Tents are designed to provide you with a sense of privacy and protect you from the harsh elements. Foul weather conditions vary widely depending on location, seasons and weather. Determine the foul weather conditions most likely to be encountered and choose the best type of tent designed for those conditions.
Foul-Weather Tent Basics
Depending on its design, a tent can withstand a variety of foul weather conditions. Foul weather conditions that need to be addressed in tent design include varying intensities and durations of wind and precipitation. Wind can vary from low to high velocity and steady or gusty and can last from several minutes to several days. Precipitation can vary from a slight drizzle to a torrential downpour; light, dry snow to heavy, wet snow and varying levels of freezing rain and hail. One tent design is not good for all conditions. Look for a tent design that best suits the conditions you are most likely to encounter.
Three Season Tents
If you are not planning on camping in a winter snow storm with high winds and exposure, then a three-season tent can be a good choice for you. This type of tent is designed to keep you dry in rain or light snow. It can even withstand downpours. However, it is not a good choice for sustained harsh storms, heavy snow or strong winds. It is built with panels of mesh fabric on the top and sides for better ventilation, weight reduction and keeping out insects. The rainfly covers the mesh fabric in foul weather, making the tent waterproof, yet still breathable.
Four Season and Expedition Tents
These tents are designed to withstand strong winds, prolonged rain and heavy snow loads, usually experienced in winter or above treeline. They are built with heavier fabrics, using polyester fly material for more water resistance, a more sloped roof, for less snow accumulation, and a greater number of poles for strength and greater wind resistance. As a result, they can withstand the harsher elements better. The additional expense and weight may make them unsuitable to your needs if you don’t plan to camp in such harsh conditions.
The lightest weight shelters are built with minimal materials, yet can still protect you from foul weather. Some minimalist shelters do not have a built-in floor, but still cover and protect your sleeping bag and other gear from rain and wind. Others are more elaborate, having shapes that offer minimal resistance to strong winds and prevent snow accumulation. For example, pyramid tarps are popular with mountaineering expeditions. Their pyramid shape sheds wind and snow easily, offering excellent weather protection. Each type of tent has both advantages and disadvantages. Analyze your needs and buy accordingly.