3 Season vs. 4 Season Tents

When you consider going winter camping, it is important to know the difference between 3 Season and 4 Season Tents. There are a couple of major differences you'll need to understand when considering which type of tent is right for your winter adventure. Below we will compare a 3 Season vs. a 4 Season Tent.

Three season tents are great all-around tents that can perform well from early spring all the way through the fall camping season. Some of the advantages of a 3 season tent include that they are more breathable and usually lighter in weight than 4 season tents.

3 Season Tents vs. 4 Season Tents

3 Season Tents



  • 3 Season Tents contain a large amount of mesh which makes them highly breathable and lighter in weight.

  • 3 Season tents generally have lighter and thinner poles than a comparable 4 Season Tent which again reduces their overall weight.

  • 3 Season Tents are made to be waterproof with a rain fly but they are not designed to hold up to snow loads on the tent or extreme winds.


In general, If you enjoy camping in the spring, summer and fall under fair weather conditions you will save some weight and some money by going with a 3 Season Tent. If you are planning on camping in the snow or through heavy wind storms you will want to look at a 4 Season Tent.

4 Season Tents Photo by Kristian Jackson

4 Season Tents



  • Have stronger fabric and less breathability to keep the warm air inside the test.

  • 4 Season Tents feature thicker and stronger poles to withstand snow loads and stronger winds. Most 4 season tents also come with additional poles for added strength.

  • May include a bath tub floor or additional tie down points.


In general, a 4 Season tent is made of stronger fabrics, includes more poles and is designed to withstand much harsher weather than a 3 Season Tent. If you are winter camping with snow and windy weather you'll want to go with the 4 Season Tent.

3+ Season Tents


Many manufacturers have started making 3+ season tents. A 3+ Season Tent is basically a hybrid of the 3 Season tent and a 4 Season tent. They are built stronger than a traditional 3 Season Tent but may be lighter in weight and more breathable than a 4 Season Tent.

Conclusion: 3 Season Tent Vs. 4 Season Tent


To choose between a 3 Season Tent or a 4 Season Tent you'll want to consider the conditions that you'll likely be camping in. In nice weather, which may include some rain, moderate winds or light snow, you'll probably be fine with a 3 Season Tent. If a heavy snowfall is likely or you expect heavy winds and cold temperatures, you will be much happier in a 4 Season Tent.

For more information on choosing the right tent check out the Sierra Trading Post Tent Guide.
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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