Nothing beats a quality tent in the mountains. Whether you're enjoying some stunning blue skies or a heinous blizzard, a good tent can keep you safe, comfortable, and dry, whatever life may throw at you. A good four season tent, in particular, is indispensable on alpine mountaineering trips or in the cold winter months.
But with so many different four season tents out there, how could you choose just one for your adventures? Thankfully, we understand how difficult it is to find the best four-season tent, so we've created this ultimate buyers guide to help you find the one that's right for you. Coming up, here are our reviews of the seven best four-season tents out there, plus a guide to choosing the right one. Here we go!
Black Diamond Fitzroy -Best 4-Season Tent
Black Diamond Eldorado - Runner Up
ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian -Best Budget Winter Tent
Nemo Chogori 2P Mountaineering - Premium Pick
Designed to handle the most horrendous of conditions, the Black Diamond Fitzroy tent is a mountaineer’s paradise. With a two person capacity, the Fitzroy is no palace, but it certainly is ready for any weather conditions.
Made with the extra-strong ToddTex fabric, the Black Diamond Fitzroy tent is a super durable single-wall tent for mountain environments. Featuring two doors - one on each side of the dome tent's ends - it's easy to get in and out of the Fitzroy, even when the shelter is packed full of gear and people in a storm.
With four interior mesh pockets, it’s easy to keep things clean and organized within the tent, which is of the utmost importance while out in the alpine. Plus, with two pole-supported door awnings and zippered vents, the Black Diamond Fitzroy is surprisingly well-ventilated for a single-walled tent.
If all of that wasn't good enough, the optional vestibule attachment system greatly increases the amount of livable space in the Fitzroy, while simultaneously adding storage space. The downside? This tent is expensive and heavy.
But, if you prioritize quality, durability, and ease-of-use over all else, the Black Diamond Fitzroy might be for you.
For those tall folks among us, finding a tent that can comfortably fit our long legs can be a challenge. With the Black Diamond Eldorado Tent, however, cramming into a tiny tent no longer has to be your reality.
Thanks to a compact, yet surprisingly spacious design, the Black Diamond Eldorado is a mountaineering tent made for comfort for out tall outdoorsy friends. With an extra 5in (13cm) of length and 3in (8cm) of width, the Eldorado can accommodate longer sleeping pads or extra gear while in the mountains.
The Eldorado tent is no slouch when it comes to durability, either, though. With two aluminum poles that set up internally, this dome-shaped four season tent is made for foul weather. Plus, with the durable ToddTex single-wall fabric, two zippered vents, and one hooded vent, the Eldorado is fantastically well-ventilated for a four-season tent.
If we had to find something we don’t like about this tent, however, it would be the single door design, which makes it more challenging to get in and out. However, this design and the optional vestibule do help cut weight in the Eldorado tent, bringing this set up to a respectable 5lb 1oz average pack weight.
Thus, the Black Diamond Eldorado is a decent choice for anyone looking for a nice mix of durability, comfort, and weight savings.
Loaded with features for the budget-conscious outdoor enthusiast, the ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian is a solid three-person tent for four season use. The ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian uses a revolutionary 7000 Series aluminum pole design, which is a single continuous pole system for the entire tent.
With just one pole to keep the tent upright and an additional pole that crosses the tent to keep it stable in high winds, the Tasmanian is ready for anything. Plus, the Tasmanian features a spacious vestibule for plentiful gear storage, even when the tent is packed to capacity.
If all of that wasn’t enough, the Tasmanian has some large vents that can be fully closed in chilly conditions. A factory seam-sealed floor and fly also help keep you dry when the weather turns sour. Oh, and with a set of extra-large zippers on all the doors and vestibules, the Tasmanian is a highly user-friendly four-season tent with plenty of functionality.
If you’re looking for a four season tent that doesn’t break the bank, the ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian might be for you.
Designed for the outdoor enthusiast that prioritizes quality above all else, the NEMO Chogori 2 is a tent built with the most advanced materials around. With a lightweight, integrated fly system, the Chogori 2 is made for a super quick set-up for near immediate shelter when the weather turns sour.
Thanks to the NEMO Chogori 2's external pole structure, you can set up the tent fully from the outside, helping to keep things dry in heavy rain and snow. Plus, with a silicone-treated fly, the Chogori 2 never needs to be seam-sealed and can hold up in the worst conditions.
If you still wanted more from your four season tent, the Chogori 2 won’t disappoint. With a large vestibule and window, you can easily see the weather that’s coming your way, all while keeping your gear protected from the elements.
Oh, and the Chogori 2 can even be linked together with other Chogori 2 tents to create a single “uber tent” for additional shelter. Perfect for basecamps and alpine missions, the Chogori 2 is a premium tent for a serious mountaineer.
The downside? The Chogori 2 isn’t the cheapest, or the lightest tent around, but it’s well worth the weight and the cost.
If you need a four tent that’s ready to travel as lightly and quickly as you do, look no further than the MSR Access Lightweight tent. Built specifically to meet the needs of backcountry skiers and winter outdoor enthusiasts, the MSR Access is a nice blend between a four-season tent and a lightweight backpacking shelter.
With a spacious interior, the MSR Access is great for gearing up for a winter excursion or for piling in with all of your kits. Plus, limited mesh on the inner tent body helps keep things warm on those chilly winter nights without adding extra bulk, while also allowing for some decent ventilation.
The Access’ lightweight DuraShield-coated fabrics and seam-taped floor help keep you dry and protected in wet and windy conditions. Outdoor enthusiasts also love the MSR Access’ super easy setup, thanks to the durable, yet intuitive Easton Syclone pole system.
The best part? The Access tips the scales at just over 4 lbs, making it one of the lightest purpose-built four-season tents around. Although this lightweight comes with a high price tag, it’s worth the money for those light and fast missions.
More: The Best Tent For Camping
Simple, light, and ready to go, the Mountain Hardwear Unisex Pathfinder 2 is a backpacking tent for any adventure. Designed to be fully symmetrical, the Pathfinder 2 can be pitched in any direction, limiting those frustrating setup moments.
With two doors and spacious vestibules, the Pathfinder 2 is meant to make your life easier in the mountains. Smart architectural decisions mean that the Pathfinder 2 is lightweight, yet livable, with an arched center pole that maximizes headroom.
If all of that still wasn’t good enough, the Pathfinder 2 even has a full mesh canopy on the inner tent, which maximizes breathability while providing an unobstructed view of the night sky during clear nights.
The main drawback to the Pathfinder 2 is that the tent isn’t specifically designed for four season use. This means the Pathfinder 2 isn’t going to be as warm as other dedicated four season options, but that it’s breathable enough for summer use. So, if you're looking for a year-round tent that can get the job done in the winter, the Mountain Hardwear Pathfinder 2 just might be for you.
The GEERTOP Backpacking Tent is a simple shelter for the occasional adventurer. This double walled tent is highly affordable and is made from anti-tear checkered polyester for maximum weather resistance.
Quick and easy to pitch, the GEERTOP Backpacking tent can be set up by just one person in a handful of minutes. With enough room for two adults, this backpacking tent is comfortable, yet compact for backcountry use.
Built using a standard dome-tent design, the GEERTOP Backpacking tent has two doors with two medium-sized vestibules for easy access and gear storage. The whole tent weighs just over six pounds, so it's no lightweight shelter, but it isn't the heaviest either.
At such an affordable price point, the GEERTOP Backpacking tent is a decent option for someone who spends much of their time in organized campgrounds, as we have some serious durability concerns with this tent in a mountain environment.
But, if you just need a simple, affordable shelter for infrequent camping trips in shoulder-season environments, the GEERTOP Backpacking tent might be a good option.
A high-quality tent can make the difference between a cold, wet, miserable night in the mountains and an epic expedition. Particularly when you're out in a remote, harsh environment, both you and your gear need to be ready to handle whatever nature can throw at you. Can your current tent do that?
Thankfully, a good four season tent can do wonders for the quality of your camping experience. But, since there are so many four-season tents out there, we understand that choosing just one to buy is a challenge. So, we have a great list of the top features to look out for when searching for the best rated four season tent in our buyer’s guide to help you out.
First things first, what even is a four season tent? If you’re new to the world of camping, you might not realize that there are many different tents out there, each built for a specific purpose.
While many of the most popular tents are made for occasional use in moderate conditions, few are designed to hold up to big storms and incredibly cold weather. That’s where a four season tent comes in.
Unlike a three season tent, which is designed to be used in the spring, summer, and fall, a four season tent is meant to be your best friend when the mercury drops. In the colder months, your average three-season tend just won’t cut it.
At this point, you might be wondering why a three-season tent wouldn’t be the right choice during winter or alpine trip. Three season tents aren’t built with materials that can handle the high wind speeds and heavy snow loads that are often seen in the mountains. If you took a three season tent out in these conditions, it’d probably break under the stress of a storm.
On the other hand, a four season tent is made with super heavy-duty poles, as well as extra-strong fabric to withstand stormy conditions. At the same time, however, four season tents tend to be heavier, bulkier, and more expensive than their three season counterparts. While this might be discouraging to hear, if you ever get caught out in a storm, you’ll be pleased that you invested in that beautiful four-season tent.
Now that you know why you need a four-season tent, let’s dive into the specifics of the features that you should look for when buying the best cold weather tent. Here’s what you should look out for:
Perhaps the most important feature of any tent is the number of people it can hold. Basically, if you need a tent for three people, but a given model can only accommodate two people, then it’s just not going to work for your needs.
At the same time, if you have a tent that’s meant for six people and you only have two people on your expedition, you’ll waste valuable space and add a lot of weight to your pack if you choose to use that tent. Thus, it’s crucial to have a tent that is appropriate for the number of people on your trip.
That being said, no one tent can do it all. Eventually, many outdoor enthusiasts build up a quiver of different tents, each of which serves a very specific purpose. Many of these tents vary in maximum occupancy to accommodate different group sizes.
If you’re buying your first tent (or your first four season tent), however, you might find it difficult to figure out what size tent you’ll need. Here’s our advice:
The vast majority of people opt for a two-person tent as these tents can also make for a spacious solo shelter. Other people, who know they often camp with a partner, will go for a two or a three-person tent if they want a bit more room. Four person tents are often popular on expeditions, among families, or groups of friends.
If you’re struggling to decide what size tent you want, we suggest choosing the size that fits the number of people you most often camp with. Then, we recommend saving up to eventually buy another tent with a different capacity, so you have options for your adventures.
When we start talking about high-quality tents, something that confuses many people is the topic of “single wall” versus “double wall” tent. For many people, a tent is just a shelter to sleep in at night, but when you’re in a remote place in a harsh environment, a good tent is an oasis from the conditions.
While it might seem confusing at first, the decision between a single and a double-wall tent is a big one. Make the wrong choice, and you could end up in a cold, wet tent during a storm - a situation you don’t want to be in.
But what are single-wall tents and double-wall tents, and how do they differ from each other? Although this distinction might seem confusing at first, it's quite simple.
Basically, in a single wall tent, you have only one layer of fabric protecting you from the environment. The fabric of a single wall tent acts both as a breathable, ventilating layer, and as waterproof protection.
The single piece of fabric used in a single wall tent, however, is remarkably different from the fabric design of a double-wall tent. In a double-wall tent, you have an inner ventilating layer, usually made of mesh, and an external rain fly. Each of these layers serves a different purpose, namely, ventilation, and weather protection, respectively.
As you might expect, a single wall tent is usually lighter and more compact than a double-wall option. However, double-wall tents are more durable, more comfortable, and warmer than their single-wall counterparts. Thus, the vast majority of people choose to use double-wall tents, unless they absolutely need to cut weight, in which case a single wall tent might be more appropriate.
As with anything we have to carry on our backs, the weight of a tent is of the utmost importance. While there are some incredibly light tents out there, the vast majority of tents, especially four-season tents, are going to be on the heavier end of the spectrum.
Since a lightweight tent usually achieves its low poundage through a decrease in the durability and sturdiness of its materials, these tents require extra care and maintenance to stay in tip-top shape. Or, if a lightweight tent is still very durable, you're probably going to pay a pretty penny for your shelter.
On the other hand, heavier tents, especially of the four-season variety, are often more durable and robust. Heavier tents are usually made with heavy-duty poles and thicker fabrics, which provide better performance in harsh temperatures.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if weight savings are worth a decrease in durability or a significant increase in price. While lightweight and durable four-season tents do, indeed, exist, they are hard to find without breaking the bank.
We’ve all experienced this before: you wake up in the morning after a lovely evening in the mountains, only to find that your sleeping bag and the inside of your tent are sopping wet. It didn’t rain last night, so there’s only one plausible culprit: poor ventilation.
In a tent, proper ventilation is of the utmost importance. While no one likes sleeping in a stuffy environment, a poorly ventilating tent can also cause massive amounts of condensation on you and your gear in the morning. Even if a tent doesn’t “soak through” in the rain, it can still get you all wet thanks to the condensation caused by inadequate ventilation.
Some condensation here and there might not seem like a big deal, but if you’re in the mountains for an extended period of time, a soaking wet down sleeping bag can be a huge hazard. So, you’ll want to look for a four season tent with plenty of ventilation.
In a double-walled four season tent, ventilation comes from large mesh panels in the inner tent, which allows for maximum airflow, even when the fly is wet. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that there’s space between the bottom of the fly and the ground, to allow air to flow into the tent from underneath the rain cover.
Single wall tents don’t allow for nearly as much ventilation, thanks to their minimalist design. Thus, if you’re going to use a single wall tent, you need to understand the potential danger that you might be putting yourself into if all of your gear gets wet through condensation.
That all being said, a major downside to an insulated tent is the shelter’s lack of ventilation. All of that insulation in an all-season tent can cause condensation regardless of the outside temperature, so keep this in mind when shopping for the best extreme cold weather tents.
An often-overlooked feature of tents, a vestibule (or two) is a must-have in a good four-season tent. Basically, a vestibule is the space between the fly and your inner tent in a double-walled tent.
This might seem like wasted space to some, but a vestibule greatly adds to the livable space of your tent. Vestibules make for great gear storage areas (especially when your gear is wet!) and can be a great place to lace up your boots when it’s cold and windy outside.
When done correctly and with the right precautions in the alpine, a vestibule can also be a great place to cook on a small stove in stormy conditions. That being said, cooking in your tent does have a high risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, so only do so if you’re sure you can provide adequate ventilation in your shelter.
While vestibules are great, however, they do add weight and bulk to the packed size of your tent. Plus, a vestibule increases the footprint of your tent, which means you need a bigger space to pitch it. This might not be problematic in a forest or at a campground, but in the mountains, suitable tent spots can be hard to come by, especially for larger tents.
Thus, while vestibules are great features for a four season tent and are worth having, they do have some downsides, too.
Setting up a tent can be a massive pain in the butt or a simple affair. Most of us like to avoid extra hassle, so it’s often best if we opt for tents with simple pole set-ups. However, there are a lot of different pole designs out there, so it’s important to know what you’re getting before you buy. Here’s what to look out for:
Some tents allow you to set up the poles from the inside. This might seem weird but is incredibly useful if it's cold and wet outside as it will enable you to take shelter from the elements while pitching your tent. This sort of design also helps keep the inside of your tent dry, even if it's raining during your tent pitching festivities.
While tents with an internal pole set-up design are pretty durable and can hold up in high winds, they can be difficult to manage, especially for new campers. Plus, if you mess up your tent set-up, it’s pretty easy to puncture a hole in your tent during the whole process. Eeek!
The other option for tent pole set-up, if not interior, is exterior. Unlike interior pole set-up tents, those with an exterior set-up require you to be on the outside of your tent to pitch it.
This is the old-school, standard way of doing things that has stood the test of time since the invention of the modern backpacking tent. These tents tend to be much easier to set up, though this can result in your inner tent getting wet if it's rainy outside.
Exterior pole set-up tents come in many different shapes and sizes, with a variety of different methods for attaching poles to the tent itself. Here are some of the most common kinds of exterior pole set-up tents:
The shape of your tent might seem like an aesthetic choice, but your decision here can have a huge impact on your shelter’s durability over time. There are many different tent shapes out there, each with their own pros and cons. Here are the ones that are most common in four season tents:
A dome tent is made to resemble the shape of a dome. These tents usually have two or three crossing poles that provide a decent amount of stability and support in bad weather.
Unfortunately, thanks to their durability, they are often heavier than other options. Plus, their sloping sides can limit the perceived amount of available living space within the tent. But, if you need a durable four-season shelter, a dome tent might be a good option.
This kind of tent greatly resembles a long tunnel or an over-sized caterpillar, depending on your persuasion. A tunnel tent provides a whole lot of livable space, thanks to its long design, which is also great in the wind.
Some of the best four season tents are tunnel tents, so they’re a good option for someone looking for an easy-to-pitch tent for foul weather. But, they’re often heavy and expensive, so they’re not for everyone.
A geodesic tent relies on a large number of crossing poles to provide stability and support for the structure. These tents are almost always similar in shape to a dome tent but feature four to eight crossed poles for extra strength.
While these tents are great in alpine and windy environments, as you can imagine, all of those poles are heavy! So, if you prioritize strength and stability above all else, a geodesic tent might be for you.
A good tent is designed to keep you dry in any conditions. So, when looking for the best rated 4 season tent, you’ll want to find a waterproof one.
Waterproof tents get their weather protection through a quality, seam-sealed rain fly and floor. Many of these tents even have a durable water repellant (DWR) coating to help raindrops bead off of the tent fabric instead of soaking through.
For snow camping, however, you’ll want to look out for a tent with a “bathtub floor.” Such tents have floors with high sides to help keep moisture from snow and rain away from you and your gear.
Ultimately, you’re only going to take one camp with you when you’re out int the mountains, so you better make sure it’s a good one. Since a quality tent can be the difference between an awesome adventure and a miserable night in the mountains, you want to make sure you’re finding the right tent for your needs.
If we had to choose just one of the awesome tents that we reviewed for you today, we’d have to go with the Black Diamond Fitzroy for its revolutionary and durable single wall design. Meant to withstand nearly any weather, the Fitzroy is a simple, yet functional four season tent for the serious outdoor adventurer.
As one of the best extreme cold weather tents around, you don’t want to head out into the hills without the Black Diamond Fitzroy. Regardless of what cold weather tent you choose, be sure to do your homework and find the best winter camping shelter for your needs.
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Since the age of 10, Tim, a writer at Outdoor With J, has enjoyed camping in the great outdoors. Although he loves the peace and quiet of the outdoors, he also likes his creature comforts. Tim’s mission is to make camping a fun and comfortable experience for all. You can find more about him here
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