4 season tents can be very, very expensive with shelters often clearing the 1000 dollar mark. Obviously, most people cannot justify that kind of cost. Thankfully, at $269.95, the In-season 2 4 season from Slumberjack’s is aimed squarely at the masses who want an affordable solution to camping.
The In-Season 2 tent is built around a 5 pole 7001 aluminum frame, with two full length dome poles, an arch pole on each end, and a cross brow across the top to enhance internal volume and tautness. The shelter has three doors in total: one up front and one on each side. Each has it’s own large vestibule with double zippers for gear storage and venting. Internally, there are two pockets beside side each side entrance, with smaller pockets at the foot, and even on overhead pocket, resulting in 7 total storage compartments. An external top vent, window style door vents, and a lower foot vent can all be accessed from inside to regulate temperature and ventilation to control condensation. The rainfly and floor are both waterproof polyester taffeta and the walls are full coverage breathable polyester taffeta, with zippered mesh panels that can be opened for extra airflow. The shelter includes 14 aluminum tent stakes along with 4 adjustable guy lines. It weighs in at 9 lbs packed, with a 44 inch peak height, 37 square foot floor, and a retails price of $269.95.
What I liked
The In-Season 2 packs in an enormous amount of livable space. Inside, two campers can easily sprawl out on extra wide sleeping pads with extra space for gear around the perimeter of the floor. The towering 44 peak height carries practically throughout the entire length of the tent, and the walls stand nearly vertically also, resulting in a ridiculous amount of internal volume to work with. I’ve found that two people can sit straight up at each side of the tent with no risk of rubbing legs, bumping elbows, or even rubbing the walls. Having so much space inside during long, cold, dark winter months makes cold weather camping far more enjoyable. The small window on the vestibule is a nice touch too, allowing for a bit of extra light and a quick peek at the weather without frosting your eyebrows.
Externally, the tent offers up ample storage space as well. Having three large vestibules means you can easily pack away all gear on the sides of the tent, or the front, always leaving at least one method of entry completely unobstructed. This makes getting in and out much easier, finding equipment much faster, and frees up even more internal space, as there will always be more room outside for even the bulkiest of gear.
Unzipping all the doors and windows really opens up the already large shelter, almost turning it into a sun shade, great for warmer days and nights. The front door can also be propped up with two trekking poles (or carefully selected dead tree branches) to create a nice awning too.
As far as weather protection, the In-season nails it. Rain and snow sheds effortlessly off of the steep, coated polyester walls thanks to the dome like shape that leaves no flat or slumping sections to trap snow or rain puddles on the roof. Wind can be blocked out of the interior of the tent completely thanks to the full mesh walls inside, resulting in a warm, gust free interior devoid of any chilly breezes. It fairs pretty well with wind too thanks to the full coverage 5 pole system, lack of large unsupported panels, numerous stake out points and four well positioned guy lines. The taut pitch doesn’t hurt either. All the relevant steams are vigorously seam sealed and reinforced from the factory also, making staying dry, warm and comfortable guaranteed. When it comes to stability, it holds up well, easily outperforming many 3 season tents, but falling short of that of higher end 4 season shelters. In sustained 20 mph winds it’s held up just fine, but above that there is some swaying from the tall ceiling and thin smaller diameter poles.
Pitching is pretty easy once you figure out where the poles go (a little practice helps). The body uses a full array of clips, meaning you’ll not have to deal with any sleeves or complicated tensioning systems to get it to stand. Just pop the poles in and lift the body and you’re ready for the fly, which just clips in place and tensions down tight with a slider. The guy lines slide easy too, meaning gloved hands won’t create much of a challenge either.
Ventilation is excellent, resulting in excellent condensation management. With a full top vent, small foot vent, and mesh windows that can be opened on each of the three doors. When paired with the full breathable interior, it can handle any amount of moisture or humidity that can be thrown at it. You can even unzip each zipper from the top of each vestibule, opening up a total of 4 more vents that can be used in fair to moderate weather. Alternatively, you can seal this thing up like casket, completely blocking out all air flow, except the slow diffusion through the walls, trapping in precious warmth when it gets especially cold and condensation isn’t a concern.
At $269,95, it’s an incredible value considering the size, full aluminium pole and stake set and durability of the materials.
What I didn’t like
While the website claims the shelter is color coded, I don’t see how they figure. There is one pole that has different color tips, and it connects to a connector that matches, but the others are all identical. Sure, two long poles and one shorter non-colored pole isn’t too hard to figure out, but it’s not immediately obvious that they’re banking on the power of deduction to eliminate poles from the equation. The easiest way to pitch it is the clip the one differentiated pole into the differentiated clips, the clip in the two longer poles from tip to tip (traditional dome style) and then finish up with the only pole you have left. It’s not hard to sort out, but I do recommend adding a little white out to the remaining short pole and it’s clips to further simplify the act after the initial pitch. It removes all the guess work and the need to analyze the pole lengths Still, it’s a simple setup, I just feel that the lazy way it’s been “color coded” could be vastly improved, even if it’s a cost saving measure.
While the shelter holds up well in most in the winter conditions most people would subject it to, it’s not a mountaineering tent by any means. If you’re planning camping exposed peaks above about 10,000 feet or heading to Everest, you will want to consider something a bit more robust. For more traditional uses, it holds up quite well though.
Build quality is a mixed bag. The seams and stitching are both fabulous, and I was surprised with the robustness of the polyester floor and fly and above average quality of tent stakes included at this price point. The consistency and thickness in the aluminum poles is a dit disappointing, however, with minor inconsistencies here, creating the appearance of bumps along the shafts. The poles are also relatively thin for a winter tent, which results in the below average wind stability(for a 4 season tent). Also, the polyester fly isn’t ripstop, meaning if you do get a tear (unlikely due to it’s robust denier), there is nothing to prevent it from “running”. But, you always keep a light weight repair kit on hand just in case anyway, right? The end result is pretty solid, but with a few shortcomings.
There is no denying the In-Season 2 is a hulk Weighing in at 9lbs completely packed. It’s a real beast if you’re carrying it by yourself for more than a few miles. When split up, it comes out to a much more manageable 4.5 lbs each, but it’s going to take up a good deal of pack space either way with a rolled diameter of 8″ by 21″. Luckily, most winter backpackers keep the mileage to a minimum so they can bail in the event of a blizzard or injury, making it a usable weight for those situations.
Despite having a longish list of cons, I really like the In-Season 2. It’s spacious, incredibly comfortable to be inside, and provides a huge amount of internal and external storage space. It’s also warm and does an excellent job of blocking out the elements. Sure, it’s hefty and takes up some significant pack space, but for it’s intended use, that’s fine. With a little aftermarket color coding, it sets up quite simply and provides an excellent, taut pitch that holds up well in most winter conditions, short of a blizzard or hard core high elevation winds. For those looking for an affordable winter option when mileage isn’t high or living space is the main consideration, this is a very good option. Hunters and 4 season campground campers will be especially pleased with it’s design as it provides ample gear storage and comfort, without turning into a huge investment.
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I want to extend a huge thanks Slumberjack for providing this product for review. We couldn’t do it without their help. Our full disclosure can be found here.
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