vestibule and tent was big enough to hold all of my gear, except my bike, which I laid out the back of the tent, and cabled my bike lock through the rear tag adding a bungee strap from the bike to the each rear pole. This gave me an extra anchor for the tent and also I should have been able to hear if anyone tried to steal the bike!
The free-standing inner body is all mesh, except for the bath-tub type ground sheet. In good weather you can pitch-up without using the fly sheet at all, just using the inner body to protect you from any bugs, watching the night sky. In that case it would take you five leisurely minutes to erect the shelter!
If you do use the fly-sheet, the vestibule doors fully open, so the whole of the front of the tent is a window to the big outdoors with the added bonus of you being inside a bug free cell!
My only concern with recommending this tent would be if you was going to be in a particularly windy area. When I was in Spain, the Levante Wind blew hard for 10 days. I decided not to be in the tent for the highest of these winds, 50 - 60 knots. I have no idea if the tent would have withstood those speeds.
I am extremely happy with my purchase and will continue to use the tent for the foreseeable future.
I bought mine in January 2019. Specifications could alter slightly so I will not include a specification sheet here. All details can be found on merchandiser's or Marmot's websites. This review is to pass on my usage experience.
What do you get
Lightweight duffel stylie
Free-standing main body
No-see-umm mesh all around except the incorporated ground sheet, and incorporated clips to attach it to the poles
Mine is a bright yellowy colour, I believe a green may be available, it has one vent at the wider end. Each bottom corner has an attached hook to attach it to the main body, and each cornice has two Velcro straps to attach it to the poles, with one Velcro strap at the top, again to attach it to the poles
Poles and a stuff sack to hold them
Two sets of elasticated strung together aluminium poles. One end is silver/grey and bent the other is yellow and straight
A repair kit with three different sticky-back materials. A short section of pole repair tube
Pegging down hardware
Six aluminium pegs, four guy strings and four guy string adjustment clips, these need assembling together and a stuff sack
Footprint (not supplied)
This is not supplied and is at extra cost. I bought a cheap £5 tarp, build the tent onto it and cut around it, to use as a cheap footprint
The Tungsten is thinner one end than the other. Looking at the vestibule side of the tent, the wider end (90 deg to the vestibule) is to the right. The narrower end, to the left (90 deg to the vestibule). The tent should be pitched with the narrow end facing the direction from which the wind is coming i.e. so the wind is hitting it.
You can see my YouTube on how to put the tent up, take it down and my thoughts on it here
Lay the main body on the footprint with the narrow end orientated towards any wind
Join the poles up
Lay the poles, crossed in the middle, over the main body, orientate the poles so each of the silver/grey ends are at the corner where there is a silver/grey tab on the main body (along the vestibule side). The yellow ends of the pole should now lay at the corners with the yellow tabs
Stick the pole into the hole in the tab at each corner, bending the pole into an arc, and sticking the pole into the diagonally opposite main body hole
Clip the main body to the poles
Peg out each corner of the main body using four of the pegs
Throw the fly-sheet over, orientating the vestibule to the main body vestibule
Attach the top centre fly-sheet Velcro to the two poles
Attach the two Velcro tabs that are on each corner of the fly-sheet to the poles, one above the first clip, one above the second clip
Pull everything straight
Attach the hook that's on each corner of the fly sheet, to the loop on each corner of the main body
Peg out the vestibule (I use two pegs)
Pull the tab on the hooks at each corner taught
If you want to add the guy strings you will need to tie them to the little tabs that are on each corner of the fly sheet, you'll need four more pegs or pull them out of the main body corners.