3-Season vs 4-Season Tents
When you start looking at tents you will notice there are usually two different types: three-season tents and four-season tents. While their names make it sound like it is pretty self-explanatory, there is a bit more to them than just what seasons these tents can be used in. Three-season and four-season tents differ in so many ways like what material they are made out of, the type of frame, different tent shape, and the price point. While there is no simple answer for which tent is “better” for you, once you properly compare the two types you can decide what kind of tent will be best for your camp outing.
Three-season tents are generally designed to be used in the spring, summer, and fall. While they can be used in winter, you do it at your own risk. If the winds become too high or if a snowstorm brings a lot of snow a three-season tent will collapse. This is not something you want to be woken up to in the middle of the night. Also, if you do use a tent in winter, you will have to do more maintenance since they are not designed for extended periods of extreme weather. If you neglect to do this then you will be forced to replace your tent more frequently. Three-season tents are designed to handle winds up to thirty miles per hour, heavy rain, and light snow. They are able to do this with their double-wall construction which consists of the tent body and a rainfly. Most three-season tents are designed to be lightweight by having a great deal of mesh and aluminum frames. This will allow you to be able to hike into your camp spot much easier. The average weight for a three-season tent is between three to six pounds (can be more if looking at a tent that will hold more than two or three people). The mesh in these tents allows for greater airflow to allow cooler air in while keeping the bugs out. Three-season tents are also supposed to be easy to set up since most people who buy this type of tent are causal campers or hikers. They don’t want to deal with any overly complicated setup. They simply want a shelter to sleep in for a night or two. The final feature of a three-season tent is they tend to be at a lower price point than a four-season tent. This makes them more appealing to the untrained eye, but since the material is often lighter you will have to replace your tent more frequently.
The Marmot LimeLight Two-Person Tent
A great three-season tent would be the Marmot Limelight two-person camping tent with footprint. This is a backpacking tent that only weighs five pounds ten ounces but its peak height is 43 inches. So not a tent you are allowed to do more than sleep in. This tent only has room for only two people to sleep inside but no space for their gear within the tent. This tent does have two vestibules which would allow some shelter for your gear to be stored in. It is easy to set up thanks to its pre-bent poles. Since this is a three-season tent it is designed to be water-resistant it has one hundred percent band welded seams, and to avoid any pooling of water, a raised floor tray. According to the Marmot’s website, this tent would cost you 269 dollars. A good price if a lightweight backpacking three-season tent is what you are looking for.
The Coleman WeatherMaster 6-Person Tent
Another good three-season tent that is larger is the Coleman WeatherMaster 6-Person Tent with Screen Room. This six-person tent is ideal if you plan to go camping with your family. This large dome-shaped tent is a lot heavier, weighing in at 32 pounds. But it is a very roomy tent with a peak height of 80 inches. This will give anyone plenty of room to stand up without any slouching. It also includes a separate screen room where you can store your gear and leaving the rest of the tent floor available for you to put two queen size air mattresses. This tent is made out of a fabric which is water-resistant and has inverted seams to help it withstand the weather. Another unique feature of this tent is that it has a d-shaped hinged door. Rather than having kids (or yourself) deal with zippers and having to double-check to see if the door is completely zipped shut, it simply swings open and shut like a traditional door at home. This truly makes this tent family-friendly. This tent costs 239 dollars on Amazon and is a good price if you are looking for a large family size tent.
Four-season tents are generally designed to be used in any season but more often than not, they are specifically designed to be used in the winter. As a result of this focus on winter camping, they tend to be bigger in overall size and are made out of heavier material with little to no mesh. This allows this type of tent to be able to handle the extreme weather conditions that winter will throw at them. However, since these tents do have little mesh, they can struggle with condensation build-up, especially if used in the summer. Four-season tents do have strategic ventilation but it can be limited since they are designed to keep heat in not let it out. They also have more rigid and heavier aluminum frames which can make them weigh at least twice as much as a three-season tent. It also makes them more time-consuming to set up since they have more poles to help keep their rigid shapes. But being in a larger tent allows them to have more headspace. This is a really nice feature to be able to freely stand up and walk around in your tent rather than having to hunch over. The final feature of a four-season tent is they tend to be more costly, but if you want a quality tent that can handle extreme weather, you are going to have to pay more. Since these tents are so sturdy, they can last and will rarely have to be replaced.
Elk Mountain Tents
A great four-season tent is the Elk Mountain Wall Tent. This is a canvas tent with a unique heavy-duty breathable polyester fabric. The material is an 11-ounce canvas which has a breaking strength of 449 pounds (warp direction) and 382 pounds (fill direction). This means it can handle ultraviolet rays without shrinking as traditional canvas would. This material is strong enough to handle any kind of weather whether heavy rain, snow, hail, high winds, or sun without fear of damaging the integrity of the tent. Since it is not a traditional cotton canvas it is not only waterproof but it won’t rot away due to mold and mildew. Of course, mold can grow on the surface of anything but the difference here is that it can’t embed itself into your tent and eat away the fibers since they are fully synthetic. This four-season tent is made to last much longer than a three-season tent. This unique material also allows this four-season tent to overcome some of the shortcomings of a traditional four-season tent while still being just as breathable as cotton canvas.
In addition to being made out of a strong material, it also it is also well designed. The wall tent has six screened windows which allow natural light and air circulation into the tent. These windows can only be opened and closed from the outside through canvas flaps. But this is not a design flaw but it is to ensure when the weather gets rough no moisture can seep in from the many windows. This tent also has two ridge openings which allow added airflow into the tent. These can be opened and closed by a pull string. With all these windows and ridge openings this tent overcomes the traditional flaw of four-season tents: poor air circulation; making them too hot to be used in the summer. The Elk Mountain Wall Tent can truly be used all four seasons. This wall tent comes in three different prices depending on what size you are looking for. On their website the 13×13 tent will cost $845, the 13×16 tent will cost $995 and the 13×20 will cost $1095. While this seems like a high price, this will give you the peace of mind that you invested in a tent that was made to last even in harsh conditions.
Now that you know the difference between a three and four-season tent you know they each have many pros and cons. If you plan to do most of your camping in the summer then investing in a three-season tent would be the best choice for you. If you plan to do any camping in the winter then investing in a four-season tent would be your best choice. Whatever you choose, you will now be able to confidently buy a tent that will work for your camping needs.