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#173468 - 01/04/13 12:37 AM Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons
FlashPacker Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/11
Posts: 25
I would like to go winter camping but would like to try it before I go out an buy a 4 season tent. I own a 3 season Marmot Limelight 2 and Limelight 3. Do you think if I brought the Limelight 2 w its rainfly and poles, and brought the rainfly for the Limelight 3 to go over the whole tent with probably a 6" barrier of air between the two rainflys, that that provide the warmth without the condensation Or is it just a bad idea?

Thanks for your time,

Dave

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#173472 - 01/04/13 03:42 AM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: FlashPacker]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Bad idea. I would leave the extra fly, bring a shovel (Voile Mini, BD or similar) and dig a platform maybe a foot or so deep before putting up the tent. Try to stay out of the wind, but be careful about putting the tent under a tree that could drop heavy amounts of snow on it.

Here's the deal - what makes a winter tent (meaning snow winter) a winter tent are two things - strong poles in a configuration that will withstand high winds and a body or body/fly combination that will block wind. Extras include a big vestibule and perhaps an extra door. Winter tents can be freestanding or a tunnel style design.They can be a single wall or double wall (body and fly).

What they are not is any warmer than a comparable 3 season tent. Any tent that blocks the wind will be as warm as the next one, generally speaking.

Here are some reviews from Marmot's website-read the last one by the guy camping on Grouse Mountain, which I happen to know is just north of Vancouver. I went up there for the day while visiting Vancouver a few years ago.
http://marmot.com/products/limelight_2p?p=118

As you can see from the comment from Marmot (the Nice Marmot), they do not sell the Limelight as a winter tent. But, under less than heavy snow and wind conditions, it will be fine. Some people use far less shelter than yours in winter-tarps and bivies.


Edited by TomD (01/04/13 03:47 AM)
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#173496 - 01/04/13 04:43 PM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: FlashPacker]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
See if you can rent a 4-season tent. It may be heavier than you'd like, but you won't have to worry if it will hold up.

In my area (Pacific NW), the mountains can get a lot of snow (like several feet) in a very short time, and it's always wet and heavy. It's especially important to have a tent that will support such a load.
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#173507 - 01/04/13 09:44 PM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: FlashPacker]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Go on a weekend when the forecast is for good weather, take the three season tent, do short miles, and if the weather turns and snow is piling on, plan to be awake all night knocking it off the fly. Come out the next day, process the experience and decide if winter camping is worth it to you - then start to draft the budget for winter gear.

My winter shelter is a GoLite Shangri La 3 - a tipi shelter that weighs 2.5 lbs with the big aluminum center pole. It's floorless so I can dig in and use a stove inside, has vents, and the shape sheds snow and wind well. Single wall shelters (depending on where you are going) are popular in winter. Condensation is not even on the list of things to worry about. Your clothing, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad should be. Layering a CCF pad with a three season sleeping pad should suffice, but rent a winter weight bag if temps are expected to be below 20F.

I recommend reading up on winter camping and the skills necessary, and clothing and gear considerations. You should always have a shovel, if "winter' for you means a lot of snow. With a shovel you can always dig a trench or snow cave in a pinch.
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#173508 - 01/04/13 10:00 PM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: lori]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 749
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Originally Posted By lori
Go on a weekend when the forecast is for good weather, take the three season tent, do short miles, and if the weather turns and snow is piling on, plan to be awake all night knocking it off the fly. Come out the next day, process the experience and decide if winter camping is worth it to you - then start to draft the budget for winter gear.

My winter shelter is a GoLite Shangri La 3 - a tipi shelter that weighs 2.5 lbs with the big aluminum center pole. It's floorless so I can dig in and use a stove inside, has vents, and the shape sheds snow and wind well. Single wall shelters (depending on where you are going) are popular in winter. Condensation is not even on the list of things to worry about. Your clothing, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad should be. Layering a CCF pad with a three season sleeping pad should suffice, but rent a winter weight bag if temps are expected to be below 20F.

I recommend reading up on winter camping and the skills necessary, and clothing and gear considerations. You should always have a shovel, if "winter' for you means a lot of snow. With a shovel you can always dig a trench or snow cave in a pinch.
sounds like fun! I decided on a teepee style winter tent, I've been laying out fabric I plan on seeing up to make one!
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#173512 - 01/04/13 11:58 PM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: TomD]
FlashPacker Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/11
Posts: 25
Thank you. I didn't realize that a 4 season tent wouldn't be any warmer. Your tips all make sense. Where I live, snow isn't really an issue. We might get 2" on a heavy year. I was more concerned with temps. It usually gets 15-30 degrees on a cold night. My bag is a 20 degree bag and I have an additional 10 with the liner. I guess I should just try my set up in the yard and see if it's bearable. If not, a trip to REI may be in order.


Thanks again.



Edited by FlashPacker (01/05/13 12:03 AM)

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#173513 - 01/05/13 12:09 AM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: FlashPacker]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Here you go:

http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/winter/wintcamp.shtml

Not a total resource, but hits all the high points. There's a section on shelters. If warmth is a big concern (it always is) pay attention to the General Night Sequence in particular. I forgot and did not swap out my socks one time. I was cold until I remembered and put on dry socks - like magic, I got warm.
_________________________
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http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#173514 - 01/05/13 01:21 AM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: FlashPacker]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Originally Posted By FlashPacker
Thank you. I didn't realize that a 4 season tent wouldn't be any warmer. Your tips all make sense. Where I live, snow isn't really an issue. We might get 2" on a heavy year. I was more concerned with temps. It usually gets 15-30 degrees on a cold night. My bag is a 20 degree bag and I have an additional 10 with the liner. I guess I should just try my set up in the yard and see if it's bearable. If not, a trip to REI may be in order.


Thanks again.


You have the right idea. Depending on your body type, that may be warm enough. I was warm enough in Yosemite on snow at 7500 ft. at +15F or so, using a +23F bag with an MEC Emperor Penguin (the old one) overbag and my BD Winter Bivy and I'm a cold sleeper. My bag plus my parka over it also worked. BUT, keep in mind my parka is a down parka designed for -20F or so and weighs as much as many bags. I was wearing my base layer, light gloves and balaclava part of the time and socks. I took off the balaclava and gloves after a few minutes, if I remember right.

If you wake up cold, eat half an energy bar-that works wonders.
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#173537 - 01/05/13 04:35 PM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: TomD]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Hi TomD et all

I've camped in 3 season tents in the winter. They can be drafty and get snow blown through them, BUT using a bivy sack over your sleeping bag will keep spindrift off it and make it warmer. I've seen it snow INSIDE a megamid tent - as they had poor ventilation and frozen condensation on the roof would break off in the wind and fall on us.

Double or single wall doesn't make much difference if the tents are of similar quality. Better winter tents have more sophisticated venting options - my fav is zippered roof vents. Two people in a tent is warmer than one.

As far as tent shape:
in a deep heavy wet snow, in a teepee shaped tent, the weight builds on the outer edges of a pyramid until it can snap the center pole. In deep snow you would actually have to leave your tent and shovel the snow off the outer edge of the wall to keep it from being pushed down. I remeber the loud snap as my moss pyramid tent broke under 2 feet of fresh snow.

We were using the pyramid for a cook tent and in all fairness - no one was in it to keep the snow shook off, but it would only have delayed the collapse.

I was sleeping in my Bibler Eldorado right next to the pyramid. The bibler has two poles that cross over the top center of the tent, the sides are pretty steep - much steeper than the sides of a teepee tent. When I awoke to the sides of my bibler pressing in on me, I sat up (still inside my sleeping bag) and put my back against the wall and pressed the other wall out to where it outa be, then I turned around and pressed out the other wall and went back to sleep. In the morning my tent was completely buried and essentially was inside a snow cave.

*** keep your shovel INSIDE the tent !***

***Leave your sled, skis, snowshoes in such a manner as to faciltate locating them after a snowfall.***
Jim
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These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#173540 - 01/05/13 04:51 PM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: Jimshaw]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Hey Jim, how are things in Oregon?

One thing we haven't mentioned is the importance of weather forecasting. I spent a night up above Palm Springs (Mt. San Jacinto State Park) without bothering to even put up my tent-just dug a trench to level off the slope and shelter me from the wind. Wasn't any as it turned out, but it would have had there been any. I slept in my bag and BD Winter Bivy, which is just a bag made of Epic. It's not a real bivy, just a bag cover, in my opinion, but it worked just fine. I have read complaints about it, but I have none.

My point is if the weather is fine, what kind of shelter you have won't make any difference, so before going out, check the weather. In 2007 in the PNW, a MeetUp group on their first winter camping trip didn't bother to do that - they went out the day before the worst storm to hit the area in years and it took a massive rescue effort to get them out. Wholly unnecessary. Another few days and it is likely a couple of them, if not all of them would be dead. They were totally unprepared - wrong shelters, no skis or snowshoes, inadequate clothes, inadequate bags, pretty much every mistake you could make.

There was a lot posted about this incident by some of those in that group and based on what I read, none of them learned anything at all; they all seemed to be trying to justify their actions, instead of admitting their mistakes. During this same storm, I think 4 people were killed by avalanches in the area.



Edited by TomD (02/11/13 02:49 AM)
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#173599 - 01/07/13 01:02 PM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: FlashPacker]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I didn't see where you're located but, since snow isn't an issue, if you're in an area where you can have a campfire you could make a "campfire" tent.

After some experimenting, I made an ultralight campfire tent last year about this time and it's worked much better than I expected. Here's a link to a discussion we had here about it and a few photos of what I made.
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#174935 - 02/10/13 09:55 PM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: FlashPacker]
djtrekker Offline
member

Registered: 02/02/13
Posts: 43
Loc: Virginia
I live in VA, do most of my winter backpacking in WV. I have to pray for snow.......this year looks like a dry one, though I haven't checked recently to see what snow cover they may have. My situation seems similar to yours, living in a temperate region more or less. I have a 15 degree bag that I find works great for me even down to single digit temps, with a liner. My tent is an REI Morph (no longer made) - a convertiblea 3/4 season. I think REI gave up on convertibles and I imagine for good reason. Agree with above posters, what makes a winter tent is stoutness, which means more weight than I want to carry in summer. The Morph comes with a liner that zips in to cover all the mesh in the tent, which serves to block wind and improve temperature inside, thereby, and an extra ridge pole for added stability. It has a good vestibule, and one of my criteria for a winter setup is a good vestibule, makes a nice kitchen and wet and muddy clothes repository. The convertible components actually work well, and when left out the tent is reasonably lightweight. As with many REI tents, though, there were issues with poles snapping (having to do with not fully inserting pole ends into attachment points, and it's easy to not seat the pole ends fully).
During most fair weather situations I use my tent in freestanding mode, but in winter (besides the liner, the only difference....) I stake out the sides of the tent, all the stake-out points on the tent, and I use snow stakes (when in snow) to ensure the tent remains stout in a good wind. In summer I don't care too much if a wind gets the better of me, I don't mind getting up at night and staking out the tent.....in 5 degree weather and howling wind that becomes a different matter.
In your climate, I think the 3 season tent is fine. Agree also with other posters, rent some equipment to see for yourself what differences there are. Personal experience is #1 in my book.
Not sure I completely agree with other posters on the temperature thing, though. Many 3 season tents, like mine (Morph and an REI half dome) have a lot of mesh in the main canopy. Because of the air flow through that, a fly does not offer the protection of a solid wall tent. Solid walls will be warmer, don't rely on a fly to function as an inside wall.

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#175331 - 02/25/13 01:11 PM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: djtrekker]
rionada Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/02
Posts: 493
Loc: Hervey Bay, QLD Australia
I routinely winter camp in my SMD Europa (2 lb - 3 season - silnylon tent). I occasionally get woken up in the middle of the night as the tent sags do to snow load. I smack the top of the tent, removing the snow, and go back to sleep. The Europa would not stand up to really high winds, but I camp in the woods where shelter from the wind is abundant. With some common sense and experience and taking into account the expected and possible conditions many tents can be used to winter camp IMO.
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i really don't think that applies to me.

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#192729 - 12/01/15 12:36 AM Re: Converting a 3 season tent to 4 seasons [Re: FlashPacker]
Elijah21 Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/25/15
Posts: 3
The more I researched and thought about what I would be doing and where I would be doing it the more I came to the conclusion that I needed a lightweight tent that was easy to put up and take down. I stayed away from the single wall tents since I want to keep going back to Alaska and the PNW where it is super wet. I ended up with a Hilleberg Nallo. I've only used it once so far so I can't really provide any great feedback other than it is incredibly light considering its strength and I find it pretty easy to pitch even though I've only done it few a times so far.



Edited by OregonMouse (12/01/15 11:47 PM)
Edit Reason: remove commercial link

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