4 man tents for camping, trekking, and expeditions
4 man tents are about as big as it gets when it comes to trekking and expeditions. They must have enough room for a small group of people and are therefore somewhat heavier and bulkier than tents for 1-3 persons with respect to their pack size. They often require too much space to be pitched in alpine areas. It is definitely not easy to find a flat surface in the mountains big enough for a 4 man tent.
Where are 4 man tents used primarily?
Therefore, tents for four or more persons are mainly used for car camping, festivals, or group events. Of course, there are also trekking tents for up to four persons. However, this is not a common solution, since even small trekking groups often do better with several smaller tents. Group tents for expeditions are another exception. 4+ person tents are commonly used at the base camps of the seven- and eight-thousanders.
Of course, 4 man tents don't have to be occupied by four persons. Two persons can benefit from the spaciousness of these group tents. They offer much more sleeping space and room for equipment than 2- or 3-person tents. They guarantee space for longer sleeping pads and prevent you from tripping over each other at night. Most 4-person tents have bigger vestibules which can be used as storage areas for equipment and tent accessories, and also as cooking areas with enough space for your outdoor stove. If the vestibule is big enough, you have a safe place for your sleeping bag to dry while you're away.
The different types of 4 man tents
Generally speaking, three different kinds of tents are used for outdoor purposes: tunnel, dome (also referred to as igloo tent), and geodesic tents. More traditional types such as the bell tent (which looks like a tepee) and ridge tent (shaped like a roof ridge) are barely used anymore, except as part of even larger tents. If you prefer the classic designs, you will find a few manufacturers who still produce them.
The 4 person tunnel tent is shaped like a half-pipe. Due to this shape, the tent has relatively steep side walls and can be pitched quickly. Tunnel tents give you the best footprint to usable interior space ratio. As long as they face the wind at the right angle, 4 person tents remain stable even in high winds.
A 4 man dome tent is pitched with at least two poles crossed at the top of the tent pushing the tent up. The advantage of this type of 4 man tent is that you can pitch it quickly and can also carry it around once it is erected. In an emergency it can stand on its own without having to be anchored into the ground. The geodesic tent has a similar design, however, its pole system is a lot more extensive, making it particularly wind-resistant.