The Difference Between 3 And 4 Season Tent – Worth Knowing?

If you are going camping for a few months to enjoy the beauty of the wilderness, you may want to bring a multi-season tent with you.

Because you do not know what the weather will be like in the next upcoming months. So, whenever you buy a new tent, it’s ideal to know how many seasons it can shelter you for.

Well, with the changing seasons in mind, tent manufacturers have developed tents that can keep us safe in various seasons like the 3 and 4-season tents.

But, other than the number, there is some vital difference between 3 and 4 season tent that you should be aware of before assuming your tent will protect you from all types of weather.

No worries; in this discussion, we’ll go over the key features of 3 and 4-season tents, as well as the differences between them, so that you’ll know when you need a 3 or 4-season tent.

The Main Difference Between 3 And 4 Season Tent

tent differences

The most significant distinction between 3-season & 4-season tents is the seasons in which they may be used.

However, there are some misunderstandings about the two terms, especially when it comes to 4-season tents.

So, let’s clarify all the differences and misunderstandings:

#1. Performance Difference

When it comes to using your tent in different seasons, three-season tents can be used from spring to summer and autumn.

These tents can usually endure little rain & wind while also can be suited for mediocre cold weather as well.

But if we talk about the other one, the biggest misconception about four-season tents is that they can be used in all four seasons.

However, in reality, four-season tents are designed to withstand extreme winters, such as frigid temperatures, high winds, and heavy snow. A four-season tent can also be used in heavy rain.

But that does not denote you can’t use your 4-season tent for summer and autumn, it is for the built material of a 4-season tent that makes them uncomfortable to use in hot weather.

Now, let’s check out the differences between their build qualities and find out why using a 4-season tent seems uncomfortable in summer and also why a 3-season tent would not be recommended for heavy winter.

#2. The Difference In Build Quality

If we compare the build quality of these two types of tents, then we will see that a four-season tent usually come with a much thicker “Rain Fly” than a regular three-season tent, and for having such thick insulation, four-season tents can withstand heavy winter or rain.

On the other hand, such thick insulation causes a lack of sufficient ventilation inside the tent, that’s why if you use a four-season tent in summer you may not get enough airflow to stay cool.

#3. Weight Difference

Aside from the thicker rain cover, a four-season tent’s other components like poles, and pegs are also thick and substantial.

Because of offering much thicker and heavier materials, four-season tents are far heavier than three-season tents.

Now, let’s understand the weight difference between a 3 and 4-season tent through examples.

In the following table, we will see 10 examples of both 3 and 4 season tents including their weight (for 4 people).

Tent Name (Three Seasons, 4 People) Item Weight Tent Name (Four Seasons, 4 People)  Item Weight
Coleman Dome  15 Pounds DANCHEL Durable Oxford Glamping Tent 44 Pounds
Kelty Late Start 4 Person 7.4 Pounds DANCHEL OUTDOOR 4-Season Waterproof 44.09 Pounds
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4-Person 8.4 Pounds Coleman Camping Tent | Skydome 9.3 Pounds
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4-Person 8.4 Pounds Snugpak Cave 4 Person Tent 11.5 Pounds
Coleman Cabin Tent 18 Pounds Canvas Cabin Bell Tent 22.04 Pounds
Eureka! Timberline SQ Three-Season 6.05 Pounds Trekking Pole Tent Ultralight 3.5274 Pounds
Stoic Madrone 4 Tent 7.8 Pounds Trango 4 Tent: 4-Season 10.9 Pounds
ALPS Mountaineering Taurus ‎9.7 Pounds


Black Diamond

Mission Tent, 4-Season


12.8 Pounds
Core Equipment Core 4 Person Instant 12.1 Pounds


Coleman Cabin Camping Tent 21 Pounds
Kelty Grand Mesa Backpacking 7.5 Pounds Kelty 4/6 Person Freestanding Rumpus 11 Pounds

Well, if we take a look at the weight of a 3 and 4 season tent then we ‌see that the average weight of a 3 season tent for four-person is around 10 pounds and the average weight of a 4 season tent for four people is around 19 Pounds.

So we can clearly see that 3 season tents are more lightweight than a 4 season tents.

Well, these are the main differences between a 3 and a 4-season tent. Now, let’s recap the major advantages and disadvantages of both types of tents.

Pros Of Choosing A 3 Season Tent

  • Lightweight
  • Works on multiple seasons.

Cons Of Choosing A 3 Season Tent

  • Cannot withstand extreme weather.

Pros Of Buying A 4 Season Tent

  • Durable Construction.
  • Ideal for heavy winter or rain.

Cons Of Buying A 4 Season Tent

  • Not ideal for summer.
  • Not lightweight.

What Should You Know Before You Buy 3 Or 4 Season Tent?

learn before buying

Besides just seasons (conditions of usage), there are some other aspects to think about before you make your decision on whether you need to buy a 3 or 4-season tent.

In that case, here we will talk about some crucial aspects of an ideal tent that you should check on the tent you are going to buy.

#1. Interior Space And Tent Height

There is a common misperception that a four-person tent can accommodate four people or that four people can sleep inside a four-person tent.

However, in actuality, a four-person tent can be comfortable for only three people; two people would be the most comfortable.

So, a four-person family should consider a six-person tent. This will free up space for beds and smaller storage places for clothing and other items.

Besides the interior space, you should think about the height of the tent.

Because if your tent is too short then, tall people will have to sleep without curling up in a ball.

So, know your own measurements as well as those of the tent you’re considering.

When it comes to tents, size matters.

#2. Ease Of Usage

You might notice a good-looking tent in the shop with plenty of space, but do you know how long the tent takes to put everything together? Is it necessary to have a small army?

That is something to think about while buying a tent. Because, when you get to your destination if you spend hours attempting to set up a tent, the whole enjoyment may ruin.

Moreover, your team members would not love to set up your poles and pegs for hours. That is why ease of usage is critical.

So‌ try to learn the setup process of your tent in the store, but if this is not practicable, you can find several videos on YouTube of individuals erecting various tents.

In that case, you have to find the tent you’re looking for, or something similar, then watch the video and you will also have to check out how a tent works and if it’s something you can set up yourself.

Also, seek independent reviews rather than manufacturer videos, because a reviewer that is not affiliated with the business will be more likely to call out the flaws.

#3. Make A Note Of Your Tent’s Material

You must examine the tent’s material carefully, since it may impact your buying decision.

Canvas (cotton) tents are waterproof, however, they become quite heavy after absorbing the water. They are‌ durable and do not degrade as quickly as nylon.

Well, tents made of nylon and polyester are also waterproof, although sunshine will degrade them over time.

To guarantee that these tents are waterproof, double-check that the joints have been sealed appropriately.

Many tents claim to be waterproof, however, the cheaper ones may not be as watertight as you had thought. Rip-stop fabric is found in good tents.

In terms of tent poles, they come in a variety of materials and may always be upgraded to a higher quality to guarantee they perform whenever the weather is extreme.

You have to examine the tent’s zips as well. This is an important aspect of the tent that is often ignored. If the tent zip fails, you could have some unwelcome guests!

Make sure the zip is of good quality, slides smoothly, doesn’t snag on the cloth, and isn’t rusting.

Asides from this, make sure your fly has nylon waterproofing with polyurethane and silicone coatings.

And to get optimal weather protection, a fly must cover your whole tent, including your windows and doors.

#4. Weigh Your Tent

Just think, will you have to transport your tent across long distances? Or, is it appropriate for vehicle camping?

If you are backpacking, a heavier tent will seem hard to carry.

On the other side, even if you have your car to carry the tent, some family tents are insanely huge that they won’t fit on the car’s roof racks.

Hey, are you capable of handling this heavy load yourself?

So, make sure you think about the weight of your tent and also check its size of it so that it can fit on your car’s roof if you are looking for a car/family tent.

#5. Check The Ventilation System

If you’ve never slept in a tent previously, you may not realize how unpleasant it is to get up with everything moist.

Your clothes can come into contact with the tent’s sidewalls and may become damp.

Well, no one would love to see condensation all around the tent, and the bed is soggy!

That is why proper ventilation is essential.

So, you must search for tents that provide enough ventilation with easy to open, well-placed windows and a good-quality rainfly.

Yes, ventilation is crucial.

#6. Remember Some Additional Features

Apart from the criteria outlined above, what are you searching for in a tent?

Think about what else matters to you based on your previous camping experience.

The following are some important things to think about:

  • The quantity of doors: two is good since it avoids having to climb over someone else.
  • The amount of windows is significant in terms of ventilation.
  • Storage compartments make the tent less crowded and make it easier to find important objects.
  • Awning size: more weather protection.
  • Possibility of purchasing extras to match the tent and your requirements (e.g., extra-large 20-person tent).

#7. Check Out Your Tent’s Floor

A robust, strong floor is required for family tents which will be used frequently.

Make sure your tent’s floor is composed of long-lasting material.

Although the flooring should keep moisture out of your tent and preserve you and your possessions, it is advised that you apply a ‘footprint‘ every time you use your tent.

A footprint, sometimes known as a tarp, is a sheet of specially constructed and shaped cloth that goes beneath your tent to shield it from the soil and abrasions.

It will be available for purchase from several tent manufacturers. However, make sure your footprint is more durable than your tent’s bottom.

#8. Think About The Price

For everyone, this is a major decision. How much should a tent cost?

We all have various budgets, but it is important to remember that excellence is expensive.

Buying an inexpensive tent will cost you further in the long term if it fails.

Of course, not everybody can afford to spend a small sum on a tent, but often the cheapest tents are just that.

Before you buy, ask yourself why this tent is so cheap relative to others with similar qualities.

It might just be a matter of the materials and the manufacturer, so you have to keep a balance between your budget and the tent’s quality.

#9. What About The Customer Support?

When purchasing a tent, consider whether or not an after-sales service is included.

Let’s imagine, you’ve just bought a fantastic tent, but something goes wrong. When you return to the manufacturer, they don’t want to know who you are.

As a result, after-sales support is more vital than the service provided when the tent was purchased.

So, before making a purchase, do some research about the tent’s maker. Check its website for information about flaws and other issues.

Read reviews from people who have dealt with the firm on blogs and forums. Look for companies who offer product warranties and stand with the things they sell.

Also read the fine print, which explains what a warranty covers and what it does not.

Many reputable gear manufacturers are so hopeful about the products that they provide lifetime warranties.

So, make sure you are doing your research.

Well, these are the most pivotal factors to check on a then that you are willing to buy.

So, Which Tent Is Right For You, 3 Or 4 Season Tent?

Well, if you need a tent for going out in the summer, spring, or autumn then you can buy a 3-season tent.

Likewise, if you want to go out in winter or the rainy season, then choosing a 4-season tent will be ideal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can A 3 Season Tent Be Used In winter?

Yes, you can use a good-quality three-season tent for winter camping, and hiking only if you set up your tent under a tree or you hang a tarp shelter over your tent.

But if you do not bring or have such insulation & warm clothes, you should not use a 3 season tent in heavy winter.

A 3-season tent will be fine only for light winter.

Is A 4 Season Tent Necessary For Winter Camping?

Yes, a 4 season tent is necessary for severe winds and heavy snowfall during the winter camping.

Because 4-season tents feature stronger poles and heavier materials than 3-season tents, which allows them to endure strong winds and large snow loads efficiently.

So, whenever you will go camping in winter, make sure you have a 4-season tent with you, it can protect you from getting cold.

Can I Use A 4-Season Tent In The Summer?

Yes, you can obviously use a 4 season tent in the summer, but you will need to keep an eye on the temperature inside the tent.

Because most of all the four-season tents are designed to keep you more shielded from wind in severe winter weather.

So, you may have to spend some time chilling down your tent’s temperature before you can camp comfortably in the summer.

Final Words

As we have already discovered that both the 3 and 4-season tents, we found that they have some special features that make them great for camping in different weather conditions.

But understanding the key difference between 3 and 4 season tent is essential for an enjoyable camping experience.

Well, in this discussion, we thoroughly described the difference between a 3 and 4-season tent with the other aspects of a tent, and we hope that this little knowledge will help you determine whether you need a 3 or a 4-season tent for your next camping trip.

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Fred Hoffman

Hey, I'm Fred Hoffman, founder of The True Wilderness. I've been exploring nature since I could walk, and my passion for it never ends. My mission is to show people that there's more to life than just the city. There's a whole world of beauty waiting for them out there, and I hope to inspire as many people as possible to get out and explore. I love to share the experience I've gathered throughout my life to make everyone's outdoor adventure smooth and enjoyable.

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