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Q:

Can I use a four-season tent on Aconcagua?

Is an expedition or burly mountaineering tent (such as The North Face Mountain 25 or Mountain Hardwear's Trango) needed for Aconcagua? Will a sturdy four-season tent suffice? Azad Los Angeles, CA

The Trango 2     Photo: courtesy, Mountain Hardwear

The Trango 2

A:Tents really don’t differ all that much in basic materials, whether it’s a light summer camping tent or a beefy expedition tent. Mainly, the tents for really serious environments add poles for strength, space for extra gear (winter sleeping bags, for instance), and vestibules for cooking and boot-donning.

Take Mountain Hardwear’s Trango 2 ($550). It has five poles to help it shed wind and snow, two doors for easy access, a big vestibule, and 41 square feet of floor space (most backpacking two-person tents have 35 or less). It’s designed for really tough conditions and would do well on notoriously windy Aconcagua.

But that doesn’t really differ much from a tent marketed as for "four seasons," such as Sierra Designs’ Stretch Dome 3 ($549). It also has five poles, uses the same material weight in the body (70-denier fabric), and has a big vestibule. It’s a little larger—47 square feet—as it is a three-person tent. But it is, for all intents and purposes, an expedition tent.

So if you have a good-quality four-season tent, you should be fine. Make sure it has not been in the sun a lot as that could lead to weakened fabric. And take plenty of guy-out material and small nylon sacks to fill with snow and bury as line anchors. You’ll need them.

Have a great trip!

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