From cross-country skiing to mountaineering in the harshest weather conditions in the world, the 4-season tent is the last line of defence between you and the elements. As a result, these tents are much stronger than their 3-season counterparts, with fewer cells, larger canopies and rainflies, stronger pole constructions and a large number of facilities designed for winter. Below you will find our selection of the best 4-season tents of 2020. In view of the many possible applications, we have divided the various models into three categories: mountaineering, skirting and wood. For more information, see our 4 Seasons comparison table for tents and buying tips below the selection.
Best overall 4 season tent
1. Rigid Mountain Trango 2 ($700)
Category: The weight of the basecamp package: Nine pounds. Floor area: wall(s) of 40 square meters : Double
What we like:. A sound constitution and excellent viability.
What we don’t do: It’s hard.
Choosing our favourite 4 season tent wasn’t easy, but Mountain Hardwear has balanced it all with its tried and tested Trango 2. This tent experiences bad weather like any other tent with a dense double-walled construction and a flight structure that is not only connected to the poles but also to the tent house, providing extra safety in case of strong winds. With two doors and two vestibules, you will enjoy excellent living conditions, and the generous 40 square metres of space is much larger than any other 2-person model. In the latest update, Mountain Hardwear moved the position of the bar under the barrel and included non-combustible (i.e. non-toxic) materials.
After all, the solution between the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 and a single walled tent like the Black Diamond Eldorado below depends on your winter camping style. Some people think the extra kilos are worth the extra options and space, while others want to go up and down the mountain with as little weight in their bag as possible. One of the advantages of Trango 2 is that it is easy to share the weight with your climbing partner (single wall tents are often not available). And if weight is not a problem – which can be the case if you have porters or travel by plane – Trango is available in 3 and 4-person models for even more scenic camping luxury.
See Trango 2 Hardwair Mountain.
Best single walled mountain tent
2. Black Diamond Eldorado ($730)
Category: Weight mountaineer package: 5 lbs. 1 oz. Floor area: 30.8 m² wall(s) : Single
What we like: Lightweight and compact.
What we don’t have is: Average distribution and internal structure of the poles.
The Eldorado of the black diamond is a classic. Despite the many improvements that have been made over the years, this single-walled, two-pole tent has survived many stormy winter nights and has risen to the top. Most importantly, the strength and quality of the assembly is excellent – it has been used on expeditions to Everest and has proven itself in decades of alpine use. Despite its sturdiness, the tent weighs only 5 pounds 1 ounce, which is about as low as a serious mountain tent.
Do not forget that the Eldorado of the black diamond is comfortable for one person and one device, but is not suitable for two people. If you need more space, the vestibule is available as a set for $170 (we have always been fans of the small vestibule built into the tent and don’t like the extra cost). In addition, many people think that the inner poles of a tent – they can be difficult to set up and can drill holes in the corners of the tent if you’re not careful. After all, single-walled tents breathe less well than double-walled models. But the weight gain is worth the sacrifice for many climbers and makes the Eldorado the best minimalist 4-season tent on the market.
Look at the Eldorado of the black diamond.
Best adventure course for tents all year round
3rd access to MSN 2 ($600)
Category: Trailer Packed Weight : Four pounds. Floor area of 1 oz: 29 square foot wall(s) : Double
What we like:. Ultralight for a double-walled tent, but still quite stable.
What we don’t do: Not ready for the entire winter.
Many 4-season tents are overcrowded for mild winters, and in these cases a decent, sturdy (but slightly less bombproof) tent will do. Go to the Tree Line category and our Top-Peak MSR Access 2 Double-walled access offers more protection than the 3-season model (with fewer cells and a stronger mast structure), but the 4 lb 1 lb design is much lighter than most of the options offered here. And unlike tents in our mountaineering category, Access still has two doors, two vestibules and 29 square metres of space (our testers jumped on the version for three to get extra space plus a dog). In general, it is an excellent tent for winter travel and elbow-to-elbow trips in mild conditions or when you are not completely naked.
Marking a tree line in the RMS access is a bit tricky. The last thing you want is to sit on top of your head in a winter storm and the weight of 4 pounds is awfully light (that means less wind and protection against rain/snow in general). But we had no problem accessing the snowy landscape of British Columbia and even the Huaihuas Cordillera in Peru. It should be noted that in strong winds, the fly does not fully reach the ground, so a wall of snow must be erected to protect against draughts and snow accumulation. And MSR Blizzard poles (normal poles only) are not included in the tent, so we recommend you take them with you. Read the detailed overview
Note the following table. Access to RMS 2
Best ultralight winter housing
4. Megalamp with black diamond ($320)
Category : Base Camp / Rope Line Package Weight: 2 lbs. 13 oz. Floor area: 50.7 sq ft wall(s) : Single
What we like: Incredible versatility for snow campsites; lightweight and affordable.
What we don’t do: Unstable in strong winds, allows draught.
You’ll probably need a fully functional snow tent, but as a dinette, to store equipment or just to change the environment when the cabin is hectic, Black Diamond Mega Light is a complete luxury baseboard. And we lavish the Word of Luxus only light forty – for 2 Fund 13 Unes on the whole world. The most important feature of Mega Light is its groundless design, which makes it possible to dig under the snow and create a seating or parking area for four people. And in no time Mega Light can also be used as a lightweight bed – at 50.7 square metres you get about 20 square metres more than most of the options on the list.
But calling a Mega Lite a four-season tent is a bit of an exaggeration. Although he was able to withstand winds of up to 80km/h during our tests, he simply couldn’t compete with dark tents like the Hilleberg Nammatj 2 GT below or even the single-walled Black Diamond Eldorado. Actually, it’s a famous bottomless sail: In very cold or windy weather he tends to clap and has a rather dramatic feeling. While the Black Diamond forms an insect net with a bathtub base that can be combined with Mega Light, it will add another 3 pounds 11 ounces to your backpack. But when used properly, Mega Light is an impressively versatile model that is just as suitable for winter hiking as it is for summer backpacking adventures. Read detailed display
View megabol with black diamond
The best of the other
5. Northern Mountains 25 ($689)
Category: The weight of the basecamp package: Nine pounds. Floor area 15 ounces: 32.3 square meters Wall(s):. Double
What we like:. Good price for a design in skirt style.
What we don’t have:Heavier and less spacious than the Trango 2 above.
The North Face 25 has been known for many years in the most inhospitable regions of the world. And although it’s the heaviest tent on our list, you’ll be grateful for the 9 pounds (3.5 kg) if you can handle the tension of the skirt. Just like the Trango 2 above, the Mountain 25 has a strong double-walled structure, sturdy poles and proven fabrics that can withstand tough conditions. Two doors and vestibules offer different entry options and plenty of storage space. The tent is well ventilated, looks spacious with a peak height of 41 inches (3 inches higher than the Trango 2), has inner pockets and is easy to set up and take down.
The choice between Trango 2 and Mountain 25 was difficult, but Mountain Hardwear eventually won for a larger layout in a slightly lighter paddock. But both tents lead in almost every other category, including weather protection, durability (although TNF is less strong in 40D than in 70D) and price. And engraving is now included in Mountain 25 (Trango is sold separately for $80), but for camping in the snow you don’t need an extra layer. For a larger version of this triple tent with more interior space, try the VE 25 north wall. Read detailed display
See the north side of Mount 25
6. Hilleberg 2 alloy ($1,070)
Category: Trailer clip / basic Package weight: 7 lbs. Floor area of 4 ounces: 31.2 square foot wall(s) : Double
What we like:. High quality assembly with appropriate weight.
What we don’t do: Very expensive and not a real mountain tent.
First we take the elephant out of the room: Gilleberg’s tents are expensive. The Swedish company uses ultra-premium materials and focuses like no other brand on the small details, and unfortunately you won’t find many lucrative offers. But that doesn’t mean Hilleberg isn’t worth it – £7.4 and with two doors and vestibules, the Allak is a fully equipped tent all year round which is much lighter than competing models such as the Trango 2 shown above. The traditional shape of the dome is not designed for the strongest winds or heavy snow loads, but it can certainly withstand the test.
Allak crosses the line between our tree line and base camp categories, and the red Hilleberg label (one level below the legendary black label) indicates a similar classification. In other words, it’s an increase over Access, but not quite at the level of Trango or Mountain 25 above. Our experience is that Allak is strong enough to withstand the gusts of wind and the heavy rain of the real winter weather. For maximum protection against Hilleberg, try Staika, an even more tightly knotted 4-season tent with a similar dome. The biggest compromise is the weight, since the 8-pound battery weighs 13 ounces and costs $55 more Read detailed overview
Note the following table. Hilleberg Allak 2
7. Nemo Chogori 2 ($700)
Category: Base camp
Package weight: 7 pounds 8 ounces.
Floor space : Wall(s) of 36.3 square meters : Double
What we like:. The outer structure of the rod adapts quickly and reduces weight.
What we don’t do: Untested long-term performance.
Directly to the popular tents Trango 2 and Mount 25 above – Nemo Chogori 2. The main innovation of this tent is the double-walled construction and the design of the outer poles, which allows you to set up your tent faster and easier in bad weather than your main competitors (Trango and Gora require you to install the tent and the rain track separately). Nemo is virtually solid DAC poles or silicone-treated nylon on the fly for extra strength and weather resistance. Weighing 3.5 kg, Chogori is one of the lightest tents on the list, ready to put up a skirting board.
What are the shortcomings of Nemo Chogori? The interior is 36.3 square meters, but the peak height of 39 inches means less space for tents than most tents here. What’s more, at $700 it’s more expensive than Mountain 25 ($689) and doesn’t correspond to Trango’s long list of successes in extreme conditions. But we believe that a quick and easy installation process, a strong reed structure and a reasonable weight make Chogori a versatile option for mountain climbing and other winter backcountry adventures.
See Nemo Chogori 2
8. Hilleberg 2 January ($1040)
Category: Mountaineering Package weight: 7 pounds 1 oz. Floor area: 34.4 m². The wall(s): Double
What we like:. Double-walled version, but still quite light.
What we don’t do: Not as spacious as the heavy versions above.
The Hilleberg Allak above looks more like a vaulted tent, but the sweet Yannu is meant to push the boundaries in the alpine latitudes. This mountain tent competes with top models such as the Black Diamond Eldorado shown above: It is compact, super solid, has a door and entrance hall and good living conditions on an area of more than 34 square meters inside. The Jannu is ideal for a single climber to store a lot of stuff, or simply perfect as a double for climbing the summit.
What is the difference between Jannu and a tent like the Eldorado of the black diamond? Firstly, it has double walls, which greatly facilitates air circulation and ventilation (note that this makes the Jannu more versatile than the Eldorado for use outside hardcore mountaineering). In terms of weight the Jannu is more than 7 pounds heavier, but still very respectable for a double-walled construction. And, as one would expect from Gilleberg, it costs enough for a huge $1040. The two tents are independent (only Jannu’s entrance hall needs a glass space), and in both cases you can’t go wrong.
See Hilleberg Jannu 2.
9. Nemo Kunai 2P ($500)
Category: Trailer/spinner Package Weight : Four pounds. Floor area of 5 ounces: 26 square meters wall(s) : Double
What we like:. Light for double walled tent and good price.
What we don’t do: Fine fabrics, a small hall and limited pockets.
Nemo Kunai is an interesting and discrete 4 seasons tent. More importantly, it is one of the lightest double-walled tents on the list, with only 4 pounds 5 ounces, and has less access to the MSR, and is classified as a tree tent. But the Kunai is stiff from head to toe, with a third pole above the entrance opening for more stability and four anchors tensioned by the umbrella fly. In strong winds, this ensures the safety of the entire tent structure, not just the flies (we turn to you, MSR Access).
The Kunai competes with other tents in our mountaineering category and is competitive in both weight and protection. However, it is characterised by its double-walled construction, which offers more breathability and comfort, but also has disadvantages in an attack tent. On the one hand, the 15 inch Kunai carabiner is much thinner than a single layer tent (Eldorado is made of 30 inch fabric), and we don’t want to use it around the grindstone. Secondly, a double wall tent (especially with an entrance hall) needs more time and space to be set up – Kunai will not be our first choice for a fight on a small ledge halfway to, for example, Fitz Roy. But for quick and easy camping and mountain climbing in winter, the Kunai offers an impressive combination of weather protection in a lightweight construction.
Look, look, look, look, look, look. Nemo Kunai 2P
10. Hilleberg Nammatj 2 GT ($1050)
Category: Base Camp Package Weight: 8 lbs. 3 ounces Floor Area: 30.1 sq ft wall(s) : Double
What we like:. The entrance hall is very spacious and excellent for use in strong winds.
What we don’t do: The tunnel construction is not as suitable for high snow loads as a dome-shaped tent.
The Allak is our favourite crossover/basketball tent in Hilleberg, and the Jannu is the best light option for mountain climbing. But don’t lose sight of the Nammatj GT, which is tunnel-shaped and built to withstand the toughest conditions. This is one of Hilleberg’s legendary Black Label tents, which means it is one of the strongest tents produced by the company. With a total weight of 8 pounds 3 ounces it will be difficult to find a 4 seasons tent that does more with less weight. In the GT Nammatj version you have a 25.8 square metre front porch, which is extremely spacious and ideal as a basic campsite in particularly rough environments.
Nammatj’s tunnel shape is superior in strong winds, but it can’t withstand as much snow as a dome tent. You will see a lot of pictures of Nammatj in pretty much snow, but it is worthwhile to spend some time digging and creating a delineation. In fact, the ruggedness of the Nammatj GT is ideal for high mountain and polar regions, but the tent can be overloaded for travel in all weather conditions. For a similar tunnel design from Hilleberg for less extreme conditions and less weight, we like Nallo, the Red Label tent, which is also available in the GT version.
See Hilleberg Nammatj 2 GT.
11. First lamp with black diamond ($370)
Package weight: 3 pounds 6 ounces.
Floor space : 27,3 square foot wall(s) : Single
What we like: Lightweight and very easy to pack.
What we don’t do: It’s not waterproof.
The Black Diamond Firstlight is a 4-season tent with polarization. Some people are surprised by the lightness and packaging of this product. A 3 lb. 6 oz. pack is the second lightest weight on the list (after BD Mega Light). You also get a self-contained single wall construction with very little space, which means that Firstlight fits on small projections that other tents on the list just don’t fit. For a minimalist, fast and easy climb, it increases the Eldorado-comic by one and a half kilos.
Many of the complaints about Firstlight have to do with watertightness. Like some ultralight single wall structures, Firstlight is not waterproof. The NanoShield soft top has a silicone coating that is waterproof, but the constant rainfall seeps in fairly quickly. It is true that the tent is designed to protect against wind and snow in the high Alps. The question then arises whether you want to limit yourself to that and if so, whether you feel comfortable in a structure of 3 pounds, 6 ounces. We prefer waterproofing and extra protection for tents like Eldorado, but Firstlight is a very affordable option and is faithfully supported.
See The first rays of the black diamond
12. Grande Agnès Shipment Copper Spores HV3 ($550)
Category : Trailer clip / basic Package weight: 6 lbs. Floor area of 3 ounces: 41 square meter wall(s) : Double
What we like:. Very spacious, yet light.
What we don’t do: Not as resistant to bombs as the heavier versions.
During the HV3 Copper Spur Expedition, Big Agnes took her extremely popular backpack and added many 4-season features to create a fascinating design for winter camping and mountain climbing. We have added a triple model to our list, which is much larger than any two-person model, but with a filling weight of just over 6 pounds. Compared to the aforementioned MSR Access 3, the copper spur weighs just over a kilo, but it is much livelier with more open, almost vertical walls. What’s more, Big Agnes’ large muscle sticks, glove-compatible zippers and numerous binding options large enough to attach to skis make the Copper Spur expedition the ideal structure for winter.
Despite the excellent surface-to-weight ratio, the Copper Spur expedition surprises us as an intermediate structure that achieves nothing. With thin fabrics and a three-pole hub structure, it simply cannot be compared to the Trango 2 protection above, which has a four-pole construction and strong (but heavy) 40D nylon walls. And real counters are likely to sacrifice some comfort to save the weight of a single-walled tent. But if you are looking for a central point where space and weight are paramount, then the Grande Agnès is a fascinating alternative. The Battle Mountain range has a more traditional Big Agnes base camp design for mountaineering or serious winter destinations.
See the Big Agnes Copper track HV3 expedition.
13. REI ASL 2 Areas of cooperation ($399)
Category: Trailer package weight: 6 lbs. 5 ounces Ground surface: 32.9 sq ft wall(s) : Double
What we like:. An enormous value for a 4 season tent.
What we don’t do: Not built for the toughest conditions.
As with the access to the RSM above, there is time and space for Arete. REI calls it All-Season Light, which means it is a tent that offers better weather protection than the traditional 3-season model, but is not designed for very high winds or heavy snow loads. But with the new four-pole construction Arete is now more stable and has more headroom. Weighing 1.5 kg and costing just $399, it’s an economical way to ski or snowshoe in mild and temperate conditions. Simply put: You won’t find a better offer on this list.
We particularly appreciate the fact that REI Co-op Arete is an option throughout the year. Its double-walled construction and large mesh doors and vents allow the Arete to be used for normal walks in backpacks that are not exposed to the cold, but the Arete can be controlled and kept in the snow. As long as you don’t depend on Arete to be your companion at high altitude or for particularly stormy missions, it’s an excellent choice for the shoulder season and a healthy series of gentle winter hikes.
Look, look, look, look, look, look. Areto of the REI ASL 2 cooperative.
14. Nemo Tenchi 2P ($700)
Category: Weight mountaineer package: 5 pounds. 14 our floor space: 26.3 square meters. The wall(s): Single
What we like: Robust and excellent ventilation for a single wall tent.
What we don’t do: I feel a little tense and dramatic.
For a harder 4 seasons version of the popular Nemo Tentmaker, try Tenshi. This single-walled tent resembles the Black Diamond Eldorado above with its sleek design for the high mountains. More than the Eldorado, Tenshi has tires in the middle of the walls on both sides to prevent the tent from collapsing in strong winds. We also love the unique condensation curtain, a flap that falls over the chest and actually quarantines the moisture inhaled in part of the tent. And unlike single walled tents, Tenshi includes the room and everything you need.
Like all light mountain models, the Tenshi has a number of flaws. It’s relatively small, only 26.3 square meters, and we noticed that the door might seem a bit narrow. It can also be cumbersome to carry and occupy a healthy place in your backpack. Finally, ventilation is a strong point of this tent with multiple ventilation options, but it can actually get a little too cold and draughty if you sleep alone.
Look, look, look, look, look, look. Nemo Tenshi 2P
15. North Side Attack 2 Futures ($659)
Category: Weight of the mountaineer package: 4 pounds. 15 ounces of land : 27.3 square feet of wall(s) : Single
What we like: The lobby included in the package makes it good value for money.
What we don’t do: It’s not the best choice to wait for the rain.
If you’ve never heard of the Future Light of the North Side, you probably live in a cave. TNF calls it the most advanced waterproofing technology, which is good news for single-walled tents such as the popular Assault (one of the biggest disadvantages of single-walled tents is condensation build-up). In addition to increasing air permeability, the TNF mountaineer retains its preferred design with a sturdy structure designed for harsh winter conditions and multiple ventilation holes along the summit to facilitate air circulation. Remarkably, it does all this with a competitive lightweight of 4 pounds and 15 ounces, making Assault 2 Futurelight one of the best performing 4-season options to get to the top.
Compared to the Black Diamond Eldorado it’s a few ounces lighter, but it takes about 3.5 square meters of space. You get the added functionality of a zippered tambourine (Eldorado bags for $170 and an extra 6 oz. pounds), and we find that the ability to store our stuff outside more than makes up for the limited interior space. One of the problems we have with the renewed model is that the thin fabric offers less protection against the elements. Also, we weren’t too impressed by the waterproofness of the Futurelight laminate when we first saw the North Face L5 LT jacket (the soft material and breathable construction absorbs moisture quickly). But with improved breathability in a proven assembly, Assault 2 deserves more attention, and for $659 it’s a great value.
Look, look, look, look, look, look. Attack on the north side 2 in the future.
16. Mount Rab Latok 2 ($675)
Category: Weight of the mountaineering track : Four pounds. Floor area of 1 oz : wall(s) of 31,5 m² : Single
What we like: The eVent hood is breathable but waterproof.
What we don’t do: Valuable and not tested like the other tents on this list.
Hats off to Rab for his creativity with a series of 4-season tents. This unique one-layer design is made with a three-layer eVent (if it doesn’t sound like it, it is used in a number of heavy jackets). The fabric is known for its breathability and durability, making Mount Latok an excellent compartment that has inadvertently proved to be waterproof. With only 4 pounds 1 ounce and 31 square metres of surface area, this is a fascinating option for climbers.
A breathable, waterproof, single-walled tent with over a kilo of hair and a solid interior sound, ideal for high mountain adventures. One of the main complaints is that the thin, breathable walls do not seem to insulate like other single-walled tents, which can be a problem when camping at low temperatures. In addition, the outer walls of the tent tend to tilt in strong winds, while the walls of the Black Diamond Eldorado are super dense and barely move. All this shows that this is a quality tent that gets good grades among the most demanding climbers.
See Mount Rab Latok 2.
17. Mountaineering in Tasmania 2 ($300)
Category: Trailer package weight: 7 lbs. 15 ounces Ground surface: 34.5 sq ft wall(s) : Double
What we like:. High value and high capacity.
What we don’t do: Heavy, cumbersome and limited capacity.
Let us start with the fact that we have had positive experiences with the products of the Alps, although they are of a budgetary nature and certainly not among the best. But with the value, we can’t discuss why the Tasmanian Alps made this list. For just $300 (and $221 at Amazon at the time of release), you can get a tent that is enough for most casual winter tourists. We especially like the capacity of this 34.5 square meter tent, which is one of the largest models for two persons. In addition, the large mesh ventilation opening at the top stimulates the air flow and prevents condensation.
It is important to have reasonable expectations for a 4 season tent in this price range. First of all, the Tasmanian Alps weigh 2.5 kg, not to mention the fact that they are bulky and a bit difficult to put in the closed bag (although you will probably end up dividing the body of the tent and the poles to put them in a backpack). Secondly, we recommend not to load this tent to the extreme in case of bad winter weather. It should perform well in cold weather and light to moderate winds, but the above mentioned tents use better quality materials and much more complex structures. After all, shelf life always involves products that undermine prices for the rest of the market. The Alps cover manufacturing defects under warranty, but nothing to do with normal wear and tear.
Look, look, look, look, look, look. 1. Tasmanian Alpine Ascent 2.
4 Comparison of seasonal marquees Table
Tips for buying 4-season tents
- Types 4-season tents
- Package weight and dimensions
- Double-walled tents versus single-walled tents
- Size: Floor area and middle height
- Ventilation and condensation
- Sylnilon versus polyurethane
- Storage: Vestibules and inner pockets
- Tent pole design: Single vs. single
- Collars and snow anchors
- When density is important
- 4-seasons tents vs. 3-seasons tents
- A note about 4-season accommodation
Types 4-season tents
The term 4-season tent applies to all accommodation that must withstand the rigors of winter. However, there are many other differences in this category: bulletproof, spacious and heavy tents (excellent for easy camping), light single-walled constructions (excellent for alpine slides) and everything in between. Below you will find an overview of our three main categories of 4-season tents: Mountaineering, skirting and wood.
Mountaineering marquees are built for high mountain environments where weight is the main criterion. Many of these tents are single walled (see below) and make few compromises when it comes to wind and weather protection. The surface is generally lower than the base plates and tents of trees, and the same goes for the height of the tops. Almost all mountain tents are waterproof (or easy to close at the seams), with one exception: the lightweight Black Diamond Firstlight.
Mountain tents are strong, light and often compact indoors.
4-season baseball tents are generally more comfortable and heavier than their mountain sisters above. First of all, you may not have to stand so far or so high up in the tent, which makes it easier to pack more weight and get more tents back. You can also spend more time in a skirt shaped tent. Mountain tents are designed for quick and easy adventures and for climbing peaks, but basilicas can be built under different circumstances and conditions. Many of these tents have a double-walled construction that facilitates ventilation, prevents condensation and leaves free space, all at the expense of weight.
Basic tents are often larger, heavier and better ventilated than mountain tents.
tents are the shortest 4-season models on the market. As the name suggests, tents such as the MSR Access 2 are designed for winter camping, but not necessarily for intensive use in the high mountains. Compared to the 3-season version, the thatched tent has a larger bathtub floor, less gauze and heavier fabrics for tent canvas and rainflies. But these tents do not match the models of baseball and mountain camps in terms of strength and durability, and it is best not to test them. However, they are a good option for a light winter offensive and a serious 3-season backpack in unpredictable weather.
The MSR Access tent is an excellent option.
Package weight and dimensions
4-season tents weigh more than their 3-season counterparts because of their heavier and stronger fabrics, stronger poles and stronger lightning. At the far end of the spectrum, the minimalist Black Diamond Firstlight model weighs just a kilo and a half, while the robust model, like the Mountain 25, weighs almost three kilos. Even if you look at the weight curve instead of the packed weight (which doesn’t count in bags, bets and grey lines), some of the tents on this list for the two-person version (the three- and four-person models still weigh more) still weigh almost 9 pounds.
As with almost all types of active equipment, weightlifting has its advantages. Heavy 4-season tents tend to be stronger, more weatherproof, better ventilated and have more functions. They’ll have a lot more tents, which might come in handy. For three days we sit in the tent with the first rays of sunshine, and even with a nostalgic pink tint the feeling is still oppressive. We’d probably trade in a few pounds of M&M’s peanuts for the comfort and weather protection of a heavier tent like the TNF Mountain 25.
MSR tent with remote control, snow canes and pegs packed for travel.
Weight and pack size generally go hand in hand and there is a strong correlation between these two variables. In many cases, two or more mountain partners can separate the different elements of the tent from each other to reduce the tension on each of them. It should be noted that this process can be more complicated with single-walled tents than with double-walled tents – without an umbrella, the tent house is by far the most important component in terms of weight and volume. But in most double-walled tents, the awning and umbrella can often be fairly evenly separated.
Double-walled tents versus single-walled tents
The decisive difference between 4-season tents is the double-walled and single-walled constructions. Simply put, a double-walled tent consists of two different layers: the inner awning and the outer rain. Single-walled tents, on the other hand, have a layer of fabric to protect them from the outer elements. But don’t worry: single wall tents can be nailed down and absolutely watertight, depending on the material and surface finish. They are also much lighter than double-walled models, with much less dust and complexity.
A single-walled black diamond in the first light of the Alaska Ridge.
Which type of 4-season tent should you choose? If weight is your first priority, you win models like The North Face Assault and Black Diamond Eldorado to lead the attack. But these tents are minimalist in nature and have their own limitations. They do not tolerate breathing moisture and normal condensation on the inner walls, almost as little as double-walled tents. Overall, you get less interior space, fewer vestibules and fewer doors. Single walled tents are designed for weekend storms at the top of Mount Rainer or the final push to the top of the Himalayan Giant, while double walled tents are more comfortable in strong winds and snow at the 17,000 foot camp on Denali. If your trip or expedition takes more than a few days, a double wall tent may be the best option for you.
Size: Floor area and middle height
Winter camping usually means bigger sleeping bags, bigger pillows and more personal items. That’s why most 4-season tents have more space than normal backpack tents. Don’t forget that you can spend more time in the tent if you are climbing or wait for the suction cup to come up when the weather is good.
Northern Mountain 25 has a spacious interior.
The interior of a tent is usually measured by the floor area, which we have indicated in the product specifications and in the comparison table in square meters. At the other end of the spectrum, the minimalist mountain tent, such as Nemo Tenshi’s tent, measures just 26.3 square metres, while the spacious three-seater Big Agnes Copper Spur Expedition tent measures 41 square metres. However, many climbers use the Tenshi, BD Eldorado and other compact models only for themselves and their equipment, or you can add a drum for more space and storage. If you are looking for a place, the plinth and the variety of trees will be a winner. Many tents have a cross-head support that offers lateral resistance to wind and snow loads, and a higher ceiling height (think of a cube, not a pyramid). More camping makes these days more bearable.
The number of square meters doesn’t tell the whole story because it only represents the floor: You also have the height of the middle and the slope of the wall. The large height of the spikes makes it easier to sit and move around in the tent, while steep walls tend to do much less. We’ve given the peak height in our comparison table above, and the best way to measure the pitch is to take a closer look at the shape of the tent (or better still, go to your local equipment store and check it out with your own eyes).
Finally, you have to find a tent that is a few inches longer than you are. Otherwise you have to sleep at an angle or in a fetal position that is not optimal. Most 4-season tents are suitable for people over 1.80m, but Hilleberg seems to be the favorite brand for those who rise above the rest.
View of the glacier from the compact but light Nemo Kunai.
Ventilation and condensation
4-season tents are naturally warmer than 3-season tents – they have less mesh and are designed to protect you from the elements and therefore store more heat. However, it is important to keep the air fresh, both to stay dry and to protect yourself from the funky socks of your climbing partner. Over time, your breathing will condense on the inside walls of the tent. In warm weather it turns into water pearls on the ceiling and walls. In cold weather it turns into a frosted plumage. Both can fall on your face while you sleep and wet your sleeping bag and other stuff. And if you sleep in a completely closed tent, you may feel desperate because you are constantly breathing stale air.
It collects the condensate on the inner walls of our tent.
Good ventilation will help alleviate many of these problems. It is important to remember that even the best 4-season tents tend to have some form of condensation, but some are better than others. Double-walled structures tend to breathe better than single-walled tents, and the more ventilation openings, the better. If you do not suffer from draughts, leaving doors open and all available ventilation devices can help to reduce condensation. In the product descriptions above we have tried to describe which tents are strong or weak, especially in terms of breathability, which can certainly be an important factor for your comfort.
Opening the ventilation flap on the support 25
When a strong wind and two metres of snow bury your tent in the Denali camp, 14,000 feet above sea level, you want to know that it can withstand the pressure. In addition, the tents are exposed to intense UV rays from the sun at high altitudes and on glaciers. As a result, your tent will wear out faster than at low altitudes or in a more hospitable climate. For these reasons, many 4-season tents are made of heavy fabric (70D nylon taffeta with a quality coating) to withstand the harsh conditions of the sun (which is stronger at higher altitudes because there is less atmosphere to filter the rays), strong winds and heavy snow and rain.
Proven tents such as the Trango 2 by Mountain Hardwear, the Mountain 25 by The North Face and many Hilleberg models are known to withstand years of abuse in the harshest weather conditions known to mankind. They remain relatively light without adhering to a stable material. In general, not only are the costs of the tent reduced, but also the quality and durability of the construction. This is not a hard and fast rule, but the cheapest tents are generally less durable and less reliable than their more expensive counterparts.
North Wall 25 and VE 25 frames are proven and durable.
Sylnilon versus polyurethane
Due to the rapid immersion in a strong and waterproof nitrated fabric, there are two main types of coatings used in 4-season tents Silicone (also called silicone) and polyurethane (usually called PU). Silicone nylons are very expensive, generally weigh less, are less packed and, in the case of silicone Kerlon fabrics, Hilleberg has incredible tensile strength and durability. But even Hilleberg uses polyurethane for the floor of his tent. Polyurethane can be applied at a greater thickness than silicone for excellent puncture and abrasion resistance, it is much easier to sew and much less slippery than silicone, which prevents slipping on the tent floor. The biggest drawback is a shorter lifespan, especially when using low-grade polyurethane, which tends to peel off. But often the advantages do not outweigh the added value of silicone, so most Nygielberg tents are equipped with rain protection and a polyurethane floor.
Storage: Vestibules and inner pockets
On a long journey where rain is expected, it is absolutely necessary to have enough space to store and dry your equipment. Tents like the Trango 2 from Mountain Hardwear and the Big Agnes Copper Spur Expedition have bags in their pockets. I keep wondering how easily I can fill these bags with food, equipment and electronics once my package is empty. And on any long journey, it’s very important that your equipment is organised and separate from your partner’s (you don’t want him to eat your snacks!). Most tents also have small hinges designed to allow a man’s rope to pass through the ceiling, which is useful for drying wet material after a long day of bad weather.
We like the convenience of the two doors and the vestibules.
Maybe nothing in a 4-season tent is more important for comfort than a hall. The entrance hall of the tent acts as a separate space, separating the dry, snow and rain-free inside from the hard outer elements. Nothing irritates your partner more than immersing his dry sleeping bag in wet Gore-Tex and snowshoes. In the hallway, you usually lock yourself out and prepare to enter the tent dry, just as you would take off your dirty shoes outside before getting on the carpet. Many tents have a small back room that can hold several backpacks, but is not ideal for cooking or as a main entrance.
Tent pole design: Work in progress versus unfinished goods
There are two types of tent poles: self-supporting and non-supporting. Autonomous means that the tent stands on its own after all the poles have been erected. Tents that have not been uncovered need to be properly erected and set up to achieve their strength.
Both types of tents have advantages and disadvantages, and it really depends on personal preferences. Freestanding tents like our top-of-the-range Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 tent are easier and quicker to set up. When all the sticks are in place, just remove them and start to feel good. These tents are supported by cross beams, which gives them strength and stability. Even in bad weather, an experienced road user can usually set up a separate tent himself.
Robust mast structure on the self-supporting Hilleberg Allak.
Non upright tents are generally lighter, but more difficult to pitch – they are anchored in the ground or in the snow to stand upright. When the poles are up, the front and back of the tent are set up and stretched, then the sides are aligned to give the tent stiffness. Undeveloped tents generally have more tubular sections than a wide pyramid. This gives them an aerodynamic shape that can withstand strong winds if placed correctly. Both types of tents are in constant use in places such as the North Pole, the high Himalayas and Alaska.
Tent qualityTent pole
As far as the quality of the tent pegs is concerned, 4-season tents will be equipped with stronger (and heavier) pegs that can withstand large gusts of wind. In cold weather the tent fabric shrinks and plastics and metals become brittle. A slight break of the tent pole during a storm can crush the tent, but strong metal poles (Easton, DAC, etc.) with long connectors provide torsion resistance. And watch out for tent poles with a plastic tip (the end part of the pole that is connected to the tent connector). A year ago I saw more than a dozen similar bars cut from the top of the Denali when the company switched from metal to plastic.
High-quality tent pegs are a prerequisite for use in 4 seasons.
Anyone who has ever grabbed a backpack knows that the number of doors in a tent is important. There’s nothing more frustrating than crawling blindly over a partner at two o’clock at night to follow nature’s call, and they’d probably say the same thing. 4-season tents have one or two doors, and we’ve included this information in our comparison table above. In general, lightweight mountain tents probably only have one door – an easy way to reduce weight and maintain a small footprint (and no discomfort when camping alone). The base camp and the tree tents will probably have two gates, so that everyone can enter and leave at will. One last thought of doors: A second door often means a second front room, which considerably improves storage options and comfort.
Collars and snow anchors
In unpredictable weather conditions it is necessary to bombproof the tent against wind and storm. One day, when we came back to Muir Camp after climbing Mount Rainier, we saw the tent of the Kaulit Glacier come down and fall into the ravine (true story). Later I learned that the team had repaired their tent with simple pegs of 15 cm, which can be used to store a standard tent backpack in the mud. A few years later the team’s tent on Denali was hit by a gust of wind and flew down the hill with all their sleeping bags. Luckily they got him back, but not without a lot of trouble. They also forgot to dig the right snow anchors.
Skis and poles are very useful for attaching the tent.
When using a 4-season tent in alpine conditions, it is not uncommon to use cross-country skis, ice axes, poles, bamboo poles or other objects that can be safely buried and will not bend or break under heavy load. On large mountains such as the Denali it is advisable to go down two meters or more and fall asleep with very compact snow around the pole. If you do not have long skis or poles at your disposal, you can make a dead anchor with all the spare parts of the equipment nearby. Wrap a stick, a stone, a pole in a tent – even a bag of snow – and bury it deep in the snow. The most important thing is to cover the deceased with heavy, compact snow so that he doesn’t run out of snow.
A lighter, explosion-proof option is the use of snow parachutes. They are made of durable nylon and use their surface and the surrounding snow to anchor them. They have to be dug deep, and when the snow has descended and hardened in a few minutes, they are firm, just like everything else. Another advantage of snow parachutes is that they can stick to the tent. This simplifies the setup process and means you don’t have to sit in your backpack to find pickets or any tools to use as an anchor.
Prepare Nemo Tengshi for the night.
When density is important
You may wonder why we recommend a tent that is not waterproof, such as the Black Diamond Firstlight, as an option for the winter. Isn’t the intention of the Ten, especially the Ten in Four Seasons, to keep you dry? Yeah, and this is our point: In real winter conditions, when the temperature stays well below zero, the chance of snow melting and seeping through the walls is negligible. In addition, snow crystals falling from the sky are likely to slip (see below). If ever there was time to save on waterproofing, it’s deep winter. Of course – and this is important – it assumes that if you go to the mountains, you certainly won’t have a hot and rainy night, which is unusual for the season.
There are a number of clear advantages of using waterproof material in the tent. First of all, the waterproof fabrics and stitching really increase the weight and price, and with 3 pounds of 6 ounces and a reasonable price of $370, Black Diamond Firstlight is an ultra light and affordable option. In addition, the waterproofing generally inhibits breathability (especially in single-walled tents), which means that other single-walled waterproofing options retain much more condensation than Firstlight. But these advantages bring with them a certain responsibility. Be sure to seal the tent seams as the first line of protection against wet rain (Gear Aid’s Grip Seam Sealer – a proven choice). Second: Shake the tent regularly when it snows so that it doesn’t get warm and falls into the water. And if you don’t know what the weather will be like, leave your Firstlight at home and bring a truly waterproof design.
4-seasons tents vs. 3-seasons tents
Four season tents are tents that you can take wherever you want, do whatever you want and are designed to withstand the toughest conditions in the world. I watched the whole holiday from a four-season tent when inches of snow and rain fell, but inside I stay dry and comfortable (although I’m crazy and disappointed). As the old saying goes: Don’t take a knife to a gunfight. Nor is it worth taking a tent designed for the Pacific Cross Path in the stormy climate of the Cascada, Denali or Torre Valley volcanoes in Patagonia.
For some trips a 3-season tent and a light 4-season tent are acceptable options.
If you use a 4-season tent, you are probably in a climate that is subject to adverse weather conditions. 4-season tents are stronger, heavier and more durable than standard backpack tents and are designed to withstand strong winds, rain and snow. They are also equipped with features such as flies that go lower into the main tent section (and some models have snow sails designed to be buried in the snow), large bins on the main section to keep rain and snow out of the tent, and large vestibules that provide ample space for storage and cooking. On large Alaskan expeditions you can often see complicated kitchens where crews have dug holes in the snow and can stand comfortably in the narrow space of their drums, cooking and socializing.
Don’t forget that equipment manufacturers make 4-season tents for different applications. If you’re cycling all over Europe in autumn, you probably won’t need a tent that can withstand storms at 25,000 feet on Everest. To make it easier to distinguish between the different types of tents, you will find our tent categories in the product specifications and at the top of the shopping list.
A note about 4-season accommodation
Most of the above tents have a pole structure that offers 360 degrees protection against wind, rain, snow and vermin. But for those for whom weight is most important, the 4-seasons shelter offers protection against bad weather, close to that of a tree that weighs half or less. To maximise their power-to-weight ratio, the most popular 4-season cabins such as the Black Diamond Mega Light at the top and the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 have no bottom, do not protrude and use the centre pole (often a trekking or ski pole) to create a tight pyramid shape. When set up correctly, these tents can withstand strong winds as well as heavy rain and snow.
The Mega Lite is a universal shelter for snow camps.
We believe that 4-season cabins are most attractive for tours where the weather is mild and the weight increases: long descents, fast and easy climbs and ski tours that cover long distances and require a simple ski pass. And, as we mentioned in the Mega Light article above, we think they are practically indispensable for building on snow, if you can dig out the base and create a sitting and standing area for up to four people. But reducing such a heavy weight is a compromise: This sexless construction invites snow and beetles to enter and sacrifices warmth and protection from the elements. Moreover, the installation is not as intuitive as a freestanding tent. But in the right hands, a four-season house can be an impressive and spacious home, and a great way to cut costs.
Back to our choice of a superior 4-season tent in our 4-season tent comparison chart.
best rated 4 season tent,best 3 season tent
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