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Three season, four season tent?

Old 09-02-14, 02:04 PM
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Three season, four season tent?

I'd really like to get by with a three season tent on my CC trip next year but the thought of getting caught in a hailstorm w/out a solid 4 season tent kinda has me concerned. Then there's the problem of humidity. The three season tents have good ventilation and the 4 season versions have almost none at all. Do I REALLY need a 4 season tent for a USA CC trip?
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Old 09-02-14, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Louis Le Tour
Do I REALLY need a 4 season tent for a USA CC trip?
No. Not really. A 4 season tent isn't going to offer any more protection from hail than a 3 season tent either so all you are going to gain is stuffiness and weight.
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Old 09-02-14, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
No. Not really. A 4 season tent isn't going to offer any more protection from hail than a 3 season tent either so all you are going to gain is stuffiness and weight.
What he said
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Old 09-02-14, 03:56 PM
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Thanks, that'll save me some $.
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Old 09-02-14, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
No. Not really. A 4 season tent isn't going to offer any more protection from hail than a 3 season tent either so all you are going to gain is stuffiness and weight.
do you have any favourate tents in mind Stuart.you being a very experienced camper.
thanks
anto.
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Old 09-02-14, 07:30 PM
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4 season suggests its strong enough to get snowed on adding weight to support . overnight ..
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Old 09-02-14, 08:29 PM
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Our 3 season tent that has been in snowstorms, hailstorms, windstorms, and used a lot during the 7 years we've had it. We often use it for spring ski trips rather than our heavier 4 season tent. A good 3 season tent should be all you need.






We were camped at a small RV park in eastern Oregon's High Desert when a pre-frontal squall hit the campground with 60+ mph winds. We were partially sheltered by some of the RVs, but the storm did blow down several large cottonwood trees. Point is: a good 3 season is pretty tough!



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Old 09-02-14, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by antokelly
do you have any favourate tents in mind Stuart.you being a very experienced camper.
thanks
anto.
I currently use, and like very much, Big Agnes tents. I have a Seedhouse SL 2 (2 lb 9 oz packed weight) and a Fly Creek UL1 (1 lb 11oz packed weight). Both are really good tents. Both are quite rugged, light and pack small. I find the Fly Creek quite adequate in size for me. I'm not small (6', 230#) but it has plenty of room inside.
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Old 09-03-14, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
I currently use, and like very much, Big Agnes tents. I have a Seedhouse SL 2 (2 lb 9 oz packed weight) and a Fly Creek UL1 (1 lb 11oz packed weight). Both are really good tents. Both are quite rugged, light and pack small. I find the Fly Creek quite adequate in size for me. I'm not small (6', 230#) but it has plenty of room inside.
thanks stuart for that always great to get the opinion of an expert .my tent is very good but a tad to heavy.Mountain Hardware Spear gt2,and since i changed my bike from the thorn sherpa to the thorn audax suits my cycling needs much better i dont want to take the chance and overload the bike,so always on the look out for a roomey lightweight tent. thanks again.
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Old 09-03-14, 12:22 PM
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Bike touring = three season
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Old 09-03-14, 02:13 PM
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Haven't used toured CC but my backpacking experience tells me that hail is basically a non-issue for 3 season tents. The times you need a 4 season are in high winds and heavy or blowing snow. Hail slips right off the canopy of any tent. Snow on the other hand builds up and weighs down a tent, for which case you need the additional sturdiness afforded by a 4 season. I've been stuck in a 3 season tent under marble sized hail many times, and it's just like rain, only a lot louder.
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Old 09-04-14, 10:15 AM
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I use my 3-season REI Passage 2-person tent for four season camping. I've camped in sub-zero temperatures and endured heavy snowfall. One of the problems using a three-season tent in winter weather is that it tends to have a lot of mesh, and when the rain fly is staked out, winds and snow easily blow into the tent. Also, a staked-out rain fly tends to collect snow and may collapse the tent. To counter these problems, I don't stake the rain fly; rather, I secure it close to the sides of the tent, draping it over the tent rather than having it taunt. If there's wind, I use my panniers and firewood to keep the fly in place; in snowy conditions, I pile snow around the bottom of the fly. I found that my tent is narrow enough so that falling snow will slide off the fly. Likewise, cold breezes don't blow into the tent. To help raise the temp. inside the tent, I've used a three candle UCO lantern. Of course, I put it out before going to sleep. One thing to remember about winter camping: you lose a surprising amount of heat through the ground. So in addition to having a cold weather sleeping bag, you should also have high quality, insulated sleeping pad. It's also not a bad idea to place a foam pad underneath an inflatable sleeping pad--that really helps reduce heat loss.
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Old 09-04-14, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
I currently use, and like very much, Big Agnes tents. I have a Seedhouse SL 2 (2 lb 9 oz packed weight) and a Fly Creek UL1 (1 lb 11oz packed weight). Both are really good tents. Both are quite rugged, light and pack small. I find the Fly Creek quite adequate in size for me. I'm not small (6', 230#) but it has plenty of room inside.
+1 to Big Agnes. I have since switched to a bivy, but I loved my Big Agnes Fly Creek on my Colorado tour.

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Old 09-04-14, 04:15 PM
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^^^ nice photo ^^^
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Old 09-05-14, 06:11 AM
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Wind is the killer of tents.
A winter tent can survive anything short of a hurricane.
Hilleberg use a colour code for storm ability.
My Akto is rated Red, second to all-season black. My Akto has survived truely terrifying and dangerous winds.
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Old 09-05-14, 07:32 AM
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3 season is all you need unless your looking at doing some serious winter camping in the mountains. Seriously I've slept in my 3 season Big Agnes SL1 in some nasty weather around the world and had no complaints.

With regards to somebody's comment above about using a 3 season tent for winter camping and ventilation. I find that I get way too much (frozen) condensation if I don't leave a one side of the rain fly out during the night. I usually leave the side opposite of the wind pulled out for the tent to breath better. Better not to have water frozen inside the tent come morning when the sun hits it or it will melt the ice that builds up and drips all over your sleeping bag and such. Difficult to dry things out in lower temperatures
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Old 09-05-14, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by SparkyGA
...I find that I get way too much (frozen) condensation if I don't leave a one side of the rain fly out during the night....
It hasn't happened to me, but a friend had his tent's fly zipper freeze shut and he couldn't get out to pee in the morning until the sun hit. He said if the tent didn't cost over $500 he would have knifed it.

Back on topic, my 24 oz single-wall silnylon Tarptent has seen plenty of hail along with some wet early- and late-season snow. I wouldn't carry the extra pounds all summer for one or two possible nights of adverse weather in spring or fall.

And there's always the possibility of shipping yourself different gear later in the season if it's a real concern.
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Old 09-05-14, 11:25 PM
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Three season, four season tent?

My Hilleberg Soulu has stood up to everything I've thrown at it, but there again I expect it to.
They are expensive, but you do get what you pay for.
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Old 09-06-14, 05:33 AM
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I'd go a step further and say that not only is a 4 season tent not necessary, it is a poor choice for most bike touring. You would be adding a good bit of weight, bulk, and expense for no real gain.

Where the wind is bad I do usually pitch the tent where there is a least a little shelter from the wind. It doesn't have to be much, a slight rise in the ground, a retaining wall, a berm, some trees, or even the edge of a corn field will suffice. It has worked for me even the wide open and windy country like Wyoming, Montana, Kansas, Eastern Colorado, and Texas. On the Trans America our group of three managed with a cheap 4 person dome tent.

If your tent has those little ties that attach the fly to the pole, you know, the ones we all ignore... Tie them if wind is expected, they make a big difference. Extra tie outs are another option, but I have never bothered with them and been fine in some pretty severe conditions.

I personally really like the Eureka Spitfire 1 for those trips where I use a tent. It stands up to pretty strong winds and is light and inexpensive (you can find them for a little over $100). It has enough room that I have been comfortable with my 55 pound dog in the tent with me. I prefer it over tents that cost 2, 3 or 4 times as much.

Then there is the fact that our level of exposure to suffering in the event of an unlikely failure is low when touring. So even if we had a tent failure, we would have a single miserable night, and find another tent or a place to stay indoors the next day or so.

I have gotten away from using my tent for most trips and take a bivy a lot of the time, but when I do take a tent it is my Spitfire. To me the one drawback to the spitfire is that the poles break down into a rather long package. Some folks find it on the small side and tall people might find it too short. The length thing depends on whether you are willing to have your head and feet in the tapered ends. The tent is actually very long. In any case I think the OP mentioned being on the short side so it should be a none issue.
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Old 09-06-14, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I'd go a step further and say that not only is a 4 season tent not necessary, it is a poor choice for most bike touring. You would be adding a good bit of weight, bulk, and expense for no real gain.

Where the wind is bad I do usually pitch the tent where there is a least a little shelter from the wind. It doesn't have to be much, a slight rise in the ground, a retaining wall, a berm, some trees, or even the edge of a corn field will suffice. It has worked for me even the wide open and windy country like Wyoming, Montana, Kansas, Eastern Colorado, and Texas. On the Trans America our group of three managed with a cheap 4 person dome tent.

If your tent has those little ties that attach the fly to the pole, you know, the ones we all ignore... Tie them if wind is expected, they make a big difference. Extra tie outs are another option, but I have never bothered with them and been fine in some pretty severe conditions.

I personally really like the Eureka Spitfire 1 for those trips where I use a tent. It stands up to pretty strong winds and is light and inexpensive (you can find them for a little over $100). It has enough room that I have been comfortable with my 55 pound dog in the tent with me. I prefer it over tents that cost 2, 3 or 4 times as much.

Then there is the fact that our level of exposure to suffering in the event of an unlikely failure is low when touring. So even if we had a tent failure, we would have a single miserable night, and find another tent or a place to stay indoors the next day or so.

I have gotten away from using my tent for most trips and take a bivy a lot of the time, but when I do take a tent it is my Spitfire. To me the one drawback to the spitfire is that the poles break down into a rather long package. Some folks find it on the small side and tall people might find it too short. The length thing depends on whether you are willing to have your head and feet in the tapered ends. The tent is actually very long. In any case I think the OP mentioned being on the short side so it should be a none issue.
Setting up guy wires for a tent isn't that hard and, in the case of some tents, it's necessary even in light winds. I folded a Eureka Alpine Meadows 4 in half because I didn't set up guy lines. The Alpine Meadows is a large tent (48" at the peak) and catches the wind like a sail. That's the only tent I've ever had a problem with however. The Big Agnes tents I have are both low tents that would probably stand up to a hurricane before then would be damaged.

I will add to you comments about Eureka tents. They are a good product for a good price. I carried a Eureka Timberline for years..still have it...before I went to Big Agnes. Eureka tents are heavier than the Big Agnes (about double the weight for the same space) but they are also about half the price. If they have a failing it is the width of the packed tent like you said. The Eureka tent package is about 25" long. If you want to put that in a pannier (I don't know why you'd want to carry a tent that way but to each his own), that's too long. It's even long for putting on a rack.

The Big Agnes tents are 18" long for comparison.
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Old 09-06-14, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Setting up guy wires for a tent isn't that hard and, in the case of some tents, it's necessary even in light winds..........I will add to you comments about Eureka tents. They are a good product for a good price. I carried a Eureka Timberline for years.
+1 about Eureka tents being a good value.

I also had a Eureka Timberline tent that I used and abused for a long time, until it finally wore out. I still use part of the rainfly for a ground cloth. I've also used a Eureka 4-season tent for mountaineering until the pole sleeves started to wear after over a decade of very hard use. I still use it for car camping, but have switched to Sierra Design tents for both bike touring and 4-season use. I prefer clips over pole sleeves, especially with cold hands and windy conditions. I know, that is not usually an issue on bike tours.

It is hard to find a good 4-season tent that weighs under 6 lbs. There are many 3-season tents in the 3 lbs. range. That is a pretty significant difference.

Sometimes you have to stake them down with whatever you have in your pack. In this case it is 1" tubular webbing with a 4500 lbs. tensile strength that we use for climbing anchors. They should still be there when the tent is gone.

[

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Old 09-06-14, 10:36 AM
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Bike touring = three season
but year around if you flip hemispheres to have 2 summers ..
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Old 09-06-14, 11:28 AM
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Four season tents have stronger structures to resist wind and snow loads. They have limited mesh areas and are designed to protect against blowing snow. They are inferior to three season tents during most conditions due to increased weight and poor ventillation. In low temperatures, four season tents are susceptable to condensation. If you are camping in the winter, once your sleeping bag gets wet, it will stay wet until you dry it indoors. Unless you are winter mountaineering above tree line, you'd be better off with a three season tent even for a winter cross Canada ride. We tour on public roads and it's always easy to find a building to camp behind. For blowing snow, get a three season tent with a fly which reaches the ground, and shovel snow against the edge of the fly. Put your door and vestibule on the leeward side.

Four season tents offer no more protection against hail than three season tents.
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Old 09-06-14, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by BigAura
Bike touring = three season
Not at all. Someone on these forums rode the Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road recently. It's an ice road plowed every year on the frozen Mackenzie River delta where the river empties into the Arctic Ocean. He did it just after the sunrise.
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Old 09-06-14, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan
Not at all. Someone on these forums rode the Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road recently. It's an ice road plowed every year on the frozen Mackenzie River delta where the river empties into the Arctic Ocean. He did it just after the sunrise.
Yep, I should have said: 99.9% bicycle tours = three season.
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