Winter camping presents an amazing opportunity for adventure. In this post, you'll learn how to choose the most important piece of gear: your tent. You'll find the best winter camping tents – and a guide to choosing the right one for you. Our choices include lightweight, insulated and even one ready to install a wood stove. Could camping get any better?
Don't forget about a heating source. Here's our guide to choosing the best tent heaters.
Winter Camping Tents: Ultimate Buyers Guide
Winter camping sounds extreme – or even impossible – to many people. But with the right planning and gear, it can be a great way to experience the outdoors.
Winter camping tents can be overwhelming for anyone new to cold weather camping. To help you choose the best winter camping tent, we created the ultimate buyers guide. By the end of this article, you will know just what to look for in your perfect winter camping tent.
There are four main sections to this guide:
- Our top picks: Best value and premium (jump to section)
- Buyers guide to winter camping tents: 9 factors (jump to section)
- Best four-season tents for winter camping (jump to section)
- Cooking in a canvas tent (video) (jump to section)
2 Best Winter Camping Tents: Our Top Picks
Best Value Overall
While this tent isn't insulated, the frame structure, waterproofing and stitching is all made to handle a rough winter outing. This should be your choice if you are backpacking into your site. This tent will function well in all four seasons.
Going car camping? This next tent is for you:
The insulation not only keeps it warmer, but it also dampens sound and blocks light. This tent will give you a good nights sleep. And this isn't just for winter. The insulation will block heat in the summer – keeping you cool. It's large enough for a queen sized mattress.
Looking for a larger size? Here are our choices for the best family camping tents.
Buyers Guide to Winter Camping Tents: 9 Factors
Not all winter camping tents are created equal. It should be sturdy enough to sleep in, spacious enough to relax in, and warm enough to stay alive in. However, there are plenty of other features to consider when choosing your perfect cold weather shelter. Here is a list of 9 to think about.
In terms of staying warm, the best winter camping tents have double walls. Typically bulkier and heavier, the 2-wall system works best for those setting up base camp.
Single wall tents can definitely be used in cold weather, and are usually lighter in weight and lesser in square footage. To balance the cold, simply bring better-insulated gear – sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and clothing.
The rain fly on summer versus winter camping tents is extremely different. Tents for warm weather typically feature a fly that does not reach the ground. Many only go ¾ to ½ of the way up. While this works fine to keep out the rain, it won’t be able to keep you comfortable in the cold. A full-sized fly keeps the warmth inside and the inclement weather out. Besides keeping snow outside, it also prevents precipitation from reaching your actual tent wall. Be alert to snow covering any lower ventilation.
2. Tent’s Capacity
If you and your partners plan to camp in the cold, it is best to choose a tent that holds the crew. Worst-case scenario, sleeping in individual tents could cause people to lose one another in a whiteout. Being alone in these circumstances increases the chance of death. If the team stays together, no one gets lost. Additionally, the more people in the tent, the more body heat to go around in a survival situation! Many winter camping tents are designed to hold up to 4 people.
Spaciousness is another factor to consider when choosing your perfect winter tent. Whether camping, backpacking, or mountaineering, you will want to have a comfortably sized shelter. Why? That is where you will be spending the majority of your time! Enough room to sit up easily is bare minimum! If you plan to host activities inside your tent like cards or other camping activities, consider how much square footage you will need.
Another area of the tent less thought of but just as significant is the vestibule. This part of the shelter can be compared to a mudroom. Vestibules allow you to take off and store your boots outside of the living space. This reduces wear and tear on your flooring while keeping out snowmelt from your shoes. You can also use this space to store unused gear. If your favorite tent doesn’t come with a vestibule, you still have the option for an add-on. Some campers actually cook in this little foyer. However, it isn’t the best idea due to the potential for a fire.
Finally, your winter camping tent needs to at least be large enough to keep sleeping bags away from the tent walls. Condensation can be an issue – and the last thing you'll want is water on your sleeping bag.
4. Tent Quality
During a snowy winter, blizzards and other inclement weather could pop up unexpectedly. It is better to be safe than sorry! That means you will want a tent made of quality materials that can withstand high winds. Some things to look for are reinforced aluminum poles, strong stakes, and tough doors. Furthermore, you will want to choose a winter camping tent that is designated for 4-seasons.
Anytime you plan on coming in contact with wet weather, waterproof and insulated bathtub floors are great. They protect you from the cold, as well as from snow trying to enter through the bottom. The only downside is the added bulkiness for those trekking to their campsite. Additionally, be sure to stay away from polyethylene floors. This material does not do well to ward off the snow. Floors should be made with 40-denier or higher material.
More reading: How to put a dome tent up … by yourself
Moisture is one of the most important factors to consider when looking at winter camping tents. Too much could literally kill you in cold weather. It seems counter-intuitive when all the moisture outside is frozen. However, our bodies naturally produce moisture that condensates on the tent if there isn’t enough ventilation. As the walls cool down overnight, a frost will form. Unfortunately, this ice will melt, and it has to go somewhere. That somewhere is on your sleeping bag, clothing, and floor of your tent. This wetness can ruin a trip, or even cause hypothermia.
Although double walls are best for winter, they increase condensation production by reducing breathability. That is why full-covered zipper vents are a must for winter camping tents. Having optional ventilation allows you to control your tent’s microclimate. Most times you will want some fresh air, but having the ability to close yourself completely inside is important. Pass on any tents with mesh windows you are not able to close all the way. Also, think about the size of the vent versus how many people are going to use the shelter. The greater the number of people utilizing the tent, the greater ventilation it will have to offer.
6. Access: Two Doors
Two doors are better than one in a winter camping tent. There are three reasons.
- Always have an entrance away from the wind. If not, snow will blow inside every time you enter or leave the tent.
- More than one exit in the case of a blizzard. If snow piles up on one side, simply exit through the other door!
- The final reason is one of convenience. Anytime there is more than one person using a tent, entry and exit can be awkward with one door. Two doors allow for greater ease of movement when two or more people are using it.
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How will you be transporting your tent to the campsite? Answering that question will let you know how portable your winter camping tent should be. If you like cold weather car camping, a lighter weight shelter isn’t a priority. This gives you much more leeway in the kind of 4-season tent you can purchase.
Portability is a bigger deal for those hiking, backpacking, or mountaineering to their spot. Same as always, every ounce counts for these adventurers. Some cold temperature gear, such as sleeping bags and clothing, are heavier than their warm-weather counterparts. Just the addition of a coat can greatly increase the weight being carried. Therefore, a lighter weight camping tent can make the journey a bit more enjoyable.
8. Weather Resistance
Part of the fun of winter camping is the weather, but don’t let it catch you unprepared. Wind is one of the greatest concerns when camping in the winter. Your winter camping tent must be strong enough to withstand blowing snow – up to and even blizzard conditions.
Choose a winter camping tent with a low profile and aerodynamic shape to endure high wind speeds. Both of these features will reduce the chances your tent will become a kite. Tie downs or guy lines are also key to keep control of your shelter when the wind is whipping.
Stakes are necessary to do this, and not just any stakes. The anchors that hold up best in winter weather depends on the amount of snow on the ground. If there is a lot, use skis, snowshoes, sticks, trekking poles, or something similar to get anchored in the white fluffy stuff. If there are not big enough loops for these big items, use paracord to tie a knot. Even if there isn’t much snow or even no snow, you will want to have strong stakes to drive into the frozen ground.
Poles are another aspect of keeping a winter camping tent standing in the wind. These poles must be strong. In fact, some cold weather shelters allow you to use your trekking poles for pitching! Generally, the more poles intersecting, the more stable the shelter. Aluminum and carbon fiber are the strongest manufacturing materials.
Snow-shedding ability is also essential for a winter camping tent. When snow builds the ceiling gets heavy and collapses. That should be avoided at all costs. Some shelters such as geodesic and semi-geodesic designs use a round shape for this purpose. Other structures feature steep walls to prevent the snow from building up.
Look for tents with a polyurethane coating for 100% waterproofing. Most tents made for cold weather have waterproofing, but if they don’t you can buy and apply your own. Check for high-quality waterproof seals around zippers, and sealed seams. Sometimes seams do not come factory sealed. In this case, you can buy the materials and do it yourself. Just stay away from water-based sealers, as they don’t stand up well to water. In addition, you want to make sure the waterproof material extends up the sides a few inches from the bottom of the tent.
More reading: How to stake a tent properly
Overall, tents made for cold weather come at a higher price than summer shelters. Most campers will want a strong and lightweight combination. Unfortunately, those two factors together make the tent even more expensive. However, you can find less expensive 4-season structures if you don’t plan on trekking with your tent.
Don't forget your coffee gear! Here's how to make coffee while camping
Top 6 Best Winter Camping Tents
Safety should be the number one priority when winter camping. One of the best ways to ensure that is by purchasing a shelter made for cold weather. Why? These tents are designed specifically to maximize protection and minimize freezing. The following are the best 6 currently on the market.
1. Flytop Double Layer Backpacking Tent
One of the best winter camping tents is the Flytop Double Layer Backpacking Tent. This shelter is made to hold 2 cold weather campers and has the following measurements: 83 inches wide, 59 inches long, and 45.38 inches high. In terms of weight, this Flytop shelter is extremely light for a 3-4 season rating. How light? Only 5.9 pounds!
You will want to consider how lightweight this structure is if you are planning on trekking with your tent. Including but not limited to overnights snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, or simply hiking in.
The Flytop winter camping tent checks off many of the boxes for a quality cold weather shelter. First, there are two doors making entry and exit for both people less of an ordeal. This is also great in the case of a snow bank blocking one of the doors! Furthermore, both doors have their own vestibule. There is even a snow skirt for when the weather gets wild.
Strong aluminum stakes and poles are a feature to help the shelter stay standing during the wind. The outer tent itself is made of anti-tear 210T checkered polyester rated to 3500mm. The inner tent is 210T breathable polyester as well as no-see-um nylon mesh. The floor itself is extra waterproof. It is made of 210D oxford material rated to 4000mm.
The Flytop also features double stitched seams, stitch taping, waterproofing, and anti-rain technology. Additionally, there are 2 triangular ventilation windows at the top to keep the condensation at bay. Another quality necessary for successful camping in the winter is wind rope for anchoring, and this Flytop product comes with it included. In fact, the 4 guylines are reflective.
The last and perhaps greatest appeal to most campers is the inexpensive price tag. This is why the Flytop 3-4 Season Tent would be a great first-time winter camping tent. However, those wanting to mountaineer, or who plan on encountering bad winter weather, should consider something for 4-season only.
2. Topnaca Backpacking Tent
The Topnaca Backpacking Tent is a bona fide 4-season winter shelter. If you are looking to hold anywhere from 1 to 3 people, Topnaca has you covered. Simply choose the size option that is right for you.
Keeping your small team or family together has never been easier! Even if you opt for the largest tent it is still lightweight. In fact, the 3-person weighs 6.2 pounds and is 88.6 in x 82.7 in x 43.3 in. The size of the 2-person structure is 84 in x 59 in x 39.3 in and weighs 4.4 pounds. For even greater personalization, this awesome tent is available in both green and orange!
There are a few specific factors Topnaca took into account when making this shelter. In terms of winter camping tents, this one has a good ventilation system. The breathable B3 nylon airy mesh works great for keeping moisture where it belongs – outside! Since the walls of the Topnaca Backpacking Tent are decently steep, the snow won’t cave in the top of your structure.
This winter camping tent has 2 layers, and all seams are fully taped. The outer fly is waterproof, made of 201T Polyester with 5000mm polyurethane coating. It even extends all the way to the ground as is important when camping in the cold. The floor is made of 150D anti-tear oxford material with 5000mm polyurethane coating.
Holding everything together is a strong skeleton made of 7001 durable aluminum alloy poles. If you encounter wind, you will need them! There are 3 guyout points, so no worrying about whether or not you can hold your position. Another cold weather feature of the Topnaca Backpacking Tent are the extremely easy to fasten clips. You can even do it with your gloves on!
3. Dream House Luxury Tent
If you are into a winter glamping experience, check out the Dream House Luxury Tent. Although the Luxury shelter is too heavy for portable winter sports (55 pounds), it will do for simple winter car camping. Either that, or you can pull it on your sled for an idyllic winter wonderland experience far from your car!
It's size comes in at 13.1 feet x 8.2 feet x 4.92 feet. And it can officially hold 1 queen and 2 twin-sized beds. This winter camping tent even includes a hole for the chimney of your tent stove.
Many camping groups decide to bring a large camping tent with stove compatibility out for the cold. One reason: the stove keeps everyone warm as well as allows for indoor cooking. The only time this could spell trouble in the cold is with poor ventilation. It’s a good thing the Dream House Luxury tent was prepared for that! The shelter offers large windows and doors for extremely good ventilation no matter what the weather outside. Here's an example of a wood stove made for winter tenting.
The outer layer of material on the Dream House is 900D Oxford cloth treated with waterproof polyurethane. All the seams are taped, and the whole product is mold resistant. However, the material around the zippers could stand with some waterproofing. If you don’t want to go to the trouble, simply keep them covered during the snow and freezing rain! The groundsheet is made of heavy-duty PVC, ensuring it is waterproof and will not let in any snow or its melt.
All poles are made of galvanized steel, making them extremely strong albeit heavy. In terms of guylines and stakes, this Luxury winter camping tent comes with 12 ropes and 24 anchors.
Crua Outdoors brings the Tri Luxury Winter Tent to us. Similar to other winter camping tents on our list, the Tri Luxury is rated for 4 seasons. This is by far the most expensive product on our list, but there are reasons. Weighing in at around 66 pounds, this is one of the heaviest structures featured. So, you won’t be carrying this Crua on your back. However, this is a great glamping tent as well for those looking to enjoy their time outside. Just set up when car camping or pull on a sled.
In terms of weatherproofing, this winter camping tent offers quite a few helpful qualities. Crua’s 3-person Ultralight Tent features an innovative TT insulation. Not only does this layer keep you warmer in the cold, it also blocks noise and light. In fact, sleeping is easy with an almost blackout inner tent. All fabric is tear resistant, and is made of 80/20 PolyCotton. The ground sheet is double thick to prevent punctures and seepage. The poles themselves are non-turning, made of aero-grade aluminum to withstand wind. The stakes are also made from aluminum, and Crua includes extra just in case one gets lost in the snow. As far as guylines, the Crua Tri Luxury winter camping tent has 8 points secured to the ground from a total of 16 different points of stability. The cord is luminous so you can see it at night.
There are two large, mesh windows which can be closed for full waterproofing in the snow or opened for ventilation in the cold. These can be accessed from the inside by opening the insulated curtains. Even the door can be staked out or rolled up as far as need be to reduce condensation. Not only that, but this Crua also features patented DuraBreathe technology for even less moisture production.
Although not as large as the previous luxury tent, the Crua Tri Luxury is still a good size for up to three people at 6.5 ft x 7.5 ft x 5 ft. This means you can fit in a queen sized air mattress and have room for your extras. Even though there is only one entrance/exit, the mouth is extremely large. Furthermore, there is covered porch space that is 3 ft x 6.5 feet. That is a total of 80 sq ft to enjoy!
5. SEMOO 3-4 Person Lightweight Tent
The SEMOO 3-4 Person Lightweight Tent is a 4-season shelter at an affordable price. It weighs around 8 lbs. Structures as lightweight as this are difficult to find in 3-4 season tents. In fact, it’s a great alternative to some of the higher priced winter camping tent options.
There are many similarities between this cold weather structure and the more expensive, smaller tents on this list. The measurements on the SEMOO are 122 in x 94 in x 51.2 in. If you want even more interior space, consider using this tent for just 2 people. Although recommended, sharing isn’t a necessity on the trail. Some people will instead want to focus on maximizing space and comfort, especially on long days inside.
The SEMOO winter camping tent’s inner layer is made of ventilating material, and the outer layer is crafted from 190T ripstop polyurethane. This shelter itself features a design made for winter weather resistance. The dome-shaped SEMOO features slanted walls to keep snow from accumulating and collapsing on top of you. Furthermore, this shelter has a low-to-the-ground profile for the wind to whip right over.
Windproofing seems to be where the SEMOO really shines. This winter camping tent includes a whopping 6 windproof guylines! These points together with the anchors create 10 points of wind resistance. The poles themselves are even made of high strength fiberglass to bear the brunt of the weather. To make set up faster and easier, pole pockets are included. Additionally, the 19 included stakes were made to tackle the hard ground.
The SEMOO Lightweight Tent also has a large vestibule to store your stuff as you come inside the door. However, it seems 4 would be a crowd in this tent. Everyone would be forced to use one door. Not to mention 4 pairs of boots and gear to fit inside one vestibule. Take the advice from earlier, and use this winter camping tent for 1-2 people for the most pleasant experience.
6. Weanas Ultralight Backpacking Tent
This Ultralight Backpacking Tent is rated for 3-4 seasons. It is the lightest tent on this list, weighing in at 4.6 lbs. But don’t let this featherweight fool you – it can be used in the coldest of cold weather with the simple addition of an insulated sleeping bag. Something most winter campers carry with them anyway! The dimensions are 85 in x 53 in x 45 in, so it is long enough for the taller winter campers. The lower profile dome-shaped design features walls just steep enough to resist snow buildup.
One unique aspect of this Weanas winter camping tent is that silicone was used in its construction. None of the other tents on this list feature silicone as a waterproofer, even though it is one of the most effective for keeping the condensation outside. The fly fabric itself is made from 20D 380T Nylon with an additional 4000mm waterproof polyurethane coating. Altogether, this protects up to 4000mm and UV +30. The floor is made from polyester Oxford fabric, has a 150-denier rating and 3000mm polyurethane coating. For even greater water resistance, the seams come fully taped.
The Weanas Ultralight winter camping tent has a 2-door design to keep cold and snow out and keep you safely in. It also includes 2 vestibules so no one has to climb over anyone to enter or exit comfortably. If there were only 1 mudroom, it would be extremely inconvenient for 2 people trying to take off their boots quickly. To keep condensation from forming on the walls, there are 2 triangular windows at the top for ventilation. These can be completely closed or open to achieve moisture control.
The 2 poles are constructed from tough aluminum, and this structure comes together with clips instead of sleeves. This saves a ton of time so you can get warm inside much faster. Even the poles are of equal length to make set up more intuitive. There are 10 tent stakes included, and a total of 4 guylines for a total of 8 points of windproof contact.
Here's how to insulate your tent for winter camping.
There you have our roundup of the top 6 winter camping tents.
Now let's take a look at cooking in a winter canvas tent.
Cooking in a Winter Canvas Tent: Dutch Oven
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That looks like a wonderful way to start the day. I'd love it, and then maybe head out for some snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. What do you think, would you be up for spending time like this in a winter camping tent?
Now is the Time to Buy a Winter Camping Tent
Which tent caught your eye? Of these options, here are my two favorites. Let us know what features are most important to you.
Have you been winter camping before? What's your favorite thing to do while tenting in the winter?