We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

Written By
Published Aug 5, 2022 7:57 AM

Four-season tents serve as your home base for camping in all seasons. While many outdoor adventures take place during the moderate temperatures in the spring, summer, and fall, other expeditions involve the harsh weather that comes in winter. Good 4-season tents are constructed with durable materials that’ll stand up to a windy winter snowstorm at basecamp, but they’ll also be suitable for warm summer evenings spent lakeside.
Below, we sort through the pros and cons of some of the best tents that’ll work for any season. We’ll also point out some important considerations when you’re shopping for a tent that works year-round. Here are our picks for the best 4-season tents.

If Goldilocks were searching for the best 4-season tent, she’d choose the Black Diamond Eldorado. It ticks the boxes of being versatile enough to grab first on nearly any all-season adventure. The ToddTex is sturdy, durable, and stands up well in the wind. The high and steep shape of the Eldorado works great for sloughing off snow accumulation which also means taller people might feel it’s a more comfortable space to maneuver around in.

The Eldorado sleeps two and is designed with two internal poles so you can set it up from the inside if the weather is dumping precipitation. Reviewers like the simplicity of the two-pole design since there’s less to carry and less to deal with when setting up.

While camping in nice weather, condensation should be no issue in the single-wall tent since it comes with a mesh door. In harsh weather, when you want the best protection and have the door zipped closed, the tent ventilates through two vents at the peak. This should suffice, but it’s unlikely to keep condensation down as well as a double-walled tent would.

If you’re looking for an all-around heavy hitter for camping in any conditions, the Eldorado hits the mark without costing a fortune or being too heavy to comfortably pack along.

Product Specs
  • Interior height: 43 inches
  • Trail weight: 4.9 pounds
  • Floor dimensions: 87 x 51 inches
  • Floor space: 31 square feet
  • Walls: Single
PROS

ToddTex material means less condensation than some single-wall tents

Steep walls help slough off snow

Small footprint allows for versatility in location options

Simple construction with two poles

CONS

No included vestibule

More expensive than some options

Investing in a good 4-season tent often means dishing out big bucks. The materials used to produce an insulated camping tent often come with a larger price tag than 3-season tents. But our budget-friendly pick is the Eureka Mountain Pass Tent, which costs under $400. The double-walled tent sleeps two with a decent amount of room inside to rest comfortably. The double doors and vestibules mean someone can easily crawl out for a midnight bathroom trip without disturbing the other.

Setup for the Eureka all-season tent is fairly simple thanks to the central pole hub, which not only saves time and keeps you from fumbling around, but means you can do it alone. Setup instructions are also sewn into the tent’s stuff sack, so if you need a quick refresh or loan out your tent to a friend, the instructions are easy to access.

Unlike most 4-season tents on the market, this one comes with its own footprint which adds to the value of an already well-priced tent.

The Eureka Mountain Pass Tent is made with durable 20D 400T polyester ripstop fabric that’s designed to be breathable, while the rain fly offers protection with 68D 185T polyester taffeta 1800 mm material.

Product Specs
  • Interior height: 3 feet 5 inches
  • Trail weight: 5 pounds 8 ounces
  • Floor dimensions: 7 feet 4 inches x 4 feet 8 inches
  • Floor space: 32 square feet
  • Walls: Double
PROS

Central pole hub makes for easy setup

Two doors and two vestibules

Eureka’s High/Low Air Exchange Venting for breathability

Included footprint makes this an extra affordable price

CONS

Slightly heavy for a two-person winter backpacking tent

Eco-conscious shoppers looking for a 4-season tent will be happy to see REI’s Arete ASL 2 earned a bluesign certification, indicating it was made with a process that reduces energy and water use during production.

The Arete sleeps two people and is ranked as an all-season tent thanks to its structurally stable design that uses four poles. Despite the number of poles and the tent being double-walled, the weight of the Arete stays manageable at five pounds 10 ounces. Another standout feature is the color-coding on the pole sleeves which helps with setting up, especially on the first few outings.

In addition to the double wall helping to manage condensation, the tent has mesh ventilation areas in the ceiling and in the door.

While the rainfly does feature a vestibule, the shape doesn’t leave tons of storage room. However, it’s sheltered well enough that you can keep it open on rainy days for ventilation without risking the interior of the tent getting wet.

The REI Arete ASL 2 is one of the more reasonably-priced 4-season tents to make our ranking, so it’s a solid combination for those looking for something budget-friendly that uses a sustainable manufacturing process.

Product Specs
  • Interior height: 43 inches
  • Trail weight: 5 pounds 10 ounces
  • Floor dimensions: 88 x 57/60/44 (L x W head/shoulder/foot) inches
  • Floor space: 32.9 square feet
  • Walls: Double
PROS

Uses bluesign-certified materials to reduce production impact

Color-coding on pole sleeves for easier setup

Lightweight for a double-wall tent

CONS

Small vestibule

Want to go ultralight while sleeping soundly, knowing you’re protected from the elements in some of the best material out there? The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 weighs a bit over one pound and is made with Dyneema Composite Fiber (DCF). For starters, Dyneema is 15 times stronger than steel, it’s waterproof, it’s UV-resistant, and incredibly lightweight (it floats on water). This makes it one of the most weatherproof and windproof tents on the market. But it might not be for everyone.

The Ultamid 2 doesn’t come with a floor, mesh doors, or poles. Instead, it’s a pyramid tent designed to be set up with one interior central pole or an anchor point above. The company sells its own carbon fiber pole or suggests using adjustable trekking poles or anchoring the top to a stable tree limb. Some reviews say they have the best luck lashing two hiking poles together to form the center pole due to the height.

As for the lack of a floor, winter mountaineers find digging out some snow to make a level floor works great. Dry conditions in the other seasons just require sweeping away any rocks or pinecones that could spell an uncomfortable night’s sleep. But if you’re heading into wet conditions, you might want to invest in a dry floor.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear sells inserts with mesh walls for bug protection and a bathtub floor to help keep things dry. The single insert could turn this into the perfect ultralight 4-season solo tent, which leaves the other half ideal room for storage.

If ultralight minimalism is your mantra, the Ultamid 2 is as strong and lightweight as they come.

Product Specs
  • Interior height: 5 feet 4 inches
  • Trail weight: 1 pound 3 ounces
  • Floor dimensions: 6 feet 11 inches x 8 feet 11 inches
  • Floor space: 63 square feet
  • Walls: Single
PROS

Incredibly roomy given its weight

Made with DCF, an industry leader in lightweight strength and durability

Great weather protection in any season

Two color options

CONS

Poles and floor insert sold separately, should you want those

Pricey option

Best for Backpacking

If you’re camping expeditions involve all types of weather and you’re packing everything you need on your back, weight is a major consideration. We’ve picked the Black Diamond FirstLight Tent as our top pick for backpacking because it’s a sweet spot between size, weight, and protection.

Packed down, it measures six by nine inches and weighs just under three pounds. Together, this means it won’t add massive bulk or weight to your backpack. But the materials don’t skimp, and the Black Diamond excels when it comes to a windproof tent.

The FirstLight is made with the company’s proprietary NanoShield single-wall fabric and a 70D poly floor to withstand the elements. However, the material is only water-resistant, not waterproof. Spelled out in weather conditions, this means it can handle an afternoon drizzle but not if it dumps rain for several days. To counter that, the FirstLight handles wind like a champ.

A consistent negative review for the Black Diamond FirstLight Tent is that it doesn’t come seam-sealed from the manufacturer. It does, however, come with the materials and instructions to seam-seal it yourself. But this means extra work for you before an expedition that’ll include setting up the tent in a dry, shady spot, seam-sealing it, and then letting it dry for the recommended one to two days.

If you’re into a small DIY project and looking for a lightweight backpacking tent for all four seasons, the FirstLight offers great protection while adding minimal weight to your bag.

Product Specs
  • Interior height: 42 inches
  • Trail weight: 2 pounds 13 ounces
  • Floor dimensions: 82 x 58 inches
  • Floor space: 27.3 square feet
  • Walls: Single
PROS

Black Diamond’s lightest-weight tent designed for mountaineering

Made with NanoShield single-wall fabric

Interior poles for ideal setup in bad weather

Designed with Black Diamond’s Flow Manifold technology for airflow

CONS

Small interior space

Water-resistant, not waterproof

Not seam-sealed out of the box

Best for Small Groups

The well-loved Trango series is built to excel in alpine conditions and offer exceptional weather protection through all seasons. The first iteration of the Trango hit the market in 1995, but the design and materials have come a long way since then. Today, the Trango 4 Tent sleeps four with two doors and one main vestibule, with a smaller back vestibule for easy entrance and extra storage. In total, this all-season tent uses five poles, but it’s color-coded to make setup easier. With reflective guy-out loops that add to the tent’s visibility at night, some reviewers say setup is a one-person job.

For warmer weather, the tent’s two doors feature both a full canopy door and a mesh door, so you’re able to open up both sides to just the mesh door for great airflow while keeping bugs out. There’s even a zippered mesh ceiling vent to better help with air circulation.

The Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 Tent also shows up in our ranking of the Best 4-Person Tents with the award of “Best Survival Tent” thanks to its four-season durability. It’s on the heavier side (over 11 pounds), so backpacking with the Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 might not be ideal for some. If you’re looking for a solid, reliable alpine basecamp tent for smaller groups, this could be a great match.

Product Specs
  • Interior height: 50 inches
  • Trail weight: 11 pounds 7.5 ounces
  • Floor dimensions: 96 x 94 inches
  • Floor space: 57 square feet
  • Walls: Single
PROS

Easy setup with color-coded poles, rainfly, and canopy

Two doors and two vestibules for easy entrance

Window that allows for a brighter interior and checking on outdoor conditions

CONS

Heavier than some options, so backpacking could be an issue

Hefty price tag

Best for Large Groups

Mountain Hardwear touts the Stronghold Dome Tent as the shelter found at basecamps across the globe, from Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park to Mt. Kilimanjaro to the Yosemite Valley. The company designed this extreme-weather tent to withstand the harshest of base camp weather, and the reviews agree: It stands up to the claims. The design, in combination with the tent and fly materials of 70D Nylon Taffeta 2000mm and 40D Nylon Ripstop, also help it excel when it comes to windproof tents.

Because of its weight, the Mountain Hardwear Stronghold is not a winter backpacking tent. It tips the scale at over 41 pounds which means this tent is probably only suitable for camping when your gear is hauled to the campsite or basecamp by means other than schlepping it up a mountain yourself.

While the poles and guy system are color-coded to help take any guessing out of the setup, the Stronghold Dome is still a beast to assemble with 15 poles. Reviews say setup takes at least two people.

If you’re looking for an expedition-grade, extreme-weather tent that’ll serve as a respite at basecamp, the Stronghold Tent could be your favorite second home.

Product Specs
  • Interior height: 6 feet 5 inches
  • Trail weight: 41 pounds 2 ounces
  • Floor dimensions: 15 feet diameter
  • Floor space: 171 square feet
  • Walls: Double
PROS

Sleeps up to 10 people

Tall enough for most people to stand inside

Color-coded poles and guy-out make for simple setup

Roomy design to accommodate sleeping, cooking, and relaxing

CONS

Comes with a large price tag

Weighs over 41 pounds

Takes at least two people to pitch

Things to consider before buying a 4-season tent

A 4-season tent can be a financial investment and at times will be the only thing protecting you from harsh winter elements. Here are some things to consider before buying a 4-season tent.

Size and purpose

When comparing our picks for the best 4-season tents, it’s wise to come up with your own list of requirements and desires. A simple question to start with is how many people do you plan to sleep in your tent? The size of tent you’ll need depends on if you’re looking for a 4-season solo tent for some quiet time alone with nature, or one to fit a crowd at basecamp. Keep in mind, the more the tent sleeps, the heavier it’s likely to be. 

Weight

Deciding if the weight of the tent is a consideration is a great way to narrow down which 4-season tent will work best for you.

If you’re exclusively car camping or have transportation for your tent other than via your back, weight might not be a consideration. For others, getting the best lightweight 4-season tent is the number one goal. Our lightest 4-season tent pick weighs slightly over one pound, but the majority fall somewhere between five and six pounds. 

Budget

Expect to pay more for a 4-season tent than a 3-season tent. A good 4-season tent is made with materials that are designed to withstand severe weather like snowstorms, whipping winds, or sand storms. Because of this, most are using highly technical materials that outright cost more than a thin tent material that’ll suffice for the annual summer camping trip.

The cost of a 4-season tent will vary depending on its size and material. If you’re concerned about getting the most bang for your buck, consider buying a tent that comes with a solid return policy and warranty should anything not be to your liking. And, if you’re not sold on winter camping, consider a 3-season tent which is likely to come with a smaller price tag.

FAQs about 4-season tents

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: What’s the difference between a 3-season and 4-season tent?

A: A 3-season tent refers to a tent that’s suitable for camping in the spring, summer, and fall. A 4-season tent can be used during any of those seasons but also covers winter. All-season tents are designed to be versatile enough to use in the summer when camping involves optimal cooling ventilation, but sturdy and insulating enough to provide shelter during winter weather.

If you’re exclusively looking for a backpacking tent for summer adventures, a 4-season tent could be overkill and leave you carrying more weight than necessary.

Q: Do I need a 4-season tent for winter?

A: If you plan on overnighting in extreme weather in winter temps, you’re probably best off with a 4-season tent for camping. While a 3-season tent could suffice for winter camping in some regions, a 4-season tent offers better protection and insulation in harsher conditions like snow or high winds. Good 4-season tents are also built to withstand the weight of snow accumulation which might not be true of a 3-season tent. Boiled down, if you plan on doing harsh winter-weather camping, a 4-season tent is a safer bet to keep you protected from the elements.

Q: How do you keep the bottom of a tent dry?

A: No one likes to retire to a soggy tent after a day of adventure, so you’ll want to keep the bottom of the tent dry, regardless of whether it’s a 4-season or 3-season tent. To do this, you’ll want to lay down a footprint under your tent that creates a barrier between the ground and the tent. Some tents are sold with a footprint, but you might need to purchase one separately. Almost every tent manufacturer sells footprints that fit the dimensions of the tents they make. You can also opt for a ground tarp, but you’ll want to have a system to anchor it down well in case the wind starts howling.

Final thoughts

Camping through all four seasons means heading out with a tent you can trust to keep you protected from the elements. Nothing can bring a camping trip into misery quite like inclement weather. If you’re searching for the most versatile 4-season tent to keep you protected, the Black Diamond Eldorado is the ticket to success, and it won’t break the bank. If you’re a minimalist but want top-of-the-line gear, the Ultamid 2 is excellent, and if you’re staying at basecamp with a crowd, we love the Mountain Hardwear Stronghold Tent.

Methodology 

To narrow down our recommendations for the best 4-season tents, we first considered 24 brands that make reliable camping gear. From here, we honed in on materials that are proven to stand up to rain, wind, and snow, while still being breathable enough to not turn into a sauna come summer temps. 

We also took notes of the materials of the tent poles to compare strength versus weight. Then we dove deeper into the tent’s size, how many people each tent slept, the overall weight, and how easy or terrible it was to set up. We also took into account whether each tent had a vestibule for unloaded gear and if it came with its own footprint or if that was a separate purchase. We turned to both customer and expert reviews to compile common praises or complaints.

All things considered, we pared down our recommendations into categories we thought would serve the Task & Purpose reader best. Whenever possible, we test items ourselves to get first-hand experience of how a product performs in the wild.

Load more...