Probably the most versatile on the market, 3 season tents are quickly becoming everyone’s first choice for getting a good night’s sleep while backpacking, hiking, hunting, and regular camping.
While they’re definitely more suitable more for summer, spring, and autumn, you can certainly use them in winter with a few adjustments.
We’ll discuss how you can do this later.
Many models are being made using thin yet durable materials, combined with much lighter framework poles.
Although lighter than previous editions, the higher-quality construction makes them better for standing up in the elements.
Discover our guide on the best 3 season tents based on their quality, durability, and design. We’re sure you can find one to take with you on your next adventure so you can sleep with peace of mind.
Top 3 Season Tents Reviewed for This Year
1. Mountainsmith Morrison 3 Season Tent
This dome model has 2 large vestibules on either side for storing baggage and other gear. This means they can store their things separately, so nothing gets mixed up. Great for warmer days, there are 2 big doors positioned at the vestibules that are designed with mesh.
On the other walls, screen windows are large enough to stargaze out of. All this mesh also promotes airflow, which is very important in hot weather.
When it’s cold, the rainfly covers the structure entirely for a cozy secluded space. When the rainfly is being used, you can still receive ventilation through the upper vents that have small roofs over them to stop rain seeping inside.
It’s also breathable due to the 185T polyester fabric that protects against 2000mm of water but won’t enhance humidity.
Use it for backpacking or any other type of adventuring. With its bathtub flooring, any ground leakages are prevented so you can even set-up camp next to lakes, beaches, rivers, and so on. This flooring is a 190T polyester which is solid enough to withstand up to 5000mm of rainfall.
Another reason for this being ideal for backpackers is the 30D 244T nylon carry sack. This means it holds up against serious wear-and-tear which can often happen when living out of a bag.
Assembly is seamless thanks to the two-pole frame that has a color-coded system for the fly-attachment. The instructions are even printed onto the provided sac.
- Weighs 5.9 lbs Packed
- 92″L x 56″W x 43”H
- Easy Two-Pole Set-Up
Related Article: 10 Best 4 Season Tents for Camping and Backpacking
2. Kelty Salida Camping & Backpacking Tent
Made for 4 people, we think this is the perfect size for 2 people to sleep roomily and comfortably. Compact folding poles and strong hug clips make installation effortless as it’s a two-pole construction.
Bug resistant mesh panels are built 360° around the structure for ample air circulation, and they also let you watch the sky at night when the weather is agreeable. During worse conditions, the rainfly provides 100% coverage with taped seams to keep everything dry inside.
There is a lot of front canopy space that is closed off thanks to the rainfly, which is made of 68D polyester much like the walls. This is a robust yet breathable fabric which helps further initiate ventilation when everything is closed away.
A large D-shaped door gives you enough space to enter and exit, plus you can roll up the cover, so it doesn’t get in the way when you’re trying to organize things inside. Additional ceiling loops let you suspend lights or install a separate gear loft for extra storage.
It’s portable and lightweight for trekking, and the carry sac has a unique rectangular design. This makes it easier to fit inside a backpack as it won’t take up as much volume.
- 99” L x 80” W x 56”H
- Lightweight at 7 lbs
- Colour Coded Set-Up
- 1, 2 and 4 Person models
3. ALPS Mountaineering Taurus Tent
We love the freestanding design of this 4-person model. There are only 2 poles you need to install during set-up and the rainfly is also easy to attach. This flysheet is water-resistant for light rainstorms and resists against the damages of UV rays.
Small mesh windows line parts of the roof, as well as some other screen openings on the walls. On the D-doors there is a window that can be zipped open and closed to adjust the temperature levels. The flooring and fly work together to create a fantastic waterproof experience.
All the stitching is completely sealed so nothing can get through to ruin the dryness inside.
Two awnings give lots of room for stocking all your gear. We recommend this one for use by 2 people, as they can sleep with plenty of space to stretch as well as store their things in isolated sections. Baggage won’t take up room inside and will stay protected from nature whilst underneath the canopy.
The framework is built with fiberglass poles that are shock-corded to avoid breakage. While braving the elements, this is essential to prevent any shattering during winds. Aluminum stakes and tough guy ropes also enhance the structural integrity. We think this would suit any type of trail or walking adventures due to its lightweight body.
- 11 lb Light Weight
- 90” L x 102” W x 52”H
- Room for Queen Sized Mattress
4. MIER Ultralight 3 Season Tent
Ideal for hikers who need as little weight as possible on their backs, this is super lightweight clocking in at just 2.2 lbs for the 1 person and 2.8 lbs for the 2-person version. This is one of the lightest we’ve ever seen for this size which makes it perfect for high-intensity activities.
The carry bag weighs only 0.13 lbs, so it won’t add unnecessary mass. Setting it up does require your own trekking pole, but it’s fairly normal to have one of these while hiking or mountaineering.
Although it has a traditional teepee design, it has a modern touch with the tub-like flooring that prevents any moisture from getting within the interior. Further shielding is provided by the two awning sections of the rainfly.
You can put all your equipment in these areas, so they don’t take up precious space inside. Due to the sloping walls, there is slightly more room for sitting up, so your head won’t touch the roof.
Weatherproofing is insane with this tent, the outer rainfly is made of 15D ripstop nylon, and is PU coated with an impressive 5000mm HH rating.
This type of material is not only anti-tear and long-lasting, but it is also breathable to lessen the risk of stuffiness inside. The interior is pretty much entirely made of mesh and bug-resistant so you can stay safe from creepy crawlies.
- Extremely Light 2.2 lbs (1P) 2.8 lbs (2P)
- Repair Kit Included
- 68” L x 57.09” W x 49.21”H (1P)
- 68” L x 118” W x 49.21”H (2P)
5. Eureka! Tetragon HD Waterproof Camping Tent
Designed to sleep 5 people, you can feel secure with a fiberglass pole frame with strong ring-and-pin corner stakes. This means it’s smooth to assemble and ideal for occasional campers who enjoy a quick process. It’s freestanding and has dedicated pole sleeves so you can easily tell where to install everything.
The dome form also makes it simpler to assemble and take down once finished. Waterproof for all kinds of weather, the walls and outer flysheet are 63D polyester fabric with a 1000mm water coating. In addition to this, the framework has been constructed so that hoods are placed at the door and back window.
You can then leave the mesh exposed without stressing about leaking. This screening is 40D thick in the upper section so air can circulate calmly and efficiently. Further protection is given with the bathtub ground. This higher flooring guards everyone inside from water splashes and muddiness.
One of the coolest features is the upper storage pockets that can double as a device holder. You can place an iPad or other device inside and enjoy your own mini-movie theatre. The middle pocket is TPU touch-friendly, so you don’t have to take it out to touch the display. You can even adjust the tension so it will sit more comfortably inside. This is such a nice thing to do when it’s raining, and you don’t have other activities planned.
- 108” L x 108” W x 72”H
- Weighs 12.6 lbs Packed
- Easy Ring-and-Pin Set Up
6. Paria Outdoor Products Bryce Ultralight Tent
Excellent for activity-focused camping like backpacking, kayaking, hiking, and bike camping, this one comes with a footprint, so you don’t need to spend extra on protection. A footprint is a thoughtful addition as these types of camping usually require sleeping on rough landscapes where wear-and-tear can occur.
Although compact, it’s certainly made to withstand whatever nature has to offer.
The structure is super solid with heavy-duty Y shaped stakes and Dyneema guy lines, which are designed with a robust core and usually found in 5-season versions. Taped seams keep warmth inside and two-way zippers make it not only easier to get in and out but provide slightly more protection.
20D ripstop Silnylon (a combination of strong silicone and tough nylon) makes up the rainfly. The flooring and footprint are even more hardwearing as it’s 40D ripstop Silnylon to uphold against rocky campsites. Without the outer cover, the entire thing is 20D no-see-um mesh to stop some winds and allow you to see the sky.
If you’re worried about size, the vestibule makes up for it. Stretching quite long, there is plenty of free space for backpacks, shoes, and other belongings. Carrying it around is hassle-free because of the 3 stuff sacs provided. These also make packing away a smooth experience. You can literally stuff it inside the pouch which is handy if you’re in a rush.
- 85” L x 36” W x 36”H (1P)
- 85” L x 53” W x 36”H (2P)
- 5000mm Silicone Waterproof Coating
- Footprint Included
7. Naturehike Mongar 2 Person Backpacking Tent
Another perfect tent for outdoor recreation, this is lightweight and compact to comfortably fit 1 or 2 people. The front has a sort of unique design where the main entrance is pointed in a triangular shape, instead of the vestibule sloping downwards.
We think this would work well for deflecting wind as it would simply slide straight over. It also gives a bit more coverage when taking off shoes or resting, unlike a regular dome model where the canopy just fits baggage.
A freestanding structure is simple to assemble yet remains stable in tough conditions. The poles and stakes are all aluminum which is ideal for tougher conditions. Both the outer fly cover and the flooring is made from 20D nylon ripstop material that is also silicone coated for extra durability.
It’s also stretch-resistant which is a huge advantage in wet weather as this could otherwise cause sagging. A rating of 4000mm waterproofing means it holds up against a large amount of rainfall.
Temperature control can be achieved through the full-mesh form. It allows a big amount of ventilation to get through when it’s very hot, or you could produce warmth by using the rainfly. Several windows with hoods stop rain from dripping inside. The front section can be opened and folded to stay exposed for extra airflow.
- 83” L x 53” W x 40” H
- Footprint Provided
- Carry Pouch Dimensions 19.69” L x 5.91” W
8. Mountain Ultra 3 Season Tent
Available in 1 to 4 person versions, this has a classic dome shape for ultimate stability. While using the waterproof rainfly, you can still maintain a healthy amount of ventilation due to the incorporated vents and small vestibules.
It’s made from ripstop nylon, which is a highly durable yet lightweight fabric, perfect for constant use. Without this flysheet, the structure is basically entirely micromesh. You can truly enjoy a night of stargazing without worrying about bugs or drafts seeping through.
As well as the outer cover that can fully zip up, the floor is a bathtub design to keep you away from the muddy and wet ground. It’s made from Oxford material which is strong, resists leaks and moisture.
Heat taped seams are reinforced for serious protection against cold winds as well as rain. 2 doors give easy access from either side of the tent, also where the openings of the rainfly are so you can get in and out even when it’s closed.
Storage is a breeze. Due to the mesh structure, it is extremely lightweight and packs down in a carry bag measuring just 25″ x 7.5″ x 7.5″. The total weight once packed is just 9.5 pounds, so we think this is great for short backpacking, hiking, and mountaineering trips with someone else, as it won’t take up much space in your gear.
Note: See Our Mountain Ultra Full Review Here.
- 98″L x 83″W x 59″H
- Aluminum Pole Framework
- 3000mm Water Rating
- 1,2,3 and 4 Person Models
9. Ayamaya Pop-Up Tent
Install in a matter of seconds using the ingenious pop-up design. Forget using poles – simply take it out of the package and it springs into form. Including an awning at the front, you have extra space for gear, dirty clothes, and pets. This is a great add-on because it allows you to get changed out of messy gear so you can keep the interior clean.
The unique design of double-layered 190T polyester material, paired with the strong 210D Oxford fabric on the bottom, gives an impressive waterproof rating of 3000mm – 4000mm. Holding up to this amount of rainfall makes it perfect for camping in rough weather.
These double layers are separated by hooks, so condensation doesn’t make it through to the second layer. Heat-sealed seams also prevent moisture from leaking through. It’s built for climate control to reduce humidity build-up inside.
2 front doors, 4 mesh windows, and 2 hooded vents create ample ventilation for hot weather. You can also roll up the covering on the doors to make it easy to get in and out.
The overall style is something between a dome and a tunnel shape. This means a more comfortable sleep as it generates a cocoon-effect that can enhance rest. Some other handy features include a special port for electrical cords, storage pockets for small belongings, and a lantern hook to create some ambient lighting.
- Pre-Assembled Poles – No Tools Required
- Electrical Cord Port
- 150” L x 102” W x 53.5” H
10. Coleman Montana 3 Season Camping Tent
This large shelter is the perfect option for a family of 4 or a big group of friends. Although it’s big in size, installing it isn’t as difficult as you may think. The pole sleeves are snag-free so you can easily insert the rods.
A ring-and-pin system is patented for ease of use, so you could probably set it up in around 10-20 minutes depending on your previous experience. The shape is somewhat of a cabin, yet the very center has a dome form, so it’s basically the best of both worlds. It means you can stand up quite well in the middle if you’re under 6.2 feet tall.
Underneath the rainfly there are 2 wide mesh roof openings, including the window within the large D-door, which is hinged for extremely easy access. On either side, the openings are tilted, so when the cover is on, water cannot enter directly through.
You can also close these windows if there are substantial amounts of rain. All this mesh initiates great aeration when things are closed, making sleeping cozy and humidity-free.
With the fly sitting on top, everything is kept dry. When this isn’t enough, you can count on the specialized WeatherTec System that includes welded seams and corners that eliminate seepages, and inverted seams.
While 25.5 lbs is too heavy for backpacking, this is perfect for road trips where you can put the expandable carry pouch in the back of the car.
- 192” L x 84” W x 74.4” H
- Top Selling 3 Season Model
- Easy Installation
Buyers Guide – What to Look for in a 3-Season Tent
Are You Going Solo?
Size is something you must think about before purchasing any tent, but it’s particularly a big deal for these kinds of shelters. Most of the ones on our list are for slightly smaller amounts of people, and a lot of summer, autumn, and spring seasonal versions are lightweight and intended for backpackers, trekkers, hikers, and so on.
Brands will usually label the capacity that it can hold at the maximum, but this generally shouldn’t be the exact number of people that should actually stay inside. As an example, a 4 person one will more comfortably fit 2 bodies, or a family with 2 young children.
The only exception we’d say you could get away with is with a 2-person model. If you’re traveling with someone who you’re quite close with, you could both sleep inside, but most likely won’t be much room left. Pay attention to the floor size. A dome form might look smaller, but this is sort of an illusion as the flooring is larger than the rest of it.
The Importance of Air Circulation
As the focus is mainly on the warmer months, efficient airflow is a big must. You’ll find most tents for 3 seasons will be made of mainly mesh with an outer rainfly. This is the covering that goes over the top to protect from rain, wind, sand, and other elements.
While this fly is on, look out if it has some pockets of mesh that you can open and close to your liking. This means you can preserve some form of warmth inside when it’s cold. Vestibules are also great for ventilation as well as storage.
Things can get sticky and humid inside if there isn’t a proper circulation of breeze. You’ll find some that are completely made of mesh screen as the body of the tent, while others will have a combination of some other material (usually polyester or nylon). It’s ultimately up to you to make a decision based on where you’ll be going and how many people will use it.
Lightweight Materials & Packaging
Subject to the type of camping you’ll be doing, it’s essential to take note of the weight and what is contributing to it. These are several factors you should notice:
- Backpackers, hikers, and other types of trekkers should opt for ultra-lightweight versions that weigh no more than 3 lbs. In saying that, ones that weigh no more than 7-9 lbs could be used on shorter trips. It also depends on how much you can handle, and if you’re trekking with someone else who can carry other parts of the load.
- Construction is typically freestanding, which means that stakes are not necessary for it to stand up. These are very easy to assemble and are normally light in weight due to the thin and durable poles.
- Thin carry sacs contribute greatly to the weight of your gear. You want them to be light and airy, yet tough so they won’t rip while you’re taking it in and out.
3 Season Tent vs 4 Season Tent
So, what really is the difference between these two common camping tents? You’ve probably been confused by the differences as they can seem so similar. There seems to be only 1 season that separates them, but does that mean they are extremely different? Let’s break it down here once and for all, but first, here is a summary of what you need to know about what they really are:
These are intended for use in the spring, autumn, and summer, and not usually used during winter, however, it is possible depending on where you’re traveling. This means they are designed for substantial rainstorms, heavy winds, and possibly light snow. They’re not fully meant for winter use because they are typically made with a lot of mesh, sometimes the entire body, and the rainfly might be the only form of warmth. Usually used for trips where you’ve got everything on your back, they are lightweight.
While the name suggests the entire year, most campers use these solely for wintertime. Mild snowstorms, hail, sandstorms, harsh torrential rains, and other extreme conditions are more suited to these models.
3 seasons are built for typical weather climates, while 4 season tents are meant for more intense conditions. The latter may sometimes not work best in hotter weather, as they often have double layers and are thickly insulated. Another big difference is in the weight.
You can go usually go backpacking with tents for 3 seasons as they are constructed with lighter materials. A lot of avid adventurists use them for most of the year and have a separate 4 season one for the much colder winter months. Price is also a comparison that differs between these two.
Since the ones intended for 4 seasons are built with heavier duty materials, they are frequently higher in price than their counterpart.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a 3 Season Tent?
They are built to withstand strong winds, big rainstorms, and mild snowfall. Typically constructed with large mesh openings to provide ventilation for warmer weather, they usually come with a rainfly to adapt to cooler conditions. As they’re not built for super heavy-duty expeditions like a 5-season tent made for severe climates, they can be lightweight and less bulky. This means easier transportation, so you don’t have to compromise on where and how you travel. Hiking, backpacking, hunting, trailing, and even mountaineering are all things these are generally used for due to their light nature.
What Does a 3 Season Tent Mean?
As it says in its name, they are made for camping during the 3 seasons of summer, autumn, and spring. Contrary to popular belief, however, there are ways you can use them in the heart of winter, but it largely depends on the type of winter you’re going to. Read more about this in our next questions.
How to Winterize a 3 Season Tent?
- Put thick specialty camping blankets all over the flooring, underneath your mattress or sleeping bags.
- Place a tarp or footprint under the entire tent to reduce the risk of leakage. Preventing condensation can also prevent the interior from rapidly cooling down due to the moisture.
- Cover the outer part of the tent with extra tarps or plastic sheets. This keeps the heat inside.
- Heaters that use batteries (never use gas types inside) are perfect for creating that little bit of extra warmth.
- Set up your tent in an already sheltered area where wind can’t blow into it as much, like between some trees or inside a cave.
- Use an insulated camping pad under your sleeping bag.
- Bring a heavy-duty camping blanket along with a sleeping bag for extra comfort and heat.
Can You Use a 3 Season Tent in Winter?
It is surely possible, especially with our tips mentioned above. We suggest though to think about where you are going to be camping. If you’re up in the mountains and the temperatures are known to drop incredibly low, like below -10°, it’s probably best to choose a 4 or 5 season one.
3 season tents for camping are a widely common choice thanks to their versatility, huge amounts of airflow, durable designs, and affordability. We’ve shown you our favorite picks for the best ones based on their high ratings in these areas. We hope we’ve helped you discover the awesome options on the market so you can stay safe and cozy no matter what kind of adventure you’re going on.