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mt. dew

4 Season Tent

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When is it necessary to purchase a four season tent if only climbing in Washington? I have spent the night on Rainier, Adams, Baker, and a few other places but it was always June-August with only a 3 season tent. Are they mainly for winter climbing? What's your take?

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I use my 4 season tent year round. i like the added protection. it's just as light as a 3 season, stronger, and completely watertight. the only downside is that it doesn't vent as well as a typical 3 season tent, but take your pick...

 

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a four season tent is needed for certain climbs at certain times. Maybe sometimes in summer. Maybe not in winter. It depends. What are you wanting to do?

 

If you are going to be waiting out a Nasty storm (above treeline) in summer or winter to climb your goal, you will need a 4 season tent. If winds are high, a 4 season tent has more anchoring points.

 

If you are only going to climb in good weather (and bail if the weather turns), then a 3 season is fine.

 

If you live in NJ, a walmart pup tent is fine.

 

 

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Hmmm, I don't actually own a proper tent, but it is on the list of things to own.

 

I find that floorless shelters such as a Megamid work best for camping in most conditions, especially a lot of rain, and they are pretty light. With something like a Megamid it is much easier to get in and out of the shelter in wet raingear without getting your sleeping gear wet, and you can cook inside much more safely and easily. With the right anchors they will take a lot of wind.

 

That said, they will not do well in a bunch of blowing spindrift and truly fierce winds. You can find that weather anywhere above treeline in the winter and potentially hign-up on the volcanos in the summer. In this weather you really want the strength, anchoring options, and spindrift protection that three-season tents tend to lack. That's what good four-season tents are all about, and when you need them you need them.

 

In the summer I'll happily take a megamid up Ranier, knowing if the weather sucks to bad I'll probably just leave, or in a really desperate situation I can dig a snow cave to survive. I wouldn't take one up Ranier in February though.

 

Generally four-season tents have a lot of condensation in warmer-wet weather, so I tend to avoid them in the summer. I think the best summer shelters are tarps or pyramids without floors, although bugs and mice can be a real problem. A tent with an all-mesh inner is usually the driest in three-season conditons.

 

A four-season tent, if it is truly necessary, is a piece of survival gear. Generally people who use them to there full potential regard it as worth spending a lot of money on rather than skimping.

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If you weather a serious winter storm, a 4season tent will be just comfortable.

Anything else will be a struggle to keep dry and warm in.

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...Generally four-season tents have a lot of condensation in warmer-wet weather, so I tend to avoid them in the summer...

 

A tent with an all-mesh inner is usually the driest in three-season conditons.

 

Herein lies my dilema on the subject of which tent to purchase for a specific purpose. I am going to hike up to Camp Muir and I intend to overnight, either by choice (of a beautiful evening to watch), or by being forced to in the event of weather moving in, and I would imagine that would involve high winds, blowing snow, etc.

 

Here (North Dakota) when the wind blows over the snow, the snow eventually finds its way into EVERY small hole in anything. So for this reason I expect that a 3-season tent (mesh) would be mostly useless, even with a fly.

 

Am I reading this correctly? Is a 4-season what I REALLY want? I do intend to use it again and again, eventually to attempt a summit and this is why I think a 4 is what I want. I also suspect that there are 4-season tents that can be well ventilated, and that ought to solve my dilema.

 

So, for this particular intent, what might you all suggest?

 

Thanks all in advance....

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For camping at Muir, I think you would be happiest with a four-season tent. It will always be cold and usually windy, which will keep air moving through the tent and reduce the condensation problem. It will sometimes be really windy with lots of blowing snow, the conditions where three-season tents seem to fail. The solid inner tent will be noticeably warmer as well.

 

The condensation issues are mostly a problem in warmer, still, wet weather. I don't think that ever happens at Muir.

 

For these conditions, I hear good reports about Bibler single-wall tents with the Todd-Tex fabric, I also hear good reports about Hillberg tents.

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A truly well-engineered four-season tent will vent well enough even in warm weather. The main noticeable difference is that it will be HEAVIER than an equally well engineered three-season tent. A couple of exceptions to this "rule" are the Hilleberg and Stephenson Warmlite lines, which both produce ultra-light expedition quality tents (for a PRICE).

 

In the Cascades, I have found a ripstop (NOT MESH) walled "three season" tent to be adequate for most all conditions year round. The airspace between the breathable ripstop wall and the waterproof fly keeps the inner wall warm enough so that it breathes, allowing moisture to pass and condense on the colder fly layer. I know the mesh-walled versions are lighter, but I'd rather carry the extra half-pound or so and have a truly storm-worthy shelter.

 

The extra weight of the "four-season" double wall versions make those tents more wind tolerant, however by properly locating and protecting a double-wall three-season model, this type of tent may be comfortably used in all but the most extreme conditions, when even a "four-season" or "expedition" model would be at risk.

 

Notice, I don't write much about single-wall tents. Basically, ANY single wall tent will result in a certain amount of condensation. For that matter, so will a tarp. The current trend to manufacture single-wall "expedition" tents is mostly an effort to reduce weight at the expense of greater condensation inside. Unless you're willing to put up with that, I would avoid the single-wall versions, except perhaps as a "bivouac" shelter for a night or two. I do own a BD firstlight for that type of use, but for multiple nights,four seasons, I use double-wall tents. And in winter and at altitude, I prefer igloos and snow caves to any tent I've ever seen. Igloos don't blow apart or blow away...

 

 

 

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This is what I have used for ten years. Actually, this newer one has one more pole than mine. It has weathered some good storms and I have never gotten wet in it.

Downside is 9lbs.

Upside, cheap and fully functional. The vestibule is important.

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If you primarily climb in good weather, a 3 season tent is usually fine...it's what I use for 90% of my outings. But if you are above tree line, in heavier winds/snow/rain a bomber 4 season tent is really nice. As Bug points out, a vestibule is really nice when you are hunkered down waiting out bad weather...for cooking or sitting up. I have an older single wall 4 season tent which runs about 7 pounds with vestibule. I have only had condensation issues using it on sandy areas around water.IMG_0337.JPG

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The extra weight of the "four-season" double wall versions make those tents more wind tolerant, however by properly locating and protecting a double-wall three-season model, this type of tent may be comfortably used in all but the most extreme conditions, when even a "four-season" or "expedition" model would be at risk.

 

I second this response. I defintely recommend a self suporting double walled 4-season dome. In high winds, just build a snow wall around it. You'll have the next best thing to an igloo in less time. If you are interested in snow camping get the best you can find. As your experience grows so will your need to winter some harsh conditions. Treat it as a long-term investment. I've gotten thirty years out of my first North Face VE24 which means the original investment cost me about $10 a year. Companies like NorthFace are excellent at standing behind their products and making repairs when you send your tents into them. Even though Northface finally told me to quite sending them the tent 20 years ago because it was worn out, it is still the tent I use most often because I don't care as much if it gets stolen.

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100_4636.JPG

 

the value of a vestibule with enuf space to both cook and store yer shit in can't be understated. this is an rei mountian 2 and it is AWESOME, albeit a little heavy. but if you are wanting the best protection from whatever you may see in the mountains round the NW then it seems like the type of tent - whether 3 or 4 season - matters less than the way you anchor it to withstand wind and the weight of snow, though solid wall tents as opposed to mesh wall will hold in more heat. generally, the more poles yer shelter has the more durable it will be when you get a good dumping of snow on top of it. and anchoring it properly is key, too. last time my tent was up it took 3 inches of snow during our final night on the mountain... i've also had good luck with the rei taj 3, which is a 3 season tent i guess. my feeling is that if you are a two person team sharing the tent then you want a two person tent because a three person tent is too big and thus hard to make the best use of the combined body heat of you and yer partner. leave yer gear outside in the vestibule and bring a candle to help create a bit more heat: just don't go to sleep without blowing it out!

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Just get something you are actually going to use. I think using a 4 season tent year round could work if you aren't too rough on your gear. Hilleberg makes great tents in my experience.

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