Which tents for winter camping are best?
If you don’t plan to be held back by mother nature, you may realize your standard three-season tent isn’t enough. If you want to get out into the backcountry this winter, you’ll probably find yourself wanting a four-season tent. Whether you’re buried in snow or simply on the cold desert ground, the best tent for your winter camping excursions is the Eureka K-2 XT Tent: Three-Person.
What to know before you buy a tent for winter camping
Heavier and bulkier
A good three-season backpacking tent may only weigh a couple of pounds. While there are relatively ultralight options for four-season tents, they’ll still be heavier than you may be used to. Not only will they be heavier, but they’ll also be larger. Expect the packed size of your winter backpacking tent to be larger than you’re used to. If you don’t already have a higher-volume backpack for cold weather backpacking, you’ll want one.
More complex setup
The complexity of your setup depends on the tent. While there are certain tents for winter camping that have the traditional two-pole setup you may be used to, oftentimes they’ll require three or four poles at a minimum. You may have a larger, more robust vestibule to contend with as well (although that will be a bonus when you need to store extra gear).
While it is fairly easy to find a good three-season tent on a budget, doing so for a cold-weather tent can be harder. While there are relatively cheap options, a four-season tent is a bigger investment than a three-season in most cases.
What to look for in a quality tent for winter camping
Packed size considerations
You’ll want to know exactly how small your tent can pack down. In addition to a larger tent, winter camping tends to require bulkier gear that will take up space quickly. If you just want to car camp or set it up in the backyard, this isn’t a big deal. If you like to backpack during the winter, space will be a premium for you. If you don’t plan to backpack with a group and split up parts of the tent throughout your backpacks, packed size is one of the most important considerations for you.
Just like with three-season tents, you generally want to size up. If camping solo, most people will want a two-person tent for themselves and their gear. This matters just as much for winter camping. Since you’re carrying more gear in most cases, even smaller people will want to consider sizing up. A three-person tent is a good rule of thumb for beginner winter campers, as you’ll really want another person with you, at least early on.
If a vestibule isn’t included, you may want to consider a tent that has a vestibule you can purchase separately. For a three-season tent, you can stake out the rain fly and create a vestibule of sorts. For a winter camping tent, a full, attached vestibule is incredibly helpful. This is doubly important for people who get snow during the winter and hike with snowshoes.
How much you can expect to spend on tent for winter camping
Depending on what you want, prices can start at $300. Most people will likely find their needs met in the $400-$800 range, though.
Tent for winter camping FAQ
What is a good weight for a tent for winter camping?
While you can get ultralight tents as well as tents pushing 10 pounds, 6 pounds is a reasonable rule of thumb for starting out. More intense backpackers may want to go lighter, but beginners should be fine around that weight.
Can I use a four-season tent year-round?
Four-season is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, you can take it camping in cold fall and winter temperatures, but you probably don’t want to take it out during the summer. Not only will it be heavier than a three-season tent, but you’ll also be warmer. Unless you get cold quickly and live in a place that’s cold year-round, you probably want to go with a three-season tent for the warmer months.
What’s the best tent for winter camping to buy?
Top tent for winter camping
What you need to know: Eureka has made a name for itself as having workhorse tents over the years, and this tent can handle absolutely anything you’ll throw at it.
What you’ll love: Whether you want to be above or below the treeline, this tent can do it all. With plenty of space, solid airflow and materials that will keep every possible element out, this tent will keep you warm and dry.
What you should consider: This is a heavy tent at around 11 pounds. The packed size is large as well at 7.5 by 25 inches.
Top tent for winter camping for the money
What you need to know: If you want something to move lighter and faster, this two-person offering from Black Diamond weighs just a bit over 3 pounds.
What you’ll love: This is one of the lightest options for tents for winter camping. If you want to move quickly and bag peaks, you may want to opt for this light tent with a simpler setup.
What you should consider: Those wanting to delve into heavy snow and rain may find this tent doesn’t give them the protection or space a more expensive one would.
Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry
Worth checking out
What you need to know: If you want a tent that protects you without feeling like a ton of bricks in your backpack, the MSR Access only weighs 5 pounds.
What you’ll love: This tent earns its price tag by providing high-quality shelter without the weight tradeoff of other heavier tents. MSR is a known and respected brand in the outdoor space, so you have peace of mind with their quality.
What you should consider: The Access protects you from almost anything. However, it will have trouble in the heaviest of winter conditions.
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Joe Coleman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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