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Practical 4-Season Tent Tips: Optimize for Year-Round Camping

5 min read 0 Comments

Your canvas tent is going to stick around for decades. That's why you have it, right? Year after year you'll be able to enjoy the spaciousness and comfort that only a canvas tent can offer, whether it's for camping, backyard birthday parties, a pop-up guest room, storage, or simply extra space to breathe. Four seasons, one tent. That's some smart math!

Here are a few tips to enhance the four season functionality of your 4-season tent, and to make sure the in tents times can go on and on. 


A white canvas bell tent sits in the center of the frame at a distance, beneath ponderosa pines and against a backdrop of foothills and a blue sky.


Choose a location for your camping tent that's not directly under trees. This will help limit the amount of tree debris that lands on your roof, including leaves, twigs and branches, pinecones, and sticky sap! Plus, you'll reduce the amount of, ahem, presents from birds who might be perched in the canopy. 

Avoid setting up in an area where water may flow during rainy seasons. Even though your canvas tent is weather resistant, pooling water around your tent can cause damage, invite pests, and make for a muddy situation. So be mindful that drainage goes away from the tent.

If you intend to have a more permanent set up, taking advantage of the four season functionality of your canvas bell tent, you might want to consider building a tent platform. This is a popular option for people who want to use their canvas tent as a regular backyard guest room or office, or for glampsite hosts. 

ARTICLE: Learn how to build a bell tent platform!

There are a few other factors to consider in regards to location for your bell tent so you can enjoy it all year long:

  • Available power - If you want to be able to run power to your tent for lighting, heat, and devices, you'll need to consider your tent's location in regards to your power source. You can run extension cords through the power port on the side of the tent. And if you want to go more remote while still having all the power your heart desires, you can invest in a portable generator. 
  • Accessibility - You'll want to make sure you (or your guests) can easily access your canvas tent, no matter what Mother Nature has happening at the moment. Ensure access roads and pathways are groomed and manageable, and that the immediate area surrounding the tent is clear from tall grass. 
  • Facilities - You and guests will need access to personal hygiene options, like running water and a toilet, whether that's an outdoor bathroom set up, or proximity to a main building that has plumbing. An outhouse might not be the most appealing option if it's mid-winter in Montana, so choose your four season tent location with essential human functions in mind.  

A canvas bell tent sits on green-brown grass near a stand of pine trees with a couple of chairs sitting out front.


When you receive your canvas bell tent for the first time, you'll want to do an initial tent seasoning. This can be done by soaking it with a garden hose in the yard, or letting the tent sit out in the rain. The cotton fibers of the tent will swell, helping seal the seams and needlework. This will heighten the weather-resistance of your tent, enhancing the four season functionality. But depending on where you live, the amount of rain and snowfall you receive, and how often you use your canvas bell tent, you will want to re-waterproof it periodically to protect it from water-caused damage. 

ARTICLE: Learn how to reproof your canvas bell tent! 

Here are some other essential ways to protect your canvas tent through all four seasons:


A tent fly cover is a low-cost way to effectively enhance the longevity of your four season canvas tent. The benefits of a tent fly cover are significant, reducing condensation, minimizing maintenance, and adding another insulating layer. 


There are two popular options for setting up a tent fly cover on a canvas bell tent.

OPTION 1 - Set up the canvas tent and the fly cover at the same time. Raise two roofs together! Read detailed instructions here and check out the timelapse below.



OPTION 2 -  If your canvas tent is already set up, remove the center pole, then unroll the tent fly cover over the top of the tent, aligning the center and the doorways using the grommets as guides. Then re-insert the center pole and secure and tighten the guy lines. 

A white nylon tent fly cover is unrolled on top of a canvas bell tent that has had its center pole removed temporarily.



Daunting as it may sound, installing a wood burning stove to your canvas bell tent is remarkably simple. You will need to remove the tent fly before installing the wood stove. Make sure the tent fly is dry before putting it away.

  1. Loosen then detach the tent fly's guy lines from the pegs.
  2. Toss guy lines into center of the tent fly.
  3. Take down the center pole.
  4. Sweep or shake off any debris.
  5. Fold the tent fly in half, then in half again, so it's the length of the carry bag.
  6. Tightly roll up the tent fly and put inside the carry bag.

A person in a faded red t-shirt holds aloft a white nylon carry bag for a tent fly with a partially taken down canvas tent behind him.


    There's nothing that brings on the cozy in a canvas tent quite like a wood burning stove. The good news is a woodstove doesn't need to be expensive to be functionally fantastic, and it sets up and comes down in minutes.

    A black wood stove is installed inside a canvas bell tent.

    Read detailed instructions for how to install a stove jack and woodstove here, and check out the timelapse below. 





    We mentioned using a tent platform earlier, which is an awesome way to protect the underside of your canvas tent. A common and less expensive approach is to use a waterproof ground cover or footprint beneath your tent. Even if you do end up building a tent platform, a waterproof ground cover adds an extra layer of protection so that your tent can withstand the elements all year long. 


    A white canvas duffel bag with black handles that says "Life inTents" sits on top of a black protective ground cover.


    In addition to the waterproof ground cover, interior and exterior tent rugs enhance the four season functionality of your canvas tent. Exterior rugs reduce the amount of debris that gets tracked in from outside, and they're a great place to kick off those rain boots before heading inside! Interior rugs add insulating warmth from the ground up, while protecting the floor of the tent itself. 

    A pair of pink rain boots sit on a colorful braided rug outside the open doors of a canvas bell tent.



    As it is with anything, proper care and maintenance of your canvas bell tent will be the best way to ensure a long life of in tents memory-making. The above tips significantly help to reduce the amount of hands-on maintenance for your canvas tent. And if you don't plan on using your tent for an extended period of time, go ahead and just take it down. 



    Follow these best practices for regularly caring for your canvas tent:

    DO ...

    • Set up in an area that's clear of tree debris
    • Use a fly cover suitable for your tent
    • Allow space between the fly cover and tent canvas for airflow
    • Use a ground cover or platform beneath your tent
    • Air it out - Unzip the windows and door to add airflow and get rid of excess humidity
    • Regularly check the guy lines, re-pegging and adjusting as needed
    • Sweep debris from the roof
    • Remove shoes when inside the tent

    DON'T ...

    • Use a fly cover at the same time as a wood stove
    • Allow leaves or snow to accumulate on the roof 
    • Put away the fly cover OR the canvas tent while still damp
    • Leave the tent up for extended periods of time if it won't be used

    With a little planning and some TLC, your canvas tent will stick around for generations. Fall, winter, spring, and summer: four seasons, one tent. A multipurpose all season tent really is a beautiful thing. 



    A canvas bell tent sits in front of sunlit hills dotted in pine trees with a tan dog laying out front, and the doors are open revealing a wood stove inside the tent.
    Kelli Martinelli
    Kelli Martinelli

    Kelli believes that experiences > things, and loves helping others make memories. [Former] Freelance communications strategist for small brands with big heart. Love bigger. Reach farther.

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