What is a 4 season tent and is it worth getting one for your outdoor adventures?
In this article I will be talking about the importance of a tent that can be used in the cold, what they are REALLY used for and if you need one to use for your next camping trip.
If you’re a camper or backpacker that wants to know what makes a tent that can be used in 4 seasons, then you’re on the right page, because I’ll be covering everything that you need to know. Enjoy 😀
The Main Differences
The main distinctions between the 2 types of tents will be outlined below.
4 season tents:
- Much more wind resistant, as they have extra poles to make them sturdier
- Capable of withstanding heavy snow fall
- Have very deep-angled sides for better snow run-off
- Highly likely to contain vestibules
- Some of them do not require rain flies, while it’s not uncommon to see one that doesn’t need a footprint either
3 season tents:
- Can only withstand high winds – from a storm, not the really strong winter winds
- Can NOT withstand any kind of snow fall
- Have less-angled sides to save on the weight
- Not all of them contain vestibules, only a small few
- 99% of them contain rain flies, as the body of the tent is not actually waterproof
Basically, 3 season tents are much lighter, contain mesh walls to promote air flow, and are much easier to pitch, which is a better choice for you if you’re going backpacking and you need maximum ventilation.
So What is a 4 Season Tent?
A huge fallacy is that people think such a tent is created for ALL FOUR SEASONS, when this is not the case.
Even though it says 4 seasons, it really means winter only.
These winter tents are way too heavy and bulky for summer use, which is why they have created 3 season tents.
You can still use them in other seasons as well (summer, spring and fall), but they won’t work AS well in those seasons as 3 season tents will.
The walls on 4 season tents are mesh-free (most of the time) and created with strong, thick material to provide the best wind/snow protection while keeping you as warm as possible.
The best thing about these tents is that they can protect you from really heavy winds, ice, snow, and even hail – whereas 3 season tents can not.
A 4 season tent is best used for winter – ONLY, and if you use it for any other season, you’re just making it difficult on yourself.
Even though they don’t contain mesh walls, that’s not to say they don’t offer good ventilation, because they absolutely do!
A good 4 season tent will mean no frost will get built up inside of it – on the walls or roof.
The moisture that comes out of your mouth when you breath will stick to the sides (and roof) of the tent – and this will actually turn to frost if the tent doesn’t have good ventilation.
Furthermore, there’s a possibility for your body-heat to warm up the entire tent and actually MELT the frost, causing all the moisture to drip on you.
This is exactly why you’re more likely to get condensation built up in the winter time
Why A Vestibule Is Highly Important
As you’re out exploring the wilderness, over time your backpack accumulates snow – and when you come back to your campsite to rest for the day, you need to ensure absolutely NO snow is going to get inside your tent.
When you get snow inside your tent, it’s just a matter of WHEN it’s going to promote faster internal frost buildup, which is why you should be brushing out all snow that makes its way into the tent.
That’s exactly why a vestibule room is important – it provides a place for you to store your gear outside of the tent, eliminating the need for internal frost to buildup altogether.
Not to mention that they stretch RIGHT OUT, almost completely to the ground to ensure snow packs down on them, giving you much more stability and the best protection against the elements.
Keep in mind – I do not recommend a 4 season tent that doesn’t contain a vestibule room, you’re just setting yourself up for a disaster.
When Do You Need To Use A 4 Season Tent?
You’re going to need a tent like this if you’re camping in places where it will be snowing, or it’s very cold, or there is just really heavy winds – so basically, winter time – ONLY.
You do not need a 4 season tent if you’re planning on camping during the summer, fall, or spring – as these types of tents are just way too heavy and will cause to you overheat due to the super-thick fabric.
If you’re looking for a rule of thumb, here it is:
A tent for 4 seasons should be used when you want warmth and strength, protection from strong winds, blowing sand, and cold temperatures – basically, the ability to stand strong in extreme weather conditions.
Whereas a 3 season tent is best used for camping in warmer months, since it has great venting options for increased air flow, and they have no problems standing up against average winds, rain, and even some light hail or cold weather either.
Essentially, the 4 season tent will handle it ALL – everything, while a 3 season tent will provide the basics, but sacrificing strength and extra protection for lighter materials.