Best 4-Season Tent
What You Must Know
What You Must Know
Camping is an excellent relief from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A first-hand experience with good old Mother Nature is like the ultimate chicken noodle soup to feed your weary soul — when done right, that is. We say this because you will need a lot of planning and preparation when you’re braving the wild outdoors, especially in the colder months. You will also need the proper gear such as a fire starter, a utility knife, a flashlight, and some practical kitchen items. And, of course, what’s camping without a reliable 4 season tent to keep you safe in any weather condition?
Is Bringing a Tent Really That Important?
Unless you find great satisfaction in the tedious task of building a shelter by yourself using the things around you, then bringing a tent is essential. Pitching a tent is the easiest and most efficient method to protect yourself from nature’s elements.
Tents come in all shapes and sizes. Some tents are huge and spacious, others are compact and light. You need to plan ahead and decide which type to choose for your trip outdoors. Regardless, a good tent should be able to protect you from all sorts of external hazards, such as insects, heat, cold, rain, snow, harsh wind, and small falling debris.
How to Choose the Right Tent
These are the things that you have to consider when deciding on what type of tent to use.
Think of the number of people (and pets) that you need to shelter on your camping trip. If you’re camping alone, then a small tent should suffice. If you’re camping with your family, then you’ll need a bigger tent to give everyone room.
Visualize your camping trip. Think in numbers. It won’t be fun if you’re all crammed inside the tent, or if someone has to sleep outside on a cold night.
When deciding on the gear you’re going to take with you on your camping trip, think about the distance from your drop-off point to your actual campsite. Consider that weight plays a big role in your journey. The lighter your gear is, the easier the trip. Heavy equipment can take its toll on long hikes or climbs.
The materials used to make the tent will affect its weight. Tent poles that are made of carbon fiber, fiberglass, or aluminum are lighter and those made from steel are heavier.
The weight of your tent will also depend on its size. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the tent, the heavier it is.
Insulation and Ventilation
A good tent should keep you warm when it’s snowing, keep you dry when it’s raining, and keep you cool during the summer.
It should also be well-ventilated. On a hot day, a tent without proper ventilation will trap heat. The heat will accumulate inside the tent, which, as you can imagine, will get increasingly uncomfortable.
Meanwhile, in the winter, a tent without proper ventilation can trap moisture inside it. You can be dry as a bone, but your breath will create moisture each time you exhale. If it’s cold enough outside, that moisture will turn into frost and build up on the roof and walls of your tent, and then melt as soon as the tent gets warmer from your body heat. Next thing you know, you’re all wet — and so is your gear. Good ventilation is important even in the winter, because it helps eliminate some of that moisture.
Of course, you need to stay warm, so choose a tent with materials specifically designed to insulate it. 4 season tents are designed to keep you comfortable no matter the weather condition. Take this with a grain of salt, though, as not all 4 season tents are fully weather-proof. It all depends not just on the quality of the materials, but the workmanship as well.
However, there are products that can help insulate your tent. You can grab some bubble or aluminum foil wraps to help with the insulation. You can also grab water-proof tent sprays to help avoid leaks when it’s raining.
Tents are assembled and disassembled frequently, and this can eventually cause damage. The design and materials used in a tent plays a big role in the overall durability of that tent.
The walls of a tent are typically a combination of nylon and polyester. These materials are lightweight and water-resistant but gradually deteriorate due to how they react to ultraviolet light. Tent poles also break through time. Carbon fiber and steel are the most durable types of poles. Fiberglass poles, on the other hand, are among the least durable.
Design-wise, most tents are built to withstand wind. However, there are tents that are specifically designed to withstand harsher conditions such as shifting winds and snow. These tents tend to be more compact and therefore provide less space. Try to find a tent that’s durable enough for your planned outdoor trip.
Ease of Use
There are different types of tents with varying ways to set up and dismantle. Larger tents take more time to build. Tents that are intricately designed to withstand harsher conditions also take some time to set up. Then there are pop-up tents, which are by far the easiest to assemble and store, but are the least durable.
Finally, find a tent that’s right for your budget. While good-quality tents can get very expensive, there are definitely some tents that are effective yet affordable. Just expect to make a few compromises.
These are the things that you have to keep in mind when choosing the right tent. We suggest that you rank these factors by priority depending on how you will use your tent, and decide from that.
What Are 4 Season Tents?
As the name suggests, a 4 season tent is a versatile tent that you can use in any season. Compared to other tent types, a 4 season tent is designed with the winter cold in mind. These tents are usually heavier, bulkier, and more insulated, but less ventilated. They are designed to do well in extreme weather conditions.
Going camping in the winter can be very challenging — but also quite rewarding. If you’re interested in giving it a try this year, then a 4 season tent is a good fit for you.
We went ahead and tried a bunch of 4 season tents so we can tell you what it’s like to use them. Here are our top picks.
The first tent on our list is the 6-person Coleman WeatherMaster. Coleman is no stranger to designing outdoor products, and this tent just shows how experienced they are at it. Designed to fit a family, this tent is robust and provides generous space for everyone.
- Spacious and durable - This is the most spacious and durable tent on this list. In fact, it feels more like a small room than a tent — we were able to fit a queen-sized airbed and a few chairs inside. The poles are made of heavy-duty steel, making this a really sturdy tent.
- Has a hinged door - Yes, the door is hinged. It’s super convenient especially when you have many people getting in and out of the tent.
- Has a huge vestibule - The tent sports a screened area where you can take off and store snow-covered clothing and gear. This way, you can keep the inner tent, or your sleeping area, dry. In the warmer months, it can serve as a space to relax and enjoy the breeze, away from any insects.
- Roof leaks over time - We noticed some water dripping into the tent after a few weeks, though we easily remedied it by applying some water-proof tent spray on the roof.
- Set-up is time-consuming - The task of setting up this tent is fairly easy, but it takes time. Our two-person team spent about half an hour setting up the tent, which we thought was too long, even for a tent of this size.
- Heavy - At 32 pounds, this isn’t the type of tent that you can hike long distances with. You might want to consider getting this only if you’re pitching camp not too far from your car.
Flytop’s 1- to 2-person 4 season tent is light, compact, and easy on the wallet. It’s great for solo use when winter camping.
- Lightweight - At 5.9 pounds, this tent is very light and easy to bring along on long hikes or climbs. Its aluminum poles offer a good balance in terms of weight and durability.
- Well-insulated - The high-density fine nylon mesh used for the tent walls provides great insulation. The compact design of the tent also contributes to keeping the temperature just right. We used it one cold, snowy day and found ourselves quite warm inside.
- Easy set-up - The tent has a very simple design, with very basic parts. This tent took us no more than 5 minutes to set up.
- Small - The tent has around 35 square feet of floor space, and it’s about 4 feet in height. It is best-suited for one-person use as we found it too cramped for two people of average size. This design is intentional, though, to provide better insulation.
- Not the best materials - The overall quality of the tent is quite poor. The stakes used to pin the tent to the ground bend easily. The stitches that connect the walls to the floor are also weak, and we found a few tears within minutes of setting up the tent. The zippers were also a little flimsy.
Geertop’s backpacking tent is very well-designed. It could be a little lighter, but it’s tough and well-insulated.
- Great design - The overall dome design of the tent looks and feels very sturdy. The aluminum poles are very stable. The stitched seams on the tent are also very well made. We had this tent stand against harsh winds and snow — and it survived, without a scratch.
- Keeps you warm and protected - This tent has two layers. The outer wall is made from anti-tear checkered polyester, which easily sheds off rain and snow. The inner wall is made from breathable polyester and a high-density fine nylon mesh, which keeps the tent well-insulated.
- Easy set-up - This tent’s dome design makes it very easy to set up, taking us just around 5 minutes.
- Heavy - It’s a little bit on the heavy side at 6.4 pounds due to the tent’s dual-layer dome design and extra space.
Naturehike’s Cloud Up 2- to 3-person tent is very convenient to use, making it great for new campers. Light and easy to set up, it’s also durable and provides great insulation. The only catch is that it’s a little small.
- Easy set-up - This is the easiest tent to set up on our list, literally just taking a couple of minutes to pitch.
- Lightweight - At 4.7 pounds, it was very comfortable to carry around while hiking.
- Sturdy and reliable - Its aluminum poles are well-built. The walls are silicone-coated, which certainly makes it reliable even in harsh conditions — we can attest to that, too. We got to test this one during a hailstorm, and just the fact that it survived is enough to impress us. This tent is incredibly durable.
- Great insulation - This tent sports a double-layered wall design. The outer wall is made of tear-resistant nylon coated with silicone to repel rain and snow. The inner wall is made of an anti-scratch nylon mesh that is tough and breathable. We’ve used this tent a few times, and we found ourselves very comfortable inside despite pretty extreme weather conditions.
- Small - The tent has around 28 square feet of floor space and is around 4 feet in height. It’s definitely one of the smaller tents on this list, but its small and compact design is key to how much insulation it provides.
The Luxe Tempo tent is a durable tent with great dual-vestibules to give you extra space. It’s made from high-quality materials, but you may have a little problem if it’s raining heavily.
- Won’t tear easily - The tent is made with rip-stop silicone-nylon, a material specifically designed to prevent any tears. The stitching on the tent is well-made. The aluminum poles are also quite thick and sturdy.
- Compact and warm - The tent provides great insulation with its compact design and its water- and snow-repellent walls.
- Dual-vestibules - The tent has two spacious vestibules that you can use however you want. We used one as an entry-way and the other to store our gear and camping materials.
- Floor isn’t water-proof - We found one glaring issue when it rains: water seeps into the tent floor. We faced heavy rain when we camped using this tent, and it didn’t take long before we had puddles inside. It was probably designed like this so that water that enters the tent can leak out, which probably seems pretty smart, but we can’t say that we’re big fans of this design choice. Still, it’s a decent tent, and the leaks can be remedied by lining the tent floor with plastic.
The Naturehike Cloud Up 2-3 Person Lightweight Tent is our go-to tent out of all the products on this list. It simply offers the best balance in terms of weight, durability, insulation, space, cost, and ease of use. Setting it up is a breeze, especially compared to a tent like the Coleman WeatherMaster. It was really light and easy to travel with, lighter than the Geertop Backpacking Tent (which comes in at second place). The insulation was great, and the tent was able to keep us comfortable in snowy weather. It survived harsh weather conditions, which is a huge plus in our book. Finally, its price is just too good for what it offers.
We leave it to your preference at the end of the day. All these tents are great in their own ways. It’s up to you to decide which tent is best based on the factors that you care about the most. For us, though, the Naturehike Cloud Up 2-3 Person Lightweight Tent is a beast of a tent.