If you are looking to purchase a new tent, there are a number of models which have received very positive reviews to choose from. However before you decide on a specific 4 season tent, there are a number of factors which you should consider.
The first factor of consideration is weight. Most four season tents are substantially heavier than their three season counterparts because of the extra features which are essential for winter use. They also tend to be constructed from a heavier fabric which is more durable against snow and wind, with zip up panels to cover mesh windows and door openings for keeping out the cold winter elements. Four season tents are also supplied with more poles than a standard tent too give it extra stability in adverse weather. If you are not planning on using your new tent in winter, then the extra weight of these features will probably make it more of a burden.
The shape of tent is the next consideration. 4 season tents come in geodesic or outer pitching tunnel designs. Both designs have their share of pros and cons, so it is generally down to personal preference. Many 4 season tents favor the geodesic design, which means that there are several interlinking poles which crossover making a stable structure. This makes this design less reliant on pegs for stability which can be advantageous in adverse winter conditions. Tunnel style tents have the advantage of being considerably lighter in weight. Well thought out tunnel designs make it easier to put up the tent even in the wettest and windiest weather without the interior of the tent getting wet.
You also need to consider the materials used in your choice of tent. Many models of 4 season tent are made from nylon which is light and has a good tensile strength. The material is usually coated to provide a greater degree of weather protection, but although the more it is coated it will have greater durability and protection, it will also be more expensive and heavier. It is essential to have a good thick waterproof groundsheet, but there will be a choice of interior fabrics which will provide extra privacy and added insulation. This is not necessarily essential but it could add a further degree of comfort from drafts and condensation. Try to avoid tents with large amounts of mesh, as this can be difficult to keep warm, you can always open a solid panel a little for fresh air.
Size is also a consideration factor. Perhaps more so than in summery warm weather, the size of your chosen tent is extremely important. You need to consider the tradeoff between space and heat. For example an eight person tent with four people sleeping in it will feel spacious but you will feel colder, however eight people in a four person tent will feel nice and warm, but you may feel a little crammed in. It is important to remember that when camping in winter, you will be carrying a lot more equipment and need space to change out of layers of damp clothing.
Color may be the last thing you think about, but it is worth considering. Earthy colors such as green will be more camouflaged on the landscape but may feel quite a lot more oppressive when you are confined inside, bright colors such as yellows or reds will stand out but can feel like a more pleasant environment.
Testing your Tent
Some of the best 4 season tents balance the compromises of all these factors. Popular models provide a great all round camping solution which is durable in winter but lightweight enough for summer usage. It is well worth giving any tent you are considering a significant amount of scrutiny. For example little metal zip pulls may seem insignificant, but bear in mind that during winter camping you will need to operate them while wearing gloves, so if they are extremely small then they may be problematic. Also metal tags or pulls may have a tendency to rattle in windy weather, so if you are a light sleeper, this may become irritating very quickly. It is also important not to be so distracted by the winter features of a tent and forget basic summer necessities such as bug netting on doors and openings.
If you are looking for a new 4 season tent, you need to seriously consider when and how you want to use it. You will need to look at this to determine which factors you are prepared to make a compromise on and which are an essential necessity. 4 season tents can be costly but it is important to remember that cost is not always the best factor to compromise on. You may regret saving a few dollars on your tent, when you are in the cold conditions of winter wilderness and your tent is not durable enough against wind or rain. Don’t be tempted to rush into your new purchase, look at all the reviews for your shortlist of models and ensure you select the model which is best suited to your needs, uses and budget.
Here are a few Tents from REI which are among the more popular 4 season tents.
With a compact, geodesic dome design that makes it strong and storm-worthy, the REI Base Camp 6 Tent is easy to set up and roomy enough for your group of 6 and your gear. Color coding makes the tent quick to set up with a combination of clips, sleeves and 4 strong aluminum poles that give the tent flexible stability. Large front and rear doors offer easy access and tuck cleanly away into interior pockets; privacy panels zip over windows. Generous mesh windows in walls, ceiling and doors provide excellent ventilation; 2 fly ceiling vents help reduce condensation and can be accessed from inside the tent. Front and rear vestibules provide ample covered space to store gear; front vestibule’s window lets you see the view and enjoy the light. Mesh gear attic and multiple interior pockets keep your tent organized; hang loops are located throughout the tent. Bound, cut-in floor and UV-resistant, full coverage polyester rainfly will not stretch or expand when wet, ensuring a consistently taut pitch. Convenient backpack-style carry bag organizes tent, fly and poles with extra space for footprint; footprint sold separately. The REI Base Camp 6 tent comes with 12 stakes, 4 guylines with tighteners, pole repair tube and gear attic.
Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 Tent is designed for winter mountaineering. It’s built incredibly strong and engineered for the toughest high alpine conditions. 2 mesh/fabric doors provide easy entry/exit; large vestibule provides work-worthy space while a small vestibule is handy for access, overflow storage and vent manipulation. Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 is strong and easy to set up; front vestibule pole quickly affixes to the outside of the tent via pole clips. Evolution Tension Arch™ technology multiplies structural aspects of the tent skeleton without adding poles or heavy wall fabric. Stiff but lightweight fabric spreads the load-bearing capability of the poles over a wide surface area; ribbed wall fabric adds strength while remaining lightweight. DAC Featherlite® poles have a high strength-to-weight ratio, use extrusions, not inserts, to minimize breakage and are anodized without the use of harmful acids. Guaranteed watertight construction with fully taped fly, taped perimeter seams, welded corners and welded guy clip anchors. 2 clear SVX windows are placed correctly to check the weather; tent’s color fends off depression while you wait for the weather to improve. Dry-entry vestibule design prevents water from dripping inside tent when vestibule is open, improving livability. Mesh/fabric zippered thru-vent ensures good air circulation. Expedition bathtub-style nylon floor features a non-hydrolyzing, 3000mm-rated polyether urethane coating and Durable Water Repellent finish for waterproofness and durability. For extra stability each guyout point clips to the frame on the interior side of the rainfly via welded attachment points. Catenary-cut seams create a taut canopy and rainfly for improved strength. All the poles are color coded to the bar tacks in the webbing of the grommet tabs, plus reflective starter points help setup in low light conditions.
Big Agnes String Ridge 2 Tent is a winning choice for people who move in the mountains year-round. Easy set up, good ventilation, light weight and ample space are just a few of the amenities available on the String Ridge 2. Two-hub pole assembly, one crossover pole and DAC Twist clips contribute to the tent’s strength and stability. Oversize stake-out loops work with an ice axe, skis or ski poles. Tent’s reflective corner webbing and heavy-duty reflective guyline stand out at night in your headlamp’s beam. DAC Featherlite® NSL poles are superlight and strong, featuring press-fit connectors and lightweight hubs. NSL anodization uses far less harsh acid than conventional anodization and recycles wastewater during rinsing process for less environmental impact. Fly and floor are made of lightweight ripstop nylon treated with silicone for durability and coated with polyurethane for waterproofness. Tent body is made from breathable ripstop nylon; closeable mesh vents keep air circulating inside. Interior mesh pockets keep gear organized. Use the String Ridge 2 footprint (sold separately), tent fly and poles to pitch a lightweight shelter. Includes stuff sacks, guyline and lightweight, oversized Mega X-peg stakes. Average minimum weight specification is based on tent, rainfly and poles only.
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