Backpacking Tents – By far the most popular choice among backpacking tents is the 3-Season tent. They are lightweight shelters designed for the relatively temperate conditions of spring, summer and fall. These backpacking tents are usually equipped with ample mesh panels to boost air flow. Properly pitched with a taut rain fly, 3-season tents can withstand downpours but are not the best choice for sustained exposure to harsh storms, violent winds or heavy snow. The primary functions of 3-season backpacking tents are to keep you dry during rain or light snow, shield you from bugs and provide privacy. For example, if you are needing a tent with space inside for yourself and your equipment, you might consider a 2-Person tent or for your family a 6-Person tent.
4-season backpacking tents are engineered to withstand fierce winds and substantial snow loads. Their chief function is to stand firm in the face of seriously inhospitable weather, principally in winter or above the tree line. They use more poles and heavier fabrics than 3-season tents and thus weigh more. Their rounded dome designs eliminate flat roof spaces where snow can collect. They offer fewer mesh panels and rain fly that extend close to the ground which hinders ventilation and can make them feel warm and stuffy in mild weather. But when foul winds begin to howl, 4-season backpacking tents provide a reassuring place of refuge.
Ultra light (UL) Tents – Ultralight backpacking tents achieve their low weight primarily through the use of lightweight fabrics. Like other UL items, a UL tent is special-care gear that requires conscientious treatment by its owner. Care must be taken when selecting a campsite. If a site is rocky and or has exposed roots or even littered with barbed pine cones, any potential fabric-gouging material must be avoided or cleared away. Otherwise, you will need t pick a different campsite. Even the mesh used for UL backpacking tents has become wispy—great for minimizing weight, but care must be taken to avoid snagging or strafing the material. Footprints (ground sheets) are usually a wise addition to any UL tent to protect lightweight floor materials. But that means carrying a few more ounces in your pack. The UL tents are low weight and occupy less space in a pack, however, they are relatively delicate when compared to 3-season backpacking tents.