Summer and winter tents often go by the rating of three season tents and four season tents. The latter being winter tents, which are designed to be usable during all times of the year. Three season tents, or summer tents, on the other hand, are the more common types of tents which cover spring, summer and fall months. The main difference between the two is that summer tents aren’t typically as robust as winter tents and aren’t made to experience snow.
What is a Four Season Tent?
As discussed previously, a four season tent is designed to withstand weather conditions that are applicable all year round, including high winds, snow, rain and sun. These tents are usually well insulated and often have vestibules built into them as a shelter to remove snow-soaked items under before entering the tent.
In accordance with their purpose, four season tents are usually well-insulated and are significantly heavier than three season tents. The materials used to build four season tents are more durable and thicker than those of a three season tent, including the poles which are used for structural support. Four season tents usually have both external and internal support poles to keep them standing without strain.
What is a Three Season Tent?
A three season tent is much lighter in comparison to a four season tent, as they aren’t built with heavy wind or snow in mind. They’re easier to carry in comparison and are used during plenty of situations.
Three season tents usually have two layers, or double walls, which includes a rain fly, and are usually fairly well ventilated. These types of tents usually have added emphasis on airflow and ventilation as they’re mostly used during the summertime and, as a result, need to be cool during the day.
Main Differences Between Summer and Winter Tents
There are quite a few differences between both summer and winter tents, and some differences aren’t as obvious as others.
Summer and winter tents are both significantly different when it comes to the weight of the materials used to make them. Summer tents are typically lighter and easier to carry, as the materials needn’t be as heavy as winter tents. Winter tents tend to be heavier due to the poles that are needed to keep it up, as these poles are denser and there are usually more of them needed to support a winter tent as opposed to a summer one.
Tents can come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, regardless of what kind of tent it is. However, some tent shapes are more common with certain types of tent and for good reason. For instance, most four season tents are angled at the top, avoiding flat surfaces to stop snow from mounting on them. On the contrary, dome tents are the more popular choice of three season tents, as the dome shape helps water roll off easier and keeps it aerodynamic in winds it may encounter.
One of the main differences between summer and winter tents is the way the walls are built. Most summer tents are double walled, meaning there is a second layer of walling over them to keep the inside separate from the elements. Winter tents, on the other hand, can be found as both single walled or double walled. You might wonder why a winter tent would opt to remove an extra layer of both protection and insulation, but the logic is fairly sound. Single walled tents are much more effective in the wind as there’s less wind resistance, leading to fewer drafts.
Double walled tents are better for cold weather, as they provide additional insulation. Whereas single walled tents are better for dry weather. The main problem with double walled tents is the additional condensation they produce. Winter tents offer the option to opt for a single walled tent, whilst there isn’t as much choice when it comes to summer tents.
Winter tents often rely on more support poles to keep them standing in harsh weather. This means that their poles are made of a sturdier material and more are incorporated into the design of the tents. A lot of winter tents have both internal and external poles supporting it, and they often have more guy ropes to keep the tent in its place. Summer tents, on the other hand, rarely have both internal and external poles, and either have one type or the other. Summer tents are often fairly minimal in their design, especially smaller tents such as pop up tents.
While there are several differences between summer and winter tents, there is no definitive way of picking one or the other out of a lineup. As tent making techniques continue to improve and evolve, the materials for winter tents are getting lighter. Winter tents are oftentimes more expensive than summer tents, meaning that unless you plan on camping in the snow, there’s no real reason to invest. Thankfully, there are ways to improve your camping experience in cold weather by insulating your tent, and trying out different tips for staying warm in a tent.