4 season tents

Discussion in 'camping equipment and clothing related' started by grumpyvette, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    keep in mind theres at least two distinctly different types of tents you may require, a large comfortable base camp tent that will more than likely be set up withing a few hundred yards at most from a road and your truck, and depending on your needs it may need to hold 3-4-or even 5-6 people and the smaller lighter back-pack tent, that will usually hold 1-2 or at most 3 people and their gear.
    the cheap bargain import tents you generally find for under $100 are generally junk that will not prove worth the effort to set up, get a decent 4 season rated tent from a respected manufacturer, with a known reputation
    a decent tent will last for many years if properly cared for and stored between trips only after being cleaned and dried after use.

    keep in mind a decent tent has a water proof floor that has sides that extend about 6 inches up the tent walls and a separate waterproof rain fly that sheds rain and wind and snow without blocking air flow thru the tent to keep in ventilated and reduce moisture build-up.
    any tent needs to be easy to set up, and able to handle reasonably high winds without damage.
    good tents almost all have a 4 season rated design
    aluminum shock cord poles are lighter and easier to use than fiberglass, so pay the extra cost its worth it, there a hundred variations but remember not much spoils a good hunt more than being wet and cold so spend your dimes on a decent tent and sleeping bag and sleeping pad

    example base camp tent
    http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/47736?fe ... ppxs&dds=n
    example back-pack camp tent

    http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/1096?qs= ... pmd_google

    http://www.rei.com/search?search=Tents& ... ch%2CTents










  2. DorianL

    DorianL solid fixture here in the forum Staff Member

    365+ days of camping... half of which under a Eureka! Timberline. 20 years old and I still use it. Recommended! See pics of my low-buck operation at last race. ;)

    Im in the market for a new backpack. Thinking internal frame Alpine Lowe Contour.

  3. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    on my first trip out west to hunt mule deer we drove into the warner wilderness area, because we applied to several areas but drew licenses there.

    http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/modoc/recreatio ... ndex.shtml


    at the time (1970 or so)the area was a mix if rolling hills, mountains and meadows with a good population of mule deer and several areas held sequoia trees , we camped near the mill creak camp ground , set up a 3 man 4 season tent and parked the car all withing about 70 feet from a logging road access point, the tent was a sierra designs 4 season tent very similar to this one
    its a dome tent with an outer water proof fly and a water proof floor, the tents lasted 43 years with minor repairs, re water proofing the fly & floor sections occasionally, and its received good care, Ive bought several other tents since then ,but most are now long gone, especially any with canvas sections which tends to rot easily.
    yes its expensive but it can also save your life when temps drop well below freezing for a few days and your sleeping in a tent,9Ill never forget having ripped out part of my mustache which had frozen to the floor of the tent with my breath, when I turned over or seeing a 6 pack of beer cans all bulged out of shape from the cold expanding them that we had left on the cars roof, or pouring boiling hot coffee into a cup and having it form skim ice in less than 10 minutes

    that night it snowed, the car and tent were covered with about 2 feet of snow which was a bit of a shock as the weather report said "light snow"
    but we were in the mountains so that didn,t count
    I had a good hunt and got altitude sickness, and it was a real learning experience, I almost froze to death in a sleeping bag rated at ZERO DEGREES
    but I rapidly realized that was obviously meant to be the temperature of the occupant, not the temperature it kept you warm down too!.
    I had purchased the sleeping bag I had from SEARs, it was their best rated bag and it was a "TOTAL PIECE OF CRAP" we drove into town and bought a north face INFERNO bag or something similar if my memory is good that was rated at -30F that cost me a full weeks pay, it kept you warm but it was restrictive,but it was money well spent

    http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&o ... ed3ee60de5

    BTW don,t let altitude sickness ruin your hunt, its a problem for almost all new hunters that don,t live at similar altitudes,symptoms are a killer head ache and nausea, that usually takes 8-12 hours to start after moving to higher altitude and it can last 12-48 hours making life miserable , its cure is drinking lots of liquids like gator aid and water and taking aspirin and Excedrin and resting while your body adapts , if possible spend the first couple nights at a slightly lower altitude, example where I normally hunt the altitude is about 8K-11K , if I spend a couple nights in a motel at lets say 5K-7K it tends to REDUCE but not eliminate the problem

    the first few elk I packed out I used an external frame aluminum frame, pack the first year was a total disaster as the riveted aluminum frame squeaked constantly and eventually broke under the 80 lb loads in very short order, the next year I bought a far stronger name brand welded frame , it lasted two years before it broke , I explained my problem at cabelas store and the guy suggested a cheap PEAK ONE pack,frame but suggested I have a better bag made, I bought a heavy nylon duffel bag and used 20 feet of seat belt nylon and brass grommits to make a custom pack, I bought far better quality hip and shoulder belts and added those and its lasted and worked for 30 plus years, its ugly and not high tech, but like a crowbar its hard to damage, and it works
  4. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    Choose the Right Backcountry Tent
    by Rick Bin

    SO, YOU'RE READY for a real tent. Not a club-store seventy-dollar special, but an honest-to-goodness your-life-may-depend-on-it collection of ripstop and no-see-um. What features should you look for? How much should you spend? What should you avoid?

    Making the right choice in a backcountry tent requires an honest consideration of its intended use (including potential worst-case scenarios), budget, and plain old-fashioned horse sense. The choices can seem endless, but in the end, the perfect tent for you is out there. You just need to find it. So read on. Your research starts right here.

    For starters, we are not talking here about budget or mid-level tents designed for low-impact family excursions to the local lake, or to provide shade at a city-park barbeque. What we're considering here are tents intended to be used as the primary means of shelter in a wilderness or semi-wilderness setting, possibly for days on end.

    They are two different animals, and if you've been relying on the Thrift-o-mart version for serious backcountry excursions, let me mildly suggest that you're a few bricks shy of a full load!

    In addition, keep in mind that even the sturdiest of tents are constructed of nothing more than fancy sticks and fabrics, easily rendered unusable by a variety of factors, including wild animals, pilot error (ripstop melts really fast!), severe weather, and wear and tear, among other things. It goes without saying that proper backcountry survival skills are a must before venturing far from civilization.

    That stated, by far the biggest factors to consider in the choice of a backcountry tent are the time and place in which you intend to use it. Many folks have the budget and inclination to purchase several tents, each for different uses, and that's probably the best course if your outdoor activities are varied enough, and if your budget allows. For most, however, one good tent to cover a variety of situations is what's on the menu. This means your one tent must be a good one!

    Which leads us to crucial question number one: Will your tent see winter use?

    Here's where some good old-fashioned horse sense comes into play. Winter doesn't just mean December 21 through March 20. If you plan on October elk hunts in the Rockies, you better believe your tent will see winter-like conditions, calendar notwithstanding. Similarly, camping at just about any season in the Pacific Northwest means rain, rain, and more rain. In both cases, a four-season or convertible tent gets the nod (we'll delve into what each designation means shortly).

    By contrast, a Sonora-desert January is chilly at night, but absent the rare thunderstorm or sandstorm, you're not likely to see extreme winds, nor will heavy snow loads be a factor. For this type of use, a three-season tent is all you need, even in the dead of winter.

    Now, before you decide that if three-season is good, four-season must be better, let's take a look at some general features of each type and the trade-offs involved in choosing one over the other.

    Three-season tents are just what the name implies — reliable three seasons out of the year. They are typically of less robust construction, employing fewer and smaller-diameter poles (usually two or three), fewer guy-out points, and lots of no-see-um netting. As a result, they are significantly lighter, more compact, and as a rule offer much more ventilation than four-season tents. All of these qualities shine during the milder months, when Mother Nature smiles upon the Earth.

    The trade-offs come into play in harsher weather, when stronger winds, rain, and snow demand sturdy construction and multiple guy-outs, and extra ventilation is not so desirable. To wit, a backcountry snowstorm is no place for a lightweight, highly ventilated three-season tent.

    Also, be aware that the relative spectrum of these qualities varies widely among manufacturers, even within the three-season class. For a tent that will see true backcountry use, even only three-season use, erring on the side of sturdiness at the expense of a few ounces is the wisest course.

    Four-season tents, on the other hand, are much more capable of withstanding harsh weather. Most employ at least four relatively large-diameter poles; some use seven or more. Numerous guy-out points let you cinch things down further, and internal-guy systems are a boon when things get really nasty. In addition, four-season tents tend to have lower profiles to buck the wind better, and usually feature larger, sometimes pole-supported vestibules to handle your winter gear. No-see-um netting is often scarce or nonexistent.

    The trade-offs are that more and thicker poles, extra fabric, and larger dimensions equate to more weight and bulk. Moreover, the lack of no-see-um netting results in reduced ventilation, a real issue in milder weather. Full-on four-season tents are often overkill for anything less than genuine winter conditions, resulting in overly heavy packs, more involved pitches, and lots of internal moisture in less demanding weather.

    Bridging the gap between three- and four-season tents are the convertible tents, so called because they can be "converted" for use in varying conditions. Convertible means different things to different manufacturers, but generally convertible tents can be compared to sturdily built three-season tents, usually having three relatively large-diameter poles. Some convertibles are capable of being pitched minus various pole sections, meaning a lighter pack and a less sturdy tent in three-season mode. To augment strength, most convertibles feature internal-guy systems and numerous external guy-out loops, allowing you to stiffen things up considerably if the weather gets hairy.

    A singularly attractive feature of convertible tents is the adjustable ventilation system. Most convertibles have large no-see-um panels along the roof and doors, like three-season tents. Unlike three-season's however, the no-see-um is double-layered with zippered ripstop panels. In four-season mode, the ripstop panels remain zipped closed. In milder weather, the panels are zipped open to whatever degree conditions warrant, providing the optimum degree of ventilation. While this feature adds some ounces to the tent, it also adds so much versatility in terms of ventilation that there can be no doubt of its worth.

    Truth be told, a well constructed and properly pitched and guyed convertible is plenty sturdy for virtually all winter use, and provides lots of advantages in milder weather. You won't want one if you're planning on summiting Everest, but in the one-tent-does-all category, a convertible is hard to beat.

    This brings up critical question number two: How big a tent should you buy?

    Be careful here. Manufacturers are quite liberal with their size designations. A "three-man" tent generally means that three medium-sized people can squeeze in and sleep shoulder to shoulder. Looked at another way, a tent which allocates 15 square feet to each occupant is generous by industry standards. Now consider that 15 square feet equate to a space 2 feet wide by 7 feet long with one square foot to spare. That doesn't leave a lot of room for toiletries and a magazine, much less any squirming around. A good rule of thumb is to buy a tent one man larger than you expect to need, especially if winter camping is in the plans. Even then, you'll learn to choose your tentmates carefully.

    Also, be careful about relying on square footage alone. For one thing, the shape of the floor affects how much of that square footage is actually usable. Rectangular floors make the most efficient use of space, while hexagonal or octagonal floors, commonly seen in geodesic or dome tents, cut down on sleeping space while leaving lots of useless corners (unless you like scattered gear).

    Finally, wall shape and angle also affect comfort levels. Steep walls increase interior volume and overall livability, but also result in a less aerodynamic profile and thus a less sturdy tent. Similarly, tall interior peak heights are nice but generally detract from overall stormworthiness.

    Which leads us back to some horse-sense issues: What are the must-haves, and what can you do without?

    For sure, get a tent with aluminum poles. Aluminum is stronger, lighter, slimmer, and more durable than old-fashioned fiberglass poles. For these reasons, virtually all good tents now employ anodized aluminum, usually Easton. Bottom line: If you're not looking at a tent that comes standard with aluminum poles, you're not looking at a true backcountry tent. Period.

    Moving on, you'll do well to select a tent that employs clips rather than the more traditional sleeves to hold the poles. Sleeves tend to rip over time as roughened pole tips abrade the inner-sleeve fabric, the latter usually giving way just as night approaches at your new campsite and you're hurrying to get dinner started. As a result, a sleeved tent often requires two careful persons to pitch correctly and safely, especially as the tent gets older.

    More importantly, sleeves create isolated pockets of air between the tent body and the fly. Since very little air circulates in these pockets, condensation is exacerbated. It has been claimed that sleeves make a tent sturdier. Whether this is true even initially is debatable, but there is no question that, over time, sleeves deteriorate relatively quickly, generally being one of the first areas to give out on a tent.

    By contrast, clips make pitching a one-man breeze. Just anchor the pole tips in the tent loops, snap the clips to the poles, and presto. Just as important, clips allow air to circulate between the tent body and the fly virtually unimpeded. Finally, clips are stronger, often lighter, and much more durable. Go with clips.

    Another must-have is a generous vestibule. While a few trash bags will protect a whole bunch of stuff from the elements, things like boots, a change of clothes, headlamps, toiletries and reading material, not to speak of pooch, belong at close quarters. A vestibule allows you to maximize your tent space while still keeping some essentials indoors where you need them.

    Pole-supported vestibules add welcome volume, but also add extra weight. On four-season tents, a pole-supported vestibule makes sense to hold cold-weather gear. For three-seasons or convertibles, you might do just fine with a non-pole-supported vestibule (which are fully enclosed). Forget awnings (which are not).

    A final must-have is a groundcloth, or footprint. Whether you use an army-surplus tarp or a factory footprint designed to your tent's specifications, you'll want to avoid an early grave for your investment by protecting the floor from abrasion. Make-do tarps are usually cheaper, but are also generally quite heavier and bulkier. Factory footprints are cut specifically for your tent's floor (an important detail, because tarps that extend beyond the floor edge collect rainwater and funnel it under your tent--tent floors should always overhang footprints by at least two inches!). They are usually lighter and more compact, and facilitate pitching by employing the proper hardware.

    A most desirable feature on larger tents is two doors. Besides increasing ventilation, a back door is highly useful when Mother Nature calls. You won't want to crawl through lots of gear in the vestibule, nor over sleeping tentmates, to get out. In addition, when the weather is nasty, opening the lee-side door helps keep the inside of the tent dry.

    Some of the best tent manufacturers now offer factory seam taping, which eliminates the need to silicone seal all of the rainfly seams on your new tent. Experience has shown that factory seam sealing is often superior to home sealing jobs. If your chosen tent comes with factory seam sealing, consider yourself a step ahead.

    Beyond these, different manufacturers offer proprietary features with varying degrees of usefulness. Devices that lock pole intersections offer significantly increased tent strength while adding negligible weight. Hook-and-ladder clips to attach the rainfly to the tent body are handy and add strength. Reflective guy-out loops are unbelievably reassuring when you need to find camp in the dark. Interior "clotheslines" are a good place to hang soggy socks and gloves. Aftermarket stakes are a wise investment. Some manufacturers even offer deluxe features for the truly indulgent, like overhead gearlofts and hanging coffee mug holders.

    In the end, make sure that you consider the type of use and the number of people the tent will need to handle. Factor in a sensible weight-versus-strength analysis, keeping in mind that Mother Nature has a funny way of getting wicked when you're least prepared. Then look for all of the non-negotiable features above. Expect to pay anywhere from $200.00 to $600.00 for a top-quality tent, and be skeptical of the too-good-to-be-true deal.

    Remember. Your life may depend on it.
  5. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    yes your correct, before we get far into this..
    I've always enjoyed winter camping and hunting elk,and back packing well away from most hunting pressure.
    both endeavors virtually require , even mandate a health dose of masochistic personality disorder.
    but this is the time of year (feb-march) the sales on last years model and vendors inventory of 4 season tents are discounted.

    If you want to locate elk in the rather expansive areas elk inhabit, it can and does require that the hunter get into the areas ,[​IMG][​IMG]

    with less hunter pressure and that can involve back packing into an area thats a mile or so off any easy trail access,
    Its been my observation that most hunters are rather lazy and VERY reluctant to pack out any mule deer or elk they shoot for over about a 1/2 mile.
    many hunters are not confident enough in their navigational skills too feel comfortable hunting more than about 1/2 mile off logging roads, or well marked trail heads.
    its been my experience that you will need a decent back pack and at least a 3 man 4 season tent for each pair of hunters
    to have the required floor space to remain comfortable for what for me has always been several successive 3-4 day mini trips,
    packing in, away from the place we park the truck and get out resupplies.
    most years two or three guys choose to camp near where the truck is parked and the more obsessed/serious "masochistic"
    members of our hunt club,
    back pack into the more remote canyons where we try to leave zero evidence we were ever there,
    more than a few times Ive awoken a few miles from the truck in a small dome tent that looked like a minor bump under more than 8" to a foot or more of blanketed snow fall. in a pristine, rather beautiful remote canyon, the untrod-den blanket of snow may make travel a bit more difficult but it also provides for excellent tracking and meat preservation.
    we mostly engage in cold camping , leaving no trace of out passing and fully accept the possibility of having to pack out 60 lb-80 lbs of meat up some rather steep and often difficult too traverse country.
    any limited cooking is generally on trioxane heat tabs, and only after we have an elk down.
    (morning hot coffee/cocoa mix)
    the benefit is that after opening day , in some remote area, we seldom see other hunters.

    shop carefully, read the related reviews and keep in mind price and weight, but youll generally regret going with the cheapest options











    not 4 season, but cheap and easy too use
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019

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