3-season vs 4-season tents
When night falls on your latest adventure, pitching the right tent
is essential to ensure you have adequate shelter from the elements.
But choosing the ideal tent for your trip can be challenging.
Whether you want to pack light for a backpacking trek or prepare for
more challenging conditions, key features to consider are weight,
durability and stability.
Tents are often categorised as 3-season or 4-season, although the
names apply more to the types of weather than times of the year.
3-season tents provide lightweight, breathable canopies that are
suitable for most excursions and offer protection against wind and
rain. 4-season tents are designed for intense winter weather.
Heavier than the 3-season option, they offer protection against
storm winds and heavy snow.
What makes a 4-season tent?
A 4-season tent is designed to withstand harsh winter weather. Built
with a rigid structure to remain stable in high winds and utilising
thicker walls to provide warmth and protection from snow, ice and
hail, 4-season tents are intended to take anything mother nature
throws at them.
4-season tents are specifically built for use in winter conditions,
rather than all year round, when they are likely to be unnecessarily
hot and heavy. 3-season tents can handle light winds, general rain and
even a bit of snow. Their portable construction makes them ideal for
most trips, with mesh walls increasing airflow to avoid condensation.
North Face Stormbreak 2 person tent is a good example of a
When more extreme weather is on the agenda, a durable winter tent is
needed to give you peace of mind whatever the forecast. In a winter
tent, thick walls that minimise mesh are used as wind barriers and
trap body heat within the tent in cold climates. Materials are chosen
for their durability and are heavier than 3-season tents. Rain flies
extend all the way to the ground in order to deal with extended
periods of rain and snow, allowing you to sleep soundly in a shelter
tough enough for a brutal environment. The
North Face Summit Series is designed for high
altitude mountaineering and extreme expeditions and has been tested
by athletes the world over. The classic
Summit SeriesTM Mountain 25 tent
importance of material choice; crafted from nylon with a ripstop
weave with welded reinforcements at key points in the construction
gives it extra security in a storm.
4-season tents also employ an increased number of rigid poles, often
using fabric sleeves instead of clips to increase strength and
stability. Winter tents will take longer to set up than their
lightweight counterparts but will be able to handle more severe
weather. Dual-entry systems ensure that occupants won’t get blocked in
by an overnight drift, and snow stakes produce a strong anchor to
enable secure pitching in alpine conditions.
A winter tent will usually stand out due to the use of bright
colours to enhance visibility and often have a distinctive shape.
Basecamp tents use geometric designs to prevent the build-up of snow
and steep walls to maximise interior space, essential for
accommodating all the equipment you’ll be carrying to navigate winter
landscapes. A great example is the hemispherical shape of the
Summit SeriesTM 2-metre dome tent, trusted by top mountaineers
in environments which show no mercy.
To choose the right tent for your next outing, consider the
conditions. A 3-season tent will be light, airy, quick to set up and
will offer protection from the elements on most camping trips. When
facing sustained exposure to harsh weather, look for a 4-season tent
made from durable fabric to handle precipitation and a structure that
can endure high winds. Wherever you’re travelling, discover
our range of tents
at The North Face.