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between a 3 season and 4 season tent. My son is really in need of a different tent to use when it is cold. His current tent has mesh down both sides and therefore lets a lot of wind come through when it is cold. I have looked at so many tents online that I am totally confused. So, I really need this descibed as "Tents 101 for Dummies". A few specific names wouldn't hurt either. I am also hoping that what I buy him now he won't grow out of.

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Without knowing what he has now and where he camps its hard to get real specific.


BUT....generally speaking a true four season tent has certain design features built in that make it more winter friendly. they are usually "pricy".


these can include:

A rain or weather fly that completely covers the entire tent right down to the ground on all sides.(some high $ tents have two flys -one for mild weather one for winter)


Poles designed to take a heaveier wind load or snow fall (shed snow better).


More tie down points also called storm ties.


The "shape" may addd to wind stability on sheding snow.


Heavier stitching and seams.


Thicker fabric less mesh (makes for heavier tents for carrying.


Better water-proofing (thicker mls tighter cloth).


Equipment space- real vistibules not little 'porches'.


Some have two doors and two vestibules. But...many have single fairly small round doors....


Many are smaller than you expect for "two man tents"...larger is colder....


some may even have a large enough porch area for "cooking" in cruddy weather...though most Scouters really discourage flame and tents....or flame in tents....


mesh... is not the problem if he has a completely "closed" weather fly. though many four season tents have less than three season tents....but it (mesh) makes the tent usable in summer....


I think to be "specific" requires you to know what price range are you comfortable with? Are we talking $150, $200, $300, more? Two man? One man?


REI, Eureka, ALPS, North Face, Kelty, Mountain Hard Wear, Big Agnes (yes, thats the name)Marmot, Sierra Design...all make good 4 season tents...


be glad to help if you need more...

gear head and loving it....toys! toys! toys!


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I'll tell you up front that I am a real fan of Eureka tents. I have quite a few of them - all different shapes/sizes - and none of them has ever let me down.


Even in winter you need very good ventilation so that moisture doesn't turn into a thick layer of frost on the inside of the tent. I tend to recommend that boys have a great sleeping bag and wear a hat at night so that they can open up the tent's ventilation. Good ventilation doesn't mean that the wind has to rip through the tent though, but the tent itself shouldn't be expected to retain any heat. You'll have to leave that to hard-walled RVs with furnaces.


Just about any high quality 3-season tent that doesn't use netting on the tent roof (as opposed to the tarp) should do fine. 4-season tents have more poles in order to handle the snow-load, but that also makes them substantially heavier. I don't think Scouts need to worry about snow-load, so I'd stick with the 3-season tents. Because of the cold temperatures I'd recommend avoiding fiberglass poles, since they are at greatest risk of breaking in the cold. My specific biased recommendations would include:


>>Eureka Timberline Outfitter 4 - $187.50 - An older modified A-frame tent, but a solid time-tested tent for which it is easy to obtain replacement parts (a rare thing for tents). Has big beefy aluminum poles that can take a lot of abuse. Comes in 2 and 4 person sizes. I'd go with the 4-person size for car/trailer camping. Used by thousands of Scout troops across the country.


>>Eureka Backcountry Outfitter 4 - $197.77, currently on sale for $145.00 - This is the tent I will likely buy for my son. This is a modern aluminum-framed dome tent. I read somewhere that it is campmor.com's best seller. Though the poles are sturdy, they are much narrower and longer than the Timerline, and therefore more prone to damage, BUT it has Eurka's EXO frame, which means you don't have to run poles through sleeves, you just stretch the poles from corner to corner and then clip the tent to the frame - pretty cool. Much easier setup for a young boy. It also comes in 2 and 4 person sizes.


>>Eureka Assault Outfitter 4 - $245 - This is a true 4-season aluminum-framed dome tent that is the commerical version of the tent Eureka supplies to the U.S. Marine Corps. It has Eurekas latest ventilation system with popup exterior vent hoods, full to-ground fly, and built-in vestibules. It is built to withstand heavy rain and very strong winds. I own this tent and really like it, but it uses pole sleeves (for strength) and I feel that the Backcountry will suit the needs of a young Scout much better fine.

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I meant to say that I got the prices from http://www.arkatents.com . I've purchased the last three tents from them. They have good prices and have delivered fast.


... and I just purchased the Backcountry Outfitter 4 for my son. It is a great price. I already know that the troop he'll be joining has the boys bring their own tents. Boy will he be surprized at Christmas.


Here are comments from people who have owned the tent:



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I will try to elaborate some.


We will be doing his winter camping in Southern Illinois. We live across the border from Evansville, Indiana (if you know where that is). You never know about the weather. the SM was showing some of the younger boys pictures of her tent with 3 inches of snow on it.


The tent he is currently using is a Coleman. The rain fly goes just below the mesh windows. I called Colemand and the rep there told me that my son could use another tarp over the existing rainfly. I need to sit the tent up and give this a try. I am just unsure as to how well my son will be able to do this after dark when they are sitting up camp.


I was hoping to stay around or under $200. We got that much that we weren't expecting. He really needs a tent that is big enough for 2 boys. His Troop lets boys sleep in tents alone, but encourages that they buddy up (especially the younger scouts).


He has a nice mummy bag, rated to 0*. It was a Christmas. He has a sleeping pad, but it is just one of those 'egg crate' type.


I hope that the new information helps some.



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coleman is nice for summer...not much for winter...most have poly floors adding to the weight and the fly is a rain shield for gentle showers...not much more...


$200 works but now the hard part...choosing a tent...I say that because opinions are like... er... "noses"; everyone has one...Are there any "real" outdoor outfitters near you? Reason being, its nice to touch and feel look inside even watch 'em put it up...(even if you buy on line). Kenk mentions some fine tents...our troop uses Eureka timberline XTs with built in vestibules and they are nice (I have two myself)but there are better true four season tents. The back country outfitter is an great tent also.


Does his troop do back packing? if so you need to consider weight in the equation... too heavy and he can not carry enough gear...Mountain hardware and REI have some good equipment as does Marmot and Sierra look at their offerings and PM me if you think you have a couple you like...bit of advise- beware of "odd" little conectors on the poles of some tents ...your boy loses a little piece and he got a big problem.


Kenk was also dead on as to venting...we leave the tops of our "A" frame doors open a bit in freezing weather- two of you sleeping in one tent can "put out" a quart of water vapor overnight just breathing...it can end up on the inside walls as ICE without venting.


In winter camp "two to a tent" is critical... particularly for younger scouts. If one goes out for a "head call"- his buddy goes along to help avoid "getting disoriented and lost" or worse. And if one boy is having "difficulty" his buddy can alert the SPL or SM to avoid frost bite or worse.

And two boys do create a little bit of heat (think I saw somewhere ...about 2-3 degrees in a good tent).


Sleeping system- he has a good bag- 0 degree-(mummy?) He should also have a 1-1/2-2 inch self inflating mattress (r-value 3.5-4.0) or two closed cell mats. He should also be prepared with a "sleep set" consisting of a knit cap, light mittens (not the ones he wore all day), wool or thick synthetic socks and fleece warm-up suit to sleep in if he does get cold...and towo sets of chemical toe warmers with a second pair of socks as a back up emergency plan...(If he is freezing , he activates his warmers and puts then between is two pairs of socks -not directly against his skin...)with this system he should sleep well to -10 degrees. If you can not get a hands on a couple of tent "demos" locally get back to me and we'll work on it...


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Two words: "Snow Load"


A three season tent and a four season tent will both weather wind and rain about the same. The four season tent will handle a bunch of snow to top, but a three season tent won't.


The other differences are all details and money. If you're not going to have to handle any appreciable snow loads, the four season tent will be more tent (and more money) than you need.


- Oren

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Kittle, I doubt that your son will be doing any extreme winter camping with the Troop as soon as he crosses over. At least I hope not! The boys should be more experienced & have had some training before they start tenting in extreme conditions.


Your temps downstate there, average from the low teens to the high 40s. For those temps a 3 person Eureka w/vestibules (Outfitter ver are more rugged) should be great.


Up here by Chicago, where the teens are considered a winter heat wave, our high school boys do a snow camp using the Troop's Coleman tents every year. They manage with them. They have just learned to adjust their clothing, bags & pads.


You might consider waiting with his tent until you see what the other boys in the Troop are using & how well they work.



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I'm in Illinois outside of Chicago. We do quite a bit of camping up in Wisconsin and have gone as far south as central Illinois. Our troop has used the Eureka Timberline Outfitter 4 man (for 2 scouts and gear) for some time and have had very good results with them. Participating in Klondikes in January, these have worked just fine with some modifications to the sleeping system to provide a bit more warmth (pm me if you want some details on how you can use some building materials to provide extra insulation at low cost :)) Anarchist is right on on the self-inflators; they're more expensive, of course, but worth it in the long run. If you can't afford that, tho, the open cell pad will do (or a couple of them). And yes, be careful about ventilation; you can lose a bit of heat that way, but you need to vent out the moisture, and besides, the tents aren't really there to provide warmth in winter, more protection from the wind.


Know that a "winter" tent is going to cost quit a bit more. You can usually get by just fine with a 3 season tent if you pick a good one and apply some cold weather modifications when you go out in winter. If you really plan on doing a lot of winter camping, tho, a real winter tent is worth the investment, as would be a cold weather sleeping system, ie, a multi-bag system.



As a fellow gearhead, I've gotten ahold of a couple of "unknown" tents that work really well for me. I've got a Walrus tent that I've been really happy with; unfortunately, they went out of business and got absorbed by someone else, so their product line doesn't exist anymore. I've been out in it in some really nasty weather, which it pretty much just shrugs off. And, in my "tent archive", I have Jansport Traildome serial #78, a real antique that we finally retired last year after almost 35 years of great service. I still use my REI sleeping bag, that's only a year younger than my Jansport tent :)

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The problems that I've incurred with camping in the Winter is that my tent poles crack. Does anyone else have this problem? I camp in 5 - 15F type temps (minimum) and the typical fiberglass (?) poles become brittle and crack under normal (not bearing any snow load) tension.


Again, anyone else experience this?

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There are only one thing that are worse than having your fiberglass poles snap while setting up a tent:


Realizing you forgot to pack the poles. I've had that happen to me mostly because for long-term storage I tend to store the poles open and separate from the tent in order to ease the tension on the shock-cord. Thank goodness I had lots of rope and there were well-located tall trees in the area. It is embarassing though.



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Hey Prarie_Scouter!

no-names are not bad as long as you know what to look for, what you get, and whether or not the dollar paid equals "value"...and BTW- Jansport was not a no-name. For a while they were as good as kelty in serious camping..fact is I used a Jansport internal frame backpack last Monday night in a "backpacking for Moms" a class for new adults with boys in the troop (I called it backpacking 101- one of the moms asked for "Back packing for dummies" and I was elected to teach it).

This bag is my favorite "grab, stuff and go" pack for more than a day but less than a week. I too, have a couple of cheapies...but both are South Korean knock-offs of the first 2 man timberlines (no vestibule, several inches shorter and more narrow but shock corded poles and 'knuckle's-no part to 'lose'!) These are actually nice tents (for $35.00) and after seam sealing the heck out of them they worked fine for years ....until I got old and stiff...now I use a 4 man (if I don't have to carry it far) I also have a neat coleman canvas "pop-up" dome tent ( get inside, 'kick the sides out where they belong and pull down on a handle attached to the center of the roof and it "POPS"-about 40 years old... and a coleman sundome family tent 10 years old, and a sweet Marmot two man ultra light -3 season that is almost all "netting" and floor for summer with a heavy duty rain fly for the rest of the year...3 years old... and 1 "marked" 1944 GI two section pup tent...thats a hoot -as long as you carry a bug net -toys, toys, toys

good chatting


and kenk...bungie cord is really cheap at REI and replacing it much less embarrassing over time than forgetting poles and giving the other scouters another story to tell around the campfire.


acco 40- orennoah is right - have aluminum poles made for you tent...fibre glass just can't cut the real cold and it seems that the so called replacement packs for making your own fibre-glass poles use a lower quality glass than the original poles...Some of the new easton aluminium is incredible. Try contacting < tentpoles@comcast.net > they can make about anything and have the manufacturers specs on many bands of tents. You save on weight and don't shatter poles...


anarchist(This message has been edited by anarchist)

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