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When it comes to finding a three-season tent, it seems like there’s almost endless choice. Finding the right four-season tent, however, is another story: There just aren’t as many tents built to withstand a year of seasonal changes — or, if you live in a very cold climate, the kind of weather that makes up much of the year. Tents can get expensive, too, easily costing half a month’s rent or mortgage. For four-season tents, it’s worth thinking about how much you might use them, though don’t skimp too much, or you might not get the warmth or weather protection you really need. Also keep an eye out for double-walling, which provides better warmth in the winter and ventilation in the summer — though there are a few single-wall tents out there that hold their own in adverse conditions.
Whatever your year-round camping plans are — or, for hearty adventurers, whatever your snowy-weather camping plans are — we’ve rounded up the best four-season tents to buy this year.
Best Overall: Black Diamond El Dorado
We almost feel remiss not listing a Hilleberg tent as best overall — they’re the best in the industry, especially in the kind of weather a four-season tent should be used — but the Black Diamond El Dorado, for $300 less, gets the job done well enough to make it a great all-rounder for the price. It’s a generalist tent, with many reviewers describing it as very good at everything, not perfect at any one thing, but for campers in fairly standard seasonal conditions, no matter what season it is, it gets the job done well. The two-pole setup makes pitching easy — complete with plenty of guy points — and although it’s single-walled, the sturdiness of the poles and great material (thanks ToddTex ePTFE membrane!) do a great job of keeping storms out. There’s plenty of height for taller campers, and an optional vestibule, for an additional price, creates more room to hold gear. At 4.41 pounds, it can work for backpacking, too, though it won’t qualify most hikers for ultralight trekking.
Best Budget: Alps Mountaineering Tasmanian 3
No, the Alps Mountaineering Tasmanian 3 isn’t cheap, per se, but it’s one of the cheaper four-season tents out there — and its quality is still great, especially taking into consideration the price. It might not be the most durable four-season one on the market, but if you only camp in extreme winter occasionally, or are looking for a tent for a one-off trip, this three-person, 43-and-a-half-square-foot tent does the (big) job of keeping out cold winds to keep campers cozy. Despite its compact set-up, the vestibule is surprisingly large at 21 square feet — you’ll be able to cook a meal in here while it snows outside. (There’s a gear loft inside the tent to keep extra stuff out of the way while you whip up a feast, too.) Just be warned: It can take a long time to get the rain fly on securely, especially your first few times, so give it a few practice runs before you head out into the elements.
Best in Wind and Rain: Hilleberg Jannu 2
Hilleberg’s tents are arguably the best in the industry, and they fully deserve to be anyone’s top pick. Unfortunately, the price tag is a little high to recommend as the best all-rounder for a more general camping audience, but for dedicated campers braving the elements, the Jannu two-person tent delivers. The aerodynamic, low profile keeps the gustiest winds skimming over the top of the tent, and it’s incredibly resistant to snow loading and storms (as in Himalayan-quality storms) — and with the quick pitch time, you’ll be out of the elements in no time. There are also a few different setup configurations, which gives it versatility for different campers on different adventures. Although it’s designed for winter in mind, the packability of the tent and the great ventilation make this tent a great choice for summer, too. One thing to note: At almost 7 pounds, with tent, stakes, guylines and pole bag included, it’s a little heavy for backpacking, but campers can consider this a solid bet.
Best for Backpacking: Big Agnes Shield 2
Big Agnes’ tents have long been a favorite among the three-season backpacking crowd, but this four-season model has a lot to love about it — and even more so in the winter, when its features really stand out. Yes, the price tag is high, but it’s great for mountaineering, even in altitudes above 9,000 feet, as well as more general backpacking. Its incredibly sturdy design withstands strong winds improbably well, given that this tent weighs just 3 pounds, 12 ounces (we also love the weather-viewing window). It’s also freestanding, which is great if you encounter frozen ground or rocky surfaces on (or off) the trail. In terms of packability, the Shield 2 is easy to set up and packs down small (helped by its single-layer walls), with great storm protection and ventilation that keeps out morning condensation. The optional vestibule is an expensive extra addition, but those camping solo or packing light with a partner might not need the extra space.
Best Freestanding/Self-Supporting: MSR Advance Pro 2
Designed with climbers and alpinists in mind, the MSR Advance Pro 2 is a freestanding tent designed to withstand whatever the weather throws at it — without taking up a lot of space, thanks to its narrow footprint. It’s also at the top of its technical game: Released in 2017, this two-person tent uses advanced materials and ingenious design to make setting up a cinch — to the point where you don’t even have to move your feet to get it set up. At just 3 pounds, 3 ounces it’s light enough for those hitting the trail with just survival essentials and measures 24 square feet. However, the real gem are the Easton Syclone poles, which weigh just as much as aluminium ones but reportedly have 80 percent more durability in howling winds. The only major downside is the lack of a vestibule, but if you’re packing this light anyway, that might not matter.
Best for Extreme Expeditions: Black Diamond Fitzroy
For many, this tent might cost their rent money (or a healthy chunk of it), but this tent has been pitched in some of the planet’s most extreme climates and weather — and survived. The two-person model has a steep-sided design to keep snow load down and maximize headroom. It’s built for expeditions, with a pole system designed for stability (though keep in mind it’s not the simplest to pitch) and fabric that is durable, waterproof and protective. Although it’s heavy — a seven-pound tent is no joke — but reviewers point out that it’s still up to two pounds lighter than other models that provide this kind of incredible protection from the elements.
Best Two-Person: Marmot Thor
Great for those who don’t mind a little snowy adventure but aren’t heading out on an expedition anytime soon, the incredibly well-thought-out Marmot Thor has enough space for two (at 38 square feet), plus plenty of interior storage to tuck at-hand items away. Included is a poled 10-square-foot vestibule for gear and boots, helping the sleeping area stay cozy. If bad weather hits, the low-slung design, Catenary Cut floors, ripstop fabric all help keep campers warm and dry — no matter how rainy and windy. The ventilation is great and positioned for cross-breezes. It’s too heavy for backpacking, at a maximum weight of 8 pounds, 6 ounces, but the 8-by-20-inch packed size makes it compact enough for a tote from car to campsite. It also comes with a field repair kit, just in case an accident happens while on the trail. The only downside is that condensation can gather on the sides, but it’s not a lot.
Best Four-Person: MSR Stormking Tent
If you’re bringing the whole family or crew along for year-round adventures — well, it comes with a price tag. There’s enough space here for five (or four with a lot of gear), with a huge front vestibule with enough space for everyone to hang out, while two large doors keep air going in fair weather. This material is extremely durable — enough to withstand both bad weather and rambunctious kids. For those looking for more extreme settings, the Stormking is designed with mountaineering in mind. The redesigned (as of 2017) tent also uses clipped-in Easton poles that stay strong, no matter what winds and snow is thrown their way, a major improvement over the previous design, which utilized cumbersome sleeves instead. With all this protection, it’ll be a solid, stress-free sleep in this tent — necessary for recharging for the adventures the next day will bring. You might have to buy extra stakes and guylines to fully set up the fly, but if you’re already spending this much, a little more might not break the budget.