How warm is floorless vs 4 season tent

Kevin Dill

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I find sleeping bag and boot ratings to be equally dependable. Boots that keep a friend's feet warm often leave me suffering. A bag or boots that keeps a majority warm at 10 degrees may still fail dreadfully for me or you. A good bit of it has to do with the quality and construction of the bag. When it could be single digits I'll be found in a Western Mountaineering Sequoia GWS (5 degree bag) on top of an Exped Downmat 9 with about 4" of inflated thickness and a high R-value.

Regardless of what type shelter you use, always bring a bag and pad that has proven able to keep you warm in the coldest temps you might experience. The wood stove is great accessory and tool to have along on extended trips, It's honestly a poor substitute for the right bedroll. I use my stove in equal measure to dry out clothes, boots and tipi interior, and for plain old luxury comfort when I'm tired and chilled. I love being in my camp bed listening to the crackle and snap of a fire nearby....a bit of orange glow lulling me to sleep.
 

rayporter

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^^
truth.

my pard could sleep with bare legs hanging out when it was in the 20's.
he would pull a corner of the bag over his chest and be sawing logs in seconds.

while i needed a zero bag and lots of pad.

know thyself !!! or pay the price!
 

bonniecutthroat

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I wouldn’t give up my floor less tipi, but windy nights are definitely colder in floorless vs floored. In the floorless, you often have to tradeoff good airflow (to reduce inside humidity) with max wind blockage. What seems like an optimal decision when you set up the tent or go to bed can take a nose dive when the wind kicks up in the middle of the night.
 

mfllood3800

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I have used both in the Western Mountains and will always go with the floorless and stove option for my style. I utilize the WM bag and ExPEd pad so I am warm no matter the tent. It's once I wake and crawl out I prefer the stove. It also has the added benefit of drying stuff out. The extra labor of collecting wood is a trade off I guess. I simply quit using a 4 season as they dont keep me any warmer or colder than my RC SO tipi. It's the bag/pad.
 

Runningwater

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A 4 season tent is not any warmer than a 3 season tent. A 4 season is built to withstand/shed more snow load and withstand high wind its not supposed to be warmer. 15-30 degrees isn't all that cold - you'll be fine in either or a 3 or 4 or floor less (as noted above assuming you have the appropriate bag and pad. For me personally if it's a backcountry hunt - if it's one or two of us a light 3 person 3 season tent. If it's 3 or 4 we'll take the 8 man tipi with stove. Nice to get thoroughly warm in the evening, nice to cook in if wet outside, nice to be able to dry stuff out, nice to hang out in and play cards if weathered in for a day or two, and nice to be able to stand up. Stoves in the smaller floor less loose some of advantages of the larger floor less with a stove IMO. Good luck with your choice!
 

Hoff

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I cant add much more than what has been said about both options. I have used bivy sacks, overhead tarps, floorless pyramid tents, three season, and four season tents, and canvas tents. There is no one perfect shelter option for every situation. Having a quiver of options is great if you can do it.

My experience with a floorless tent and stove combo was that everything was a complete mess. I was constantly tending to the stove, I had firewood shrapnel everywhere, smoke, and nasty cold drafts blowing in from wind gusts, and yes, I was pitched tight to the ground. Having said that, I dont entirely rule out adding other one of those to my quiver of options but I prefer a good double wall tent. I have a number of Hillebergs and love them. I also like large double wall tents that I can stand in and run either a lantern or a small propane heater in- of course you will need a pack animal for that option. I pick my shelter based on the method of packing in (backpacking versus goats versus horses) and the conditions that I may encounter.
As has been said above, your sleep system needs to be sufficient for the temperatures you will encounter independent of your tent. Also, plan for ten degrees colder than you think you will encounter.
 

slim9300

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I have never tried to quantify it, but has spent a fair amount of time in both and in my experience, a true 4 season double-wall tent will provide more insulation than a floorless single-wall shelter. Not the only factor important to me, but don't see how in a fair comparison it could be any other way.

Same here and most of my experience was in a Hilleberg Nallo 4 GT with two people and also my HMG Ultamid 4 with full floor and bug mesh and the same two of us. This is compared to my Sawtooth, MegaTarp, or HMG without insert. I probably have a couple hundred days total in all these shelters over the years.

The Nallo 4 GT was considerably warmer than any of them. I bet at night if it was 20-30 degrees outside, the tent was at least 20 degrees warmer from body heat alone, maybe even more and I know that’s hard to believe, but it really collects heat. The HMG with insert might be half that but it’s a tall pyramid style with a huge footprint. And the Sawtooth or HMG without the insert is real close to the outside temps just with no air movement if pitched tight. Maybe 5-10 degrees warmer at most. I have also run two different stoves in my Sawtooth and if you want actual warmth or the ability to dry clothes, it’s your only option. Nothing soaked will dry in a tent even if it’s 20-30 degrees warmer than the outside fall temps. If you plan on being wet every day, get a single wall floorless shelter and Ti stove. I would be happy to answer other questions if you have them.

For the record I measured temps in the Nallo like 15 years ago with my watch but I never wrote them down. I’m just going off memory. I also mostly try to camp low and out of the wind unless the hunt dictates otherwise.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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I've used both shelters, but my winter camping has been in a double wall Hilleberg because they are warmer and have a higher margin of safety if things go wrong.

First understand that all single wall tents are colder than a double wall four season. A four season double wall tent has a exterior shell that comes to the ground. This prevents wind and snow from blowing up inside. When you shut up the tent entirely this actually allows the air between the inner/outer to remain pretty still and this is actually a good insulator especially when compared to a single wall. The air gap in fact provides more insulation property than people would think.

For instance in the Hilleberg I would use them mountaineering and we'd be on snowpack in some pretty windy areas. But inside the tent you can actually be warm enough to just have on your long underwear top and no jacket. I tested before and it would be almost 20 degrees colder outside than inside the tent which is huge.

You can also run one of those portable candle setups in a small tent and they make a remarkable amount of heat that a double wall will retain.

The other issue with floorless tents (and single wall), is that they have huge condensation problems. The exposed earth lets out tons of moisture. With the unbreathable fabric of a tent it collects water like crazy inside the tent and can get you wet and cold. A stove could help, but you have to cook a lot of moisture out of the dirt to get it under control.

A double wall tent with a floor covering a good portion of the tent footprint keeps out a lot of moisture as it is trapped under the floor and cannot evaporate and come inside.

Finally a double wall tent like a Hilleberg has a margin of safety built in. For Hilleberg if I recall the interior is breathable, but also highly water resistant (which also keep condensation from hitting you). If the outer tent should tear you still have the inner providing weather protection vs. a single wall failure. In winter situations I like having margin of safety for my shelter.
 
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CORam

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Thank you for all of the input everyone. I really appreciate it. I decided to avoid the work associated with a wood stove and went with a Hilleberg Nallo 3. After evaluating my sleep habits and sensitivities I decided that a four season double wall tent would be most likely to keep me warm and comfortable. I have not gotten a chance to use it yet but will hopefully soon, and then come hunting season we'll see if my evaluation was correct!
 

packmule74

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Thank you for all of the input everyone. I really appreciate it. I decided to avoid the work associated with a wood stove and went with a Hilleberg Nallo 3. After evaluating my sleep habits and sensitivities I decided that a four season double wall tent would be most likely to keep me warm and comfortable. I have not gotten a chance to use it yet but will hopefully soon, and then come hunting season we'll see if my evaluation was correct!
Sounds like a great plan of attack. Cant go wrong with a Hilleberg
 

JeffRaines

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I sold a cimarron and stove not too long ago.

No doubt the space was nice, but once you add in condensation it blows. Maybe in a dryer area it would’ve worked out better, but in Western Washington everything’s damp or wet even when it’s dry out. No matter how high you pitched the sides condensation would still happen. Again, maybe in a dryer area(eastern Montana?) it may work okay pitched up off the ground.

The wood stove was as advertised - great when it was burning, but don’t expect or compare it to the big wood stoves used in wall tents that you can damp down and run all night long.

The thought of the room and wood stove sure sound nice though.
 
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Thank you for all of the input everyone. I really appreciate it. I decided to avoid the work associated with a wood stove and went with a Hilleberg Nallo 3. After evaluating my sleep habits and sensitivities I decided that a four season double wall tent would be most likely to keep me warm and comfortable. I have not gotten a chance to use it yet but will hopefully soon, and then come hunting season we'll see if my evaluation was correct!
A Hilleberg tent is never a mistake.
 

dutch_henry

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Sounds like a good choice for you--congrats. I do a lot of solo winter trekking. Most of my winter trips I'm on skis or snowshoes, towing a sled, so I'm limiting my comments to tents that are packable in these situations. Sorry for the long post--I'm stuck at work so I'm living vicarious through rokslide.

If no stove, a tent with an integrated floor will always (always) be warmer. It's simple physics: given a fixed source of BTUs (your body), a smaller and tighter space will always heat more effectively than a larger, floorless, and potentially draftier one. A lot of people think of heat retention in terms of thermal mass. Instead, think about heat retention as function of a continuous heat source within a small, draft-free, and drier space where, proportionally speaking, more of the floor is insulated by your sleep mat. In a 4-season tent with integrated floor, you will experience less condensation (assuming you're smart about venting) and fewer drafts. If the tent is partially- or fully free-standing, the added bonus is setup will be easier on snow pack, since staking is less critical vs tipis and pyramids.

However, your tent will also have less headroom and less square footage compared to a tipi or pyramid. That's a drag on tentbound days or long winter nights.

I personally like this option on quick overnights, trips where wood is unavailable, or trips where I don't want to haul a stove, axe, and saw.

---

Even with all those benefits, 8 times out of 10, I'll bring my SO redcliff, a tyvek floor with stove cutout, and half-liner. When it's -30F outside and you're sitting in front of a wood stove in your underwear reading a book, you feel like you're getting away with something. You can cook in the tent, do projects, stand up to change or stretch, etc. But it's the stove itself that's the real gamechanger. Provided you have a good wood supply, it just so much better.

However, on snowpack, you'll have to work harder to cinder your site or dig down, stake placement is critical, and setup can be more finicky, less automatic. Nearly all condensation in single-wall, floorless tents comes from the ground as it thaws/as snow melts. So it's just smart to run these with liners and a floor, even if it's just a partial floor. Also, processing wood takes time and effort, and the wood is often marginal compared to the dry, seasoned hardwood you might burn at home.

I personally like this option on 2+ night trips where wood is available, on trips in deep cold, or if I'm just wanting to hang out and relax vs put in miles.

---

You can always retrofit a stovejack to the "right" 4-season tent (even in the floorless vestibule). And you can always add a floor and a liner to a pyramid tent or tipi. I think it's best to pick the one you'd use most of the time, and modify it to suit your personal use. Either way, as others have said, a stove is no substitute for a winter bag suited to the conditions.
 

SuspiciousFish

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Thank you for all of the input everyone. I really appreciate it. I decided to avoid the work associated with a wood stove and went with a Hilleberg Nallo 3. After evaluating my sleep habits and sensitivities I decided that a four season double wall tent would be most likely to keep me warm and comfortable. I have not gotten a chance to use it yet but will hopefully soon, and then come hunting season we'll see if my evaluation was correct!

Here is a hack that will keep you almost as warm as a stove. Take a stainless steel water bottle and put it on a camp stove and get the water nice and hot but not boiling. Then seal the water bottle really tight and be 100% sure it wont leak. Take the bottle and wrap it in a shirt then stuff it in the front of your jacket or in your sleeping bag. Water holds an incredible amount of thermal energy and it will keep you nice and toasty all night.
 

snowymtnwolf

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Here is a hack that will keep you almost as warm as a stove. Take a stainless steel water bottle and put it on a camp stove and get the water nice and hot but not boiling. Then seal the water bottle really tight and be 100% sure it wont leak. Take the bottle and wrap it in a shirt then stuff it in the front of your jacket or in your sleeping bag. Water holds an incredible amount of thermal energy and it will keep you nice and toasty all night.
Might seem crude, but 98 degree urine also does the trick especially if you can’t heat the water yourself. But I do know that it doesn’t keep you warm all night. Your way seems better!
 

*zap*

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heat the water for the bottle to put in your bag on your wood stove while you enjoy the warmth..... :)
 

0815

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The tipis come with liners fighting condensation and providing a layer of quasi stationary air.
None of these shelters are as nice as a wall tent with heavier stove, but they can be easily transported.
Still, you should use a waterproof tarp under your sleeping area. Keeps stuff cleaner in dry and wet environment. But a sizable area of the tent is best floorless. You can walk in and out without worrying about dirt. You can come in wet and the dry floor will soak up your water dripping off you and the stove draws out moisture and condensation quickly. Most important it allows one to dry clothes and other equipment while it is wet outside.
In addition, unless you are in your 20ies, you will last much longer in the field with an exterior heat source.
In 2002 I had my Kifaru 8-man with stove and my father had a roomy mountaineering tent with floor and no heat for a full CO elk season. My dad spent a lot of time in my tent instead of in his unheated one.
Next time, in 2004, he also had an 8-man Kifaru Tipi. His hunt was much more enjoyable and his stamina over the time of the entire season was much better. He is 27 years older than me.
 

sneaky

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A 4 season tent is not any warmer than a 3 season tent. A 4 season is built to withstand/shed more snow load and withstand high wind its not supposed to be warmer. 15-30 degrees isn't all that cold - you'll be fine in either or a 3 or 4 or floor less (as noted above assuming you have the appropriate bag and pad. For me personally if it's a backcountry hunt - if it's one or two of us a light 3 person 3 season tent. If it's 3 or 4 we'll take the 8 man tipi with stove. Nice to get thoroughly warm in the evening, nice to cook in if wet outside, nice to be able to dry stuff out, nice to hang out in and play cards if weathered in for a day or two, and nice to be able to stand up. Stoves in the smaller floor less loose some of advantages of the larger floor less with a stove IMO. Good luck with your choice!
Have to disagree with your first statement. There's a ton more mesh on 3 season tents and the flys on those are designed for maximum airflow. 4 season tents have very little if any mesh, and the flys go tight to the ground cutting off drafts. A good 4 season tent is going to be warmer than a 3 season tent by design.
 
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