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Anupama Pradeep

Four Season Backpacking Tents – How Worth It Is?

A 4 season tent is the last as well as the best line of defense in between you and the external elements. Consequently, they are really stronger in comparison with the 3 season counterparts, having considerably more canopies, rain flies, fewer meshes and tougher pole structures.

 It is completely designed to be used during the winter season. If you are a backpacker or a camper and wish to know more details about the 4 seasons tent, then you are on the right page as we cover each and everything which you wanted to know.


One of the major fallacies is that majority of the people think that 4 season tents are designed especially for all the four seasons and well, this is not the case actually. Even though it is termed as “4 seasons”, it points to winter season only.

They are bulky and heavy to be used during the summer season, and this is the reason why 3 season tents are created.
Even though you can use them during the other seasons such as fall, spring, and summer, they won’t work well or as expected.

The walls of the 4 season tents are constructed mesh-free and are designed with thick and strong materials for providing the right protection during snow and windy time. It also helps to keep you warm throughout.

One of the best and the most notable factor is that the 4 season tents can very well protect you from the heavy winds, hail, snow, and ice, but the 3 season tents cannot do all these things.

This is where the comparison of 3 seasons vs 4 season tent really matters. Before choosing the tent, you need to check several factors like weight, weather resistance, durability, packed size, adaptability, livability and various other features as well.

What Is A 3 Season Tent And How Is It Beneficial?

This is a tent which is specially designed to be used during fall, summer and during spring seasons. They are light in weight and can guard you against the wind and rain. They are built in such a way that it provides good ventilation as possible.

The presence of lots of vents along with open mesh walls will permit the flow of air freely all over the tent with providing enough protection for the camper or the backpacker from a direct wind. This, in turn, protects from the buildup of the condensation and lets the cooler air to come inside the tent.

The vestibules (side rain cover) will be sitting on the ground for allowing the air to get inside. The floor materials, the ultra-lightweight will make them feel less weight and bulky. The lightweight, thinner aluminium frames together with the weight of the pole setup cuts (that is sleeveless) will help to carry on even the mild weather settings.

In addition to this, clips are used for attaching the body of the tent with the poles. Majority of the tents nowadays reduce the weight of the pole by using the trekking poles for structuring the tent. These kinds of shelters usually weigh around 3 and 6 lbs. Now you might have understood what 3 season tent means. Now let us move on to the beneficial side of 4 season tents.

Four Season Tent – How is It Different From Other Seasons Tents?

As mentioned above, this is a tent which is normally used during the winter season. The major locations where you can use these tents are during harsh wind and during snowy conditions. Other than using the normal polyester nylon materials, these tents are made completely mesh-free for trapping the body heat inside itself, thus blocking the gusty winds from outside.

three season camping tent

There will be lots of vents present in the tents for controlling condensation. However, this is of no importance during cold temperatures. The vestibules will be extending towards the ground for blocking the wind and will be having flaps for folding it inwards. This in turn also allows snow to get packed into them, enhancing the stability and the overall protection from the external elements.

Aluminium is used for providing robust and thicker frames. For increasing the stability and the strength of the tents, you can even make use of full fabric sleeves.On the other hand, it offers a complicated as well as slower setup.

Many of the times, the number of pole sections will be used for offering strong protection and framing around your shelter. This will even provide stability against the gusts, thus being strong enough to hold up the weight of the accumulated ice of snow during chilly weather.

 Another feature of the 4 season tents includes extra guy out points, internal gear pockets, extra doors and extended vestibules. The average weight of the tent falls in between 8 to 16 pounds. However, with the advent of the technologies, the weight has been reduced to around 5 lb range for a majority of the models.

four season winter camping tent

3 and 4 Season Backpacking Tents – The Major Difference

There are a lot of misconceptions about the 3 and 4 season tents. Can a 3 season tent be used during winter camping? How is it differentiated? Well, the answer is mentioned right here. The key differences between the 3 season and the 4 season tent are with its ability to handle the heavy snowfall and the wind resistance. The winter tents are coming with an additional robust exoskeleton and are having sharp angled sides. The main differences are outlined below:

3 Season Tents

  • Can protect against high winds
  • Cannot stand against the snow fall
  • Does not have sharp angled sides
  • Only a very few models have vestibules
  • 99 percent of the tents are having rain flies since it is not waterproof

4 Season Tents

  • Wind resistant with extra poles for making them stronger
  • Can withstand heavy snowfall
  • Sharp angled sides for the snow run-off
  • Have got vestibules
  • Some of the models don’t need rain flies

Above all, the three-season tent is lighter and holds mesh walls for permitting the flow of air. They are very easy to pitch and are good options if you need maximum ventilation.

The Ventilation

Even though they are not having any mesh walls, it doesn’t mean that they don’t offer the right ventilation required. They completely do! The 4 season tents ensure that there won’t be any frost getting built up inside the tent or on the walls or roof of the tent.

The moisture or the air which is coming out from your mouth while breathing will stick to the roof as well as the sides of the tent. Keep in mind that this air will turn to frost if there is no good ventilation.

On the other hand, there is a chance for the body heat to warm the tent completely, thus melting the frost accumulated. Finally, it will melt and the moisture will drop down on to you. This is the main reason why you need condensation built up during the winter period.

4 Season Tent Reviews

The Mountain Hardware Stronghold is a good example of the 4 season tents. They are having 15 external poles for holding against the strong wind gusts. Also, the structure of the tent is such a way that it is effective against the shedding snow owing to its geodesic shape and the high angle walls. It helps to increase the interior space and the external fly is an added advantage for increasing its rigidity.

Another model to point out is the snow trekker tent. For the past few years, these models continue to carry over the winter camping tent’s flagship.

This canvas tent was manufactured 15 years back and all the features were planned and tested very carefully so as to stand against the winter elements and to provide safety for the camper. It helps to maintain maximum floor print region without compromising the heating efficiency.

There is even 4 season tent with stove and tent with chimney hole available in the market. The stove is coming with protective shields so that it protects the camper from the burns and also the tent from getting fire.

Foot Note

Finally, it all depends on what you really plan to do with the tent and the climactic situations out there. As a general rule, try to choose the right campsite since this is highly important. Place them against the direction of the wind and make sure that you are installing them according to the manufacturer’s instructions for ensuring safety and comfort.  

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camping, four season, hiking, tents, three season, winter camping

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