Winter might be knocking at the door, but that’s no reason to hibernate indoors until the sun decides to make another appeareance. As the temperatures drop and the weather changes, sleeping outside brings a new set of exciting challenges.
If you are one of those people who avoid getting outdoors in the winter because “it’s too cold!” A cold weather tent may be just what the doctor ordered, with the proper winter tent, you will feel like you never left the comfort of your own home (sort of).
Whether you are taking a weekend getaway to the mountains or embarking on a week-long high-altitude trek, finding the best cold weather tent makes all the difference in the world.
Best Cold Weather Tents
Winter tents are a must have if you plan on camping or hiking in cold weather. Here’s our list of the best cold weather
Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1
The Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 has a 2-pole design and enough space for one person and a few personal items. The upper portion of the tent
There is a 2000 mm factory seal on the floor of the tent, as well as on the rain fly and the floor seams. The tent has beefy No. 8 zippers on the vestibule and main entrance. The covered vestibule will give you a decent amount of storage just outside the door of the tent.
The fly is equipped with Velcro straps along with bars to prop it up for coverage. Inside the tent, there are a couple of pockets for storage, as well as clips above to hang lighting.
- Easy to set up
- No footprint
- Low ceiling
- Rare durability issues
- There's no assembly frustration with our Lynx tent Series; This free-standing, aluminum two-pole design is a breeze to setup
- Polyester tent fly resists water and UV damage while adding one vestibule for extra storage space
- Fully equipped with #8 zippers, storage pockets, gear loft, stakes, guy ropes and one doorway
- The Alps Mountaineering Lynx tent is on our best sellers list; it’s a must-have for your next adventure.Weatherproof fly buckles on for maximum adjustability and protection
Alps Mountaineering Tasmanian 2
This is a quality tent, the craftsmanship of which is further substantiated by the Alps lifetime warranty. There are internal covers on the windows and vents to keep the inside nice and toasty during freezing temperatures.
The tent poles are continuous throughout, meaning they reach all the way from one end to the other, with a separate pole for added support in rough weather. The tent is lightweight but surprisingly strong, with mesh pockets inside to hold your smaller personal items. There are two doors for easy access, as well as, full windows.
The rain fly extends all the way to the ground on both sides of the tent, giving you not one but two vestibule areas. The fly itself has a vent that you can open and close to increase or decrease airflow.
- Large vestibule
- Lots of pockets
- Quality material
- Challenge to pitch
- No footprint
- There's no assembly frustration with our Tasmanian Tent series this aluminum free-standing pole system is ideal for a quick setup
- Polyester fly will resist water and UV rays while adding two vestibules for extra storage
- Easy entry and great ventilation with two doors both with zippered mesh windows
- Fully equipped with #8 zippers mesh storage pockets gear loft aluminum stakes and guy ropes
High Peak South Col 4
The High Peak South Col 4-season tent is large enough for 3 people, however, with two people it is more comfortable and you will still have room for your packs. It’s quick and easy to set up and it’s built with durable materials that will last multiple seasons.
The vestibules are huge with plenty of room for all the gear that you don’t want to keep inside. The tent has bungee cords at the stake which act as a shock absorbing mechanism making it possible for the tent to withstand strong gusts of wind.
At 9 pounds it is a little heavy for a backpacking trip so plan accordingly. This tent is built to withstand freezing temperatures and the rainfly extends all the way to ground to prevent snow from creeping underneath.
- Stable in bad weather
- Large vestibule
- Lacks ventilation
- High number of stake points
- Low ceiling
Black Diamond Eldorado
The Black Diamond Eldorado is an alpine climbing tent that gives you all round protection. The three-layer ePTFE membrane and tough materials make it more durable than most other fabrics in other single walled tents.
It sets up from the inside, so in terrible weather, you are able to pitch it under cover from the elements. This method is, of course, going to take a little practice, so set it up at home first just to get the hang of it.
One of the drawbacks is it doesn’t have the third pole for added stability.
The ventilation in this is sub-par, which can lead to a slight build up of condensation on the inside walls. In terms of livability it’s a nice tent to kick back in, so if the weather hits you’ll be cozy.
- 3 layer construction
- 5.1 pounds
- Heavy duty
- Poor ventilation
- Not enough guylines
- Challenging setup
- Black Diamond Equipment: Designing and constructing the world's best climbing, skiing & mountain gear since 1957
Luxe Tempo Backpacking 2 Person Tent
This tent comes with almost everything you need – a footprint, rain flap, a bag containing stakes and guy rope and with the pitching instructions stitched into the bag itself.
The vestibule extends to give you ample space to store a 65-liter backpack. It is fairly lightweight making this tent a decent option for a week-long backpacking trip.
This tough and durable tent is packed with tiny details that make it a great tent. The bags have plastic closures on the ropes, and the neon yellow ropes give it increased visibility.
It integrates 210T polyester as well as ripstop fabric, making this tent durable in all conditions.
- Easy to pitch
- Adequate ventilation
- 3.3 pounds
- No footprint
- Limited space
- Small rainfly
- SilNylon(silicone coated nylon)Rain Fly features 8000mm water-resistant finish and excellent UV-resistance;It can shed off snow and rain quickly thanks to its slippery surface;210T polyester breathable inner tent;210T PU coated rip-stop polyester tent floor;210T PU coated polyester footprint(come with the tent)
- This all season tent is especially designed for years¡¯ use;It can hold up well to snow,wind and rain,but still features low weight and venting options for excellent warm weather performance; Freestanding and backpack-friendly design features compact aluminum folding poles and durable fly attachment system;Leave the tent body behind,use the poles,rain fly and footprint?for light camping during nice weather;Setup instructions included in the stuff sack
- 2 DOUBLE LAYER doors to keep warm in winter and provide enough ventilation in warm season ;the Mesh Layer of the doors can be opened ONLY FROM INSIDE,this can stop some naughty "intruder" and offer absolute privacy in wilderness;2 VESTIBULES creates dry entry and roomy storage for gear and can be partially open to maximize airflow;High quality SBS double way smooth zip with storm flaps and noiseless pull;2 QUICK STASH to stow unzipped doors and small items
- 4 REINFORCED PANELS at tent corners can sustain constant tension when in use; REFLECTIVE LOOPS highlight your tent frame at night;All webbing?are made of HIGH DENSITY anti-abrasion nylon,which can endure frequent pulling
Why you need a winter tent
Cold weather is extremely hard on your body and gear when compared to the warm days of summer. Camping during the winter calls for a completely different set of gear and your tent is the first line of defense. A winter tent is a tent that’s made for one purpose, cold weather camping
Otherwise known as a 4-season tent, a winter tent is made for the fourth season. In other words, winter. They are meant to be used for anyone who plans on camping, snowshoeing, mountaineering at high altitude, or camping in cold and/or snowy conditions.
A 3-season tent is going to work for most of the year and can even handle a little cold weather every now and then. However, is the weather drops below freezing or snow is in the forecast, a 4-season winter tent is a must have.
Advantages of cold weather tents
Cold weather tents are designed to perform well in snowy conditions. The shape of the tent is designed to not let snow build up on the top, therefore, you’ll often find them a dome shape
Nearly all of the tents are double walled. The second wall is often in the form of a waterproof rainfly that acts as an extra layer of protection between you and the elements.
Winter tents have poles that are made of more durable material than the flimsy plastic poles found in 3-season tents. This gives the tent the extra support necessary to withstand high winds and snow build up.
The rainfly of a winter tent often extends all the way to the ground to prevent cold wind and weather. This gives you a little more insulation and a completely covered vestibule area to keep your gear out of the elements.
The fabric of the tents is thicker and waterproof. This works to keep the heat in and the cold out.
Benefits of cold weather tents:
- Perform well in snowy conditions
- Have durable pole construction
- Rainfly that extends to the ground
- Thicker tent material
- Fully covered vestibule areas
The Difference Between 3 and 4 Season Tents
Let’s start with the basics, the difference between the 3 and 4 season tents. You probably have a 3 season tent sitting somewhere in the garage that works awesome for most of the year, but not winter.
During the warmer months of the year, 3-season tents are ideal. Unfortunately, when the temperature begins to drop, the wind picks up, and rain turns into snow, 4-season tents are the only option.
3 Season Tent
These tents are built for most of the year, keyword there “most”. Your standard 3-season tent is built to perform well in high winds and occasional rain. They come well ventilated and are the most common tents you see at the campsite most of the year.
A 3-season tent works for a good chunk of the year, however, if there’s going to be 6-inches of fresh powder and wind chill below zero a 3-season tent simply won’t work.
Commonly referred to as cold weather tent or winter tent, a 4-season tent is made for extremes. They are heavier in weight due to being made with reinforced materials and will be dome-shaped, or have steep walls to prevent the build-up of snow.
The tent poles are going to be stronger and there is going to be more of them, often made of aluminum, with the added weight of snow in mind.
A 4-season tent, while being made specifically for winter can be used in Fall and Sring when then weather is still cold. I wouldn’t recommend using it in summer, you’ll bake like a Thanksgiving turkey.
Factors to consider in a winter tent
Winter tents or 4-season tents need be airtight, limit condensation, have decent ventilation, and be waterproof. Here are some of the most important features to look for in the best winter tent.
Number of people
This is an obvious one, you’ll need to consider how many people you’re hitting the mountains with. A single person tent for 3 people? You’ll keep each other warm, but it won’t be comfortable.
A general rule of thumb is to increase your tent size by one. If you’re camping with one other person, a 3-person tent is the most comfortable option. This isn’t always a possibility, but if you can, upsize the ten.
Materials and construction
Materials and construction are a direct reflection of the quality of a tent.
The best winter tents are made up of the highest quality nylon, polyester, or a blend of synthetic materials. Nylon does not break down easily and polyester protects you from moisture and UVA rays of the sun.
The tub of the floor should always be reinforced with a waterproof material so no moisture gets in from underneath. Take a close look at the base of the floor and be sure that it has a high denier rating, at least 50 or above.
The overall weight of your tent which includes the tent, tent poles, rainfly, and groundsheet all figure into the packed weight. Whether you’re hiking in or simply camping, minimizing the overall weight makes your life easier.
A winter tent is heavier than a 3-season tent due to the stronger material it’s built with. If you are embarking on a mountaineering expedition on foot, weight becomes an issue quickly. Winter supplies and gear are heavier and they add up quickly, so limit the weight of your gear accodingly.
Single Wall or Double Wall
A double walled tent is heavier than a single wall, making it a popular choice for people who don’t have too much ground to cover. The newer models are made of lighter materials that mitigate the weight issue.
This is the small area that provides a transitioning gap from the inside to the outside so your body can acclimate to the sudden temperature change. Every winter tent should have some sort of vestibule for gear that needs a place safe from the weather.
Several winter tents come with advanced technology to give you extra protection, like double coated rain-proofing and rip-stop fabric.
Some 4-season tents come with metal alloy tent poles that are lighter than their regular aluminum counterparts and easier to setup, streamlining the tent pitch process in freezing weather.
Other Important Features of a Winter Tent
When choosing a winter tent, keep an eye out for these additional features:
- Strong fabrics giving you warmth and protection
- Two doors as winter conditions can get severe
- Gear attic to store personal items and free up space
- Vestibule to store wet gear
- Dome shape or steep walls
- Durable tent poles
- Extra guy line points for increased stability
Winter camping brings with it a new set of challenges that end up giving you a real sense of accomplishment. As long as you’re prepared with the proper gear and camping equipment, the juice is worth the squeeze.
The proper gear makes a huge difference and finding the best winter tent is an important first step. After all, it’s your home away from home and while it may not have a fireplace and kitchen, when done right it’s the next best thing.
With the proper planning and preparation, your next (or first) winter camping trip will be a smashing success. As always, get lost and keep wandering