Some hikers ask me, “Do I hike in the summer?” Yes. Despite my focus on winter backpacking and my dislike of the bugs and hot weather, I try to get out year-round, even in the summer and early fall when there is minimal or no snow. The goal is to camp on snow whenever possible even in July and sometimes in August. This usually means going farther and higher up, but it allows our group to experience some excellent views. It also provides a comfortable clean surface and allows us to leave no trace where we stay.
If you have been looking around for a four-season tent, you have probably already discovered that lightweight versions, such as the MSR Advance Pro 2 costs around $800, and the Big Sky Chinook 1 cost around $600. The Chinook 1 is really the only light solo 4-season tent available on the US market that has a double-wall construction to mitigate condensation, but it has been out of stock since the pandemic.
The Leipen Air Raiz 1
I have long maintained that the 4-season tent most ideally suited for backpacking in PNW winter conditions is the Snow Peak Lago 1, once made by Snow Peak and originally designed for mountain climbers. The good news is that there are other companies in Japan making a similar tent, one of which, the Leipen Air Raiz 1, that can be shipped to the USA.
Will a 3-season Tent Work in Pacific Northwest Winters?
The short answer is yes. I’m not going to do a detailed review of particular tents, but I want to mention a few models that I see often on our trips. I’ll also discuss a few pros and cons of using 3-season tents in the Pacific Northwest winter conditions and some of the best 4-season options available. In context, I’ll be referring to small and light tents for backpacking rather than tents that are used for basecamps and long stays in one location.