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Best Tents for Cold Weather Camping

Choosing a tent can be a challenging task. Luckily for us, the engineering of these little shelters we call home in the wilderness has come quite a long way. But, what’s the most essential feature in a tent to you?

Breaking down what you are looking for first will help you narrow down your search. So, if you already know you will be in a cold place, knowing if it’s front or backcountry will undoubtedly help guide your purchasing decision. 

Weight and breathability often are seen as the baseline fundamentals of choosing a tent. Once you know how much weight you are comfortable carrying, you can focus on the other “bells and whistles” that fit your needs best. Choosing those additional features will come down to what your comfort level is, the type of terrain (snow, high altitudes, extreme wind) you will be in, space requirements, frequency of use, and of course, your budget. 

Budget will be a significant aspect for buyers, but before you pull the trigger on a tent, make sure to do your homework and read those reviews to make sure you are informed. Remember that you will be sleeping outside in the cold, and you want to ensure safety and comfort. One of the main things to look out for when shopping is looking for a tent that says “4 Season.” This will ensure the tent has been tested in winter conditions. 

It’s true what they say: pay now or pay later. Below you will find our reviews based on functionality in cold conditions, broken down for you to help in your decision rather than just focusing on “low” to “high” budget. 

Best Tents for Cold Weather Camping

The North Face Alpine Guide 2

best tent for cold weather camping
  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Height: 36.6 inches
  • Trail Weight: 5lbs, 10oz
  • Number of Doors: 1 and vestibule

If you plan to traverse across high alpine ridges on your way to the summit or trek deep, humid forests in the Smokies, The North Face’s Alpine Guide 2-Person 4-Season Tent is the perfect tent to call home at the end of a hard day’s hike. 

This robust 4-season tent is built for winter conditions, with a large vestibule inside to stash all your gear at night. The PU-coated floor keeps moisture from sneaking in, and the DAC poles are lightweight yet super sturdy, especially when it’s windy.

This tent is ideal for harsh climates and long destination hikes. With its 4 season rating and tested durable polyester construction, you will be sure to have a shelter that keeps you safe, dry, and comfortable with the temperatures dropping outside.

PROS

  • Extensive gear storage
  • Rear escape-hatch back door for ventilation and quick access to the outside
  • Dual top vents increase breathability
  • Easy-pitch design
  • DAC stakes
  • DAC Featherlite NSL poles

CONS

  • Footprint not included
  • Recommend seam-sealing before taking in extreme rain conditions

Marmot Thor 2P Tent

  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Height: 44 inches
  • Trail Weight: 9lbs, 5oz
  • Number of Doors: 2 doors

If you’re heading out for adventure, the Marmot Thor 2P is a great 4-season, double-wall tent that will provide you with all-weather protection in the high altitude of the mountains.

From windstorms to rainstorms to snowstorms, the Thor utilizes a unique six-pole design (composed of DAC Featherlite NSL) to remain upright and sturdy in the harshest of conditions. The sturdy construction of this tent nearly hits every “weak point” and has the support to take on any impending blizzard.

In addition to the aluminum frame, the rest of the tent is composed of different ripstop nylon. Both the canopy and the rain fly are composed of 40-Denier nylon (with a thick waterproof coating on the latter), while the bathtub floor comes in at a thicker 70-Denier, which makes it more durable against the sharp rocks and anything sticking up you didn’t see. Although, the thicker material can lead to poor ventilation, heavier weight, and internal condensation. All of which could be an issue if you neglect to open the vents in exchange for warmth.

Unlike other four-season tents, Marmot has engineered the Thor so that you and your winter camping buddy have plenty of headroom. When you’re ready to leave and move on to the next location, you’ll have no problem, as the pitch/breakdown is simple and quick. 

If you plan to camp at a higher elevation, you should be packing a 4-season tent due to the ever-changing conditions. Regardless of your adventure, the Marmot Thor 2P will keep you safe and secure – no matter how miserable the weather.

PROS

  • Spacious interior
  • Easy setup
  • Ample storage
  • All-weather protection

CONS

  • Heavier than competitors
  • Condensation issues

Geertop Portable 2P Tent

  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Height: 39.4 inches
  • Trail Weight: 6lbs, 17oz
  • Number of Doors: 2 doors

 If you have a slightly lower budget, the Geertop 4-Season tent is an excellent option for those looking to go camping in mild winter conditions. This is not suitable for extreme wind, weather, and snow faced by mountaineers.

Although it’s still rated for use in very cold temperatures, this tent is much less robust than others on our list. It can hold up to cold, wind, and snow, but it’s better suited for spring and fall camping.

The two-person, 4-season tent has a double-wall construction. It’s simple to set up in just a few minutes. It sheds off snow and rain with ease while holding up to heavy wind without a whimper. The interior of this tent is quite roomy, making it a comfortable place to hang out when outside conditions are less than ideal.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Surprisingly Lightweight
  • Suitable for Spring & Fall

CONS

  • Less robust than others on this list

Big Agnes Battle Mountain 2

best cold weather tent - big agnes
  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Height: 58 (head) / 35 (legs/feet) inches
  • Trail Weight: 6lbs, 10oz
  • Number of Doors: 2 doors

At the top of my list for best winter tents is the Big Agnes Battle Mountain. Big Agnes makes some amazing shelters, and this 4 season tent is no exception. Although the price will be higher, the cost reflects the tent’s quality and engineering. 

This tent is a four-season, “bomb proof” tent with silicone-treated fabric to ensure you will be dry amid even the wettest and wildest storm. In addition, the seams of this tent are all taped, to provide even more security from the rain. Many tents you have to seam seal yourself, so this is a noteworthy bonus. 

The rain fly can be closed with a large, 10 square foot vestibule, or can be propped open using trekking poles for when you want to let the air in, and when the gusts aren’t howling. This tent has color-coded webbing and poles, making set up a breeze.

Both doors of this tent have an option to zip open the fabric and create a mesh window, so you can wake up and see what’s going on outside, as well as have cross-ventilation. This tent also has several internal pockets and a gear loft for extra storage. 

Without a doubt this tent performs well, looks great, and is tested and tried in the rowdiest conditions.

PROS

  • Color-Coded Webbing and Pole Design
  • Rainfly is Silicone Treated For Extra Water Resistance In Rainstorms
  • Taped Seams Prevent Water From Seeping In
  • Large Gear Loft Provides Space To Store All Your Valuables Inside The Tent
  • Several Vents Prevent Condensation From Building Up

CONS

  • Footprint sold separately
  • Hefty price tag (but worth it for adverse conditions)

Mountain Hardwear ACI 3 Tent

mountain hardwear cold weather tent
  • Capacity: 3 people
  • Height: 41 inches
  • Trail Weight: 7lbs, 2 oz
  • Number of Doors: 2 doors

The Mountain Hardwear ACI 3 Person Tent is a single wall tent designed to be sturdy, durable, easy to transport while also keeping the weight down. The Evolution Tension Arch uses sleeves of incredibly durable non-stretch fabric to reinforce and stabilize the pole structure. The engineering of this tent went above and beyond, that’s for sure! 

This tent has superb cross-ventilation, enabled by four adjustable zippered vents and full mesh door. There are also six interior mesh pockets for storage or drying your gear. The reflective accents help with visibility. The bright colors also mean that it can be easily seen on the mountain, a mindful point in case of an evacuation.

The DAC Featherlight NSL poles are light yet durable, and the multiple guy lines with self-equalizing line anchors on the sidewalls help lock everything down (J-stakes included). 

The integrated vestibule makes this a long tent with lots of space to keep your stuff dry. There is a snow port at the front of the vestibule that can act as an exit point for snow you may have accidentally tracked into your tent-home or received overnight in a storm.

PROS

  • Vestibule provides room for gear storage inside the tent or additional living space
  • Color-coded webbing for easy pole setup
  • Multiple guyout points plus self-equalizing anchors
  • Six mesh pockets for interior storage
  • Evolution Tension Arch design enables sleeves

CONS

  • High price tag
  • No footprint included

Geertop 4 Season Tent

  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Height: 45 inches
  • Trail Weight: 6lbs, 6oz
  • Number of Doors: 2 doors

 The Geertop 2-person 4-season Backpacking Tent has a very simple but efficient design. It is designed to be a multipurpose option that is easy to carry while backpacking thanks to its lightweight design.

It offers excellent protection against mild to medium weather, including rain, snow, and wind. The cover can be unzipped fully, offering plenty of ventilation, it can also be used in warmer conditions making it a perfect all-weather tent.

If you are planning on hitting the trails during winter and want a lightweight tent that’s quick and easy to set up and break down, this could be the tent for you! This tent is designed to keep out the rain and withstand snow and wind to a degree. Thanks to its double stitched seams and strong aluminum poles, this tent is designed to be durable in winter conditions, but will not stand up to gale-force winds and blizzards.

It’s made to accommodate two people, but realistically it’s best suited for one person. Two people would be quite the squeeze if they are not “petite.” It’s an excellent tent for the value of money, being warm inside even on cold nights, and is suitable for wet weather as the rainfly comes to the ground.

For hikers who like to hike in colder weather and want a tent that’s lightweight but warm and durable, and is easy to assemble and take down, the Geertop 2-person 4-season is ideal for getting your start on winter camping. 

Overall this is good value for the money, with this tent design being one of the more affordable winter tent options.

PROS

  • Very warm, even in extremely cold weather
  • Strong and durable material and poles
  • The design is lightweight
  • Easy to assemble and put away
  • One of the cheapest options

CONS

  • Realistically can only sleep one person comfortably
  • Not suited for intense winter conditions
  • Problems with condensation build-up

ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 3 Person Tent

  • Capacity: 3 people
  • Height: 54 inches
  • Trail Weight: 9lbs, 4oz
  • Number of Doors: 2 doors

 The ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 3 Person Tent is a great affordable addition to 4 season camping. 

This tent consists of 2 doors located on each side of the tent to make it easier for three people to get in and out without bothering the other person. It uses large #8 zippers to ensure the opening/closing of the doors and fly will be no problem whatsoever, especially when you’re wearing gloves. Both of the doors have zippered mesh windows to avoid condensation build up.

It’s unique hub system means the poles are continuous, allowing the hubs to reach end to end with ease, while another pole is used to help keep the tent sturdy in strong winds. And a full-coverage rainfly comes to the ground and creates two massive vestibule areas. It’s a great place to stash your gear extra bulky away. The fly has vents too, which can be opened or closed depending on the current conditions.

It’s a freestanding design, and ALL of the seams (rainfly and tent) have been sealed from the factory, allowing this tent to be ready-to-go as soon as it arrives. It has multiple storage options. The large vestibule storage and interior mesh pockets and gear loft (included in the purchase) means there’s room for small and medium-sized items inside the tent.

Overall, this 4-season tent contains a large number of features. It will do a great job of combating the elements, while the price is another great bonus! However, it can take a long time to get the rainfly on (just give a few practice runs at home before you go), and the weight could be a hassle – depending on your plans and mountain route.

PROS

  • Storage inside and outside the tent
  • Plenty of headspace
  • Gear Loft included
  • Repair kit included
  • Sealed seams throughout

CONS

  • Somewhat heavy
  • No Footprint Included

Black Diamond Eldorado

best cold weather tent
  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Height: 51 inches
  • Trail Weight: 5lbs, 1oz
  • Number of Doors: 1 door

The Black Diamond Eldorado checks a lot of the boxes for outdoor seekers looking to cut down on weight, increase the quality and have a shelter that’s great for extreme weather. 

For the taller folks, finding a tent that can comfortably fit long legs can be a challenge. With the Black Diamond Eldorado Tent, however, cramming into a tiny tent no longer has to be your reality.

Thanks to a compact yet surprisingly spacious design, this mountaineering tent is made for comfort. With an extra 5in of length and 3in of width, the Eldorado can accommodate longer sleeping pads or extra gear while in the mountains.

The Eldorado tent is no pushover when it comes to durability, either. The two aluminum poles set up internally, and this dome-shaped four-season tent is made for the harshest weather. With the durable ToddTex single-wall fabric, two zippered vents, and one hooded vent, the Eldorado is well-ventilated for extreme weather conditions.

One thing that can be challenging, however, would be the single door design. The design and the optional vestibule do help cut weight, bringing this set up to a respectable 5lb 1oz pack weight. Another great option is adding the detachable vestibule for an added cost if you want extra outside storage. 

The Black Diamond Eldorado is a solid choice for anyone looking for a nice mix of durability, comfort, and weight savings.

PROS

  • ​Durable ToddTex single-wall fabric
  • ​Plenty of vents for airflow
  • ​Large enough to accommodate extra gear
  • Designed for taller people and longer backpackers
  • ​Optional vestibule for added gear storage

CONS

  • ​Single door design is challenging to get in and out of
  • ​Expensive

Exped Orion III Tent

  • Capacity: 3 people
  • Height: 51 inches
  • Trail Weight: 7lbs, 2oz
  • Number of Doors: 2 doors

Rounding out our reviews, we have the Exped Orion III Tent. If you are looking for comfort and storm stability, you have found it! The Exped Orion is what we would like to call an “expedition” tent, which is truly durable for the wildest days and nights in the mountains. The focus of Exped’s expedition tents is safety and confidence in high altitude and stormy conditions.

It’s generous floor space and canopy height offer two people the perfect shelter for winter, basecamp, or extended trek use. The full-length ridge pole reaches the ground for enhanced wind stability at a low weight. The tent holds three large-sized mats, and the dual vestibules offer enough space for three occupants plus their gear. 

Strategic pole crossings, flat pole sleeves, efficient geometry, and the highest quality materials give Exped tents the stability and strength to withstand the most severe conditions. Designed for and tested in the wildest regions on earth: windy Patagonia, the high Himalaya, savage Alaska, and more.

PROS

  • Generous canopy height
  • Ample floor space for two adults
  • Long ridge pole for storm stability
  • Dual vestibule and doors
  • Gear loft included

CONS

  • High price point
  • Footprint added for an extra cost
  • Heavier than some others mentioned

How To Choose a Cold Weather Tent

Now, will all of that information, how are you going to narrow down your choices? While a lot of this will come down to personal preference, specific features can be determined by the type of terrain you’re in, how cold and blustery it will be, and the type of expedition you are on. 

Below you will find a more detailed breakdown before choosing your outdoor home. Remember to choose your price point before going in, which will narrow the options right away. 

Single vs. Double Walled

A single-walled tent has a single layer of fabric that acts as both the tent body and as a built-in rainfly. These tents are lightweight, easy to use, and versatile.

A double-walled tent is a tent that has two layers of fabric that make up the main structure and a separate rainfly. These tents are versatile, breathable, and often more livable in cold weather.

Although a few models are still available, most manufacturers have stopped making single-wall tents altogether. In the past, their best attribute was the lightweight construction. But, today, double-wall tents are becoming just as lightweight, with new materials being engineered.

Packed Tent Size & Weight

The packed size and weight of your tent is a very important factor. The tent must be small, packable, and lightweight enough to trek to your destination. However, you don’t want to skimp on durability or waterproofing in favor of something lighter in weight.

Winter car camping doesn’t have the same size and weight limitations. So, you can pretty much bring as heavy and bulky of a tent as you like, as long as it fits in your vehicle. However, do note that larger tents (especially in height) are more challenging to heat up at night.

Seasonality

As we’ve talked about, for winter camping, a 4-season tent is necessary.

It’s designed for winter conditions from the ground up. These tents are excellent in the cold, snow, and wind. Most models can even be used in alpine conditions, above the treeline, for mountaineer expeditions. Their main drawbacks are heavy packed weight and a lack of breathability (especially on single-wall models).

Some winter campers can make do with a 3-season tent. Generally, these tents are suitable for milder winter weather conditions. If you plan to use the tent in mild winters, this might be the best option for you.

Durability (Construction & Materials)

The materials and construction methods used for your winter tent directly influence its durability, waterproofing, ventilation, and much more. This also greatly affects the price. 

Look for a winter camping tent that’s made with top-quality materials, like high-denier fabrics (including floors) and aluminum poles. A polyurethane coating rated for 100% waterproofing and waterproof seams, especially around the zippers, are also things to keep your eyes open for.

Construction is usually related to the shape of a tent. The best winter tents have a high dome shape to shed snow best. Steep sides help ensure that the snow doesn’t pile up on the walls of the tent at night.

Capacity

The living space is the space you’ll be sleeping in (interior), reading in, changing in, etc. Ultimately it will determine how comfortable you’ll be hanging out in this space, whether or not you share it with someone else. The steepness of the walls and the height of the roof also contribute to your comfort. A wall with a slant from floor to peak means less shoulder room, while a tent with a bar across the top and more vertical walls give more shoulder space and sitting-up space without hitting yourself on the walls.

The square footage is a good starting point for estimating the “livable space” but it’s far from telling how you will feel inside on a cold night. For example, two tents with the same floor area can have dramatically different amounts of livable area. Increasing the tent’s height and adding the top bar(s) can make tent walls more vertical. These design changes significantly increase the liveability of the tent’s interior area, making it far more pleasant to spend time inside the tent.

Additionally, for two people, two doors are ideal. Having two doors eliminates crawling over one another for midnight bathroom breaks, and gives each person their side. However, two doors mean two zippers, which adds to the weight of the tent. 

Storage

Having a larger vestibule doesn’t only mean more space – it means you can save the inside of your tent from getting drenched from wet gear. The more space you have in a vestibule, the more you can leave your gear outside of the tent while still having it be protected from the elements. And it’s even nice when you have two vestibules so each person has a place to store their gear. 

While interior pockets aren’t critical, they are nice for organizing small items that need to be accessed quickly and items that often get lost in piles of gear at night. A pocket or two at the head of the tent for quick access is great, and a gear loft overhead can be a perfect place to have a headlamp turned on to illuminate the entire shelter before you go to sleep.

Price

Don’t let just one category be the only deciding factor. Being honest with your budget, frequency of use, type of terrain, and style of tent you prefer are all factors that should be considered in your purchase. 

If your preferred tent is out of your budget, it might be a good goal to save up for it! With that said, going into harsh weather will demand educated and thorough research – with the result being most likely an expensive tent. Since 4 season tents are engineered with different materials and coatings, you will certainly be looking at a higher price point, but it will be worth it. Investment is key for a 4 season tent. 

Final Thoughts

With all of this information we just threw at you, the next step is to make a list of “must haves” and “can do without” for your 4-season tent features. Do this before you purchase your tent for cold weather conditions to ensure you can narrow down the search right away. 

With so many options and great gear companies out there, it’s nice to have the luxury of choice. We recommend going into the store to see the tent, feel the material, and even step into it before you purchase.

*****Pro Tip – Upgrade Your Tent Stakes (if they aren’t included)*****

Good stakes make tent pitching faster and more secure. We prefer these inexpensive but durable Y stakes for winter camping for pitching in snow, high winds, rocky ground, and other difficult areas. They have only a single notch at the head, making them extremely resistant to bending and damage when pounding in with a rock. And they have a pre-attached cord to make them easier to pull out — the cord is reflective to keep you from tripping up at night.

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