Survive The Winter Elements – Four Tents for Four-Season Use
Unlike summer-oriented tents, four season shelters must be capable of withstanding the high winds and heavy snow encountered in winter conditions or at high-altitudes. Constructed to protect climbers in the worst weather, these tents will often trade off some fair-weather breathability to ensure a warmer sleeping environment. Flysheets will take a similar approach with to-the-ground coverage for better protection from wind and snow. Other details like pole materials, fittings and fabrics will often be up-speced to better deal with the harsh winter conditions. While all these changes often result in overall weight increases, they ensure that these tents remain standing after a night of howling wind and drifting snow.
Here are four tents that will serve the needs of many winter or high altitude climbers.
The North Face
With its roomy floor space, the Mountain 35 is a luxurious two-person basecamp tent or the ideal three-man shelter at high camps. But even with all this space, the tent’s footprint will still fit on the small ledges often encountered during difficult climbs. The construction quality is impeccable and the combination of poles sleeves and clips ensure excellent wind and snow-loading resistance without sacrificing fast pitching. Other useful details include a small front vestibule, double doors and non-stretch Kevlar guylines. Finally, The North Face also includes a crack-resistant polyurethane port window for checking the outside conditions without opening the door and getting hammered by wind and snow. It’s not surprising that the renowned Canadian mountaineer Louis Rousseau has chosen this tent for his high altitude expeditions.
Stormtrack – $515
This lightweight two-person basecamp tents delivers excellent protection from the elements without comprising the living space required when waiting out winter storms. Black Diamond achieves these conflicting qualities by using an innovative pole configuration that affixes to the tent body with pole sleeves, clips and hubs. For protection of any extra gear, the Stormtrack features a roomy front vestibule and smaller vestibule in the back. To minimize condensation and frost build up, the Stormtrack also features multiple vents, which can be sealed to keep out snow, wind and rain. Climbers looking for a roomy and lightweight basecamp tent will appreciate the Stormtrack.
String Ridge 2 – $500
From the outside, the String Ridge’s profile looks like many other four-season tents, but once the fly is removed it’s obvious that there’s something different about this tent. Unlike tents with traditional poles sleeves or clips, the String Ridge employs a unique hub-pole system, which simplifies setup and increases interior space. The result is a surprisingly light and spacious tent capable of withstanding punishing winter weather. The large vestibule adds valuable storage space and its two vents ensure adequate air flow even in challenging weather. With it’s innovative setup, relatively low weight and roomy interior, the String Ridge 2 is a versatile tent ideal for a variety of four-season adventures.
Trango 4 – $850
This spacious four-person tent is unsurpassed as a liveable basecamp shelter. The massive floor offers plenty of living and sleeping space, while the similarly roomy vestibule provides storage for extra gear. Mountain Hardwear’s guaranteed watertight construction and strong Scandium XL poles ensure the tent can withstand the harshest rain, wind or snow conditions. For fast and easy pitching regardless of the conditions, the Trango 4 uses a clip system rather than pole sleeves. And while this system simplifies setup in most situations, it sacrifices a bit of interior space as the interior tent-body fabric sags a between the clips. This is not a deal-breaker for most climbers. For easy viewing of the outside conditions and to brighten up the interior during extended bouts of bad weather, Mountain Hardwear adds polyurethane windows. This is an excellent expedition basecamp tent.