Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 Tent
– Price: $1,100
– Weight: 12.7 lbs (5.8 kg)
– Floor size: 96” x 94” (244cm x 239cm)
– Peak height: 50” (127cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Capacities: 4 person / 3 person / 2 person
– Shape: Dome
– What we like: Proven mountaineering tent, rugged, livable
– What we don’t: Expensive, overkill for most campers
The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict
This is The Wise Adventurer’s field test and review of the Mountain Hardwear Trango 4, a hardcore four-season tent that’s built to take you to the ends of the earth and back.
Mountain Hardwear first introduced the Trango back in 1995, and has been steadily improving and building upon the design for nearly three decades now. It’s built to survive heavy snows, punishing winds, pouring rain, and anything else you manage to get yourself into.
We evaluated the Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 along all the same lines as other shelters in our recent camping tent field test, but considering its aggressive four-season design, opted to hike it into a unique destination situated high above a Swiss mountain pass. Although the conditions were much more challenging, we still evaluated the Trango on all the same metrics we typically test for tents including weatherproofing, material quality, and overall livability.
If you’d like to read more on our testing methodology, you can read all about it here, but for now let’s dive into the findings of our recent field test with the Trango!
After extensively testing the Mountain Hardwear Trango 4, we found it to be without equal in our diverse lineup of camping tents. Our field notes include details on everything from durability to overall value for the money, and we’re happy to report that the Trango lacked nothing as a four-season shelter. Ultimately it’s up to the reader to decide whether they need this much tent for their own adventures, but here are our takeaways from our time with the Trango.
Space and Comfort
The Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 is a hardcore four-season mountaineering tent, so while we wouldn’t expect it to compare to your typical three-season cabin in terms of interior space, we were surprised to find just how comfortable living with it could be.
Its 50-inch peak height, for example, allowed us to sit up comfortably anywhere in the tent, while its 57 square feet of floor space provided plenty of room for three campers to hang out and sleep inside on full-sized sleeping pads. There’s definitely room in here for a fourth if you don’t mind sticking to mummy bags and head-to-toe sleep arrangements, but three feels like the sweet spot for the Trango 4.
Storage and organization are some of the best we’ve seen, which makes sense considering this tent is intended for use as an expedition base camp. Mountain Hardwear covers the walls of the Trango with tons of big mesh pockets, which we used for everything from storing gear to hanging clothes to dry.
The Trango’s vestibule is another highlight in this aspect, and we had plenty of room to store our shoes and packs with space left over to cook a meal sheltered from the 20+ mile an hour winds we experienced throughout the day.
The Mountain Hardwear Trango is built to weather brutal alpine storms, so we opted to test it at elevation in Switzerland’s Col de Bossetan mountain pass. The weather was sunny and pleasantly clear, but we experienced regular winds of 20-25mph and temperatures dropped down around freezing at night.
While we can’t say we were surprised at how well this tent handled both the wind and cold, we really can’t applaud the Trango’s poor weather performance enough. Mountain Hardwear specs the Trango with the burliest five-pole system we’ve ever used, and the tent didn’t even start to break a sweat under 25 mph winds.
The Trango uses incredibly burly gated clips to connect both the fly and the canopy to its rock-solid frame, which allows all three pieces to be directly connected to one another for stability. Guy out points abound all around the exterior of the tent, and there is even an internal guy system inside the tent at the doors. Once everything is tensioned and staked out, it would take nothing short of an act of god to upset the Trango.
This overbuilt theme continues into the Trango’s waterproofing, which includes a 70D nylon fly rated to 2000mm waterproofing and a full 10,000mm rating for the tent floor. Every seam inside the Trango is well taped, and the overlap between the tent’s tall bathtub floor and full-length vestibule leaves nothing to chance.
Ventilation is also a high point here, and although the Trango will certainly run a bit warm in regular summer conditions with the rainfly in place, there’s a ton of adjustability built into the shelter. Both doors feature dual-layer fabric/mesh construction, which can be adjusted using the Trango’s double zipper system. There’s also a two-layer chimney vent at the top of the Trango, which opens up to reveal a triple reinforced (and UV treated) polycarbonate window.
Ease of Set-Up
For all its extra poles and beefed-up construction, we found the Trango to be simple and straightforward to pitch, which is especially impressive considering we arrived at camp late and had to set it up in the dark using headlamps.
Mountain Hardwear designed the Trango to be deployable in a snowstorm, and clearly color-coded every aspect of the setup including the poles themselves. You simply lay out the canopy, match up the colors, and start clipping everything into place. It’s a similar story with the fly, which attaches using the same clips as the canopy as we mentioned above. Granted, there are more anchors to be clipped in than your average three-season tent, but that’s what makes the Trango so rock solid.
Of all the tents we’ve ever tested, the Mountain Hardwear Trango is by far the most durable looking and feeling we’ve seen. Four-season tents are held to a higher standard in this regard than their three-season counterparts, but even for a four-season shelter, the Trango felt utterly bombproof.
Every part of the tent is rugged and reinforced. The DAC Featherlight NSL Green poles are the toughest in the DAC catalog, the guylines attach via welded loops and lock in with sturdy metal hardware, and Mountain Hardwear even includes top-notch DAC J-stakes in the bag that shouldn’t ever need to be replaced.
If we had to complain about anything, it would be the Trango’s storage bags, which worked without issue but didn’t feel quite as durable as the contents they held.
Weight and Packed Size
While mountaineering tents like the Mountain Hardwear Trango can’t afford to be as lightweight as your typical three-season backpacking tent, they are meant to be carried long distances, and as such, weight and packed size are important considerations.
In its largest carry bag, the Trango 4 is much too bulky to carry on your back, so we opted to split it between two evenly divided bags (Mountain Hardwear includes multiple bags with the Trango expressly for this purpose) before securing it to our packs.
With the Trango split this way, each hiker is hauling around six pounds, and securing the bags to our packs became much easier. We opted to stash the sections under the tops of our packs as it was a clean and sunny climb, but they could easily be secured to the bottom in this configuration as well.
(img_9876) caption: We had no complaints hiking the Trango up some tricky alpine trails.
The Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 is a serious investment, but so is any hardcore four-season tent worth having. Compared to your average three-season camping tent, the Trango may seem expensive, but for a proven blizzard-proof shelter with this much livability, it’s actually a great value for the money.
There’s a reason that the Trango has remained one of the first names in mountaineering for nearly three decades: This has always been one of the toughest and most well-designed tents on the planet, and it has only gotten better with each iteration.
It’s also worth mentioning that you don’t need to be off climbing mountains to appreciate the unrivaled build quality of this shelter. Anyone who is interested in camping year-round in harsh conditions can benefit from a Trango. That includes winter backpacking trips, backcountry ski adventures, and even car camping in below-freezing temps.
Of course if you have no use for a shelter outside of your typical three-season camping or gentle backpacking conditions, you’d be advised to look elsewhere. There’s no getting around the Trango’s price tag, and if you just need a roomy place to relax summer through fall, there are better ways to spend your money.
What We Like
We were all floored by the Trango’s utterly bombproof build quality, and have never before used a tent with this much tech and attention to detail. Everywhere we looked, we were constantly finding new and impressive details in the Trango’s construction, and while it is no doubt expensive, no one felt that the Trango was overpriced by the end of our trip.
When your adventures take you into extreme conditions, your life quite literally depends on your shelter to keep you safe. The Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 may seem overbuilt for your typical camping trip, but we felt confident that we could depend on it anywhere on the globe, and that’s exactly what you should look for in a tent like this.
It’s also worth mentioning that although the Trango is impressively technical and overbuilt, it isn’t difficult to use or live within the slightest. This is a tent that’s designed to be pitched with gloves on in the middle of a snowstorm, so in spite of all its complex engineering, it’s pleasantly simple to set up. It’s also intended to serve as a basecamp for extended expeditions, which means the interior is remarkably livable for its size.
What We Don’t Like
It was genuinely difficult to find flaws with this tent, especially taking its outright capability into consideration. Honestly the only complaints we have for the Trango are the places where it falls short compared to traditional three-season models, which kind of feel like a moot point.
Yes, it’s more expensive than a traditional camping or backpacking tent. Yes, the ceilings are much lower than a fairweather camping tent. This is no regular camping or backpacking tent though, and as such, we loved everything about it.
- The North Face Mountain 25: The OTHER most celebrated tent in mountaineering history. A more affordable option if you don’t need room for four.
- REI Base Camp 4: Fantastic weatherproofing and solid cold weather capability for anything shy of heavy snow and high-altitude exploits. Read our full test and review…
- The North Face Bastion 4: Comparable mountaineering prowess with a single wall design for a few dollars less.
- Nemo Aurora Highrise 4: Excellent design and a spacious interior if you stick to traditional three-season car camping. Read our full test and review…
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a shelter that has your back anywhere, anytime, the Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 won’t let you down. This is a tent that’s built to brave the harshest alpine adventures and lacks nothing in terms of quality, durability, or weatherproofing.
The Trango also happens to be surprisingly livable and easy to set-up, which is no small feat considering its technical prowess. If you’re looking for a tent that can take you well above the treeline, keep you dry in a monsoon, and warm in a blizzard, the Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 is our top choice for serious four-season adventurers.