Best 4-Season Tent: Key Features & Considerations
Camping is an unforgettable experience for those who love spending time in nature, regardless of the season. If you’re planning a summer trip or a winter adventure, though, you’ll need to have the best 4-season tent. And if you’re especially into winter camping – such as backcountry ski trips – then it’s even more important that you choose your tent carefully.
The ever-growing popularity of backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, in addition to recent advances in materials, have made the niche more attractive than ever. In the past few years alone, we’ve seen at least six new tents from as many brands that are tough enough for winter camping and light enough—usually under six pounds—for summer backpacking. These are true year-round tents.
The quality of your 4-season tent matters because it will affect how comfortable and safe you feel in harsh conditions. Keep reading to learn how to choose the best 4-season tent for your next outdoor adventure, as well as a detailed comparison between 3-season vs four-season tents. You’ll also find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about four-Season tents.
Key Features to Look For in Your Four-Season Tent
It can be tricky to decide which 4-season tent is best for you with the hundreds of options on the market. To make your decision easier, here is a list of features to look out for when shopping for your next camping shelter.
The size of your party will determine how big of a tent you need. If there are 1-3 people, then you’ll want a small tent. However, if there are 4-6 people or more, then you should get a bigger one. Keep in mind that when you’re in cold weather camping, it requires more space to account for the extra gear like the camping stove. Make sure there is enough interior space to move, stand up, and lie down when you’re going to rest after a long trip.
The number of doors, as well as their shape and orientation, should be considered when you pick your tent. If you have to go the bathroom in the middle of the night, it’ll be more difficult if there’s only one door and you have to climb over everyone.
Cabin-style tents usually perform better in this area. Another thing to consider is how easy or loud the doors are to zip open and close – YKK zippers typically don’t snag or break as easily as other brands. A double-wall tent may come with multiple zippers for the waterproof fabric, the mesh, and the inner tent itself, meanwhile, single-wall tents are still equipped with a decent amount of protection and are more lightweight than double-wall tents.
Tent Materials for Winter Camping
Choose a higher-denier fabric canopy and rainfly for more durability when shopping. Additionally, pick a tent with seam tape and high-density fabrics on the floor to decrease the chances of leaks. On a short camping trip, you can bring a weighty tent but on long ones you should bring the lightest tent you can find. Some of the best four-season tents are guaranteed with carbon fiber poles or at least aluminum alloy sturdy materials
Four-season tents use nylon fabric instead of mesh to seal in warmth and prevent drafts and drifting snow from seeping into the interior cocoon. They also tend to have more guy-out points, higher-denier materials, and more venting options than their three-season brethren.
Shelters or awnings are commonly attached to tents to store or protect muddy or dusty boots or keep packs out of the rain. They can be an integral part of the rainfly or add-on items that are sold separately.
A rainfly is a waterproof material that covers the roof of your tent to provide extra protection against harsh weather conditions. It’s common to find two types of rain flies: those that only cover the roof and allow more light and views, and those that offer full coverage from wind and rain.
To ensure that your camping trip is as delightful as possible, tent designers strive to keep the weight light. However, a lower weight often results in less floor space inside the tent, fewer features, and reduced durability. That’s why you need to be thoughtful about which one you pick, taking all of these factors into account.
Although ultralight tents have been known to be weaker in the past, recent models are much more durable. However, keep in mind that they tend to come at a higher price tag. Additionally, make sure you check the specifications before making your purchase; sometimes companies label their products as “ultralight” when they aren’t. You’re going to be carrying your sleeping bag as well and that adds extra weight to the ones you already have.
Tent poles are what make most of the basecamp tents’ weight. The best brands will use high-quality aluminum poles or carbon fiber that are lightweight and strong to withstand heavy snow loads. As you’ll be spending a lot of time in your tent, it’s important to choose one with sturdy poles and joints, as this will ensure that it withstands tough weather conditions.
If you’re going camping with a car, you can buy a treeline tent instead so you can just tuck it in the mounts of your car or pickup for adventure. This is also good if you’re not going to stay in the same place for a long time.
You’ll want to find a four-season tent with additional poles for extra strength against high winds. Another crucial element is fabric panels that zip over mesh areas. They help retain heat and prevent snow from blowing inside the tent.
It’s also a good idea to go for a 4-season mountaineering tent. This gear is super resistant to strong wind gusts and heavy snow loads thanks to rounded dome designs. 4-season mountaineering tents are characterized by a greater number of poles and solid walls. Plus, these tents often feature rainfly that extend almost to the ground.
As you see, a 4-season mountaineering tent body might seem the most reliable solution for cold-weather camping and inclement-weather camping. However, take notice of its major downside: it can feel stuffy in mild conditions since it has less ventilation.
Tents typically have mesh panels on the ceiling, doors, and windows. This allows for views and ventilation to help manage condensation. For hot weather climates, look for tents with larger mesh panels. A winter tent usually comes with a tiny vent just enough to keep the airflow without letting the elements in such as snow and rain. Treeline tents are also good in ventilation as you’ll be staying above ground where you can feel the breeze.
Interior Loops and Pockets
A lantern loop is a small, sturdy ring of metal located at the top center of most tents’ ceilings and is used to hang a lantern. loops on interior tent walls can also be employed to attach a mesh shelf (such as a gear loft) to keep objects off of the ground and organized pockets are often sewn into better-quality tents for organization purposes. A single-wall tent has a lesser chance of having interior loops and pockets so opt for a double-wall tent instead.
If you’re looking for a tent that will effectively protect you from wind, rain, and snow while still providing excellent ventilation and interior organization, a 4-season tent is the best choice. Some of the key factors to consider when choosing a 4-season tent include its weight, seasonality, ventilation features, and interior loops and pockets. So whether you’re going camping in the heat of summer or in the middle of winter, there is a 4-season tent that will suit your needs and keep you safe and comfortable.