Winter Camp By The Lake

Finding the Best Four Season Tent

When you go camping in the summer you don’t typically have to put too much thought into the type of tent you bring with you. Your biggest concern is if you will have enough room for everyone in your group. Late fall or winter camping requires much more meticulous planning and research into the gear and equipment you need to stay warm and protect you from the elements. Four season tents are designed to provide a barrier against significant wind gusts, minimize exposure to heavy snow and rain and protect against cold winter temperatures.

How are Four Season Tents Different?

Three season tents are designed for more casual applications, are roomier and lack insulation. Four season tents have specific applications such as mountaineering, basecamps and treeline. Another significant difference between these two types of tents is that 4-season tents are heavier, tougher and more weather resistant. They have stronger poles, more durable fabrics, sturdier zippers and more features.

How to Select Your Four Season Tent

Winter Campsite - Tenting in the Snow
Snowshoes, backpack and trekking poles near the tent.

To select the right type of four season tent, you first you need to identify what type of terrain you expect to encounter and what features you need.  Mountaineering tents are designed to withstand high altitude environments while minimizing weight. They are single wall, waterproof and the square footage is smaller than other types of four season tents. Basecamp tents are made for longer duration stays, more comfortable and heavier in weight. Treeline tents are great winter tents, but made for lighter winter adventures and backpackers who may be pushing the season boundaries. These 4-season tents have the most features with more substantial flooring and heavier canopy.

Four season tents come with double wall or single wall variations. Double wall tents have two layers consisting of the outer rainfly and the inner tent canopy. Single wall tents have one waterproof layer to protect you from the elements. Depending upon the material, single wall tents can be just as durable as double wall, but are noticeably lighter. If weight is your primary concern then single wall tents are the best option, but if comfort and warmth is your primary focus then a double wall tent is the ideal choice.

Other considerations when selecting a 4-season tent is color, ventilation and durability. If you plan on being in a snow filled environment, then a bright colored tent is a good idea in case you need to be found by rescuers. Four season tents are designed to be less porous to trap warmth inside your tent. The downside can be moisture buildup and proper ventilation is an important feature that should not be overlooked. Durability is important as you are likely to face extreme weather conditions such as strong winds and blizzards. Make sure the tent poles are tough and that you have stakes and snow anchors to properly secure your tent. The tent should also be protected against UV rays which can degrade the material at higher elevations.

How to Stay Warm Inside Your Tent

Having a great 4-season tent will help block wind gusts and protect you from rain and snow, but you still need to stay warm throughout the night. Obviously having an extreme weather sleeping bag should be first on your list to keep warm inside your tent. Wear thermal underwear, socks and a hat to bed and you can always take them off if you get too hot. Take a look at sleeping bag liners which can provide an extra layer of insulation to stay toasty warm. Bring disposable heat packs and a small portable tent heater to take the chill out of the air in your tent.

Recommended 4 Season Tent Models

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TENT CATEGORY WEIGHT AREA HEIGHT WALL
Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 Mountaineering, basecamp 8 lbs, 15 oz 40 sqft 38 in. Double
Black Diamond Eldorado Mountaineering 4 lbs, 8 oz 30.8 sqft 43 in. Single
The North Face Mountain 25 Basecamp, mountaineering 8 lbs, 8 oz 32.5 sqft> 41 in. Double
Hilleberg Allak Basecamp, treeline 6 lbs, 2 oz 30.1 sqft 41 in. Double
MSR Access 2 Treeline 3 lbs, 10 oz 29 sqft 42 in. Double
Nemo Chogori 2 Basecamp, mountaineering 6 lbs, 12 oz 36.3 sqft 39 in. Double
Hilleberg Jannu Mountaineering 6 lbs, 2 oz 34.4 sqft 39 in. Double
Nemo Kunai 2P Treeline, basecamp 4 lbs 27 sqft 42 in. Double
Hilleberg Nammatj 2 GT Basecamp, mountaineering 6 lbs, 9 oz 30.1 sqft 37 in. Double
REI Co-op Arete ASL 2 Treeline 5 lbs, 5 oz 32.5 sqft 40 in. Double
Nemo Tenshi Mountaineering, basecamp 3 lbs, 14 oz 26.3 sqft 42 in. Single
MSR Remote 2 Mountaineering, basecamp 6 lbs, 8 oz 33 sqft 43 in. Double
Big Agnes Shield 2 Mountaineering, treeline 3 lbs, 12 oz 28 sqft 40 in. Single
Black Diamond Firstlight Mountaineering 2 lbs, 13 oz 27.3 sqft 42 in. Single
The North Face Assault 2 Mountaineering 3 lbs, 4 oz 27.3 sqft 42 in. Single
Rab Latok Mountain 2 Mountaineering 4 lbs, 1 oz 31.5 sqft 43 in. Single
Alps Tasmanian 2 Treeline 7 lbs, 7 oz 34.5 sqft 46 in. Double
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