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Best Budget Four Season Tent For Dependable Shelter


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Last Updated: October 26, 2020

Finding a budget four-season tent is a big ask, particularly if you want it to be light enough to carry for any kind of distance.

All the tents we’ve reviewed below offer great value. There’s always a trade-off between durability, size, weight and price when shopping for a budget tent, but our two top picks give you a great option at either end of the price scale.

Let’s dive into the reviews!

Our Top Pick

GEERTOP Backpacking Tent

It may not last a lifetime, but this budget tent is great for cold weather camping.Check On Amazon

Premium Pick

Eureka! Mountain Pass

If you can afford to spend a bit extra, this is a versatile, roomy tent that can be used all year round.Check On Amazon

Best Budget Four Season Tent Reviews

Best Budget Four Season Tent: Geertop Backpacking Tent

Persons: 2 | Weight:  6.4lbs | Floor Area: 31.7 sq ft | Floor Dimensions: 83 in x 55 in | Max Height: 45 in

If you’re on a tight budget, the Geertop backpacking tent offers the best compromise of weight, durability and features.

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It’s classed as a two-person tent but is on the small side, so you may prefer to use it as a roomy one-person tent. There are two doors and vestibules, though both are small. The emergency lantern hook and gear loft are nice additions to the interior.

In terms of performance, the tent does an excellent job of keeping you warm in cold weather. It stands up surprisingly well to wind and rain – adding additional tie-down lines will help with this. A nice feature, particularly at this price point, is the snow skirt. This can be rolled-up to maximize ventilation or you can keep it down for extra security.

The Geertop is excellent value for money, but it’s not perfect. The stakes aren’t particularly heavy-duty and although there are lots of attachment points for guylines, only a couple are provided. More seriously, some users have reported issues with broken or split zippers.

Realistically, at this price, you can’t expect an expedition-standard tent. The materials used won’t be the same quality as more expensive tents and it may not be a durable long-term winter camping solution. However, if you’re careful with the zippers, add some more guylines and sturdier stakes, and take steps to reduce condensation build-up, it’s a fantastic little tent at a bargain price.

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Built-in snow skirt
  • Two doors
  • Warm in cold weather
  • Relatively lightweight

Cons

  • Zippers prone to breaking
  • Limited space for two people

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Best Premium Budget Tent: Eureka! High Mountain Pass

Persons: 3 | Weight:  6.8lbs | Floor Area: 45 sq ft | Floor Dimensions: 88 in x 70-78 in | Max Height: 44 in

The Eureka! High Mountain Pass Tent is at the top end of our “budget” rating, but it’s an incredibly versatile tent packed with great features and a good amount of space at a reasonable pack weight.

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The Mountain Pass is described as a “convertible tent”. The inner has two side panels which you can remove for additional ventilation in summer. The main door also extends almost the full length of the tent and the vestibule can be rolled back, again to ventilate in hot weather. Of all the tents we’ve listed, this is the best if you’re looking for a tent that you can comfortably camp in all year round.

The three-person version has a floor area of 45 square feet with two doors and vestibules (one smaller than the other). There are internal storage pockets plus a decent sized gear loft for storing kit.

In terms of standing up to rough weather, the Mountain Pass does a good job. The poles are designed to bend, not break, which can be slightly unnerving, but it stays dry in heavy rain. Although Eureka! caveat the four-season rating by saying it “depends where you are”, this tent is more robust and durable than the cheaper models we’ve reviewed – as you’d expect given the higher price tag.

Pros

  • Good space to weight ratio
  • Can be used all year round
  • Footprint included
  • Good ventilation

Cons

  • Pricey for a budget tent
  • May be cold in very extreme weather

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Best for Tall People: Alps Mountaineering Tasmanian 2-Person Tent

Persons: 2 | Weight:  6.4lbs | Floor Area: 31.7 sq ft | Floor Dimensions: 92 in x 46-62 in | Max Height: 46 in

The Alps Tasmanian tent is comparable to the Eureka! Mountain Pass in price and while it’s smaller and heavier than the Mountain Pass, it’s a robust tent suitable for cold, wet and windy conditions. The design of the tent makes it easy for two people to sit up and at 92 inches, it’s one of the longest tents in this review – good news for tall people!

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It’s a great tent for storage with two good size vestibules at the front and rear. Inside, both walls are lined with mesh storage pockets and there’s a gear loft you can hang from the ceiling.

Perhaps the biggest difference between this tent and cheaper models such as the Geertop and High Peak South Col tents is the performance of the fabrics. You get very little condensation build-up with this tent, helped by having a roof vent in addition to the mesh doors.

The Tasmanian doesn’t come with a snow skirt, but the high bathtub floor will prevent any rain that does splash up from getting into the interior. Alps Mountaineering recommends you use the tent with their floor saver to protect the base and provide an additional waterproof barrier.

The big downside is the weight – for a two-person tent, the Tasmanian is pretty heavy. But if you’re looking for a mid-range tent that’s durable and affordable, this is a good choice.

Pros

  • Good size vestibules
  • Roomy and long interior
  • Lots of internal storage
  • Good ventilation

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky

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Best Lightweight Option: Naturehike Cloud-Up 2-Person Tent

Persons: 2 | Weight:  3.75lbs | Floor Area: 28.8 sq ft | Floor Dimensions: 83 in x 50 in | Max Height: 40 in

The Naturehike is designed as a budget lightweight backpacking tent. Although it’s technically a two-person tent, it’s more suited to a single person and their backpack. You may also struggle to stretch out in it if you’re tall.

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There’s a three-season and four-season version of this tent, so make sure you get the right one. The four-season tent comes with a snow skirt, 20D ripstop nylon rainfly and is a bit more expensive (though still cheap for an all-season tent).

The standout feature of this tent is the weight. At under four pounds, it’s the lightest tent on our list. If you know you’re going to be hiking long distances, this will make a major difference to your pack weight.

Because of the design of the tent, you need to be careful to pitch it with the rear pointing into the wind. Pitched correctly, it does a reasonable job of standing up to strong winds, however, if you pitch it side on to the wind, you’ll risk damaging the tent and getting water leakage where the rainfly is blown against the inner.

There’s no option to roll up the snow skirt, though the lightweight materials used mean that you’re more likely to get cold than get condensation issues. For a lightweight tent, it handles wind and rain reasonably well, so could be a good option if you’re unlikely to experience very harsh winters.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Excellent value
  • Built-in snow skirt
  • Minimal condensation issues

Cons

  • Not great for tall people
  • Small entrance
  • Not much storage
  • Not a true four-season tent

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Best Family Option: High Peak South Col Tent

Persons: 3 | Weight:  9.7lbs | Floor Area: 46.6 sq ft | Floor Dimensions: 85 in x 79 in | Max Height: 53 in

The High Peak South Col Tent is a roomy three-person tent that would be a good option for two adults plus backpacks or parents with small children. It’s got more headroom than most of the other tents and the steep sides make it easier to sit up in comfort.

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There are two doors (both with a mesh ventilation option) and two vestibules giving plenty of storage space outside the tent. As there isn’t any additional ventilation, the tent is prone to condensation build-up. If you partially unzip the two-layered doors at both ends (yes, even if it’s cold!), that will help.

The tent doesn’t have a true snow skirt, but the rainfly has a lip close to the ground to help prevent rain splashing up between the two layers. It comes with a lot of stakes and guy ropes to hold it down, but the stakes aren’t the highest quality – if you know you’ll be camping on hard ground, it may be worth investing in some heavy-duty stakes.

While we wouldn’t recommend using this tent on the South Col of Everest, it does a good job of standing up to more normal winter weather conditions. As the main tent has a simple 2-pole design (there’s a third pole for the front vestibule), it may struggle in very high winds.

At nine and a half pounds, it’s a heavy tent to carry on your own, but split between two, it’s an excellent value option for backpacking.

Pros

  • Good headroom
  • Two entrances and vestibules
  • Holds up to most winter weather conditions
  • Easy to put up
  • Excellent value for money

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Needs a lot of stakes
  • Prone to condensation build-up

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Considerations

What’s the Difference Between a Three and Four Season Tent?

snow tent

The first question to ask yourself, is do you really need a four-season tent? If you live somewhere where winters are mild and you’re unlikely to face heavy rain and high winds when you’re camping, then a four-season tent could be overkill.

Three-season tents are designed for summer weather as well as the chill of early spring and fall. They often have large mesh panels for ventilation and the rainfly might not extend to the ground.

Four-season tents should be able to stand up to strong winds and rain and heavy snow. They may have additional poles to give a more robust structure and there may be fewer ventilation panels. As you might expect, the extra materials add weight.

Some four-season tents have a built-in snow skirt. This is an extension to the fabric of the outer fly that allows you to pile snow on top of it. Snow skirts can help anchor the tent down and prevent snow from being blown up and onto the inner, but they can restrict ventilation so aren’t always necessary.

Bear in mind that most four-season tents aren’t designed to be used in all four seasons. They are designed for winter weather and are likely to be too hot for comfortable camping during warm summers.

Read here for more on the best survival tents.

Choosing a Budget Four Season Tent

Double-Wall vs Single-Wall Tent

Most budget four-season tents will have a double layer design, with an outer rainfly and an inner, breathable layer. Double-wall tents are often warmer than single-wall tents and have better ventilation, so you’re less likely to get condensation build-up inside the tent.

Single-wall tents are lighter and can be quicker and easier to set up. There are high-quality single-wall tents available, but they tend to be expensive and don’t offer as much protection from heavy rain. Unless you really need to prioritize weight, a double-wall tent will be your best budget option.

Budget

All-season tents don’t come cheap and to a large extent, you get what you pay for. That said, even within the category of four-season tents, there is some variation in the conditions they’re designed to withstand.

Mountaineering or expedition tents are built to stand up to the harshest conditions. Having camped in snowstorms on a Greenland glacier when the poles of our top-of-the-range tent were bending under the strain of the wind, I can tell you that when you’re in that situation, you want a tent that you know is not going to fail you. However, these tents are not “budget” tents – they typically retail for $600–$1000.

Treeline tents fall in between an expedition tent and a three-season tent. They’ll have many of the features of a four-season tent, but the design and materials may not be quite so robust. However, this does make them much less expensive. Given that most preppers are unlikely to be camping in true Arctic conditions, you can save yourself a bit of cash by balancing your need for durability with your budget.

All the tents we’ve reviewed in this article retail are under $400. There are a couple of sub-$150 tents that we’ve rated highly, but personally, I wouldn’t consider a sub-$100 tent to be durable and well-made enough to class as a true four-season tent.

Weight and Durability

Heavier, more durable fabrics, extra poles, vestibules and a deeper bathtub floor – all features of a four-season tent that add to the weight.

When you’re shopping for a budget tent, then you’re going to have to balance weight, durability and the size of the tent (including vestibules). If you know you’ll be having to carry your tent solo, then you may prioritize getting a lighter tent and having less internal space, whereas if you’re planning to transport it in a bug out vehicle, weight may not be a factor.

With most tents, it’s recommended that you use a tarp or floor saver underneath your tent to protect the base. Some brands, such as Alps Mountaineering, sell floor savers specifically designed for their tents. These may be more expensive than a basic tarp but lighter and more compact to carry.

But before you decide that weight is most important even if this means you, your partner and your Labrador squeezing into a two-person backpacking tent, read on…

Size and Storage

Tents are classified by the number of people they can sleep. In practice, one three-person tent can be quite different in terms of length, elbow room and headroom than another, so it’s useful to compare the specific dimensions of each tent.

For four-season tents, there are some additional factors to bear in mind when considering how much space you need:

  • You’re likely to want to store your kit in the tent and/or vestibule. Venturing out into the rain because you forget to bring in your warm socks is not fun and makes it more likely you’ll get the inside of the tent wet when getting in and out.
  • You need to be careful to avoid pressing anything against the side of the tent. If the inner touches the rainfly, moisture will be transferred which means whatever’s touching the inside of the tent will get wet.
  • The more people you have in a tent, the more likely you are to have condensation problems. However, you will be a lot warmer!
  • If you get caught in bad weather, you may end up spending a lot of time in your tent. Having a bit of space to move around in will make this a lot more comfortable.
  • If you’re having to juggle muddy boots and waterproofs in the rain when trying to get into or out of your tent, you’re less likely to soak your sleeping bag in a larger tent with a vestibule.

Most double-wall tents will have at least one vestibule. Two vestibules can be useful, as you can use one for storing gear and the other for entry/exit and cooking (if need be). Internal storage, such as mesh pockets or a gear loft can help you keep your tent organized.

Managing Moisture

condensation on tent

Beginner campers sometimes wonder why they end up with moisture or ice inside their tent if it’s supposed to be waterproof.

The answer is – condensation.

We all let out moisture when we breathe and if you seal yourself in a small, confined space, there’s nowhere for that moisture to go, so it beads on the inside of your tent.

A 4-season tent typically has less mesh than a 2-3 season tent meaning it’s harder for moisture to escape. While less mesh keeps the tent warmer, it’s still important to have some ventilation through your tent to prevent condensation build-up.

Often the tent doors will have two layers – a mesh layer and a solid layer. By unzipping the solid layer you can let some of the warm, moist air held inside dissipate. More expensive tents have vents in the top of the tent and breathable fabrics to prevent moisture build-up while still keeping you warm.

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