Four-Season: 1-3 (or more) persons specifically designed for alpine mountaineering or winter camping. They have re-enforced poles and structure designed to withstand heavy snow and wind. They are usually a single-walled tent made of waterproof/breathable material. Four-season tents are generally heavier and more expensive and are also called “mountaineering” tents. These are the ones you see on Everest movies and can withstand extreme conditions. Expect to pay up to $750 for a quality mountaineering tent. Examples of quality manufacturers are: The North Face, Bibler, Mountain Hardware, MSR, and Hilleberg.
Convertible: Convertible tents can be used for three or four seasons. They have extra poles for four-season use which can be left at home when not needed for milder weather or summer season. These tents are heavier than a three-season tent and are usually doublewalled. Although heavier, some find that a convertible tent fits their needs because of the ability to be adapted for in winter use. Expect to pay up to $400 for a quality convertible tent. Examples of quality manufacturers are: Mountain Hardware and Sierra Designs.
Lightweight Single-Wall: A new generation of three-season, lightweight single-wall tents have recently become popular. These tents are single-wall, extremely light, have minimal poles, and pitch quickly. The tents are made of sili-nylon (or similar material) which is waterproof but not very breathable. They are surprisingly durable yet somewhat expensive. The come in many different shapes including pyramid, hoop, and dome, and are sometimes floorless (to save more weight). Expect to pay upwards of $250-$300 for a quality tent of this type. Examples of quality manufacturers are: Black Diamond, Integral Designs, and TarpTent.
With all the options and choices available, it is beneficial for you to do your research before deciding and purchasing. As said before, this should be one of your most important gear purchases. So do your research, save your money, and buy a quality, well-built tent that will stand the test of time and the test of the outdoors. While on your dream trip, the last thing you want to worry about is your shelter.
Related – NEMO Equipment Morpho AR Tent
* Published by JPFreek Jeep Adventure Magazine – The leader in Jeep and adventure enthusiast publications.