Camping in the winter is one of the most amazing experiences you could have, because you really feel like you’re becoming a better version of yourself when dealing with extreme conditions. Furthermore, you can enjoy a serene, peaceful environment that’s free of those nasty insects you always stumble upon when it’s hot outside.
But, to get the most out of your winter camping trip, check out the best cold weather tents we’ve reviewed below. Having a dependable tent is what will allow you to rest, hike, and enjoy the scenery.
How Do You Choose A Tent for The Winter?
When choosing your mountaineering tent, you can first get one with double walls or one with just one wall. Both these options are good, but they each have their pros and cons.
The single wall tent:
- It has a lower weight, so it’s easier to carry.
- It has a pretty easy and fast set up.
- It’s not as warm as its double-walled brother.
- It generally allows for more condensation to form, because it doesn’t have topnotch ventilation.
- It’s a bit more expensive.
- Better for when you’re climbing a lot, or when you’re backpacking and in constant move.
The double wall tent:
- It keeps you pretty warm inside.
- It’s not as expensive as a single-walled tent.
- It doesn’t allow for as much condensation to take place inside.
- It’s a pretty heavy piece of equipment.
- Even when packed, it’s quite voluminous.
- You need to spend more time setting it up.
- Better for when you’re not moving around a lot, and spend days at a time in the camping site.
So firstly you can choose your winter tent depending on the length of your trip, how long you’re going to stay put and how much time you plan on climbing with your backpack on.
Secondly, you should choose your winter tent depending on its features, which are the ones we’re going to discuss below.
It’s very likely that you’ll see the size or berth of the tent mentioned in its description, as it tells you how many people are able to sleep comfortably inside it.
However, you should also consider how much luggage you’re planning to bring with you, because you’re going to need more space if you’re going for a longer time and obviously bring more stuff with you.
Besides, you may want to bring kitchen and cooking equipment, or skiing and hiking gear, for which additional space should be taken into account. As such, choose a tent that has a porch or storage area for all this, even if it’s bigger.
Poles are the elements responsible for holding your tent up. That means the material from which they’re manufactured will give you an indication of how sturdy your tent is.
However, take into account the fact that better, sturdier materials are more expensive. So make sure you factor that in when thinking about the desired durability and resistance of your mountaineering tent.
Glass fiber poles:
- Not the most durable poles.
Carbon fiber poles:
- Very strong
- Middle range price, likely affordable for most people
- Sturdy and effective
This is what will protect you from the snow and winds, so make sure to choose a weather resistant flysheet to remain dry at all times. The best flysheets are:
- Made from nylon, because it’s a strong, light and highly protective material
- Manufactured with more coating, which makes them more water resistant and sturdy
As was the case with poles, strength, durability and protection will often come at the expense of weight and retail price. So take into account how much you’re willing to spend and carry in your backpack, and make sure you get your money’s worth.
Whilst you need to have pretty resistant pegs to make sure your tent isn’t blown away when it’s windy, most mountaineering tents generally use snow spike pegs which are effective enough.
The elements you should consider in regards to pegs are: resistance, weight, price, holding capacity.
The groundsheet is the floor of your tent, and it’s also a key factor in choosing a reliable item. That’s why you should pick one that’s:
- Waterproof. The best is 10,000 mm waterproofing
As such, we highly recommend a nylon groundsheet, because it meets all the requirements listed above. But that’s exactly the reason why most mountaineering tents groundsheets are made from nylon.
This part is only found in tents with double walls, and its purpose is to eliminate condensation through evaporation.
That’s why you should consider the following factors when choosing a double walled tent, with regards to its inner linings:
- The materials used shouldn’t absorb moisture or keep it inside
- The craftsmanship should allow for good ventilation
- The price should be adequate to the above qualities
Apart from the tent’s elements, another factor that comes into play when choosing the right tent for you, and that is the sort of trip you’re taking. This will mainly influence the size and weight of your tent, as well as its required durability, which in turn determines the price range you’re looking at.
- Short camping trips where you move a lot. In this case, you need something lightweight and size appropriate according to the number of campers, rather than extremely durable.
- Longer camping trips where you’re on the constant move. Your tent should be lightweight and very sturdy, but you can choose a smaller tent, even if it gets a bit crowded.
- Short or long camping trips with a lot of luggage when you’re not moving a lot. In this case durability and space are the most important factors, even if you choose a heavier and bulkier tent. You can even get a bigger berth although you have fewer campers in your group.
The Perfect Mountaineering Tents
That being said, let’s take a look at what the topnotch products on the market are. When we’ve made the list below, we’ve taken into account all the factors analyzed in the previous section of the article, in order to find the best tents for different sort of trips and price ranges.
The North Face Summit Series VE 25 3-Person Tent
Weight: 8.8 pounds (trail weight)
Dimensions: 24 x 9 inches
Specific features: Durable polyester Ripstop fly, 1500 mm PU coating, water-resistant finish; lightweight nylon Ripstop coating, water-resistant finish; polyester “no-see-um” mesh; durable nylon taffeta floor, 10000 mm PU coating, water-resistant finish.
Best use: longer trips where you stay put a lot; hunting trips; skiing trips.
Description: The North Face Summit Series VE 25 3-Person Tent has double doors which make it very easy for you to get inside it fast, in case the weather goes bad. For the purpose of finding your way and getting to cover really fast, this tent also has reflective guy lines and zip pulls that glow in the dark.
It’s perfect for longer expeditions when you’ll have a steady base camp. As such, it has a poled front vestibule where you can keep your extra luggage, or store wet equipment when you come back to your camping site.
The tent has a polyurethane port window, which is perfect for extra ventilation. That means you can use this tent in warmer weather too, and you don’t have to be afraid of all the condensation that might cramp your style.
The materials used are lightweight, but at the same time sturdy, waterproof and windproof. You will find that the fly is manufactured from durable polyester, with 1500 mm PU coating and a waterproof finish.
The coating itself is made from a lightweight nylon and is resistant to water, with ideal waterproofing measurements of 10,000 mm. The DAC stakes have a pull cord, and the tent comes with four fabric snow stakes included.
Tentsile Stingray Tree Tent
Weight: 19 pounds
Dimensions: 14 x 14 inches
Specific features: 3 person; portable treehouse tent; removable fly sheet; polyester mesh material canopy; four internal pockets for strong gear; 2 aluminum featherlite poles.
Best use: skiing trips; alpine routes.
Description: Tentsile Stingray Tree Tent is one of the best mountaineering tents you will find. It’s made for 3 people, but depending on the length of your trip and how much luggage you have with you, you can easily use it for 2 or 4 people.
The fly sheet is removable, which makes for great ventilation and additional comfort. In fact, that’s not the only reason why the Tentsile Stingray Tree Tent is very comfortable, given the fact that it’s made only from the best materials, which make it perfect for you to use it during other seasons apart from winter.
Talking about the materials, the canopy is pretty resistant and waterproof, given that it’s made of polyester. The poles are made from aluminum, which is effective and sturdy, but affordable at the same time. The roof is a tear-resistant insect mesh, the rain fly cover is waterproof polyester, and the floor is a nylon-polyester composite fabric
Another advantage of this tent is the additional space it offers along with its four internal pockets where you can store your gear. But you can also double your sheltered space if you peg out the fly sheet. And you get all these advantages at a pretty low weight of just 19 pounds.
MSR Mutha Hubba NX 3-Person Tent
Weight: 4.8 pounds
Dimensions: 44 x 68 x 87 inches (item dimensions)
Specific features: 20-denier ripstop nylon / 15-denier nylon mesh; head and elbow room throughout tent; two large side-entry vestibules to store gear; two large StayDry doors door with built-in rain gutters; adaptable, cross-ventilating rainfly; unified hub-and-pole system with color-coded clips; ultra-compact compression stuff sack.
Best use: mountaineering trips; backpacking a lot.
Description: To start off, MSR Mutha Hubba NX 3-Person Tent has topnotch features, which is why it’s one of the best items on the market. For example, it has a unique pole configuration that will allow you to have a lot of space, both from a headroom point of view, as well as from an elbow space standpoint. In fact, you can easily hang a few clothes from the ceiling without it becoming a bother.
Another great feature is the unified, color-coded hub and pole system. Given the fact that the hubs and poles are coded depending on their color, you can easily minimize the time it takes for you to set up the tent. It’s equally easy to take it down fast and not lose precious time you can spend enjoying your trip.
But what’s truly an advantage for campers everywhere is this tent’s ultra-compact compression sack, because it helps you reduce its volume when you have it packed, and fit it easily in your backpack without unnecessarily adding to its bulk.
Its large Stay Dry doors are also great features, for at least two reasons. One, you can easily get in or out fast when the situation requires it. Second, you can keep them both open to ventilate your tent even when it’s raining, without fearing that water will drip inside.
Its two large vestibules are perfect for storing gear, so even though this tent is extremely lightweight and not bulky at all, you can still use it for extended trips when you need to store a lot of luggage.
The materials used will create a dry and comfortable interior. As such, this tent has a 20 denier high tenacity Ripstop, a nylon Durashield, and a rainfly coated with a mixture of polyurethane and silicone. The floor is also coated with polyurethane. As you can see, the materials offer the guarantee of resistance and lightweight, apart from being both waterproof and windproof.
Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 Person Tent
Weight: 9.55 pounds (item display weight)
Dimensions: 9 x 8 x 23 inches
Specific features: 2 person; nylon made; double walled tent; windproof; Trident Corner design
Best use: shorter expeditions; climbing trips
Description: The first thing you’ll like to consider regarding Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 Person Tent is its nylon manufacturing. Nylon is a very lightweight but at the same time sturdy material, which makes this double-walled tent have a similar weight to a single-walled tent. Basically you’re getting two in one: optimal ventilation and a lightweight piece of equipment.
That’s why it’s the perfect choice both for shorter expeditions, as well as for climbers. Even though it’s a tent with double walls that can prove great when you’re staying put around the camp for longer stretches of time, it’s also light enough to carry it around in a backpack when you’re climbing.
Moreover, this Tangent Tent has a unique Trident Corner design, which offers strength and integrity to its architecture. Most of the times, when we’re talking about added strength – a key feature for campers who want to stay put for long – this comes at the cost of weight. But Trident Corner only adds a slight weight increase, although it makes the tent sturdy enough to resist high winds and significant snow falls.
When it comes to setting it up, it’s a breeze to do it. Speaking of breezes, this tent ventilates extremely well. Besides, if you tighten down the adjustable straps, you can minimize any unwanted flapping, but you also have to make sure you position the tent in the right direction.
Another great characteristic of this tent is the additional storage space: it has a vestibule with an excellent design which can also be used as a cooking space, for storing gear, or for placing a portable toilet there. It also has a lot of pockets and hangers where you can put your equipment or dry off the clothes that get wet during the day.
Hilleberg Tarra 2 Person Tent
Weight: 7.75 pounds
Dimensions: 55 x 49 inches (floor dimensions)
Specific features: 2 person; Kerlon 1800 outer tent fabric; 10 mm poles; all season construction tent wall; adjustable fabric panels on mesh areas; dome construction; multiple crossing poles points; separable inner and outer tent.
Best use: extended trips; base camping in extreme conditions.
Description: The first characteristic every good mountaineering tent should have, especially if you’re planning to use it for extended base camping in extreme conditions, is to be very strong and stable. The Hilleberg Tarra is perfect in that regard, because it has a Kerlon 1800 outer tent fabric, which is renown for its resistance and sturdiness. Secondly, it uses 10 mm poles, which ensure the stability of this tent even in high winds.
The tent has an all season construction, meaning that its outer walls will extend to the ground, and the mesh areas are constructed with fabric panels that can easily be adjusted. So you can easily use this tent in both cold and warmer weather.
Another great advantage is the dome construction of this tent, with a lot of pole crossing points. Their purpose is to maximize the amount of snow the tent is able to handle, so you can use it even during the most dreadful snow storms.
You will also find that the Hilleberg Tarra is pretty roomy and with vestibules for storing gear, even if its size is only for 2 people. The reason is that it also comes with a separable inner tent, which you can pitch along with the outer tent.
In fact, the whole setting up is fairly easy to do, since its dome design is self-supporting, and it needs for you to only peg the vestibules. The short sleeve and the system of clip poles are additional reasons for the easy set up.
Mountain Hardwear EV 2 Tent
Weight: 9.6 pounds
Dimensions: 23 x 9 x 7 inches
Specific features: Industry leading DAC Featherlight NSL poles; proprietary Evolution Tension Arch; integrated vestibule; adjustable zippered vents; SVX windows.
Best use: Alpine routes; backpacking trips.
Description: The first pro of Mountain Hardwear EV 2 Tent is that you can pitch it fast thanks to its DAC Featherlite NSL poles, but you can only do so if you’ve got snow. Setting it up in the dirt is harder.
Another strong point from the materials used standpoint regards the Dimension Polyant X-PAC TX07 fabric that is used at the seems, in order to make the tent more resistant, but also let some sunlight inside.
Besides, that also makes the tent withstand strong winds very well. Be careful not to let to much air in through the vents though, and don’t set up the tent facing the direction of the wind.
If you’re thinking about the storage capacity, rest assured that its vestibule does the work perfectly. The vestibule is incorporated inside the tent, thus making it lighter and allowing you to have more space. You can also store some gear inside the tent’s four pockets.
In fact, the incorporated vestibule is responsible for adding some length to the tent, and makes it comfortable enough for 2 people. Speaking of comfort, the EV2 is tall enough so you can sit up with no problems, and the windows and translucent panels provide sufficient light and minimize claustrophobic feelings.
Hilleberg Jannu 2 Person Tent
Weight: 7.1 pounds
Dimensions: 47 x 51 inches (floor dimensions)
Specific features: 2 person; Kerlon 1200 outer tent fabric; 9 mm poles; extendable outer tent walls; mesh areas backed with adjustable fabric panels; dome construction; single entrance; single vestibule.
Best use: alpine climbing; high altitude mountaineering.
Description: Hilleberg Jannu 2 Person Tent is ideal for 2 people who want to mountaineer at high altitudes or spend their camping trip climbing. The Hilleberg Jannu helps them do that without the hassle of carrying extra weight in their backpacks.
That’s courtesy to its Kerlon 1200 outer fabric and the 9 mm poles, which make the tent very lightweight, while increasing its stability.
In fact, the outer tent walls are extendable to the ground, and its mesh areas are backed with adjustable fabric panels, so you can use it in warm and cold weather as well. And you don’t have to worry about being caught in a snow storm, thanks to its dome construction and multiple pole crossing points that ensure stability.
This dome design makes the vestibules easily pegged, to offer additional storage space. A downside could be the single entrance, but you can likewise see that as an advantage for easy entrance, and it contributes to reducing the tent’s total weight. You can set it up quickly, and it also helps that the outer tent can be used separately from the inner tent.
Sierra Designs Convert 2 4-Season Tent
Weight: 5.25 pounds
Dimensions: 7 x 14 x 22 inches
Specific features: 2 person; freestanding; large drop door; 15 inches integrated awning poles; ventilation; convertible vestibule.
Best use: high altitude alpine climbing; mountaineering.
Description: Sierra Designs Convert 2 4-Season Tent is one of the best tents in the single-wall category, because it has a good size, a comfortable weight and it can be pitched fairly easily no matter the surface you’re planning to set it up on.
The 15” integrated awning poles are very solid, which contribute to the overall strength and stability of this tent. Additional features that improve stability are brought by the two vents, which are also designed with an awning style, as well as the corner reinforcements you can clip inside the tent.
However, although this tent has a convertible vestibule which you can leave behind at home to save some weight, you should know that if you attach it to the tent, it somewhat undermines its strength. It’s easy to pitch it to the tent, but it has a tie-out mechanism that’s not as sturdy.
But the vestibule has other advantages in the form of its two vents, which allow for optimal control of ventilation, and you can cook in peace in the vestibule. Ventilation and visibility can also be achieved with the double walled breathable canopy, the full zip waterproof windows, and the large drop door.
Why Not Choose An Average 3 Season Tent?
The best winter tents have a specific design that will allow you to pitch them with no problems even when it has snowed. Besides, they are designed in such a way that withstands the more intense, cold winds and precipitations that occur during wintertime. But this extra degree of protection comes at the cost of their weight.
A resistant mountaineering tent will likely be heavier than your typical tent for warmer weather.
The main characteristics why you should choose such a tent are: a dome shape which allows for a sturdy structure, resistant materials that increase insulation and temperature in the tent, and more guy lines, which improves stability in case it’s really windy.
Some tents will also have double doors in case you need to get in fast when the weather is really rotten. Others have extra storage in a sort of gear attic, to provide some extra space on the floor, and most provide some sort of outer areas to store some of your gear or to cook in a less windy place.
That’s why you should definitely choose a winter tent when you’re camping during the coldest season of the year, and not rely on just any other sort of tent.